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Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Updated: August 10, 2:26 PM ET
Product Review: Shelter Supply Collection

By Jon Coen

This year, Reef released a new lined of surf travel gear -- a water resistant pack, surfable walk shorts, weatherproof jacket, travel organizer, multi-use duffel and adjustable rain shell called the Shelter Supply Collection. On one hand, it's traditional gear, but on the other, it's specifically tailored for today's kind of surf travel -- the kind where you see a swell headed to your favorite travel spot and just know you're going to score.

The key to surgical strikes is packing light and saving cash. You just dropped the plastic for a last-minute flight and rental car. There's no room in the budget for extra baggage fees. You're going with one carry-on bag so everything you bring has to serve a purpose – or multi-purposes. That's what they were thinking when they built the Shelter Supply Collection.

Of course, the poster child for this collection is surfer/filmmaker Cyrus Sutton, a man forever on the road, filming and surfing. This year he's already gotten more passport stamps than most do in a lifetime -- Baja in January, the Basque Country in February, Costa Rica in March, Tahiti in April and a Mainland Mex trip to make his new film, "Compassing," in May and July. Next it's off to the East Coast.

This stuff was made for his simple style of travel. These are the essentials, well thought out.

Cyrus Sutton
Use the Shelter Supply Collection like Cyrus Sutton on a trip to Russia or just for sandbar sessions after work.
"I was commissioned by the Basque Cultural Center to make a short documentary about the Basqueland. Our window was January and February and it turned out to be one of the wettest on record, as winter storms marched out of the North Atlantic. Shooting in 12 days of rain and hail, my Squall Jacket kept my underlayers warm and dry," Sutton reported.

I've been putting some of the gear through the ringer as well. At the New Jersey Shore, however, we have a short three months to make money from the tourism industry. Unlike my friend Cyrus, we've been keeping it close to home. But it's been pretty great, all the same. Community events, tossing the toddler into tidal pools, heading out to the boat, doing a little crabbing and waist-high dawn patrols with offshore wind are far different kind of life than exploring Mexican pointbreaks, shooting documentaries and riding trains around Europe. Turns out that this gear works out pretty well for both.

I keep the Diamond Tail backpack carefully packed with wax, a few diapers, pocketknife and a jar of mashed organic carrots. The mesh hydration holders are perfect for a baby bottle and your own water. The wet/dry compartments keep that rancid towel off the kid's clean onesie. There is a completely separate laptop sleeve to protect your work from wet. And the Shelter Supply stuff seems well made, especially since I already ran the Diamond Tail over with my truck and had to pull it out from under the axel.

To get into the technical aspect, it's got a 2X PU coating - probably not the kind of waterproof you need for three weeks in the Amazon, but it will repel a summer rainstorm or an afternoon shower in Hawaii. As opposed a lot of the very loud prints and color-combo backpacks you see for back-to-school this year, the Diamond Tail is a nice, subtle olive green. And that matches the new Duffle (which can be cleverly worn as a backpack) the Bivalve Wallet, and the Travel Doc.

Since it's summer, I have yet to really test out the water repellent Reef Quilt Jacket with Polyester fill, but there's no lack of opportunity for that in the coming months. If you've ever checked a fall swell with the first East Coast cold front of the year at your back, you know what I mean. The interior body lining is a nice homegrown touch, too.

On a recent work mission to NYC, I pulled out the Squall jacket and wrapped it around a gift I'd picked up, to keep it dry from the drizzle. I then buckled it to the pack with the exterior straps. Not bad. With a two-way adjustable hood, zippered pockets and shot-cord waistband, this breathable rain shell can be balled up to a few inches, which makes it ideal for leaving in your bag for unexpected weather -- on that tactical swell mission or even an inclement music festival.

I'm looking forward to some trips this fall and winter -- getting on the road with the family and perhaps a mission that doesn't involve toting a baby-durable copy of "Five Little Monkeys." And I'm pretty confident in the Shelter Supply Collection.