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HomeTuiliks & Clothing

Tuiliks (tuillit) and Kayak Clothing

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Until you experience a tuilik (pronounced "doo-ee-leek") you won't realize what the fuss is about and just how restrictive a "standard" tight neoprene skirt is.

A tuilik is loose fitting, and seals around the cockpit rim, at your wrists and around your face and jaw bones. The facial seal is more comfortable to many people than a tight neck gasket, and the full hood keeps your neck and ears warm. Not only does the tuilik give you tremendous freedom of movement and warmth, but it eliminates the rubber-band effect of a neoprene skirt that resists your efforts to stretch your torso away from the cockpit.

Should you swim, a traditional-cut (long) tuilik allows you to pull your legs inside the suit, trapping a large volume of air (like an open-ended diving bell), but be aware that the air can slowly bleed away over time (or you could be up-ended in rough water), which would cause your legs and inner clothing layers to get wet. For these reasons many people treat the tuilik as a dry-top in a swim and dress accordingly. For example, although it is rare in Greenland, many people outside of Greenland wear a drysuit under a tuilik for an added margin of safety.

As with all protective gear, you should experiment with a swim-test in your tuilik in safe conditions. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much initial flotation the suit provides. Swimming progress while wearing a tuilik is relatively good, although you will be slowed down by the bulk and drag of the suit (and your PFD), as you would expect. The arms of the tuilik often don't balloon with water while swimming, a problem that can occur with a conventional paddling jacket. Should this happen, use a breast stroke or other technique that allows you to keep your arms submerged.

A tuilik is designed for cold weather use (it is fantastic for surfing, roll practice and other active pursuits). For touring, a neoprene tuilik can be much too hot in warm climates, but there are now Gore-Tex tuillit available that have a much wider comfort range.

For fair-weather use in the summer, many Greenlanders use a short sprayskirt (akuilisaq or tuiitsoq) instead. The commercial versions of these garments are similar to a "standard" skirt, but are conical in shape and provide more freedom of movement.

Tuilik. Drysuit or Drytop?

Should you exit the cockpit, a tuilik usually traps a large volume of air, and you can pull your legs into the suit to reduce exposure. However this air bubble might be lost over time, so it is best to think of the tuilik as a very buoyant drytop, rather than a suit for full immersion.

Fun Fact

The Greenlanders were using a breathable drysuit centuries ago. The attallaaq was a special sealskin suit that looked similar to a tuilik, but had attached gloves,legs and boots. The hunter entered the suit via a circular entrance at the waist, that was then cinched up. These suits were not used in kayaks but were used to jump onto whales from an open boat (umiak). These were highly prized items that were much sought after by European whalers.

One tuilik, two tuillit

Unlike English, you don't pluralize a Greenlandic word by adding "s" to the end. The plural of tuilik is tuillit.