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An independent Playak review of the Camaro Dry-Tec suit and XA-10 termo layer.
The new Camaro Dry-Tec suit immediately caught my eye when I first saw it in 2009. I find black wear, especially when it looks sexy. Since the Dry-Tec is stretchy, it’s made tighter to the body than other dry suits, so that impressed me, and together with the soft shiny surface, this creates a very sexy look and feel.
Another interesting concept is the main zipper. It’s put horizontally across the front and closes around the waist similar to a straitjacket, except that it’s just the zipper, and not your hands that are tied down this way.
The whole concept of the suit seemed quite original, a good reason to give it a thorough try, and with the winter of 2009/2010 being so cold, I found a perfect opportunity… (The winter was actually so cold that I didn’t get out to paddle a lot, so it took a bit longer than anticipated to write this review).
The material is stretchy, dry, water repellant and very breathable. I could tell by the stripes on my seat after a long sweaty paddle session. The sweat made the grey fabric of the seat wet, except in those place where the suit is covered with rubberized grip/reinforcement stripes.
The knees have built-in soft patches. Those are more for protecting the material than your knees really, as they are quite thin.
The material seems a bit thinner than other drysuits, so it’s important to wear a good thermo layer underneath. The Camaro XA-10 shirt and pants did a wonderful job: very stretchy, tight and warm.
The latex cuffs are extremely tight. I should probably make them a bit wider by cutting off some rings of latex, but I haven’t done so yet. All latex cuffs (except the neck) are covered by the suit’s main material, making them virtually invisible. I don’t understand why the neck cuff is completely uncovered, which makes it cold and vulnerable when carrying your boat, especially since the latex cuff is quite large, so the boat will almost always rest on that latex.
One thing that is missing is a way to tighten the cuff covers, which are very wide and thus loose. The cover zippers are nice, but they don’t really tighten anything. On the wrists this is no big deal, but on the ankles it means that I regularly stepped on them. Also, the suit has no built-in waterproof socks, so you have to wear regular water shoes or neoprene booties. In winter, you will probably prefer the booties, but since the cover cannot be tightened around those, it means that your feet will certainly get very wet during a swim.
The straitjacket entry doubles as a spray deck closure. This is probably not intentional, as the same suit is also sold for kite- and wind-surfing. But it works quite well and keeps the boat very dry.
All finishing is very high quality, with nice details such as the cuff cover zippers being kept in place magnetically.
Pros and Cons
- Very breathable.
- Very water-repellant.
- Very comfortable. Stretches.
- Very dry (both material, cuffs and entry-zip).
- Straitjacket entry very handy.
- Doubles as a spray deck closure.
- Not in the way when paddling.
- Looks sexy.
- Integrated knee pads.
- Seat reinforcement.
- High quality finishing.
- No neck cuff cover.
- Cuff covers too wide and not adjustable.
- No integrated waterproof socks.
- Elbow protection or at least a cordura layer would have been nice.
- A waist tightening system would have been nice, also to keep the ankle covers off the ground.
- No quick relief zipper
All in all, the features, looks and quality of the Dry-Tec made a good impression, and the concept is very promising. There are however a number of important details that can be improved upon. The XA-10 thermo pants and shirt are doing a perfect job at keeping you dry and warm.