With just a quick Google search, it’s easy to find products of all types, listed in lots of different places. Some are cheaper, some are nicer, but no matter what you are shopping for, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with choices. Dry suits are no exception.
For many people shopping for a drysuit, cost is the ultimate deciding factor. That totally makes sense, seeing as dry suits are an important piece of gear but tend to carry a hefty price tag. Recently, we have seen a number of suits from China advertised for crazy low prices. On the surface, these seem super enticing. Gotta save money for all the other expensive boating gear somehow, right?
These suits look just like offerings from companies like Immersion Research, Kotatat, NRS, Level 6, Nookie and many others but they are vastly different in construction. Without getting into too much detail, everything from the fabric and zippers to gaskets and booties are much lower quality than what would be the standard from a reputable company. If you want a full breakdown on all the details, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service team. We are happy to discuss them at length.
Whitewater is incredibly hard on gear. It is so difficult (and expensive) to build dry wear that will hold up to years of paddling. We've tested countless fabrics from domestic and international manufacturers that are known for producing extremely high quality waterproof/breathable material. Many will look good on paper, but fail nearly immediately in testing. There really aren't many options out there if you want a product that lasts. Whitewater is a gear intensive sport and it takes years of working with fabric manufacturers to develop something that can hold up to the conditions we as paddlers put these suits through.
Though these cheaper suits may look similar, they are not the same thing. When things look too good to be true, they almost always are. That is the story with these knockoffs. There’s an old saying out there that goes “buy it nice or buy it twice.” Though it may be a big hit to the bank account, it is well worth it to spend the extra money upfront and purchase a suit from a reputable company that knows whitewater gear. Whether you choose to support us or another brand, it will ultimately end up being far cheaper in the long run.
Unlike the companies behind these knockoff suits, we (and other whitewater companies) offer a manufacturer’s warranty and customer support for maintenance and repairs. Any dry suit will need new gaskets every few years. Annual pressure testing can help to ensure peak performance and dryness. No matter what company you purchase from, it's not a bad idea to look into the warranty and repair program. Over the life of a suit, it's not unreasonable to spend more than half the original cost of the suit on several sets of gaskets, replacement socks, pressure testing, and patching by the time it's ready to be retired. This is a big purchase, we get it, but, remember, “buy it nice or buy it twice” rings very true in the world of dry wear.
Here are a few side by sides showing knock off suits compared to the real thing.
Immersion Research will not service one of these knockoff suits. Our repair department is always looking out for our customer’s best interests. It’s never easy to tell someone that it makes more sense to retire a suit rather than spend a ton on repairs just to limp it along. We feel that our customers are better served shopping for a used suit or waiting for a good deal from a well regarded manufacturer than opting for one of these cheap knockoffs. Save the money and put it towards something that is going to last a long time.
Still have questions about what sets our gear apart? Reach out to our customer service team. We’re here to help.