If you ever want to torture your child, try putting them into a dry top with a latex gasket. The response typically ranges from tears… to screaming… to panic… to not wanting to go kayaking….and definitely to never wanting to put on a latex-necked jacket–no matter how cool the color. Kids just don’t do tight stuff around the neck.

So the dilemma of keeping young paddlers (who come equipped with little of their own “insulation”) has continued on. Until now! We just received our first Level Six youth-specific semi-dry tops: the MERLIN and the JESTER. And they are outstanding!

The r&d team at Level Six was all ears to hear what input we had about a kid’s top. Steve coached them on the no latex issue; encouraged flexibility in the neck and wrist for tighter/looser fit; warned about the issue of velcro catching and pulling hair; pushed the need for stylish colors; and addressed the need for true fit from small to x-large kids sizes.

With the velcro at the wrist, it is okay to buy a bit larger size to avoid the instantaneous growth spurts that send kids right out of the their expensive paddling gear. The $119 price tag for a semi dry top also makes it do-able for a serious young paddler who needs to stay warm. Our hat’s off to Level Six. They have done a great job with the Merlin and the Jester!