Articles - The Great Canoe & Kayak UK Multi-Sport Gear Test

Testing multi-sport gear in the Lake District
Testing multi-sport gear in the Lake District
Canoe & Kayak UK Test Team - Posted on 27 Sep 2010
Here at CKUK.CO.UK we like nothing more than combining a weekend in the outdoors with our favourite outdoor activities. There’s canoeing and kayaking of course, but we often find ourselves packing the bikes, boots and climbing ropes too. What we don’t like, however, if the amount of extra kit that inevitably means we end up packing in to the CK wagon. Paddling gear, biking kit, walking waterproofs, there’s often no room left in the car for us! Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if you could use the same set of kit for everything? We certainly thought so. So we got on the blower and asked six leading paddle-sport and outdoor brands to each provide us with a set of gear that they felt would do the best job, in the most situations and then, loaded with more outdoor toys than you can shake a walking pole at, headed for the Lake District to put them all to the test in our Great Multi-Sport Challenge…

Our plan was to head up to the town of Keswick in the Northern Lakes and base ourselves at a campsite on the shores of Derwent Water. From here we would kit each tester out in a complete set of kit, base layers and shells, which they would then wear for every activity both on and off the water, around the campsite and even down the local pub!

As we rendezvoused with our team of testers, Gez, Dicky, Tom and Colin, we looked mournfully out of the car windows at the sheets of driving rain that were lashing across the site, we would have looked mournfully at the surrounding fells had we been able to actually see them, and finally we looked mournfully at our camera bags. This was really going to be a proper test, and in more ways than one!
The following morning’s mission was to canoe across Derwent Water and then moor up the boats, before pulling on the boots and swapping paddles for poles for a yomp up the Catbells, a scenic and popular fell, with great views back over the water. Once we’d reached the top, and had the traditional butties and flask of Rosie, we’d make our way back down the other side to bring us out at the far end of Derwent Water and a pile of waiting touring kayaks. We’d then hop in and paddle the length of the lake to our campsite at the Keswick end, taking in great views of Skidaw and its satellites as we went. Once there it was on to bikes for a spin up to Whinlatter Forest and the new Altura red route mountain bike trails. As a UK paddler you kind of get used to Mother Nature trying to throw spanners at your works, so we put up our six-man canvas home for the weekend and settled down for some kip, with collective fingers crossed for finer weather in the morn, as the wind and rain howled outside!


Delta SportswearDelta Sportswear Multi-sport Kit

Outer Wear


Cirrus Shell
RRP: £54.99

The Cirrus is Delta’s answer to every day paddling needs. They’ve developed it to be a versatile shell for use with sit on tops, open boats, sea kayaks and general everyday protection from the elements. It’s made from a breathable fabric that is waterproof and fully taped with no four-way cross seams and has a soft rubbery fabric (Stretch Charcoal Fabric) that creates a comfortable splash proof seal (even in salt water) when tightened with the velvety Velcro adjusters. The whole jacket neatly packs away into its own pocket, ideal for storing in your boat during a trip or when you’re trying to keep weight and bulk down when packing.

Cirrus Trousers
RRP: £49.99

Developed alongside the Cirrus Jacket to be a versatile shell for use in paddling and general everyday protection from the elements. They’re made from the same material and construction as the jacket and have a zipped fly waist opening with the extra adjustability of an internal 25mm elastic system, as well as the option of wearing a belt. They also had pre-bent articulated knees, to offer a comfortable fit even when sitting in your boat and the seat is double lined for durability.

Pathfinder Shell
RRP: £74.99

Designed for paddling in variable conditions, the Pathfinder is for paddlers who want a shell that offers great freedom and airflow but can still be ‘battened down’ if the weather turns bad. It has an opening neck with two way chest zip for venting, Stretch Charcoal Fabric cuffs, fully taped seams and a great articulated, wired, storm hood too

Base LayersDelta Sportswear Multi-sport Kit

Thermalcore Pant
RRP: £44.99

Made from environmentally friendly warm bamboo charcoal fleece. These featured a High back, ideal for sitting, to avoid the nasty cold spot.

