It doesn’t seem very long ago that strutting around the ‘get in’ carpark in a drysuit was enough to incite envy and lust in other paddlers who were shivering as they changed in the morning frost. I remember watching, open-mouthed, as a friend of mine unzipped his drysuit, stepped out of it clad in warm dry thermals, slipped on a pair of jeans and was instantly ready to do the shuttle run. I wondered if I’d ever be dedicated enough to save up for one of these crowning pieces of kit and whether it would actually be worth it, seeing how bulky and awkward they looked to wear. Each year brings improvements in the kit and the rivers can end up like fashion parades with paddlers wearing this seasons’ new colours. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this seasons colour will be red as I recently got my hands on a new Lomo dry suit, the Tornado mk2.
The Tornado is incredibly good value for money and retails at just £175. This makes it cheaper than some dry tops on the market, and for this price, you get the whole suit! Quality-wise, there are certainly no complaints. It’s held together with good stitching and glued seems. Despite being treated roughly my suit still looks and smells like new! The Tornado mk2 is made from three layer hydrophobic material, so the whole suit is breathable, not just small panels that can be covered up. The knees and seat areas are strongly reinforced, so you wouldn’t have a problem scrambling up rocks, climbing through bushes or sliding down river banks. Overall, the suit feels robust and resilient yet when worn it remains flexible and supple. The elasticated waist and internal braces keep everything in place.
The diagonal zip across the front inhibits comfortable movement slightly, but I found that this was reduced when I put my BA on. Some people prefer a zip across the back shoulders, but in this position, I could happily do up the zip without any help. The zip itself is a heavy-duty waterproof zip that is then protected by a velcro closing storm flap. A little beeswax on the zip helps keep the movement effortless, a tip I was given by a diving friend of mine.
The neck and cuffs have the usual style conical latex seals which are thick and of good quality. The neck seal has a Velcro closing collar that protects it, which I did find rubbed a little against my neck, before careful adjustment. The cuff protection can be adjusted perfectly for a nice snug finish.
The suit has latex socks which I prefer to ankle seals. The makes for less struggle getting into and out of the suit. The socks are big enough to fit a pair of fleece socks in and small enough to fit into river shoes without lots of annoying loose latex getting in the way. Again the latex in the sock is thick but it’s always worth being careful if you’re wandering around and getting changed.
There’s no pee zip which I haven’t found to be a problem yet. If it becomes one, I’m certainly not going down the same road as our ex club chairman – apparently, you have to roll afterwards so you can get both feet to warm up!
Overall, I’ve been very impressed with this suit. It’s tough, comfortable and warm. It’s full of features, that have been carefully thought through and which work well. It’s amazing value for the price you pay, but please keep it quiet, I want a few heads to turn when I join this winters’ riverside catwalk.
CLICK HERE to view our Tornado Drysuit