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An interview with Bomber Gear’s lead designer

This spring, Bomber Gear is launching its new line of kayaking drytops, spray skirts and more — and Rock/Creek is one of the stores chosen to participate in this launch. We had some questions about the new stuff, so we sat down with Bomber’s founder and designer, Rick Franken, to seek some information about Bomber Gear products.

Click here to shop Bomber Gear styles at Rock/Creek. These are available online, at our Ocoee store, and at our Riverside Drive paddlesports store. Here’s the interview:


Rock/Creek: First things first: beyond flashy graphics, what sets Bomber Gear apart from everyone else?

Rick Franken: Durability and performance. When I am designing, I focus mainly on these two points. This is achieved through attention to details. Most dry tops are dry the day you buy them, but to have a dry top last several seasons is the trick. If customer buys a product from us, I strive to surprise them on these 2 points. I’ve developed a lot of the processes used to make our garments, to ensure that durability and performance; even details like our gaskets are custom-made for us. I spend a lot of time at the factory going over these processes to ensure the product adheres to my vision.


R/C: Talk to me about the K-Bomb sprayskirts. Why are these drier — and less likely to implode — than other spray skirts currently available?

Rick: Why drier: The graphics are not just for looks; I inject the ink into the pores of the neoprene. This blocks the water absorption; accentually at the end of the day, the underside of the skirt stays dry. It works so well that when water hits the deck, it just skates off of it. On a warm day you can actually see the water vaporize off the deck. Dry before your eyes! I use the same technology on the cuffs of my dry top. Unlike all of my competitors, the fabric on the top of the deck does not gets wet and heavy.

Why don’t my skirts implode? It has to do with the articulated seam along the combing. The harder you push down the tighter the rand will squeeze around the rim. I am proud to say “My skirts do not implode,” however they are a bit harder to put on than some of my competitors. Here is a video of me jumping on a K-bomb!


R/C: Our Paddlesports staff have commented on the fit and feel of the K-Bomb, saying that it’s tighter around the waist than most but the neoprene is “oh so smooth” against the skin. Is there a special kind of neoprene you’re using here?

Rick: Yes, it is a special neoprene; 4-way stretch, brushed on the inside, and designed to fit tight with optimal movement.


R/C: Word on the street is that you’re using a different technique from the competition to set the gaskets in your dry tops. Can we get some insider information, or is this procedure top secret?

Rick: There is a bit of secret there: I don’t glue them. It is better for the workers, better for the environment and makes them easier to replace. I have a buffer between the latex and the fabric that causes them to adhere. I actually built a machine to do this.


R/C: We’d like to know a little bit more about the fabric being used in the Bomb Top, Entrant. How does it compare to GORE-TEX or some of the other available options?

Rick: GORE-TEX has done an amazing job in marketing and consumers are looking for Gore. From a performance and durability stand point I do not feel Gore has anything on our fabric. I have been working with Toray to develop this fabric over the past 10 years. It has been an ongoing evolution. I could not be happier about the performance and durability.


R/C: What’s your personal favorite piece of Bomber Gear? Why?

Rick: Wow, that’s a tough one. I would have to say it is the product I am working on right now, for the 2012 OR. Not for any particular reason, that is just where my mind is at. I am extremely proud of all my pieces, and feel they are all unique to our brand.


Rock/Creek Ocoee opens this weekend, so if you’re on the river, stop by and check out the new Bomber Gear paddling stuff!

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