Level Six Bonavista
Historic Range: $96.93-$104.95
Reviewers Paid: $80.00
This paddle jacket is completely windproof and rainproof. It keeps me warm on rainy days paddling, when I wear it over a shortie wetsuit or over a merino wool shirt and shorts. This men's jacket suits women too. It's a fairly close-fitting style, so buy a size larger if you plan to layer it over a thick sweater.
- Velcro fasteners to tighten wrists and waist
- Hood rolls away neatly in collar
- Velcro pocket to hold key or bus pass
- Takes an effort to pull it off over my head
Kayaking on the West Coast near Vancouver and Seattle means needing rain gear — the real thing, not cheap stuff. This jacket is listed as "Made of eXhaust 2.5-ply waterproof-breathable nylon." I wear it in the rain without getting any water seeping in at wrists, waists, or seams. The jacket is also completely wind-proof. In a men's medium I have enough room to wear a light sweater under the jacket, and usually I wear just a long sleeve merino wool shirt.
Don't know how "breathable" this jacket really is in challenging conditions, but it's breathable enough for me. The days I wear it are chilly enough I don't sweat much inside the jacket. After a couple of hours there is some dampness inside the jacket, but nowhere near as much as a plastic raincoat gets. When I take it off I turn it inside out and the damp inside dries in a few minutes.
After a year and a half, I've worn it more than two dozen times and it still looks almost new. I wiped off one mud spot with a wet cloth. The velcro fasteners at neck, waist, and wrists are still grip-y as new.
I rarely use the hood, so it stays tucked away most of the time. When I use the hood, the drawstring makes it reasonably adjusted to fit over my baseball cap or bare head.
With this jacket over a shortie wetsuit and merino shirt, I am comfortable paddling on rainy days when the temperature drops near freezing. My PFD goes on over the jacket easily, and I can still open the little velcro pocket to reach a key or bus pass.
The pocket has another little pocket inside it, big enough to hold a brass key, bus pass, coin for a payphone, and a five-dollar bill. The pocket feels pretty secure, though not sealed against water seeping in. If you've got an electronic key you'll want to seal it up real good first.
This jacket is a nice alternative to paddling in just my shortie wetsuit, or buying a full-length drysuit. It's quicker to put on than a drysuit. I like having choices and layers. Since this jacket is much cheaper than a drysuit, I found the purchase an easy choice. But because this jacket will not keep me dry when immersed, I'm saving up to buy a drysuit as well.
I found this lime green paddle jacket on a clearance table at Mountain Equipment Co-op and was thrilled that it was half-price. (New stock came in—navy or yellow.) I wore it home on a rainy day and felt comfortable—unlike some sport clothes, this jacket is suitable for street wear. The bright lime green colour makes me visible when riding my bike on short errands in town. There are Scotchbrite reflector logos on the upper arms of the jacket, which reflect light VERY well.
My only complaint is because I am a short, plump woman wearing a man's medium jacket. It takes an effort to pull it off over my head, which other people have noted on the MEC website. (Solution: roll it up at the bottom, so the rubbery waist doesn't cling to my wetsuit, THEN pull it off over my head much more easily.)
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $80 on clearance when new stock came in.