Softcore Long Sleeve Base Layer
RRP: £39.99

Super soft and stretchy, brushed Lycra thermal fleece for maximum comfort, good windproof properties, flat-locked seamed (with no underarm seams) and quick drying

Multi-Sport Capabilities
The test team liked the Delta gear a lot, and were particularly impressed by how light the Cirrus jacket and trousers were. The jacket really does pack down small, into a neat little pouch that’s ideal for stowing as an emergency bad weather shell. They comfortable to wear on the water and when combined with the Nookie thermals did an adequate job of keeping us warm in pretty grim conditions. The venting on both the Cirrus and Pathfinder tops was good and allowed us to regulate our temperature as we began to work harder. We really liked the Pathfinder’s hood and it was spot on when the weather turned really bad during the paddling parts of our mission. On the hill the Pathfinder was pretty good, and that hood was doing the business again, but we preferred the lighter Cirrus for biking duties. The Cirrus gears lightweight, and easy packing, would also be ideal for multi-day canoe tripping and the like too. It’s breath ability didn’t seem to be up to some of the more technical garments on test but over all the Delta have produced some well thought out and functional products that do work in a variety of outdoor situations at a very competitive price, so it gets our CK V.F.M award.

Total cost of kit: With Cirrus jacket - £189.96. With Pathfinder jacket - £209.96
More info: www.delta-sportswear.com


Heading out on Derwent Walter in kayaks and canoes
We awoke to more of the same, and a rapidly advancing lake making it’s way towards the front door of the tent. We retired back inside to get the morning brew on and to paw over the large pile of kit inside. As you can imagine, with a product designer, a member of the military, a canoe and kayak coach, a magazine Ed and a freestyler, all mad keen paddlers too, the conversation got quite ‘techy’ very quickly. Once the kettle was drained for the second time there was nothing for it but to gear up and get our multi-sport mission underway. It was still raining and blowing a hooly as we carried the canoes to the water’s edge. Those with hoods on their provided gear rapidly put them up. The white horses were rearing out on the open water, but we set our upper lips to stiff and climbed aboard, pointed the bows in to the wind and set off. It was hard work but as we battled our way across the lake there appeared a few chinks in the dense grey clouds and by the time we were pulling in to our chosen bay, at the foot of the hill, visibility had improved drastically and we could now see our walking route stretching away in front of us. We moored the boats in a safe place, for collection later, pulled on the boots and set off.



Páramo

Outer WearParamo Outdoor Clothing

Men’s Velez Adventure Light Smock
RRP: £190

Páramo have certainly forged a strong reputation amongst hill walking and outdoors folk for great, versatile gear with excellent breathability and waterproofness. Their new Men’s Velez Adventure Light Smock provided all the multi-activity features of their best-selling Velez Adventure Smock but also utilises Nikwax Analogy Light, a new lightweight fabric that gives full directional waterproof and windproof performance. It utalises some pretty unique technology to keep you warn and dry. The Nikwax Analogy fabric has some very paddling friendly properties. If moisture gets forced through the outer fabric, as it may well do while paddling, a special inner liner forces it back out by utalising fibre-to-fibre technology. We’ve all heard of wicking etc, but this stuff is awesome even if you get properly wet it gets the water out and keeps you warm and dry. It’s much lighter than some previous Páramo products that one or two of the test team have tried and can be used with just a single base layer in pretty severe weather and temperatures. The Velez Adventure Light is also available in a women’s specific cut.

Men's Cascada Trousers
RRP: £110

Páramo tell us that these are their best selling walking trousers, and we can see why. They’ve come up with a solution to an age-old problem, by removing the need for regular stops to pull on or pull off a waterproof shell. The trousers, with their unique leg ventilation and articulation provide complete comfort and full waterproof protection in a wide variety of outdoor pursuits.

Base Layers

Men's Cambia Zip-neck T-shirt
RRP £35

High performance long sleeved, zip necked base layer for year round outdoor activities. Unique among technical base layers as its reversibility means two fabric faces, which allow you to fine-tune your comfort level simply by choosing what way out you wear the T-shirt

Men’s Cambia Long Johns
RRP £26

Páramo’s Cambia range of base layers now includes a selection of technical underwear, ideal for all outdoor activities.

