RICK/A Sea Kayaking Forum

Commerce => Gear Reviews => Topic started by: Eric J. on October 17, 2007, 04:42:41 PM

Title: Reed ChillCheater Dry Suite
Post by: Eric J. on October 17, 2007, 04:42:41 PM
When I was looking to buy a dry suite, I was feeling too poor to pay a cool K for a Kokatat dry suite. I knew a group had purchased suites from a company in England called Ravensmith or some such, but they were also pretty pricey. Then somebody mentioned Reed (http://www.chillcheater.com) to me. I'd seen some of their gear on paddling videos and figured if the pros use the stuff it should be pretty good. The price was right too - about $400.
The ordering process was pretty smooth. They had me do a bunch of measurements and fax that off to them. Each suite is custom made for the person. In a few short weeks my suite arrived in the mail.
The suite is made out of a rubbery material that Reed claims to be breathable. To look at the material, you'd think they are full of doo. However, it really does breath. I've worn it on spring days when the water is frigid and the air is in the 60s and 70s without being too uncomfortable.
It is pretty comfortable to get into. It does not have urethane gaskets that never fit right. Instead the gaskets are sewn into the suite and are sized based on the measurements you provided the company when you ordered. (If you loose a ton of weight, or gain a ton, the seals will not be so great.) The suite also has handy suspenders to keep the arms from dragging before you seal up. The only minor drawback is the zipper placement. Unlike most dry suites I've seen, the Reed suite has the zipper across the back. It is pretty much impossible to seal without help. (On the plus side the zipper will keep you from going out solo in the winter.)
Does it keep you dry? Yup. I get some seepage if I'm in for a long time, but not enough to be an issue.
Is it tough? Yup. I've had it for four years and am pretty hard on gear.
I'd say it is an excellent alternative to the Kokatat. You may look like an escapee from and S&M set, but is that really worse than looking like one of the extras from a Star Trek set?
Title: Re: Reed ChillCheater Dry Suite
Post by: mkrabach on October 17, 2007, 09:27:05 PM
I too have the Reed dry suit, as does Alison S. and Rich R.  I agree with Eric that it is a good value.  I paid $415 for a delivered suit.  Other standard features not mentioned are the booties and the built-in (male) relief zipper.  Maybe someday there will be a womens relief zipper.  The material is more flexible than the gotex suits and  quite comfortable to wear. The base material is 4-way stretch cloth and the coating feels sort of like thin rubber.

Another good point about the cuff and neck closure is that they are not going to rip like the standard latex ones.  They are the same material as the suit but a little thinner I believe.  The important point it that the cuff is rolled back on itself so that there is really no edge at the end of the cuff.  The double material is then sewn to the sleeve or neck.  With that construction there is no edge to fray and leak, or in the case of latex, rip. 

Another disadvantage or advantage, mentioned by Eric, is if you size it, especially in the waist, with your summer measurments,  it is not going to have enough space for bulky winter clothing.  So think carefully when you size yourself if you consider buying a suit.  Of course your height, neck, wrist, and foot size don't change.  The suit is more or less a custom fit.

Rich R. showed me how to open and close the back shoulder zipper by yourself, and it works.  Helps to be a little flexible in the upper shoulders, but it works.  So now I don't have to worry about driving home on a cold day and taking off the suit by myself.

A problem I encountered is the material is not as durable as the standard gortex suits.  While on Dutch Island a couple of briar bushes snagged my inner legs and foot.  I recall getting snagged but did not notice any damage.  Then after I had been standing in the water for some time at  Wed. rescue practice, I took off my suit and noticed that my right bootie had a little less than 1/2 cup of water in it.  Hard to tell because I wear thick wool socks.  I did not notice the leak while I was in the water.  They only way I found the problem was laying the suit down on a blue tarp in the back yard, sloping down a little to the feet, and filling it with water from a garden hose.  Then closely looking for the leak.  Boy were they small.  I found them as seen in the photo, and patched it with polyurethane sealant like  Aqua seal.  The penny is for size comparison.

Was it worth it to save $400, you betcha!

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Title: Re: Reed ChillCheater Dry Suite
Post by: GeoAFenleyIII on October 17, 2007, 09:37:54 PM
Hi Eric; I have a toke from them that is warm if a bit loose on the head, one size fits all sort of thing. I have a couple of other things from from them or I should say their American distributor on the west coast. I have both sites booked marked. The site you you have is the main site in the UK.  The west coast site is               http://www.secondwindsports.net/                                                                                     
I have been admiring their combination jacket and spray skirt with map rings and a place to insert a bilge pump.  Similiar to an Eskimo Tulik but more modern.  Another custom order. Thanks George
Title: Re: Reed ChillCheater Dry Suite
Post by: richr on October 19, 2007, 07:21:43 AM
On the Reed dry suit:

A couple of times last year I came back with wet feet. Both feet were wet. A leak? Sweat? (Maybe it doesn't breath enough)

So far I have not found any leaks.

As Mike said, the zipper CAN be worked without assistance. An extension to the zipper pull helps, as does lubrication.

I am happy with the suit.

I also have a neoprene hood (balaclava) which I bought from the dive shop in Narragansett. It's not dry, but it is warm. My helmet fits over it too.