I’m very fortunate to be in the position of getting hold of new kit well before it is released. This now includes the Intergalactic dry suit from Norwegian company Sweet Protection.
Sweet have been in the whitewater game for years but the Intergalactic marks their first and long awaited move into the dry suit arena. The Intergalactic is built from Gore-Tex Pro material and is backed onto a fabric that is both supple and tough. The Gore-Tex used is the 3 – layer Performance variety that is designed for extreme and extended use. I have a number of bits of kit, including a Sweet Shadrach made out of the same material and although it feels quite soft I know that it will take a beating and come back for more.
Good quality latex gaskets provide water protection at the neck and wrists. To protect the latex the neck seal also has non-adjustable neoprene gaskets. and the wrists have hook and loop adjustable neoprene protection. I am not a big fan of such adjustment on the wrists as it can create quite a lot of bulk that I simply do not like. However I soon forgot about this feature, which must mean that the design is low profile enough to make it un-noticeable.
The construction of the suit is superb. Looking at the inside of the Intergalactic you will find a very neat and solid finish to the fabric/latex joints all of which have been glued and taped. Both the neck and wrist seals feel pretty substantial. A pair of shaped fabric socks provides foot protection. On first looking at the suit prior to trying it on the socks looked far too small and I thought that I may have an issue trying the Intergalactic out. However I have found that they are great for my size 10 feet (UK) whilst wearing a pair of hiking socks. Paddlers with feet a little large or smaller than mine will also find that there is plenty of room in the socks without a huge mass of excess material that needs to be dealt with when you put your footwear on.
Unlike many paddle sport dry suits the Intergalactic is a front zip entry dry suit. This means that the zip lies at the front of the suit and runs across the chest area. This means that the suit is really easy to put on and take off without the assistance of any one else to help with the zip. Sweet have chosen to use a TiZip which is a plastic zip rather than the brass zips that are often found on dry suits. I have a couple of suits that use TiZips and have found them to be incredibly well designed as they have a chunky feel that gives confidence, yet lay flat and are unrestrictive. But most importantly provide really good protection against water. The chest entry zip runs from underneath the right arm, across the chest and over the bicep area of the left arm. The zip is protected by a hook and loop fastened flap to give that little bit of additional protection.
What is really nice is the fact that there is a pull tab at each end of the zip attached to the suit. This gives you something to pull against when opening or closing the zip. The zip sits high enough so that it doesn’t impact upon the effectiveness of the body tube for the spray skirt. The body tube is of a good size and allows the tube of the spray skirt to be fully protected. The hook and loop adjustable body tube is snug when done up to give a good seal against your deck, but opens up wide enough that the Intergalactic is super easy to get off. The relief zip is also a TiZip but this time does not get any additional protection. This seems to make sense as the inclusion of a sewn flap would create a greater need for stitching and taping. From a kayakers point of view the relief zip sits below the spray deck so will get protection from the deck in all situations other than during a swim.
Sweet have included two pockets on the Intergalactic. One can be found on the left arm and the other on the left leg. Although not fully waterproof the seal provided by the brightly coloured orange zips do keep the majority of water out. Whenever I use pockets of this type for my keys etc I tend to use an Aloksak zip lock bag to make sure that water ever I do put in the pocket does stay dry. If I was storing item that didn’t have to stay dry fro example a set of ear plugs then this would not a be a concern.
For the record I have a large Intergalactic. I’m 6ft 1″ and 210lbs and the suit fits really well without any excess/flapping fabric and without any feeling of restriction. In the past I have worn suits that have been a little short in the leg. This is not the case with the Intergalactic. The leg length is superb and allows me to seal the top of my boots off to help prevent grit and stones getting in and potentially damaging the fabric Gore-Tex socks.
All key areas that are prone to heavy impact and potential damage are made from a much heavier Cordura black ripstop material. These areas include the elbows, knees, thighs, ankles and seat.
On the water the suit feels just like wearing a dry top. I was concerned that I would not like the front entry zip and although I did notice its presence, particularly over my left arm the zip does not feel restrictive at all and the suit performs really well. Range of movement is never compromised by the cut or design. It just feels right. The Intergalactic will be available in two colours the Gun Metal Blue shown here and a Scorch Orange. Various other bits of Sweet kit will also be available in the same colours including the Sweet Strutter white water helmet.
In the water the suit performed well. Whilst wearing the suit and moving around the bank the socks were pretty much in and out of the water. They work well. There was no sign of any leak or dampness. Whilst swimming I had the usual “blowing up” effect experienced with all suits but all remained watertight. No issues with the seams, gaskets, zip or the fabric itself.
What is clear is the cut and fit of the Intergalactic is superb, it has to be one of the best suits that I have worn. For those paddlers looking for a top end fully featured high performance dry suit and thought they had made their final choice may well have to think again. The Intergalatic dry suit may be the most sort after piece of white water kit over the next year.
Diagonal zipper for easy self supported entry and exit
Super elastic Yamamoto neoprene, lycra on both sides
Thick latex bottleneck neck gasket inside
Engineered for unsurpassed freedom of movement in GORE-TEX® Pro
Neck tube drain
Articulated arms for unrestricted movement
Thick latex bottleneck wrist gaskets inside
Wrist cuff and gaskets with molded cuff grab made of unnapped velcro Yamamoto neoprene
All-new Hypalon Velcro waist adjustment for a tight and secure fit
Waist seal tube of unnapped Yamamoto neoprene with grippy rubber inside
Arm pocket with zipper access
Extra wide and secure TIZIP relief zippers
Seat area engineered for unsurpassed freedom of movement in waterproof Cordura® laminate
Handy thigh pocket ensures easy access even while seated, with drain mesh
Waterproof Cordura® laminate reinforcement in critical areas
¾ length Yamamoto neoprene ankle cuffs ensures a snug fit from ankle to mid calf . Double layer shin protection area in neoprene.
Extra wide ankle cuffs with unmapped velcro flat-lock adjustment to give you the exact secure fit you need
Sealed GORE-TEX® Pro socks