Multi-Sport Capabilities
Although we weren’t overly excited by how the kit looked as it’s a bit, as one tester put it, ‘agricultural’ in appearance once out in the wilds it was apparent hat this stuff really works and is a little bit special. It’s waterproof and breathability capabilities are really amazing. The hood on the Velez Light was great and it made ideal clothing for open boating, for kayaking purposes it would certainly benenefit from some kind of seal or fastening on the wrists and neck, and if Páramo ever go down that route then their going to really appeal to serious touring and sea kayakers too. The cut of the Páramo kit also lent itself to paddle-sports and it felt comfortable and non restrictive to wear even when wearing a buoyancy aid. On the hill it was in its element as we’d expected and it was great on the bike too.
The downside apart from the looks is the cost, it’s not cheap by any stretch, but then if you’re an open canoeist or tourer then it really could be your one and only choice of kit.

Total cost of kit: £361
More info: www.paramo.co.uk

Hiking in the Lake District on our Canoe & Kayak UK Multi-Sport Gear Test
As we climbed higher the wChecking out our return kayak route from halfway up cat bells in the lake Districteather further improved, although the threatening black clouds never stooped lurking over the way in Borrowdale, and we looked down across the water where we had just paddled. Out in the middle we could just make out a group of kayakers battling against the wind, just as we had been. We mentally willed them on and then turned a carried on our way. Halfway up there’s a fun little scramble section and the test team boys got a good work out climbing up and down more and more precarious routes for the camera. After a few jovial jokes by passing ramblers about male models it was time to get going, as the clouds were beginning to boil again. A quick brew stop and then it was off back down, until we once again reached Derwent Water. After working our way back around the shoreline to where the kayaks were waiting it was time for the second paddling part of our multi-sport challenge. We swapped poles back for paddles and loaded our gear in to the boats hatches. Mercifully the wind was behind us and with skegs down we made good time across the water. If we thought we were going to stay dry the weather had other ideas and as the dark clouds rolled overhead they unloaded their cargo of watery stair rods all over us once again. In the kayaks the breaking waves that had us working so hard in the canoes where now coming from behind, and it was great fun to try and hitch a brief ride on them as the wind blew them, and us, back to Keswick. On arrival we quickly stowed the kayaks safely by our tent, fired up the coffee pot on the stove for a little pick me up and gathered the bikes and helmets from the cars. Next stop Whinlatter Forest and the last leg of our multi-sport mission.


Palm Equipment

Outer ShellsPalm canoeing and kayaking kit

Venture Long Sleeve Paddle Top
RRP: £69.95

This is part of Palm’s popular Vapour Series and the Venture L/S has been designed to offer maximum protection with minimum weight and bulk. Made from super-lightweight, waterproof and breathable XP50™Lite fabric it sports a soft, warming smooth-skin collar that houses a super-lightweight adjustable hood, which can easily be rolled away, and a zip for easy venting. It also features a water-resistant zipped chest pocket with internal security pocket, a 3mm shock-cord adjustable hem, adjustable neoprene wrist cuffs and high-visibility reflective piping.

Cobra Pants
RRP: £79.95

The Cobra’s are a 2.5 layer semi-dry pant with zippered mesh thigh pockets and abrasion resistant Cordura 550D on the seat and knees. These durable fabrics and reinforced high wear areas make the Cobra a rugged pant.
They are fully taped throughout and feature a seamless crotch panel for comfort while sitting. They also feature adjustable neoprene ankle cuffs and a Velcro adjustable neoprene waistband.

Base Layers

Indus Midweight Long Sleeve Thermal
RRP: £39.95

A full-coverage, mid-weight, thermal top that utalises Malden Mills Powerstretch fabric for comfort.

Bhoting Pant
RRP: £39.95

These heavyweight thermal tights also utilise Malden Mills Powerstretch fabric for maximum warmth and comfort.

Multi-Sport CapabilitiesOpen canoeing in the Lakes
To be fair to Palm theirs was the only kit in the test that had been specifically designed only for paddle-sport use; and with that in mind it did really rather well in the other areas. On the water it was clearly at home and although the hood on the Venture was a bit flimsy it did pack away very easily in to the collar. One feature that we really liked about the venture was that not only could you leave the collar unzipped for ventilation, when it was zipped right up the smooth skin collar made a surprisingly water-tight seal and when combined with its effective neoprene cuffs it meant that even after a roll we stayed dry. It was a bit too warm on the hill but coped OK on the bike, as the added wind helped to keep us cool. The thermals were great, comfy warm and they wicked well.
The Cobras are a nice piece of kit and proved to be very versatile, again they were a bit hot on the hill as there’s no way to vent them. Apart from the overheating though the cut was surprisingly good for walking and they were OK on a bike too and didn’t ride down at the back at all. As we said, they are predominantly for paddling and they coped adequately with all the activities that are outside of their usual remit, and we’d happily wear them for canoeing, touring or whitewater.

