Level Six Emperor Drysuit
Price: $1125 CAD
Sizes: XS to XXL
Colours: Grotto Blue, Bright Yellow/Charcoal, Blaze Red/Charcoal
Level Six uses Exhaust 3.0 Waterproof Breathable Nylon and Cordura for it's suit with re-enforced knees, elbows and seat areas. The neck and wrist gaskets are made from British latex, and it sports a double tunnel waistband that can house kayak skirts. There are 2 waterproof zippers: One at the back along the shoulder blades for entering/exiting and another small one near the groin area in the front. The suit has got articulated spine stitching that allows for greater upper body range of motion. Lastly, it's got a fleece lined hand warmer pocket on the chest and waterproof socks sewn into the pants.
Fit- According to the size chart on the website I should using the size small but when I went to try on the suit, I found the XS size fit me the best even at 5'6" tall. This could be that the suit was designed for males originally, and I found the small size to sloppy and long. I can tell using the extra small size that the hip section is not a women's specific design. The shoulder area gives loads of range of motion and I haven't felt restricted in it at all while paddling.
Durability- Hands down the Level Six Emperor Drysuit is the most burly and tough suit I have ever used. The fabric is bomber and durable and I have had no reason to think that this suit won't last for years to come
Waterproofness- After 2 seasons of use paddling, I haven't seen much signs of wear. I make sure to keep the socks part of the suit protected in shoes while paddling and in general take care of my gear. I have had no issues with gaskets or zippers leaking.
Versatility- I love that I can use this suit for all my cold water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, dock removal, and instructing.
Quality product- When you purchase this suit it is obvious that you are getting a quality product that if you treat well will last for many years. Compared to other suits, the material is more durable and bomber than other companies
Zipper- Having an entry/exit zipper across the shoulder blades almost ensures that you cannot zip the suit up by yourself. Normally this isn't a problem for me as I always paddle with others but if you were at a put-in by yourself catching up with some friends to park 'n play then I might be a bit peeved I couldn't do up the zipper myself. This also was an issue with Con #2:
Anatomical issues- As a woman trying to use a men's drysuit, I had some difficulties when nature called. The idea of taking off the top half of the suit to pee is not an endeavour I ever want to pursue. But I had too....it was the only way I could pee. For a woman this is entirely frustrating and in no way user friendly. I started packing my pee funnel that I originally bought for glacier travel as an option to use the small zipper at the front. It took me a few paddling days to bring up the courage to try it (consequences could be disastrous) until one day I couldn't hold it and so I tried it. It worked...but was difficult to coordinate through the front zip. Recommendation: Make an Empress suit designed for women with a butt zip!
Best Uses: Cold water paddling, Swift Water/Ice Rescue, Northern Canoe Tripping, Dock removal, etc