The heat of summer fades away, the nights creep in and the average air and water temperatures start to drop. Autumn takes it's grasp and the weather becomes ever more wintery. The colder weather will be here until April and we patiently await calm spells between the storms to get out on the water. The desire to paddle and fish never fades away but when you do catch a break in the weather it is important that you head out onto the water in the right clothing. Whilst a dunk in the sea during the summer months can be just about tolerable (but still cold in the UK!), this scenario in the winter can present a serious risk to life.
Cold water immersion against bare skin, even for a short period, can quickly drain your energy and lead to hypothermia. If this means you are unable to self-rescue onto your kayak then you are in a more pressing situation where you need to urgently call someone for immediate help - that could be a fellow paddler on the water or that could be the coastguard. A drysuit is the best option to protect you against cold water immersion for the colder months, and there is no better time to have a brand new one to test out! In fact, in the UK, a drysuit can be a good option year-round to protect against possible immersion in our cold waters, although lighter-weight two-piece clothing systems are often more comfortable for paddling in the heat of summer.
From Bora to Rogen
I have been using a Palm Bora Drysuit since 2016 and this has served me very well. You can check out my overview on this suit by clicking here. I actually have very little negative to say about this suit other than the yellow fabric has stained a fair bit over the years from fish slime and bait. It remains dry and comfortable though. So what does the new Rogen suit offer? Well, the Bora drysuit is very much a premium drysuit for ocean paddling, great for those on multi-day expeditions and those paddling regularly in adverse conditions. Storm collars, storm hoods, wrist cuffs and a spraydeck-compatible upper body makes the Bora a great choice for tourers and sea kayakers battling the conditions.
Us mere mortals who pick and choose the nicer days to hit the water don't necessarily need all the 'extreme weather extras' that come with a premium spec drysuit. This is very much the case for most sit on top paddlers, kayak anglers and paddle-boarders. The Rogen Suit is the answer to this and has all the essential parts of a touring drysuit, without the bits that are not necessarily needed by the average day paddler. A simple and effective solution to staying dry and comfortable for those paddling in more typical calm-to-moderate conditions. The features I consider key here are:
A close look at the Palm Rogen Suit
Well, it's not yellow! Yellow fabric stains easily. Blue shows up stains less. Grey even less again. Blue and grey are good for kayak fishing. My red Bora Jacket doesn't get too bad either. There is a caveat here though. Blue and grey are not the most visible of colours so for the safety conscious out there, you may be thinking that the Rogen is not the most vibrant. Wearing a bright coloured buoyancy aid (PFD) would work well to enhance your visual visibility on the water. I'm happy with the colour though. The blue colour being across the top of the torso is well planned - this is the part of the suit that is most visible when you are wearing a PFD.
Whilst the Rogen is stripped back to the essential features, you still get quality materials and construction. The suit is made from a 4-layer recycled material that is both waterproof and breathable. Breathable drysuits are good. It can get quite humid in a drysuit when you are hard at work paddling. Breathable material allows for water vapour to pass from the inside of the suit to the outside, and the waterproof nature of the fabric prevents water ingress at the same time. You wouldn't want to paddle in non-breathable drysuit!
The Rogen features an Ultrastretch Neoprene neck seal. Neoprene is the material of choice for touring drysuit neck seals. Latex is the material of choice for whitewater drysuit seals. Neoprene tends to be less irritable against the skin than latex, and therefore more comfortable to wear for long days on the water. The neoprene has a smooth facing on the inside making it easier to slide the seal over your head. The seams are glued, taped and reinforced. That neck opening looks small though....
It lives up to it's name of Ultrastretch Neoprene though! This sits snug against the skin to stop water ingress.
We find the same Ultrastretch Neoprene at the wrist seals.
The Rogen has a front-zip entry by means of a diagonally-fitted YKK AquaSeal zip. It runs from the waist to the back of the shoulder. This is a flexible plastic zip that is easy enough to open and close without too much effort. Much easier than the shoulder zip on my Bora suit anyway, purely due to its location. The front zip makes it really easy to put this suit on and take it off. I like the contrasting zip colour, it adds a touch of style to the Rogen.... because we all want to look great on the water!