Total cost of kit: £229.80
More info: www.palmequipmenteurope.com


Marmot

Outer ShellsMarmot Outdoors Clothing

Aegis Jacket
RRP: £110

The Aegis is an outer shell jacket that’s been designed as a predominantly walking/outdoors jacket. It’s constructed from Marmot MemBrain® 2.5 waterproof/breathable fabric with fully taped seams and Marmot’s Angel-Wing Movement ™cut. It has an attached adjustable hood that rolls into collar and a DriClime® lined collar and chin guard, asymmetric cuffs with Velcro, an elastic draw cord hem, hand warmer pockets with water resistant zippers, and PitZips™ for ventilation and finally a sleeve pocket with water-resistant zippers.

PreCip Pant
£55.00

The PreCips are basically over-trousers and designed to be worn over the top of thermals or walking trousers in the case of inclement weather. They are constructed from PreCip® Dry Touch technology, waterproof/breathable material, with fully taped seams. They have zippered front hand-pockets, a zippered back pocket, an elastic waist with draw-cord, partial side zips with snap-tabs on the cuffs.

Base Layers
DriClime Windshirt
RRP: £70.00

This was an additional layer supplied by Marmot and it’s more of an all in one mid/outer layer, but it was a hit with our testers. It’s made from Banshee P-170 with Marmot Defender DWR and a DriClime® bi-component wicking lining. It has mesh pit vents, Marmot’s Angel-Wing Movement ™cut, elastic cuffs, a zippered chest pocket, a wind flap behind the front zipper and wind resistant, water repellent, and breathable

Scree Pant
RRP: £75.00

These were one of our favourite bits of kit in the test. Again the Screes are not really base layers, they are basically a do anything uber-outdoors pair of softshell trousers.
Constructed from Marmot M3 Softshell they are water repellent and breathable. They boast a fairly tight cut, so there’s no excess material to flap in the winf or drag in the water but the material is so stretch they offer superb freedom of movement and comfort. Other features include Zippewrs on the ankles, zippered hand pockets, a back zipped pocket, belt loops, a zippered thigh pocket and an elasticated waist with snap closure and zip fly.

Base layer Zip Neck
RRP: £44.00

Made from Polartec® Power Dry® with Cocona® performance technology the Marmot base layer is quick drying and has flat-lock consruction, the material also has natural anti-odour and great wicking properties.

Multi-Sport Capabilities
As the Palm kit was out of its comfort zone on the land, so was the Aegis on the water. It did an good job of keeping the wind and rain out, but we kept getting water in the cuff, both in the canoe and the kayak, and for a jacket of this quality and price we were a little disappointed in the hood, it was a bit on the floppy side, even when adjusted and it was getting on our nerves in the wind. The PreCip pants were OK for boating, but, as a piece of great all-round outdoor kit we loved the Scree pants. They breathe well, are worm, wick moisture quickly and are very,very comfortable. We can see us wearing these underneath boating kit, on the hill and in and around campsites for a longwhile to come. The fact that they are water-repellant makes them great for open canoeing in all but the worst of weather.and as that’s what we had, we just slipped the PreCips over the top and hey pretro. The other bit of kit that we really liked was the Driclime shirt. It’s super-light, easy to pack and is seriously warm if needed. In fact, unless there’s whitewater involved the Driclime and the Screes are our new favourite canoe tripping outfit, and if there is we’ll just be wearing them under our dry-suit! The base layer is a bit on the spendy side, but it is Polartec® and the proven performance that comes with that material. On the hill the Marmot kit was the business, as you’d expect and the venting on the Aegis was great. It held its own on the bike trails too and again the Screes were comfy and easy to wear on the bike

Total cost of kit: £284
With additional Windshirt - £354


Helly Hansen

Outer shells
Helly Hensen Outdoors Clothing and shoes

Dakota Jacket
RRP: £150

At a first glance the Dakota jacket looks very similar to a snowboarding jacket; stylish and sleek looking for those who like to look trendy whilst out and about. The Dakota is a lightweight jacket designed for walking and spending time in the outdoors. Yet you could still walk around Keswick high street without looking like you’ve just returned from base camp. On the hill and on the water, the Dakota had plenty of room to move around in; helpful for paddling and fitting extra base layers underneath the jacket. It’s multiple pockets come in handy for the usual outdoor paraphernalia. The hand pockets are well lined with fleece to keep the hands nice and toasty and have secure zippers ensuring that you don’t drop those vital werthers originals.

