Then my disappointment was when the neoprene neck which was really comfortable, started to come apart at the seam and delaminate (this also happened to a colleagues recently). When I took it back to the store I bought it they sent it back to Stolquist and I just had a phone call from the store to say they won't replace or repair the suit and I have a credit to buy another dry suit. However this store does not carry Stolquist any longer , instead expensive Kokatats. I tried them on yesterday and again had trouble with the waist band in the different sizes.
So I thought the drysuit was great, waterproof, breathable, comfortable but I didn't like the fact I could not get a replacement for a faulty collar. I suggest if you own one then you should check your collar regularly.
I liked the fit out of the box. I ordered a large; I'm 5'8" and 170#, a 44" chest so I'm built a bit weird. Still, had plenty of room up top and the velcro ankle straps and tunnel help control the extra fabric. All seals have been tight and dry, after two extended trips and much flopping round in the water at symposia.
But the greatest plus for me is the neck gasket. I haven't heard a very skinny person weigh in on this aspect but for me, it seals great. So far, no leakage there and it's been tested.
Other than that, I liked the price (if you shop a bit, you can find this suit significantly below the suggested retail). I half-expected less sturdy material, something like the Kokatat Tropos, but the material on this one is as rugged as on more expensive traditional drysuits.
I second what "corgimas" said about the tunnel below. An annoyance and nothing more, but it could be modified to minimize this.
The question on this suit is the neck gasket, which shouldn't be a problem for most.
For the budget minded individual tired of two-piece dry systems, or of no dry systems, this is a good item to take a serious look at. The price is below the mainstream K…… suits with comparable benefits, and a step up in comfort.
This drysuit is made of a waterproof, breathable fabric: TTL Eclipse. It includes fabric booties for complete waterproofing and comfort (the booties look to be able to take a size 12 or better, at least bigger than mine). A nice cross body waterproof Ti-Zip starts above the right shoulder and ends at waist height. According to all of the information about this suit, and subsequent series, any relief zipper is not necessary for males wearing it. I know that I will be in the suit for long periods of time so I asked for this suit to have a relief zipper added just in case. Addition of the zipper was up to the usual level of Stohlquist’s modification work: excellent. This legs of this suit were also modified for me, they removed ~2” from the legs to so that there was no uncomfortable bunching of material while paddling; excellent work there as well, all the way to the phone calls to me to make certain of measurements and how the legs of the suit were to be re-sewn and sealed. The protective foam kneepads were raised so that they actually covered my knees. The finished product was sent to me and it fits perfectly. Unfortunately, Stohlquist is no longer doing their own repair and modification work, they now have Rainy Pass of Seattle to do such things. I had previously talked to K…… about the same modification; they were unable to do such a thing, only offering to move the cuffs 2” (but they were willing to add a relief zipper to any of their suits).
When I first read about the neoprene collar it appealed to me. After all of my drytops and the dry suits I had used, tried to garrote me I was annoyed with a latex gasket. The first try-on I was pleasantly surprised with the comfort, but still dubious of its seal. After wearing the suit around the house for about ½ an hour I was assured of its breathable factor since I was building up a sweat. When I removed the suit my neck was still dry. This gasket works by making contact with your neck, instead of in a 1/16” area like latex, but over a 1” tall area covered by a flat neoprene collar coated with a Titanium coating for a super smooth finish. In doing so there is no longer any sawing of the tender flesh of the neck (and it also does not cause any ingrown hairs in my beard like the latex did!). You can turn your neck and the collar turns with you. The Ti-coated collar is attached to a shoulder width collar of normal neoprene so that there is a large amount of mobility available. In talking with their rep before my purchase he admitted to me that the neck gasket of this suit works well with a bigger person-no twiggy thin people here. Ya know when you turn your neck sometimes some tendons pop out of the side of your neck? Well, on a thinner person, without extra meat to protect their throat, those tendons could potentially cause a chute to form that water could pour down in the case of a flip or big wave. I do not have the problem of having a little neck, so I had no worries about that factor. During a handful of rolls, as well as horsing around in the surf to test the suit out there were no leaks.
Another thing I like about the design of the suit is that the latex wrist gaskets are made of thicker gauge latex. It feels much more secure than the thinner competitors gaskets. I had less worry of a blowout or a tear in these.
This suit is the bPod-T. That T stands for tunnel, as it has an over tunnel for a spray skirt. When getting geared up this suit made it much easier than the 2 part dry systems, trying to keep all the parts in place while pulling on a skirt, and much more secure than not having no over tunnel. The skirt lay in place comfortably, and the zipper ended below where the skirt rode, nicely out of the way (I can definitely see how they can push the no-need for a relief zipper).
During all of my first uses of this suit it is very comfortable, just by not having a gasket sawing away at the neck while looking back over your shoulder for a wave it is making paddling in colder weather much nicer. The zipper is up off of my shoulder and chest enough so that there is no tugging of the material making it uncomfortable while paddling. I have no worries or qualms about taking out in mid-December for a nice surf, or for in and out of the cockpit practice while instructing. Overall, this is a great drysuit that I will be using for years to come.
The complaints that I have about this suit are:
On the over tunnel there are two side flaps that Velcro to the belly area on the suit. The Velcro covers the entire flap, so when you try to remove the flap when you are getting undressed (or need a little more space) it is hard to grab any part of the flap to pull on. That flap is about 3”x 4” square so there is a 12” squared area of Velcro to fight against. If there was ½” non-Velcro-d space at the end of the flap it could be used as a grip.
A personal move on my part is that I did apply Seam Seal to the seam that is present on the back of the neck where the neoprene was sewn together to make a circle. I am not certain if it was direly needed or not but I did apply it anyway-no harm.
My use of this suit will be including, but not limited to: surf kayaking, sea kayaking, kayak instruction, sailing, rafting, and I imagine that if someone stuffs me into a whitewater boat in colder weather I would wear it as well, also it will be worn if I have to go into one of our big aquariums at work.