Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Happy With NRS Splashwear Jacket... Not BTYQ after all!

Sometime back, being disgusted with so called "Yachtie" foul weather gear, I bemoaned the fact that North Face no longer made their Cagoule which I had used for all my Pacific cruising and sailing. Looking over what was available I had a short list of various possibles but when it came down to the finish line it was down to the Patagonia "Skanorak" (no longer available) and a similar splash jacket by NRS...

Because I could not find a Skanorak in my size I wound up buying the NRS splash jacket. When I got it I was very impressed with the jacket and it was well designed, had great freedom of movement, a hood that worked so I found I could actually see what I was doing... all in all a great piece of gear... In fact, I said as much when I gave it the BTYQ seal of approval.

I do realize having designed this sort of gear before for a living that little details like zippers become very important. Because I have a whole lot of years living in a salt environment, the zips were all oiled and waxed from moment one and part of the gears ongoing maintainence was zipper care but the zipper on the NRS jacket within days became problematic So much so that for all practical purposes it became unuseable. I did write NRS a couple of times but never got a response. So it goes. I filed the NRS gear in my "I'll write about this one of these days when I am no longer pissed off" but never got around to it.

Someone I know also bought a pair of the NRS jackets on my recommendation and had the same results but as they are closer to real phones, communication and in a place where shipping the gear back for repair did not cost more than a new jacket and with the fortitude to deal with a company who seemed a lot less helpful once you bought the product than when they were selling it to you. Here is their experience with NRS...

You remember those NRS jackets you recommended a couple years back? Amy got a pair of them.

They were the bomb, except for one thing. Within weeks the main zippers were seizing up with corrosion. No amount of cleaning, lubing with t-9 or anything else would keep them running free.

When we got back in April, called NRS and told them, "These work great, except for the zippers. Can you replace the zippers?"


Me: Can you give us new jackets?

NRS: No, those are the old jackets. If you want new jackets you need to give us another $100 each for the new jackets?

Me: Really? You sent us on a three month trip with jackets that failed inside a month, and now you want to charge us?

NRS: Those were the old jackets. They are discontinued. The new jackets cost $100 more.

So a year later I get the NRS catalog and what do I see? The same damn jacket! I call up NRS. Again we go around and around with the saltwater thing. Again I ask just what sort of care a Sea Kayaking jacket is supposed to get on a daily, weekly, monthly basis when being used in an expedition? Rinse, clean and lube every week? Every day? And how long should it hold up? 2 weeks? Two months? Two years?

Finally they see my point, issue an RMA and I send the jackets in for a replacement.

Today the phone rings. The jackets have arrived. They are moldy. We'll no shit. They've been sealed up in a box from Montauk for a month. And guess what else NRS is upset about? The zippers are massively coroded, which is where the whole damn problem started!

So I bitch for another hour. I tell them about the O'neil wetsuits I have with zippers that are 5 and 10 years old. I tell him that the other zippers on the jacket pockets are fine. I tell him the frigging problem is the main jacket zipper is not suitable for a Sea Kayaking garment.

So they agree to send replacement jackets.

But here's the stinger

The phone rings. They are sending jackets, but "salt water eats everything" and they don't want to hear about it if these zippers also fail.

I am not fastidious, but I am not an idiot either. Those frigging zippers were crap and failed after 2-3 weeks, getting a little salt spray, a lot of rain, and nearly daily fussing over with hot water, tooth brushes and Bo-frigging-shield.

I'll let you know how these next ones hold up.

Which seriously sucks... Obviously a product not suitable for anything but fresh water and a company that simply does not have an idea about after sales service... I'll be doing some serious testing of various Sea Kayaking Splashwear in the coming months for an alternative product that actually does the job ... More soon come.