NRS Pivot Drysuit; $989 (nrs.com)
Last fall, NRS released the Pivot Drysuit. Though it shares many similarities with its cousin, the Crux, the major change is that, on the Pivot, NRS has placed the zipper on the back across the shoulders. Now, the primary advantage to this system is that less water will enter your boat through the double tunnel than with a front-zip suit.
I paddled exclusively with the Pivot this spring and summer in Colorado and in China, to test out its comfort, durability, and functionality.
The plastic TiZIP zipper is flexible and comfortable across my shoulders. It's substantially less noticeable while paddling than the same zipper is when placed across the front of the suit on the Crux. In fact, it doesn't inhibit my movement or range of motion at all.
I was excited to discover that I can unzip the suit by myself, which I was nervous about, especially because I would be traveling with the suit in Western China. There's nothing worse than contracting nasty stomach bacteria in the developing world and not being able to unzip your suit before... well, you know. The rubber-covered zipper pull on the pivot is easy to grab, and makes it restively easy to zip and unzip the suit. But if you really value easy entry and exit, or if you have shoulder problems, consider a front-zip suit instead.
Fit and Comfort
I am 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds. I wear a large suit, but could easily size down to the medium. While the large has a generous amount of space for a person of my size, I am impressed that the excess material does not bunch up or feel cumbersome. NRS really nailed the fit with both the Crux and the Pivot and, although I will give the nod to the Sweet Protection and Kokatat suits for long-term durability, this is one area where NRS more than holds their own.
The Eclipse material that NRS uses in lieu of GORE-Tex is lightweight and flexible, which ensures that the suit does not inhibit range of motion.
Dryness and Durability
Of course, one of the most important questions when it comes to dry suits is ... does it keep you dry? The answer, no matter which suit you are talking about, is nearly always that, while it will keep you dry at first, it will become less effective over time. Depending on the suit, that period of blissful dryness might be a multiple years, a full season, or only a couple of weeks.
I have used the Pivot for 21 days so far on park-and-play, day trips, and multi-day expeditions, and it is still keeping me bone dry. Given my experience with its cousin, the Crux (I've had three of them), I expect reasonably well-cared-for NRS suits to keep me very dry for 50 days, and reasonable dry for another 50. After 100 days, their effectiveness tends to decrease. In my case, that's 100-days of Class V boating, portaging, hiking, and expedition paddling.
While that might seem short to those of you who are die-hard year-round paddlers, that's a lot of life for someone who uses a drysuit 10-20 days a year.
I have not experienced problems with the TiZIP zipper, which has performed admirably to the end of each suit's life.
NRS swapped Velcro cuffs for neoprene cuffs on the Pivot's wrists and neck. I view this as an upgrade. Whereas Velcro cuffs tend to come undone and become an annoyance in rough waters or hole rides, neoprene cuffs stay in place and are, overall, more reliable and durable.
The Pivot comes with a front relief zipper and drysocks, features that you would expect on any suit with a price tag approaching $1000.
The Pivot is a welcome addition to the NRS lineup. It's a well-designed and solidly built suit that is comfortable to paddle in, and the back zipper will appeal to paddlers who put a premium on range of motion and keeping water out of their boat. I find it to be extraordinarily comfortable.
The Pivot more than holds its own against similarly priced suits like the IR 7-Figure. While it is not as durable as the Kokatat Icon, it is also nearly $200 cheaper. If you aren't planning to use your suit 100+ days a year, then that's probably be a fair trade.