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All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

- JRR Tolkien

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Gear

Mar 15, 2017

Avoiding Hypothermia: COOPH Field Jacket Review

Through gale force winds and rain, we test the “ultimate all year, multi-purpose photographer’s assistant” with Stotz fabric—on the same ocean it was originally designed to protect WWII pilots.

WRITTEN BY

Lorenzo Fornari

Bold claims and inspiring descriptions are the norm nowadays and we’ve become understandably jaded, taking everything with a grain of salt. I had doubts that the COOPH Field Jacket, which isn’t much more than a lightweight cotton fabric shell, could hold up to the claim that the same material had been developed to protect WWII pilots from the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean—if and when they would end up in the drink. So when I went to Biarritz last spring, I brought it along with me, to the very ocean the original Stotz fabric was designed to protect pilots from.

Early one morning I awoke to uncertain weather and undertook the solid half hour walk along the coast to a surf lesson slightly outside of town. In that time, myself and The Outdoor Journal’s editor-in-chief Apoorva Prasad, got ambushed by mother nature and endured just about every weather system you could imagine. What started as very reasonable, light, cold rain for the first half of the walk suddenly became gale force winds, sheets of glacial rain, a near freezing cold snap, followed by hail and snow… suddenly to stop and have a few rays of sun tease us into believing it was over, only to go back to steady, miserable, cold, and heavy rain. There was no shelter along the coast nor did we bring any other protection. We just kept walking; both cursing and laughing at the surreal weather. The one thing I did happily notice was that while I may have been a bit cold, I was completely dry under the jacket.

The following months, even as the weather warmed, I would find myself just about inseparable from it, even wearing it as a sort of ‘adventure blazer’. The large inner pocket is exactly the size of a couple copies of The Outdoor Journal, all the extra pockets allow me to carry copious amounts of accessories, the secret zipped inner pockets keep my mind at ease when I travel with important documents and wads of cash from countries that print money like it’s going out of fashion. Speaking of which, despite the field jacket’s design being fundamentally the same since the early 40s and looking almost identical to its most famous iteration, the M-65, the quality of both the craftsmanship and textiles start to make you understand the rather steep €400 price. The design is a timeless classic and the extra attention to detail make it fit damn well.

The inner pocket fits everything from a Macbook Air to a copy of The Outdoor Journal magazine
The inner pocket fits everything from a Macbook Air to a copy of The Outdoor Journal magazine

Despite the beatings it has taken over the last 9 months, my COOPH field jacket is still in excellent shape. The colour hasn’t faded and I know it will accompany me for many, many years and countless more adventures.

So, how does it perform as the photographer’s “ultimate all year, multi purpose assistant”? It won’t check your lighting settings nor hold a bounce for you, but it can carry quite a few lenses, flashes, batteries, even an iPad or MacBook Air in that nice and big internal pocket. There’s enough pockets to properly keep everything organised and separate. So many that you may end up losing memory cards and filters. Not like that’s ever happened to me, of course…

To take it a step further, looking at COOPH’s store, they have a new ‘photography’ hoodie available. Combining the two, you would likely have a killer one-two punch. An even better all-in-one travel and photographer’s ‘assistant’ solution.

The verdict:

Pros
Excellent textiles and craftsmanship
Timeless classic design
Light weight
Waterproof but breathes
Pockets, so many pockets

Mehs
Despite it being billed as a photographer’s jacket, there’s no ‘lens-cloth-on-a-string’ included, or some sort of surface neatly hidden away with that ever-necessary material. Even one, dedicated pocket that is lined on the inside with it would make a difference.

Speaking of pockets, the lower, outer, pockets accumulate sand, dust, and crud quickly. Putting a lens or sensitive electronic devices in them isn’t the best idea. That’s where an inner-lining would really be necessary, that I could pull out and turn inside out to clean easily.

Price: If I didn’t know more about it, I would find the price to be way too high for what looks like ‘yet another field jacket’, but after spending so much time with the jacket, I understand why the price-point is what it is.

Cons
None

Field Jacket ORIGINAL
$398.00
material: 100% Stotz EtaProof® cotton
Price: €398

Available in black, dark denim blue and camel brown at www.cooph.com

Feature Image © The Outdoor Journal

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

 

“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”

 

For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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