I have had a few people asking me about my thoughts on Ocean Rodeo’s drysuits so I thought I would take the time here to do a review. After seeing them on the market for a few years I finally got my hands on their Soul Drysuit without the attached booties a couple of years ago. There were a number of features that stood out immediately and that I liked about the Soul
FIT: The first thing that I loved about the Soul was how amazing the fit was. At 6’1″ 185lbs the Large Soul fit me like a glove and the mobility for paddling was very good. The bottom of the pants fit perfectly over my rubber boots which I like to wear sometimes on my sup and was easily compatible with my neoprene booties. I like the fact that it has clean lines and looks like I am just wearing a normal goretex jacket and pants and not some goretex zippered bag. This was probably the first thing that caught my eye about these suits.
REMOVEABLE HOOD: Another great feature was the fact that the suit had a removable hood. Living and working in the rainforest has taught me that almost every piece of upper body clothing should have a hood on it, or at least should have the option. For pretty much all of my work in the sup world and the times of the season that I am using this suit I require a hood. The hood is really well thought out, can be fitted anatomically for good vision while paddling and as I said is removeable, a nice feature if your river running.
STANDBY MODE: The standby mode makes a lot of sense since you don’t have to pull the gasket over head, a nice feature if your teaching or instructing on land for awhile before getting on the water, or used in a way to regulate temperatures. Also nice if your paddling conditions get better and you need a breather from the full suit. Having the built in suspenders is nice feature helping with the fit in standby mode.
The first Soul drysuit I had did not have the attached booties and that’s a feature in the Ignite that I love. It’s amazing how much better you feel when your feet are warm and dry. Wearing socks in the booties and then putting on a pair of rubber boots or a good pair of NRS/Teva/water shoes is great combination. If you wish you can order the blue Soul Drysuit with booties and for me that was one of the best features when I moved into the Ignite.
This suit comes with a few more bells and whistles and is geared for more foul weather applications. I love having the attached booties that comes standard with this suit. It has the same great fit and aside from the above mentioned features there are few other ones on the Ignite that I like that the Soul does not have.
COLOR AND REFLECTIVE MATERIAL: I do a lot of expedition sup paddling on our coastline and choosing gear that can be easily seen is an important safety feature. The red will be more easily seen and or found when I am on the water. The Ignite has a lot more reflective patching and piping on it and this visibility comes in real handy in an emergency and may save your life if someone is looking for you in the water or on the shoreline. I hope this never happens but as a coastal guide you are always asking the questions “What if?”
ROUGH WEATHER COLLAR: I do not find this collar that beneficial when I am just standup paddling but I also do a lot of salmon fishing, sup expeditions and coastal travel with my centre console aluminum boat and this collar is really nice to have up when your in a gale. The collar does have the option to be snapped down which is nice but from a straight paddling standpoint I like the collar on the Soul better.
PADDED KNEES: The first time I knelt down on my paddleboard I was like, wow, that feels pretty good. Those padded knees are really comfortable and durable. It nice to have high wear areas around the knee reinforced.
I spend pretty much all of my time working outside as a sup instructor and wilderness/expedition/fishing guide in the Great Bear Rainforest and I have used both the Soul and the Ignite in a number of different applications.
COLD/ROUGH WEATHER PADDLING: Since it’s the fall now and the weather/wind/rain has returned I have found myself wearing the drysuit for a lot of my paddling here in Howe Sound. I use an Icebreaker layering system underneath to regulate my body temperature. When we get those cold outflow winds I throw my Ignite on for downwind paddles.
SPRING AND FALL INSTRUCTION: I instruct a lot for Paddle Canada and I find myself wearing this suit in the spring and fall quite a bit. It’s easy to get cold when instructing because your not active and generating a lot of heat so its really nice to have the suit on at those times of the year. I also do a lot of work in Tofino and use this suit extensively on our touring courses.
RIVER PADDLING: This suit has been great for our local river runs and for my river courses and training classes that I do. The Soul maybe a better option than the Ignite in this application due to due the cleaner lines and less extras.
EXPEDITION PADDLING: One of the things I love to do is paddle long distances on our coastline and the Soul or Ignite would be the suit to take with you for those big crossings or for the remote, solo coastal or big lake trips.
SAFETY GEAR: As I mentioned earlier I have a boat and this is a great piece of safety gear to have on your boat similar to a survival suit. If I ever got into trouble and with the right layering I could always throw this suit on quickly and at least get to shore. If I had some long, knarly open water trips and I was on my own then I would just wear the suit outright. Jacket PFD’s fit perfectly over these suits giving you one of the safest systems in the industry.
I do not use these suits for specific paddle surfing. I have an awesome XCEL wetsuit for that but you can use them to surf if you want and they have come in really handy when teaching surf landings on our touring courses in Tofino.
Overall these are amazing suits and well worth the investment, they are really well designed and a pleasure to paddle in. Plus they have gotten me over my fear of wearing a drysuit in public 🙂 Contact your local retailer to purchase or touch base with the Ocean Rodeo guys.