The Palm Spark Surface Immersion suit has been awarded Canoe & Kayak UK product of the year for 2012. I picked up a Spark from North Shore Watersports shortly after it was launched in early 2012.
Over the course of the last 18 months the Palm Spark Surface Immersion Suit has been worn a fair bit. I’ve worn it during WWSR courses, kayaking, canoeing, ww rafting and bell boating, so it has had a really good test. The only time I haven’t used it has been during the times I have been testing other drysuits or when it has been too warm.
The colour has stood up well to being hammered and even when really grubby the fabric cleans up and wipes down nicely. Lime green definitely seems to be the colour of the moment!
For the record I have a large Palm Spark. I’m 6ft 1″ and 210lbs and the suit fits really well without any excess/flapping fabric and without any feeling of restriction. I’ve lost a few pounds over the last few months and I still have the same opinion about the fit.
The Spark isn’t a dry suit, it’s a Surface Immersion Suit. This means that its is the suit equivalent of a semi dry cag as the not all of the seals/gaskets (neck and ankles) are latex based. That said the seals work pretty well. Whilst standing in water I have found that I do get a little water working its way in via the neoprene ankle seals despite them being a really good fit on my legs. After many months of use this remains the same. I haven’t found that the seals have stretched out of shape. So all good.
The fit of the suit is great with plenty of freedom of movement. The positioning of the tizip does work really well. At first it does feel a little strange as it is different to other suits, but it makes sense. In my case I find it easy to do up and undo the zip myself. The zip is holding up well. I have used the tizip lube a few times now just to keep on top of the maintenance and all is well. I have found that the Velcro used on the flap has frayed in a number of areas and as a result had started to pull part. A quick pass with a naked flame from a lighter sealed those edges and I have had no further issues.
I’ve been over the suit checking both the stitching and taping, and have found the construction and finish to be superb. The fabric seems to have a good balance of toughness and flexibility. You’ll find a few posts on the net about failing seam tape on Palm Equipment. I have checked the suit over from top to bottom and there is no sign of failing tape what so ever. The DWR treatment (the magic stuff that makes water bead on the fabric) has just about gone on the entire suit meaning that it does wet out. The suit will be getting a wash and treatment with Nikwax to return the DWR properties to the suit.
So after a fair bit of use am I still happy with the Palm Spark? – yes! Would I recommend the suit to fellow paddlers? – yes!