I started using a Brooks Tuilik about three years ago; theyare the predominant Tuilik worn by the Greenland aficionado at the localpaddling club (Inland Sea Kayakers). Brooks
is a family run business out of Vancouver, onthe west coast of Canada. The Tuilik comes in 15 standard sizes matching chest,waist, hip, height, and weight approximately for men and woman. The material isa 3mm nylon two sided neoprene, it has a very adjustable bungee around thebase, one inch wide adjuster straps over the shoulder and Velcro to seal thewrists.
I was given a Reed Tuiliq by my parents as a gift two yearsago, these are not as common in the US as the Brooks Tuilik. Reed
is a smallfamily run business in Devon in the west of England. Every Reed Tuiliq is made to measure;this starts with exactly fitting your kayaks cockpit, and moves all the way upyour body to fit your head perfectly. A measurement guide is provided to allowyou to be measured correctly, a vital part of purchasing the Reed Tuiliq. It ismade from soft Aquatherm Fleece and uses a super stretchy material for thehood, cuffs and neck.
Both come in black, the Reed Tuiliq has reflective materialon each wrist and a small logo on the spray skirt and shoulders. The BrooksTuilik has a larger logo on the chest.
The two items feel very different when you wear them. The Brooksis bigger and baggier, and is considerably heavier, it also feels warmer. The Reedfeels like it was made for you, a good custom fit, snuggly fitting head neckwrist and without excess fabric except in the long body tube to allow for easyrolling. The Brooks skirt is gently tapered and integrated into the body “tube”,the Reed skirt is just like a regular spray skirt sewn and the bottom of thebody tube. The Brooks wrists are loose until sealed with the Velcro strap whichallows for a lot of adjustment and sizes of individuals, the Reed’s are a snugcustom fit – but only for you the one size. The Brooks hood is a good fit andslides back easily for conversation when you don’t want it up, the Reed hood is amuch tighter fit and it takes some practice to pull it back off your face anddown around your neck. They both tighten around the face with elastic cord withtoggles on the end.
The Brooks being bigger gives me a lot of room the wearother things under it, for example I can wear a dry suit with the Brooks Tuilikbut did not have my Reed one made sufficiently baggy to allow that. Because ofthe extra room in the Brooks it provides more buoyancy, this aids in some rollsand makes a static brace especially easy. But that said I have completed all myrolls in both garments.
Because the Reed isfitted so precisely to the cockpit it is only useable on kayaks with the samesize cockpit outer rim. I have it fitted for my Tahe Greenland, and am unableto use it on my NDY Explorer. My Brooks works on all my kayaks, even the doubleswith their huge cockpits. Similarly you wont be lending your Reed Tuiliq tofriends, it fits you, it is unlikely to fit them as well. The Brooks is notcustom fit and so fits a much broader range of shaped and sized people. Withthe Brooks Tuilik I am able to wear a PFD either under or over it, with theReed it will only fit over it.
The Brooks Tuilik is worn with the hood pulled under thechin, The Reed Tuiliq is worn with over the chin. I minor detail but an importantone to get a good seal around the face for rolling.
On a summer’s day the Reed Tuilik is cooler than the Brooks,the material does not seem to absorb as much heat. Either though allow you toroll or brace to cool down so this has never been a problem. In the winter Ihave worn the Reed Tuilik with thermal fleece underneath it and stayed lovelyand warm too, albeit without a dry suit.
Both make rolling a breeze, although as I stated earlier, the Brooks does give you a bit more air to float with and can as a result make certain positions easier to maintain.
To sum up, I am glad I have both, if I only had one kayak Iwould definitely go for the better fit of the Reed, but if I had multiplecockpits to fit then Brooks is the only economic option. The reed feels like anadvanced “cool” piece of paddle gear, the Brooks feels more traditional (just replaceneoprene with seal skin..).
What do you think? I would love to hear from you.
Jerry Borenstein posted a response to this review on the qajaqusa.org commercial forum which reminded me of another differentiating factor, when they get wet the Brooks seems to absorb water and become very heavy, the Reed seems to shed the water and not gain anything like as much weight. This means that overtime the Brooks one looses its buoyancy advantage and rolls become harder over time, especially that marginal forward finishing hand rolls where a few pounds of water can make or break my success.