There are few things generating more buzz for the upcoming 2016 season than the all new Immersion Research Devil's Club drysuit. After speaking with John Weld, owner and one of the lead designers at Immersion Research, the Devil's Club suit sounds like it will live up to the hype. John and I spoke for a while about the technical details, such as construction, as well as the inspiration behind the new suit.
While the Devil's Club is all new for 2016, the technology behind it is not. The Devil's Club uses the same laminate (IR's proprietary White-Out PU layer) as both the 7Figure and Arch Rival dry suits, pants, and tops. After testing the White-Out laminate over the past few years, the material has held up as well, if not better than Gore-tex. This is a bold claim, but not one that a company with a bomber reputation like IR would make without warrant.
The Immersion Research Devil's Club Drysuit was designed to be durable. So much so, that the material has been compared to Carhartt, a work wear brand known for its long lasting durability. While the material has a similar look and feel to Carhartt, that is where the similarities stop. Carhartt is a cotton/canvas blend, where the Devil's Club uses a canvas like nylon/taslan blend. Nylon was chosen due to better resistance to abrasion rather than polyester, which is lighter and less abrasion resistant. It also moves, breathes, and naturally repels water better than nylon at the cost of durability. The material is heavy (30% heavier than the Arch Rival fabric) and is the heaviest material that could be used without sacrificing the ability to shed water. This suit is meant to hold up in even the toughest of conditions, especially hiking through thick brush when portaging or getting to the river (hence the Devil's Club moniker). Because it is a very heavy material, it will not breathe as well as, for example a Kokatat or Sweet Gore-tex suit, or any other of the IR suits for that matter. With that said, breathability is a very difficult quality to measure as there is not a standard test used throughout the industry. The solid black color helps with heat retention and is ideal for the coldest of paddling conditions. In short, the Devil's Club is the burliest suit on the market. It will hold up to the abuse that hard core paddlers can put it through for many years.
If I were to market this suit to anyone, it would be to paddlers who enjoy working their a** off to go boating. If you find yourself bushwacking 30 miles from the nearest road in search of some high quality whitewater, this is the suit for you. Later in the spring, CKS will be doing an in-house review of the suit, putting it to the test and seeing how it holds up. Stay tuned!