Palm Cascade Drysuit – £399.95
The Cascade is the entry level surface immersion suit from UK company Palm Equipment. A surface immersion suit is more commonly known as a drysuit and unlike a wetsuit this is designed to keep the wearer completely dry in the water. SUPboarder took one for a paddle to see how well the Cascade suit, suited SUP;
From their origins in a shed in Somerset in 1979 Palm Equipment have become one of the leading designers and manufacturers of “Gear for Paddlers’, originally for the Kayak and Canoe market they are now making more equipment for SUP.
About the suit
The Cascade is Palm’s entry level dry, multi purpose suit that’s designed to do a bit of everything on, and in the water. The suit is made from Palm’s XP 3 material which is coated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment to prevent it getting waterlogged and the material is highly breathable according to Palm’s own data. The two zips are branded ‘TiZip’ and while they look chunky they are flexible and easy to use. And waterproof.
The suit SUPboarder were given to test was an XXL and for our tester this was a little on the large size, however this made getting in and out of the suit very easy, even for someone not used to suits of this type.
The suit – from the feet up
The suit has socks built in so shoes must be worn when using it to prevent damage to them, a hole in the material would defeat the purpose of a dry suit. The ankles have Velcro adjustment so any excess material there can be tucked away. Moving up the knees are reinforced, a good thing for an area where wear could be an issue, the same reenforcement can be found at the seat and other high wear areas. At the waist is an important feature in any sealed suit, a waterproof ‘relief’ zip, ideal for longer paddles and apparently shewee compatable! There is waist adjustment with a pull chord / toggle arrangement that was very useful to gather in excess material for the tester.
To allow access to the suit a huge zip runs from the waist diagonally across the torso to the right shoulder. This essentially divides the suit into two halves, getting the bottom half on is like pulling on any pair of trousers, the top half then pulls over your head, push the arms through and it’s on. In addition to the pull chord adjustment for the trouser part there is Velcro adjustment for the overlapping part of the top of the suit, this is a simple and very effective way to tidy up any excess material once in the suit.
The arms have enforcement at the elbows and have latex gaskets at the wrists to keep water out. These are trimable if need be, instructions can be found on the Palm site. The wrists also have Velcro tables for further adjustment. At the neck is another latex gasket and yet more Velcro adjustment over the top of that. Palm call this their ‘Twin Waist’, the aim is to reduce water ingress.
The suit has no insulation so in any conditions where wearing it is a good idea you will need to layer up under it. A good base layer, top and bottom, will make the wearer comfortable in pretty much any conditions. The cut of the suit is such that additional layers could be easily accommodated for colder conditions. Without a base layer the suit will feel clammy against the skin and when in the water you can feel the heat being sucked away from you.
On the Water
This suit should come with a fun warning! Because you stay completely dry when you fall in it gives you a lot more confidence to push yourself in conditions where you’d normally be concerned about staying dry and warm.
Falling in becomes more fun than it should
And that for this tester was the main benefit of this suit. I’m not adverse to falling in, pushing limits is how we all progress as paddlers, but in winter sometimes the temptation is to concentrate on fitness rather than fun as fun, even in a good winter wetsuit can mean a chilly paddler. Problem solved with a dry suit and as a result my step back turns, complete with Labrador counter balance, have improved dramatically!
If you’ve never used a dry suit before then the first time you fall in you’re likely to bob about on the surface like a balloon, the air trapped in the suit will make you very buoyant. That makes swimming harder than in a wetsuit so ‘burp’ the suit after you’ve zipped yourself in and let air out through the neck seal. Once you’ve got used to the extra buoyancy getting about in the water is easy enough and it makes no difference to getting back on the board.
The extra material in the XXL suit meant that flexibility wasn’t an issue and, as most of the excess can be tucked away the suit didn’t flap about in the wind. We used the suit for all sort of fun on the water, from messing about for photos to winter paddles of a few hours at a decent pace and there was no noticeable heating up in the suit so the breathability figures from Palm appear to be pretty good. The DWR treatment works so well that I got into the habit of driving home in it post-paddle on really cold days, seat covers not required.
Pros Completely waterproof, robust, drysuit, easy to get on and off.
Cons Sizing is generous on the upper body for the height. Mind the socks.
This SUPboarder hadn’t tried a full-on surface immersion suit before the Cascade arrived and using one was an eye-opener. The Cascade encourages you to push your limits in conditions where using a wetsuit would be cooler. Just check the size guide before buying.
Find out more about the Palm Cascade Drysuit on the Palm’s website here.
Words Chris Jones | SUPboarder
Images Mike Lister Photography