Irish waters are not warm. There may be a few months of the year where towards the end of the summer the kayak angler will be fine in a wetsuit. There are times when I do wear a wetsuit, for instance if I fancy snorkelling for a while, but the far better option for our cool, temperate waters is the surface immersion suit, more commonly known to kayak anglers as the drysuit.
This review is going to take a look at the Palm Equipment ‘Cascade’ suit. I took delivery of the suit in the ‘Large’ size and the red colour. Being over six feet tall and of slim build the large size was appropriate for me. Out of the box and the first impressions were that although a lightweight suit, the workmanship on it is above excellent. The material is light and flexible but appears very hard-wearing. The seals and seams are very well joined and the extra items that are added like the zips and velcro fasteners look to be of a very high quality. The material in the areas that will see more wear and tear such as the seat, elbows and lower legs appears to be stronger than that of the rest of the suit.
Going through the suit step by step will allow us to have a look at some of the finer details present. Starting at the neck is the latex seal. Creating a very good fit to ensure the user remains dry, the latex seal is supple and comfortable for the wearer. Over the latex seal sits a soft neoprene seal which can be adjusted for a snug fit with a velcro fastener to ensure that the suit remains comfortable on an area of the body that inferior products can cause a lot of irritation and discomfort. Both wrist seals are arranged in the same manner as the neck seal.
The front entry system that runs diagonally across the torso of the suit allows for easy entry and disrobing of the ‘Cascade’, a feature that can be very handy when you are eager to get out onto the water as fast as possible. The same can be said for getting back into a warm car as fast as possible! Palm Equipment’s ‘TiZip’ system allows easy opening and closing of the suit’s entry system and with a little care it should go a very long way indeed. The seams are of very high quality and expertly joined to the fabric of the suit, guaranteeing the user stays dry should a dunking occur.
Another excellent feature of the torso region of the ‘Cascade’ is the adjustable neoprene waistband, also held in the desired position with velcro fasteners. This feature is very handy for ensuring a snug fit of the suit when out on the water. I find it even more useful for half undressing and securing the lower half of the suit around my waist when loading or unloading kayaks from the roof of the van. The neoprene waistband acts like a belt and keeps the legs of the suit firmly in position with the torso and arms free for heavy work out of the water; also very useful for portaging the kayak and fishing gear though a kilometre or more of woodland or rough ground to get to the better fishing spots. You don’t want to be doing that in your full kit!
The remaining torso features include the positioning of reflective piping close to the neck as well as a couple of well placed reflective logos. These safety features are non invasive to the angler but incredibly useful for those that ever have the misfortune to get lost in the dark. Not something I would wish upon anybody but they might just be the difference between a swift rescue or otherwise. One last feature of the torso area is the elasticated drawstring which sits below the neoprene waistband, again to assist with a better general fit of the suit when in use.
Moving on to the waist and leg areas, the first feature that is glaringly obvious is the relief zip. This feature provides exactly what it suggests and, without going into detail, is an essential addition to any drysuit. Anybody who does day long kayak fishing sessions can attest to this. The construction and arrangement for the relief zip system is exactly that of the front entry system in the torso of the suit and it should go without saying that the quality of the workmanship and components are excellent.
The reinforced areas have been mentioned earlier so the final item to have a look at on this suit are the stocking feet. Constructed from what appears to be a very hard wearing material, the socks offer ample space for my size thirteen feet. The joining of them to the main suit is perfect and there is a clever overlap of materials to facilitate a higher style of neoprene boot, should the user wear one. As with the neck and the wrists, the ankles also feature the velcro fasteners to ensure a good fit.
Looking at something out of the box is all well and good but the truth is in the testing. I’ve been using the suit for over half a year now and I have to say that I am very impressed with it. I’ve been out in every type of weather that Ireland can throw at me and nothing has gotten through it. I’ve jumped off piers and jettys to test its efficiency. I’ve practised countless safety drills while wearing it. All of these activities have either put me in contact with water or immersed me completely. The suit kept my dry each and every time, not a drop of water made it through to my under layers.
Staying dry is one thing, there are many other things to look for in a drysuit. On hot days I can wear pants and a T shirt underneath and have plenty of movement in the arms for paddling and fishing. In cooler weather there is more than enough space to layer up and still leave the mobility there to enjoy your paddling and your day. The suit’s lightness and strength of material in Palm Equipment’s ‘XP-3 Layer’ fabric ensure a strong suit while still affording plenty of arm movement and provides the all important breathability which means you keep cool even on the longer paddles.
If you seek an excellently made drysuit for the purpose of kayak angling then look no further than the range that Palm Equipment are producing. With something there for a varied range of tastes and demands, there should be something for all anglers. I am more than happy with my ‘Cascade’ and look forward to many more trips out on the water with it.
A full range of drysuits are available in Ireland through the Canoe Centre.