Verglas Bib Pant
RRP: £200

The Verglas Bib Pants ticked most of the boxes for us. Lightweight, breathable and with braces ensuring no cold spots whilst out on the water or on the hill. The pants had many tidy features for open boating and walking with big deep pockets on the hips and two pockets on the bib. The Verglas Pants have a lot of range in terms of adjustment with fully elastacated braces and velcro around the waist for when it gets a bit windy.
With theses pants there’s no danger of over heating as there’s a two-way zip on each leg allowing you to cool off quickly and easily. Down by the ankles the pants are fastened with boat clips, which are ideal for clipping onto your boots when the walking gets boggy. Overall a very nice set of outdoor pants.

Base Layers

Fly Pants RRP:£25
L/S Crew RRP: £25


Helly’s thermals have been number one for many years in terms of being lightweight, warm and lets sweat leave the body. They lived up to their worship on and off the water, and at only £25 they’re worth every penny. They dry very quickly and have over a dozen uses whilst out camping. Whether you’re looking for a set of jimmy jams, or a thin layer for bike riding. These blow every other thermal out the water!

Multisport Compatibility
Overall the Helly Hansen kit faired well in the wet and windy conditions that were kindly supplied by the Lake District. On the water the kit had plenty of room to move around and fit extra layers on underneath. The Dakota’s hood kept the wind at bay and stopped the water dripping onto your face. The Pants also excelled with its best feature for paddling being the bib allowing no exposed spots on the lower back. The kit had the same pros for hill walking, the extra room under the outer-shells making walking comfortable without being baggy. The only sport that the outer shells wouldn’t work too well for it would have to be the biking, as it’s too big and would be too hot on any lengthy ride. However it isn’t made for biking. The thermals however would be perfect for any Multisport activity. Even though the Helly Hansen gear is pretty pricy it’s clear that you can see the price in the clothing. If you find your spending a lot of weekends out walking and canoeing, but perhaps want something a little trendy then you can’t go wrong with Helly Hansen’s gear. Especially their thermals.

Total cost of kit: £400
More info: www.hellyhansen.com


Mountain Biking at Whinlatter Forest Lake District

Whinlatter Forest Centre now boasts a nice café, a bike shop, a high ropes course and some very nice dedicated mountain bike trails. We’d opted for the Altura red route, it’s a fairly technical XC kind of deal, with some great sections of technical, switch-back climbing, awesome views in to the Bessenthwaite Valley, sweet single-track and a barrelling berm and jump-laden descent back to the centre. Gez and Colin, both on full-sussers, set of at a fair old lick and we didn’t catch them until Gez stopped for one of his customary ‘exploding tyre’ breaks. As they stopped to fix it the rest of us continued up the climb, putting the breathability of the gear to a stiff test – talk about mud, sweat and gears! The single-track climb finally spits you out on a fire road for the final haul to the top and then it’s a fast rolling section through trees and over a few tricky root sections and obstacles, especially greasy after all the rain, before you drop in for the high-speed descent. The rain was still falling but it was a great way to end our multi-sport day and all that was left to do was to head back to the campsite and embark on our, well-earned, multi-food and multi-beer adventures for that evening.




Peak UK

Outer ShellsPeak UK Multi-Sport Kit

2009 Multi Sport H2O Jacket
RRP: £89

Launched this spring the 2009 Multi Sport H2O Jacket from Peak UK has an articulated cut with bent elbows and fully taped seams. It’s made from a breathable and waterproof lightweight X2.5 rip-stop nylon. It has a fleece-lined neck with high back, low front design and a drop tail with elasticised draw-cord waist. Other features include a full-length front opening waterproof zip, a zippered front pocket, low-profile opening neoprene wrists and reflective seam piping and reflective logos for visibility.

