Monday, 2 February 2009

KIT REVIEW: Artistic Sportswear


A mouse ate my Kit! It all happened last week. I reached into the airing cupboard to pull out my cag , looked down and all I had in my hand was the latex cuff. Slightly puzzled I pulled out the rest of my kit bit by bit (literally). My cag was missing one arm and a waistband, the netting inside my PFD which holds the foam in place had completely disappeared and each and every one of my dry bags had holes chewed right through them and straps hanging off. Hundreds of pounds worth of kit destroyed by one tiny creature the size of my thumb. I was pretty upset for a minute until I realised it meant I could go shopping, guilt free shopping in a Paddling shop!
I was in my element, trying on everything. Getting over enthusiastic, I did get my head stuck inside a dry cag and ended up walking round the shop totally blind, arms stuck in the air calling for help.Very embarrassing.
Eventually I came across the ARTISTIC rail. I have to be honest, I hadn’t even heard of this company and cutting a long story short, because of this, I’ve been asked to write my first ever kit review about them.
They are a German based company specialising in Kayaking, rafting and canyoning kit. They’ve been around for 20 years and are quite big in Europe.
The cag. Northcape. This is the first top of the range cag I have ever owned and although quite expensive at £169.99 you seem to get a lot of cag for your money. It’s made from Tritex which feels quite thick and comes in either Navy or Fire. It’s obviously a heavy duty cag which is essential for me, not because of the extreme white water I might one day endure but because of the amount of trees and bushes I always end up getting tangled up in on my grade 2 rivers! It has a well cut roll in hood and a double waist band seal. The neoprene/latex cuffs are a little tight for me, but according to the brochure apparently these can be made bigger. The collar and neck design is genius. You velcro that over this, pull this bit up and put that bit over, its all very clever and is surprisingly unrestrictive. The best bit about this cag though is the fleece tunnel pouch pocket. It feels so snuggely warm I’d love a 5ft version to sleep in.
The trousers: Negro Pant £89.99. This is the cheapest pant in their range but it’s still better than any I’ve ever owned. They are made from Micropore 2 layer, whatever that is, and have a double neoprene seal at the ankles. The double waist is quite funny. I’m only 5’4 and could pull the inner waist up to my armpits, not sure if this is a deliberate design idea? The rest though fitted perfectly and getting a cold back will definitely be a thing of the past now. For fellow open boaters they come with removable Neoprene knee protectors which you don’t notice until you’re kneeling down. So no more need for those scruffy pieces of carry mat in our boats anymore!
The Shoes: Rodeo Session £35.00. Ok here goes my chance of Artistic sponsorship for next year. I found the shoes uncomfy. The stitching inside the back dug into my heel. They have good grips and are easy to pull on and off with specially designed tabs but they did rub. I am persevering with them as they look good and with socks they feel ok so maybe they’ll wear in, in a bit in time.
The helmet. Rodeo cap. The first helmet I’ve ever worn that doesn’t make me feel silly. A bargain at £35.00, one size fits all.
The Bouyancy aid: Orco exped. Their top of the range PFD. It cost £99.99 and is totally over the top for what I need but it looked good. They are sized on the large side. I’m a size 10/12 with big boobs and I still only needed the XS/S. It seems to have everything on it, even things I didn’t know I needed. All these bits has made it slightly heavier especially the chest harness, which I guess you could take off. It has a horizontal and vertical strap system for a good fit. It has a fixpad for flashlights, a backpack and throw carry and a split D ring as a Karabine parc, so cowtail snagging is impossible (not too sure what that bit means but it sounded good in the brochure). It has an inside pocket, 2 large front pockets and a lovely fleecey hand warming pocket for those cold winter trips. I could go on forever about the accessories, there’s even a couple I’m still flummoxed about what they’re there for. This is a buoyancy aid for white water adrenalin junkies who do things I couldn’t even watch, let alone do. I brought this PFD solely for posing value, so mine will have to be content with grade 2 rivers and lakes. I might drag it behind the boat though every now and again, so it doesn’t feel too left out.
For a company I’d never heard of I was very impressed. The quality of design and manufacture is better than anything I have used before although I’ve never owned anything is this price bracket before either. Ok, so it’s strange that I’ve written an entire kit review without mentioning how waterproof the gear is. But in my defence, the only time my kit gets wet is when it rains or if I have a mishap getting in or out of my boat. This gear has been designed and tested for huge sea’s, falling down waterfalls and freezing cold rivers, considerably tougher conditions than I could ever honestly put it through. So apart from the shoes, I absolutely adore this kit. It’s comfy, practical and totally unrestrictive and I’m already planning on ordering the cag and pants for my hubby. Now that just leaves one thing left to do, how to catch that flippin mouse!

Artistic Kit is available from
Pro Adventure; Llangollen, Wales
Or direct from

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