My Dry Suit – The Palm Torrent
Nick Bennett, November 11, 2011
I have had the Palm Torrent for 10 months now. In that time it has been all over Scotland, Corsica, Norway and the East Coast of the US. I love it; keeping me warm and dry in almost all situations, the Torrent is one of the most important pieces of kit I own. As far as increasing the number of rivers paddled per £ spent it wins hands down. However it is my first dry suit and many of the things I love (mainly being dry and warm) come as standard with all dry suits.
I have learnt a few lessons in what makes a good dry suit and what makes a dry suit good. Coming from a dry top and dry trouser combo to a full suit is a noticeable change. Although a combo (which is cheaper) keeps you dry if you stay in your boat or choose your time and place of exit, when this choice is removed you will, at best, end up damp.
The first thing I have learnt is that a dry suit must have dry feet. Cold feet are just miserable and ankle gaskets are just another piece of latex to go wrong. Even with dry socks it is still hard to keep your feet warm and I have taken to wearing a thick pair of walking socks under the suit and neoprene socks over the top.
The Torrent features a Ti-Zip rubber zip across the back which works well as long as you keep it lubricated. Other suits feature brass zips which are more durable, but also stiffer making the zip more noticeable when paddling. Having the zip across the back keeps it out of the way of almost everything, including your hands. This means you need help (unless you’re very flexible) to get in or out. Most of the time this isn’t a big issue but it is annoying. Dry suits are available with the zip across the front like a sash and even on the inside of the thigh. The other downside of the Ti-Zip is that occasionally it will miss a tooth and leave a gap allowing water in. Regular lubrication and generally taking care of the zip means that this has only happened to me once, although it becomes more common with age. The torrent also has a Ti-Zip on the crotch in case you need to relive yourself which is an absolute necessity as a man. Something about the sound of a big rapid and all that….
I am just under 6ft 2in and I fit a large, I would say it is a little short in length and generous in girth with the XL suffering even more generosity. I rarely notice it restricting me but I would advise spending some time trying any suit on in full kit at the shop before buying it. The torrent is only available in dark blue and personally I’m not a big fan of the colour. I would love to see some of Palm’s retro styling rolled out across the immersion suit range.
I was disappointed that after only six months of use I had to return the suit to have the neck seal replaced. I found it had gone slack and would let water in and even leave a small but visible gap when I leant forward. Two other Palm suit owners I know have also had this problem. Palm do not warranty the latex seals as it is a perishable item, they did however agree to pay half the cost of replacing my seal as a gesture of good will due to the suit’s youth.
The suit has an extra reinforced panel on the seat as this is a very high wear area. In my suit this fell out within three moths but was replaced without hassle on warranty. I also had a panel on the left leg replaced as I punctured it during a nasty Norwegian swim. I do not think that this is a problem and I wasn’t surprised to have damaged the suit under the circumstances. I found Palm to be, on the whole, very helpful in replacing and fixing my problem and it wasn’t particularly expensive (less than £50).
On balance the Torrent is a good dry suit at a good price point. It is well styled and it works well. I had some durability issues with my suit but Palm was helpful in sorting them out. I would say buying a drysuit is a must for any cold water, water sport enthusiast. It just makes life on the water better.