By Judah Harms
It was day three on the Middle Fork Salmon. After paddling 14 miles to Loon Creek, then hiking two miles up the creek in the searing heat, and finally paddling another seven miles to Tappen Island in the thundershowers, it had been quite a long day. We had been exposed to classic Idaho weather: sunny and warm in the morning, followed by torrential thundershowers as we rolled into camp. And on that island, in the pouring rain, as daylight settled into dusk, the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my drysuit. That had been my first long day in the Emperor, made by Level Six, and it proved itself that day. Between the paddling and the hiking, it managed to keep me dry and comfortable throughout the day, and that’s what it was built for.
This drysuit has many things going for it, but its best trait is how beefy it is. There is cordura in all the major rubbing spots (shoulders, knees, butt seat), giving it that extra layer of protection right where you need it. It’ll keep you dry while keeping itself protected from the wear and tear through normal use.
The tunnel also has straps that you can literally feel tightening around you, making for a nice tight sprayskirt seal. The chest pocket and hand warmers are two great additions as well. The chest pocket comes with a whistle, so if you ever forget your own, you got a back up. It’s also a good spot to store keys (put that fob in a dry bag though). The pocket is a bit more spacious than some of the other drysuits I’ve used, easily allowing for more low-profile items. The hand warming pocket is also really nice. It’s deeper and closer to your body than the one in your PFD, and with the fuzzy inside it’s a great place to warm your hands on those cold days. Finally, the Velcro around the wrists and neck makes a good layer of protection for the gaskets as well as giving you that nice tight feel.
Overall, there aren’t any bad things to say about this suit. It should be strongly considered when looking for a new one. Between the performance, Cordura, chest accessories, overall look and feel — and, oh yeah, the way it attracts butterflies — it’s legit player in the world of drysuits.