The Immersion Research Devil’s Club Dry Suit is all new for 2016. IR has a well-earned reputation as a company that is “by kayakers, for kayakers,” and it is evident when it comes to the Devil’s Club Dry Suit. IR saw the need for a suit that was warm, breathable, and durable enough to stand up to anything thrown at it. Enter the Devil’s Club.
- Rear Ti-Zip Entry
- Nylon/Taslan 3 Layer Fabric
- Latex Neck Gasket with Neoprene Cuff
- Latex Wrist Gasket with Neoprene/Velcro Cuff
- Relief Zipper
- Heavy Duty Fabric Booties
Upon first inspection, it is obvious that this suit was designed with durability in mind. The fabric feels heavy duty, coarse and stiff. After just a few uses, the suit breaks in. It retains its heavy duty feel, but as the suit is used more and more, the material softens up nicely.
The Devil’s Club name was inspired by Oplopanax horridus, a plant more commonly known as the Devil’s Club. The plant is primarily found in the Pacific Northwest and is known for its ferocious thorns. Designed to keep paddlers protected from plants and other obstacles of similar nature, the Devil’s Club is a burly dry suit.
When designing waterproof fabrics, there are many limiting factors. Designers must factor in durability, breathability, waterproofness and comfort. As previously stated, durability was a major concern in the design of this suit. With that said, IR used the heaviest weight fabric available that would not sacrifice any waterproofing ability. The result is a suit that is heavy duty, waterproof, but not quite as breathable as other comparable materials. This was definitely noticeable while using the suit. The solid black color, combined with the coarse material make this a very warm suit. This can be both a positive and a negative. For winter paddling, the suit is great, but could potentially cause some issues in areas like Colorado, where the air is warm, but water temps rarely get above the 40 degree mark.
Personally, I am a huge fan of rear entry dry suits. The low profile zipper remains out of the way and is generally drier than a front-entry zipper. The Ti-Zip system used by the Devil’s Club was no exception. With the right technique and proper zipper maintenance and care, the suit is easy to take on and off without help. The Ti-Zip is smooth and easy to use, and I thought that the zipper tab was of much higher quality that other suits I have used. Rather than using a piece of cloth for the tab, IR used a short piece of nylon and plastic handle, which is easy to grip and seemed much more durable than other systems I have seen. It’s a small thing, but was a nice addition to the suit.
The one issue that I felt arose with the rear entry was the zipper cover. Due to the stiff nature of the fabric, the zipper cover felt bulky and seemed to restrict movement. The zipper cover is also somewhat difficult to fold down over the zipper. It was not a huge deal, but definitely something that I noticed each time.
Now, for the moment of truth.
- Heavy Duty socks
- Easy on/off
- Easy to use Ti-Zip system
- Looks great
- Affordable price tag ($974.95)
- Stiff until broken in
- Velco wrist cuffs
- Not as breathable as most other suits on the market
- Bulky zipper cover
All in all, I was very impressed with the suit. The Devil’s Club is made with a new material, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up in the long term. I would recommend this dry suit to those who are especially hard on gear, or constantly find themselves bushwhacking their way to the river. The suit is burly, heavy duty, and warm, but is also comfortable and breathable enough for an early season desert environment. The Devil’s Club is another great option to consider for anyone interested in purchasing a new dry suit.