Testing the Level 6 Australis


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Want a sweet-looking and performing shortie for warm water/weather paddling? Look no further than the Australis from Level 6,  a short-sleeve semi-dry top constructed from its award-winning eXhaust 2.5 ultralight (UL) waterproof-breathable nylon.

Webster defines “australis” as “an aurora that occurs in earth’s southern hemisphere.” And that’s exactly the type of paddling it’s meant for (and where we took it): southern warmth, where it shines like the aurora overhead.

We tested it on a warm weather fall get-away to Costa Rica, testing it out on a whopping six different rivers on a trip put together by Amazing Vacations.

While on the Pacific side we only needed a splash/sun shirt, as soon as we moved over the divide to the Caribbean and different sections of the world-renown Rio Pacuare, I wore the Australis over the sunshirt every day and was as perfect a temp as I’ve ever been paddling (it helps, of course, that you’re a Coloradoan in Costa Rica).

With an overlapping double tunnel and Level 6’s bomber Stealth waistband system to seal with your skirt, the top is light and breathable and offers a full range-of-motion — perfect for the roll practice our guide, Arnaldo, helped us with, and for the scouts on the Upper Upper section.

The Exhaust 2.5 UL waterproof/breathable nylon beaded up water droplets even when paddling under waterfalls, while the double tunnel/Stealth waistband system kept all liquid out of the cockpit (except when I accidentally spilled fresh coconut milk into it at lunch). Perhaps the only drawback is that its telltale, uber-sticky Velcro worked almost too well on the adjustable waist; get the flaps anywhere near the waist and it sticks like the whiteface monkeys did to the trees overhead.

While Level 6 has the full shorty drytop the Vega in the works and schedule for release soon, this baby’s the ocelot’s meow when it comes to warm conditions paddling. The only knock? Maybe you could make the adjustable Velcro arm straps a little looser so they fit my pythons? And unfortunately, the jacket ended up working so well (and looking so dope) that I couldn’t help but give it to one of our guides, Christopher, afterward, whose eyes lit up like the aurora themselves upon receiving it — more thankful, even than the sloth overhead at naptime.

Thankfully, the Level 6 Australis offers a roomy fit with plenty of room for motion.


  • YKK aqua guard zipper on chest pocket
  • Double tunnel and Stealth waistband system
  • Adjustable neoprene arm and neck closures
  • Hidden safe key pocket
  • Exhaust 2.5 UL waterproof/breathable nylon



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