2009 Multi Sport Wind Jacket
RRP: £54

The Wind jacket sports the same cut as the H20 but has over-locked seams and is made from highly breathable, windproof and shower-proof lightweight Pertex. It also has a fleece-lined neck with high back, low front design, a drop tail design with elasticated binding waist, low profile, opening neoprene wrists, a half length front zip, a front zip pocket and reflective seam piping and reflective logos.

Bagz Lined Shorts
RRP:£50

The only shorts on test the Bagz are made from quick drying rip-stop Tactel fabric with Cordura bum reinforcing and a quick drying thermal fleece liner they also have an Elasticated drawcord waist and a cargo style pocket with gear loop.

Base Layers

Thermal Rashy Long Sleeved
Peak UK Multi Sport Kit
RRP: £38.00
A quick drying fleecy Lycra rash vest, with flat-locked seams through out

Multi-Sport Capabilities
The guys at Peak UK have a long history of producing excellent paddling kit, and they were probably the first to produce a shell specifically designed for other sports, the Peak Pertex, about 10-years ago. This year though they’ve really started to get fired up on the whole idea and are in the process of producing a new range of products for use in the outdoors. The H20 and Wind hackets have already had an overhaul and we look forward to more in the line emerging from their design room soon. We really liked the H20, but there are still a few features missing that would make it a real multi-sport winner. A hood would be a good start, when the rain and wind were at it’s worst poor Colin was looking a bit glum as the rest of us all pulled up the hoods and hunkered down. He wasn’t best pleased to be the only man in shorts either, although we did let him stick on pair of Peak UK cargo pants dry trousers for the open boating. The H20 is good though and it was at home on the awter as it was on the hill and the drop tail design made it the pick of the bunch for the biking. We really liked the colour too, it stood out a mile, which is only a good thing in our books. The Wind jacket is very light, but makes a great back up for sticking in the dry bag, or back pack just in case. The Bagz are good shorts, they’re comfortable, seem to breath well and would a great bit of kit for boating and biking. On the trail it was Col’s time to grin as he was able to stick his pads on while the rest of us struggled with our various long legged trews and went without. The Rashy was abit out of it’s depth in the cold weather and it just didn’t provide the wicking we want from a multi-sport base layer, so we’d look else where. But over all some great true multi-sports products from Peak UK and at a pretty affordable price.

Total cost of kit: with H2O Jacket - £177, with Wind Jacket £142
More info: www.peakuk.com



Canoeing on Derwent Water in the Lake DistrictGear You Go

What were talking about here is those weekends were you want to pack a lot of fun in, without packing a lot of gear!
All of the gear we tested would cope with an average day on the hill, water or trail in reasonable UK weather, under reasonable kinds of use. It stands to reason that if you’re going out to do one particular activity to a fairly ‘hard core’ level then you’ll need to make sure you have the correct specialised equipment to do so safely.


Lakeland Adventures

We chose the Lakes as our destination for our test as it’s just perfect for a weekend of outdoor action, walking, biking, canoeing and kayak touring, whitewater it has it all. You can even access the coast fairly quickly for a spot of sea kayaking if that’s your bag.

For more information on adventures in Lakeland visit:
Tourist info: www.lake-district.gov.uk
Whinlatter Forest: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/whinlatterhome
Grizedale Forest: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-5k2b6b


Kayaking on Derwent Water in the Lake DistrictCamp it Up
We stayed at the lovely Camping and Caravanning Club Keswick Site, it can accommodate everything from caravans and motor homes to family tents and one-man bivvy bags, and we’d highly recommend it as a base for multi-sport and adventures!

Check out www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk for details

Get Out the Door
There’s opportunities all over the UK for a spot of multi-sport fun, Wales, the Peak District, Scotland, you name it there’s an adventure to be found. It’s a great way to break up a paddling trip and can be a good way to combine a paddling trip with non-paddling partners, friends or family.

If you liked this feature then you may find these other great group tests and articles of interest: Crossover Kayak Test, Open Canoe Test, Canoeing on Wastwater, Canoeing in the Lakes, Dry Cag test, Dry Suit Test, River Shoe Test,

To find your nearest retailer head to the Market Place Section

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