The SOUL ONE PIECE DRYSUIT from Ocean Rodeo is part of their water sports range, and is positioned as a flexible, breathable and durable drysuit, geared up for Paddleboarding. So that all sounds great, but how will it do in our tests?
Where and how tested
With forecasts of snow, rain and temperatures hovering around just above freezing, the beautiful Lake District seemed like the perfect trial for a suit designed to keep me warm and dry. A few laps around the islands on Ullswater Lake ought to do it!
The Soul drysuit boasts a three-layer construction. The outer layer is nylon/taslan with a DWR finish. Its 200 denier going up to 420 denier in the knees, buttocks and crotch. This might just be perfect for inland paddlers who find themselves scrabbling up riverbanks, or sliding down them on their backside in the mud like me! The middle layer seems to be where the magic happens – it contains a non-porous, hydrophilic polyurethane breathable membrane (easy for me to say!). This layer allows sweat vapour out while not letting any water in. The inner layer is a soft feeling layer designed to protect the middle layer. I really got the opportunity to put this to the test as I headed around one island to find the wind in my face. Paddling hard against the headwind for a few hundred metres certainly got me breathless and I’d definitely worked up a sweat but peeling the drysuit off when I got to the bank I found my clothes underneath were surprisingly dry. This was great as it’s definitely not what I have experienced before with other drysuits that have left me cold and damp after half as much exertion. The latex seals are good and I didn’t find any of them too tight. I really did miss having latex boots though, they’re pretty essential when touring in such cold conditions so I would definitely recommend investing in a pair of those to go with this suit, with some other models in ocean rodeo’s range you can add soft material dry socks in as an option.
The comfort factor of this suit is really high – I didn’t notice any areas that chafed at all and for a suit that counts durability against abrasion among its qualities the material wasn’t stiff. Owing to my height I had opted for the large but being of slight build I expected to find problems with excess material, which just didn’t become an issue as the fabric felt soft and flexible. The zip around the neck isn’t something I have encountered before and it made entering and exiting the suit quick and easy. I love an occasional paddle in peace and solitude and being able to let myself out of a drysuit is a total bonus especially if you really need the loo!! Speaking of which, the suit is unisex and there is a ‘relief’ zip at the front so no worries there guys but I’ve yet to find a use for it!!
The extra protection on the knees really gave me a good peace of mind – it seemed tough enough to withstand a bit of extra abuse. While the zip around the neck was flexible and comfortable it felt robust and chunky enough not to seem fragile – the suit comes with zip lube to help ensure longevity. Overall the build quality of the suit and the smaller toggles and cords seems really high.
When the drizzle started it didn’t stop for two hours!!! And I was bone dry inside.
When I was examining the suit I noticed a peculiar little vent pocket in the top of the hood, which seems to be to let water out! What a great little feature – so if you really stack it – when you put your hood up later you don’t get another shower! When I was wearing the suit the hood was comfortable – big enough that you could wear a wooly beanie under it but the draw cords at the front allowed you to pull it tight so the wind didn’t blow it back down – great for paddling in a headwind.
I’ve already spoken about the quality of the zip and the location being really good. There is one more thing I would like to comment on about it – the location of the zip allows you to go into what ocean rodeo call ‘standby’ mode where you can wear the suit and the jacket with the neck down. This was great for me as I was out on an inflatable SUP, I pumped up my board with the drysuit on, but the neck down inside the jacket which kept me cool against the effort of pumping, but dry from the light drizzle.
The adjustable suspenders in this suit are remove-able but they’re so useful I can’t see why you would want to do this – they’re adjustable and stretchy so they keep the suit in place and stop the crotch from riding too low but they’re so comfortable that you don’t feel they’re there once you’ve got the length right.
The chest pocket has a neat little elasticated cord in it – I used this to secure my waterproof smartphone to so it was as safe while zipped into that pocket as it was while it was in my hand.
The side pockets which are a much softer neoprene material – I definitely used them to warm up my hands while taking quick breaks from paddling – I’d love to stick a couple of hand warmers in there for really cold days.
The styling on this drysuit is pretty special – I generally don’t care what I look like and will unabashedly walk into a pub in wetsuit and PFD to order that cheeky post paddle beer, however I thought I looked pretty good in the suit and that added an extra couple of degrees on my smile I reckon! I had my eye on the blue initially but what I ended up with was the orange – its pretty eye catching which from a safety point of view is good and I still thought the suit looked really good.
Value for money
The RRP in the UK for this suit is £749, which is not pocket money by any stretch of the imagination. This suit is however very unique in terms of its look and design and from the material to the component parts it does shout high quality. Those who want a piece of the Ocean Rodeo action though might be interested to look at the ‘Heat’ model – it’s a slightly stripped down less heavy duty version saving weight as well as cost – that one comes in at £499.
The suit was really comfortable and flexible, my movement on the water was totally uninhibited by it. I loved the design features that came with the neck zip and the attached jacket and I would feel really happy knowing this suit was coming with me on one of my longer paddles. I felt dry and warm in the suit and it would definitely save me packing space owing to the standby mode, which effectively means it doubles as a waterproof coat and trousers. All in all, while the price will put some people off, those who do choose to buy this drysuit will have a very decent weapon in their paddling arsenal.