Plastic zips are great, They require very little maintenance. Palm do supply a small tube of lubricant with the suit to periodically apply to the zipper to keep it running smooth, although making sure the whole suit is washed off with fresh water after each use is the best form of maintenance to keep things in good condition.
There is a pocket located on the right hand thigh, accessed through a YKK AquaGuard zipper. A handy place to have a pocket. Many drysuits have pockets on the front torso and these are fairly inaccessible once you are wearing buoyancy aid. The thigh pocket offers plenty enough space to store a phone, camera or other small essentials.
This is not a waterproof pocket though, splash-proof at best, so if you are keeping your phone in here, make sure it is a waterproof model or stored within an Aquapac waterproof phone case. There are three small laser cut holes in the bottom corner of the pocket that act as a drainage point.
In the lower half of the Rogen we come to another important feature - reinforcement. Some areas of a drysuit will be subject to more wear and tear than the rest, in particular the seat, knees and lower legs. These tend to be areas that are likely to rub against the kayak the most and here we find reinforced 320D nylon panels to increase durability.
The soles of the fabric socks are also reinforced. Fabric socks are great. Your feet stay dry beneath, meaning that you can wear a decent pair of thermal socks under the drysuit. This is a game changer for winter kayaking! Keeping your feet warm can be a challenge, and once they are cold it is difficult to warm them up again and it can then make for an uncomfortable time. At least with fabric socks, you can layer up and give them a chance of staying warm!
Fabric socks are a weak point on any drysuit though - they can be subject to high wear and abrasion. It is important to wear a decent pair of shoes or boots over them to keep them protected against the worst of it. There is a caution note printed on the sole highlighting this too. My footwear of choice is my Palm Descender Boots or Palm Gradient Boots. Both a good durable footwear options with a tough grippy sole. Both have served me well for many years.
The socks are double-taped for increased durability. This is where taping is glued either side of the seams. Not only does it toughen up these areas, it also further reduces the chance of water ingress.
Over-cuffs at the ankles allow the Rogen to be worn with mid-height boots. The top of the cuff to the heel of the sock measures 35cm.
A quick look inside the suit. There are a lot of panels that make up a drysuit. Each shaped and positioned to provide a good fit yet offer freedom to the arms and shoulders for unrestricted paddling. Each panel is sewn together and taped on the inside, with reinforced taping where needed. It is a quality construction and finish throughout.
There is one feature here that I really like. The neoprene waist band. These are a feature on Palm drysuits and they definitely add to the comfort of wearing the suit. It prevents the lower half of the suit slumping down your body and makes for a much better overall fit.
It's a dry suit not a Thermal Suit!
A dry suit will keep you dry. A thermal suit will keep you warm. A thermal suit worn beneath a drysuit will keep you warm and dry.
A drysuit will reduce the effects of wind chill and by design will prevent cold water from reaching your skin (with the exception of your hands and face), so overall will help in reducing the ability for the environment to make you cold. However, a drysuit does very little to help you retain body heat. It is important to wear a decent set of thermals beneath your drysuit to keep you warm. I highly rate the Palm Tsangpo thermals. I have been using them for many seasons and they are simply superb, both on the water and off the water. Tsangpo Suit and Tsangpo Socks are my go-to combination in the cooler months.
Tsangpo thermals are made from a super soft and stretchy Pontetorto Italian fleece. The inner fluffy fleece has a micro waffle texture - this provides lots of air channels to allow for ventilation and moisture wicking. The material is also treated with Polygiene odour control. This is a permanent fabric treatment which prevents growth of the bacteria responsible for the unpleasant damp gear smell. The material is lightweight too. You hardly know you're wearing it.
Kayak anglers are a little different to the average paddler. We will spend some time paddling, or peddling, but then we can also spend long periods of time sat still, either at anchor or drifting. With the body not exercising, things can get cold quickly and in the depths of winter I will often wear jogging pants and a jumper or two over my Tsangpo thermals on days I know I will be sat still for long periods. There is nothing worse than getting cold and it ruining your session that you have often waited weeks for!
