The nights are drawing in. The temperature is dropping, and the rain is falling. I should be excited; the Scottish paddling season is kicking off. Months of blustery days, where the heavens open and you go paddling almost every weekend.
This year however my drysuit is stranded in Canada. Summer boating plans got kiboshed due to the pandemic and I’m back in Scotland without my trusted latex companion. The long john wetsuit drafted in as a reserve haunts my hallway. It was great in the summer. Warm weather days, and a laugh at the retro styling meant I was happy in it. Now it hangs in the hallway, dripping, like a form of psychological torture. Reminding me of what lies ahead. Cold. Wet. Miserable.
Sack that. I need a new suit. Could go for another IR Arch Rival. It served me well in the past. I had two, no complaints. Warm, dry, easy access through the front zip, cool colour. I would be really happy with a replacement. I could however, go for something a little more Gucci….
Of the two top line suits that IR make, the 7figure is their highest performance suit with a focus on comfort and fit. The suit is cut to eliminate excess fabric and bagginess, reducing bulk and weight for a close-fitting suit with unparalleled freedom of movement. This is combined with a polyester face fabric that doesn’t absorb water, further reducing saturated weight and maximizing breathability and waterproofing of the suit.
In comparison, their Devil’s Club suit is the hardwearing workhorse of the range that is designed to stand up to the toughest abuse you can throw at it, with a heavier more durable face fabric.
Weighing up which suit to go for was a tough decision. Paddling in Scotland can be rough on gear; my suit gets a lot of use through the winter and I end up doing a fair amount of walking in/crawling through woods/bogs/gorges etc. The Devil’s Club would be a good option. That said, I haven’t ripped an IR suit yet and how good does the 7figure sound. The idea of running about in this light, breathable and unbelievably dry suit was too much; that combined with the suave purple ‘Mysterio’ colour, decision made.
I’m bang on 6ft and 74kg, I went for the Large. I combined it with a cheeky order of a new ThickSkin Union Suit and the box was at my door in 3 days. Rapid delivery from IR who seemed to know that there was rain due at the weekend and I was planning on heading out.
I have been using the 7figure for about a month now and I fully stand by my decision to indulge in the performance model. First impressions: The ‘alpine inspired cut’ is fantastic, there is no unwanted loose material. When I move around, I don’t feel encumbered and the range of movement is great. What feels really good is the lack of velcro tabs, usually used to synch in all the excess material around your waist, lower legs and wrists. In the 7figure I don’t feel all wrapped with large folds of material Velcro-ed against me when the suit is on. The waist tube is snug reduces bulk around the midriff, which is something you notice when tucking up to roll.
The hydrophobic face fabric is the best feature of the suit. The fact your suit does not absorb water cannot be understated. It means when your paddling it feels lighter, and less restricted, you feel warmer and don’t get that soggy damp feeling. The suit breaths more efficiently which again reduces condensation inside and keeps you feeling warmer and drier. The big one for me is when your charging about on a multi river day, the rain lashing down and your jumping in and out the car between rivers, 10-15 minutes with the blowers on and the fabric of the suit is practically dry! So when your pulling it over your head for the third/fourth time that day you don’t get that cold damp feeling which can sometimes sap at motivation.
It is holding up the rigours of Scottish paddling and I haven’t worried about the durability. Patches of the heavier ‘Devil’s Club’ material on the knees and bum mean that the areas that take the most abuse have a bit more resistance.
Paddling is undoubtably a confidence game. When you feel good, you paddle better. The combination of a 7figure with a ThickSkin Union suit underneath is the best combo I have come across for feeling warm, dry and unrestricted in the worst weather the highlands can come up with. Iv’e felt great on the water so far and I’m really fired up for the winter of boating ahead.
3-layer waterproof/breathable shell with 100% PCW recycled polyester face fabric treated with C6 DWR (durable water repellent) finish
One-piece super sticky neoprene tunnel
HD double front pants and heavy-duty seat
Rear YKK® AquaSeal® entry zipper
Front YKK® AquaSeal® relief zipper
Booties and ankle cuffs reinforced with abrasion-resistant Devil’s Club 3-layer 240g/m² nylon Taslan face fabric
Latex neck and wrist gaskets with neoprene over cuffs to aid in dryness and gasket preservation
Adjustable webbing belt to keep your suit snuggly on your hips
Size variations available to fit paddlers of all shapes and sizes (S-XXL)
Shell Fabric: 3-layer recycled polyester
Fabric Weight: 215g/m²
Waterproofness (mm h₂o): 30,000
Breathability (g/m²/24h): 4000
Weight: 3.9lbs (62.4oz)
Words and pictures: Sam Gregory