Zak Podmore packrafting the Elwha River in Washington. Photo by David Spiegel
Sweet Protection's Intergalactic Drysuit
Helmets from Norwegian gear manufacturer Sweet Protection have long been a top-shelf staple of paddlers' wardrobes, and in recent years their dry gear has been making steady inroads in the North American market. With Sweet's entry into the drysuit game the company continues to live up to their reputation: the Intergalactic is tough, well-designed and stylish.
I've paddled for well over a month of days in the suit in everything from Class V whitewater to an extended winter trip down the Grand Canyon. Most recently, I used it for a 45-mile day of mixed whitewater and flatwater at near-freezing winter temperatures in Colorado. I was surprised to find that despite being well broken in (25 days of sand and grit in the Grand Canyon has been known to take its toll on gear), the durable Gore-Tex Pro fabric with an additional laminate called Ocean Technology was still doing its job, keeping water out through the marathon day and staying breathable enough to prevent moisture from accumulating inside even while working hard.
The front-entry zipper opens from mid-chest to behind the left shoulder, far enough that getting in and out of the sleeves is easy. If kept properly lubricated and free of sand, both the entry zipper and the relief zipper are easily opened via the large T-grip pulls and won't let water seep in.
The sprayskirt sleeve is best I've seen on a drysuit. On the inside is a sticky, rubber-esque lining that helps keep your skirt from slipping down. On the outside, wide velcro straps cinch down over most of your sprayskirt tunnel. And unlike other leading drysuit models, the Intergalactic’s sprayskirt sleeve doesn't overlap with the entry zipper. All of this amounts to a much dryer boat at the end of the day.
The Gore-Tex booties are sewn directly into the Intergalactic. I wear wool socks under the drysuit and a pair of neoprene rodeo socks between the suit and my shoes, which helps protect the drysuit from damaging pebbles and the sand paper effect walking can cause on drysuit booties. The heavy-duty velcro straps on the drysuit have kept my neoprene socks from filling up when stepping into and out of my boat. In my experience, the booties are usually the first part of a drysuit to begin seeping water even when they’re treated gently, so I’ve been surprised to keep coming away with dry wool socks each day I’ve worn the Intergalactic, which is testament to the suit’s overall durability.
The cut of the drysuit was roomy on me (I’m a thin 6’2″ and paddled in a large), and it didn’t restrict my movement. The colors continued to pop even after weeks of wear. Conveniently placed storage pockets on the thigh and shoulder were great for stashing a small tube of sunscreen or a snack.
Surfing a marginal wave in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Amanda Nichols
Sweet's Intergalactic Drysuit holds its own against any high-end drysuit model out there. If you're looking for an entry-level suit to use a few times per year, the Intergalactic probably won't be your top choice due to its hefty price-tag. But if you're looking for a drysuit that will hold up through rough conditions and many long, cold days on the water (and you want to look good doing it), the Intergalactic should be very high on your wish-list.
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