Trying on the Palm Rogen Suit
The neoprene waist band really does feel comfortable. As you put on the drysuit, it feels just like putting on a pair of trousers. No need for adjustable braces with this drysuit.
It's then a case of putting your hands through the wrist seals and then your head through the neck seal. They slide through fairly easily thanks to the smooth facing on the inside of the seals, but some force is still required. To make it easier you can pull the neck seal open a little wider with your hands. With everything in position it is then an easy task to do up the front zip to seal yourself into the Rogen suit.
With the zip slider pulled firmly down into it's final locator, you are now sealed in with just your hands and face exposed to the outside environment. It is then worth 'venting' the drysuit to release some of the trapped air within the suit. To do this, either open the zip a few inches or pull open the neck seal slightly with your hand. Crouch down and squeeze the air out from the suit, Then do up the zip / release the seal and stand back up. You'll now be vacuum packed within the suit and you'll likely find it all feels a better fit. I am 6ft 2in with a 30inch waist and the Medium size seems to be the best fit for me.
There is always a bit of excess material (not helped by the fact that I could walk through the crack in a closed door!) but much of this is taken up as your body assumes a paddling position. The angles created along the body as you bend your knees in a seated position help take up some of the bagginess and all of a sudden everything seems to fit just right. It's a paddlers drysuit designed to fit paddlers whilst they are paddling! Wearing a buoyancy aid soon pulls things in too.
There is only one buoyancy aid for me and that's the Palm Kola Angler. A buoyancy aid designed for kayak fishing, with a little design input from me! The Jet Grey colour ties in well with the Rogen suit and makes for a stealthy option for kayak anglers. It is also available in a Flame Red for those who want to enhance their overall visibility on the water.
Suited, booted and ready for kayak fishing!
If you are looking for your first drysuit for kayak fishing or just general day paddling then the Rogen suit offers all the essentials needed to keep you dry and comfortable on the water. This is a great option for those hitting the water in general favourable conditions and this tends to be the case for many kayak anglers and other recreational paddlers. Those who are regularly battling the conditions and heading out when mere mortals stay ashore may benefit from a premium specification drysuit, such as the Palm Bora, which offers a bit more protection against the elements in adverse conditions. I expect for the vast majority the Rogen suit will do just fine for almost all paddling sessions!
There is just one feature missing that can be quite advantageous on the water and that is a relief zip, also known as a pee zip. When nature calls and you need a wee, it can be handy to just unzip and release the pressure. I have a pee zip on my Bora Suit and on my Atom Bib. Alas, it is not an impossible task on the Rogen. With the zipper located at the base of the zip in the closed position, you can open it up a bit and with some fumbling around you can locate what needs locating, poke it out and go for a wee. No photos of that bit so you'll just have to take my word for it! Of course, this is only the case for male paddlers.
Despite being stripped back to the essential features, the fit and quality of the materials and construction are still excellent, as to be expected from Palm. Less features also makes for a lower price point, and one that will be more attractive to the paddler who may not be using a drysuit as much as a paddler hitting the water whatever the weather.
Overall I'm impressed and look forward to using the Rogen for kayak fishing and some winter paddling over the next few seasons. I'll update this soon with some on-the-water feedback!
Where to buy the Palm Rogen Suit
Cornwall Canoes are a Palm retailer and sell the Rogen Suit. Check it out on their website here: Palm Rogen Suit.
Take Care Of Your Drysuit
A good quality drysuit is an investment into your comfort and safety on the water. With good care, you can expect many years of service from your suit. Ensure you rinse the suit with freshwater after each use, particularly if you have paddled on saltwater. Hang your suit to dry away from direct sunlight. Ensure your drysuit is fully dry before long-term storage to minimise mould and mildew growth on the fabric. Fold gear loosely and store without compressing the suit. If particularly dirty, this drysuit can be machine washed at 30°C - Palm recommend washing with Granger’s Performance Wash detergent. In time, should you need to replace any seals or the fabric socks, Palm offer an excellent repair service right here in the UK. You can find details of that here: Palm Customer Service
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