Sure, boats, paddles, apparel and PFDs are important and all, but the one piece of gear holding it all together, and keeping you part of your boat, is the unheralded spray skirt, that tiny oval of neoprene that keeps water out and you in. So to give this unsung piece of gear its due, we singled out a handful of skirts from leading paddlesports brands and got boaters the country over to weigh in. This installment: the Seals Pro Rand.
Seals Pro Rand Skirt (By Luke Spencer, Clackamas River Outfitters)
After over 20 years of whitewater kayaking I’ve had the chance to use a wide variety of spray skirts from multiple manufacturers. I’m a diehard randed skirt user. In my humble opinion, the rand creates a seal on the cockpit rim that can’t be duplicated by bungee-type skirts and offers the driest fit, with the most implosion-resistant option available.
For years I was a loyal Mountain Surf supporter with the Dur-O-Ring being my go-to model. The Kevlar-reinforced deck and the randed skirt set the standard for years. When Mtn. Surf went out of business, I was forced to find a new manufacturer that would be a good substitute. This was tough because Mtn. Surf had a formula for their skirt that no other manufacturer could duplicate at the time. I paddled with different options over the next few years including, Wildwasser, Level Six, Snap Dragon, Bomber Gear, and Immersion Research.
With limited options, I went on the hunt for the skirt that met my needs.
1- Kevlar-reinforced deck
2- Rand that fit well on a variety of boats
3- Dry for playboating, river running, and Class V
4- Durable enough to last 3-4 seasons of hard use
A few seasons later I got my hands on a Seals Pro Rand sprayskirt, which seemed to meet all these options.
Before getting into the review, let’s talk a bit about the manufacturer. Seals Sprayskirts is a family-owned business that specializes in sprayskirts and paddling accessories. They’ve been in business for over 35 years with facilities based in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains where they still cut and sew their goods.
Boat Fit – One of the biggest complaints about randed skirts is the Herculean strength it takes to get them on the boat. The Pro Rand offers a randed-style of seal that is both highly implosion-resistant but still flexible enough to get on the boat even if you’re not curling 50-pound dumbbells. Although it still requires more strength than the bungee counterpart, the compound Seals uses has much better elasticity and a well-designed shape making it easier to get on than competing brands. Another key in getting the skirt on easily and creating a good fit is in the shape of the rand itself. Seals has done a great job with its shape making a good fit on a wide variety of kayaks. Seals has also designed the rand with micro ribs, helping to keep water out — especially great at that playspot. This implosion-resistant seal also provides piece of mind when plugging or boofing stout drops.
Torso Fit/Tunnel – Sizing on the tunnel for the torso is XX-Small through XXX-Large, with a form-fitting tunnel offered in two lengths to fit a wide variety of paddlers.
Durability – From UV to Devil’s Club and everything in between, skirts take abuse. How does the Pro Rand hold up? While I can’t say it’s impenetrable to blackberries and Devil’s Club, it is built tough with solid materials offering Kevlar reinforcement in the high wear areas. Will it be dry forever? No, but you’ll feel you’re getting your money’s worth. The Kevlar reinforcement and the glued, stitched-and-sealed seams offer piece of mind and confidence that you’ve got a solid skirt in your gear bag.
Bonuses: The sweet clip on the grab handle offers an integrated safety whistle and makes it convenient to hang and dry the skirt. Seals also offers a comprehensive sizing chart that makes getting the correct cockpit size a breeze.
PRO RAND SKIRT
- High performance 4mm neoprene
- Contoured micro-ribbed rubber rand seal to cockpit
- Top-edge wear guard with 22% Kevlar fibers
- Form-fitting anatomical tunnel is 9″ high. A low fit 6″ tunnel is also available (custom)
- Glued, stitched and sealed seams
- Grabloop includes integrated safety whistle
- For use with rotational molded kayaks only
- Stock Cockpit Sizes: 1.2 thru 2.2
- Msrp $210,
- Info: https://www.sealsskirts.com