As I write this, it's approaching Christmas, and it appears that each of the mainstream angling companies have bought out a range of ‘carpy’ clothing with the associated ‘carpy’ price tags i.e. with £100 added on. It's ridiculous isn't it? Just because it's green (or came) with a natty logo on, the price automatically increases and those loyal to the brand must pay it. I'm sick of being ripped off and having spent eight years in HM Forces, I like to think I know a thing about cold weather clothing so I won't pay it, I'd rather get value for money rather than perceived ‘carpiness’.
I mentioned it to a friend recently (in truth, I'd also seen a few mentions of the company in Talking Carp already) and he sent me a link to a relatively new UK brand, GrizzlymanUK, and suggested I take a look at the clothing range on offer as I was in the market for a new winter suit. My old salopettes had begun to fall apart after seven years and my jacket, a US import, had served me well, but was starting to fail; it was definitely time for something new!
It's difficult to review clothing. I could dress it up (geddit?) as an all singing, all dancing item of bankside fashion which would instantly make you more attractive to the fairer sex, something which sported a funky logo and would make you the envy of all your mates, (a logo makes ALL the difference) or I could just be honest and tell you that the Gorka7 suit appears to be bombproof, waterproof, windproof and practical... which it is. I selected the Gorka7 as it seemed to best provide for my winter fishing, so got in touch with the company to find out more. My sizes were requested, and a couple of days later, my suit was delivered first class.
I'm always dubious whenever I order off the internet, especially if I haven't ‘tyre kicked’ the item first, but the two piece suit fitted perfectly and felt comfortable. Of course, I hadn't got any thermals or layers beneath it when I stood before the mirror, but I could tell it was roomy enough for any additional winter clobber beneath and couldn't wait to get out and try it outside. My first outing was up onto the moors high above my Staffordshire base. I live near the highest village in the UK, and have worked as a firefighter in winds of almost ninety miles an hour during winter as we'd sought to recover blown over vehicles and dealt with accidents caused by freezing weather, so knew that in December, it would be suitably uncomfortable ‘on the tops’.
The Gorka7 features layered cotton material and as I climbed the gritstone outcrops of The Roaches, I noted that I wasn't drenched in sweat as the breathable membrane did it's stuff. nor could I feel the wind which blasted across the moorland as the thermal barrier kept out the cold. The padded leggings are supplied with a detachable pair of braces which I chose not to use, but they didn't slip down due to being securely belted through extra wide loops, and they didn't ride up over my boots either as the integral stirrups held them down. The leggings also feature reinforced pads at the knees, ‘dusters’ to cover the elasticated ankle, and a zip fastening backed by double buttons at the fly. Like the jacket, they have both a breathable and thermal layer to protect from the cold. It's worth noting that the buttons are huge on the Gorka7, specifically designed to be easy to use with cold, wet hands or gloves...
The jacket has reinforced shoulder pads to ease the pressure when carrying a rucksack or even holding a weapon to the shoulder, there is no zip to fail, instead the jacket is fastened with the same securely stitched extra big buttons, which are covered within a wind flap, the bonnet style hood is adjustable, as is the waist cord to keep the jacket snug about the wearer. There are six external pockets and another hidden inside, and elasticated cuffs prevent water egress too. It's not green though, instead the suit is finished in a sandstone/grey outer layer which looks good and is comprised of ‘silent’ material, so the suit appeals not just to the angler, but to the shooter. hunter or stalker too!
After a couple of hours on the moors, the weather hadn't bothered me at all, unlike others who struggled past holding scarves to their face and pulling wet clothing off as they approached their waiting cars. I'd sat watching the world go by from atop the rocky bluffs, fully exposed to the biting winds, and hadn't felt any of it, so it was time for something else. I went home and grabbed my Air Arms 410 and sloped off into some nearby woodland to see if the drippy oisture ofthe trees could penetrate the suit as I looked for some pigeons. By now, it was heading towards the cooler hours of the evening, the wind had dropped, but the rain still splattered down from the tops of the fleshy leaved rhododendrons and as I sat patiently on a log waiting for a target, I still felt warm and comfortable, and had plenty of room within the suit to bring up my rifle quickly should a target be Spotted. So far. so aood...
The real test though is what I bought it for, winter fishing. Sitting for long periods, often in rain or snow with a windchill factor to consider, the suit has to be good to combat UK weather. Fortunately, the Gorka7 is a derivative of Finnish Army issue clothing, constructed in Belarus and designed for wintery Eastern European conditions. Although the suit is rated down to -5 degrees, the reality is that windchill often takes temperatures below this, even in the UK, so it has to perform. I used it first at Rudyard Lake, a 1 66 acres reservoir where the wind howls across the surface on it's way up the valley and wore it as I lure fished from a floating jetty, some way from the bank and fully exposed to the weather. It rained hard too, and as I stood for hours in the deluge, the only time I felt the rain was when I turned to face into the onslaught and cover a different area with my lure. Even then, it was only my exposed face that got wet... Other anglers however, retired soaked...
After a few hours in the rain, my next venture was to yet another reservoir, high up on the moors in search of pike. Before dawn, the temperature was sub-zero, and at the venue it was even lower as I drilled my banksticks into the frozen ground and set up my stall for a day on the bank. I spent eight hours in my chair, drinking tea and eating beans, but all day, I was snug and dry as the clouds closed in and the rain came down again, the suit protecting me from the very worst of the December conditions. As far as I'm concerned, the suit lives up to it's promises, it's well made, warm, weatherproof and ideal for winter angling. I can't find fault with it, and if you know me, you'll know I usually fish twice a week whatever the weather, so need something that will do the job. The only thing I think I've not mentioned so far is the cost of the Gorka7. For something of such quality, I'd normally expect to pay anything between £200-£350, but one of the best things about this sit is that is currently retails at just £95 for the whole thing! Can you afford to be cold this winter? No, you can't. Get the suit, get out and go fishing!
- Clint Walker, Talking Carp Magazine, February 2020
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