Level Six Cronos Drysuit 6-Month Review

JohnAbercrombie

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Now that my suit is ‘back home’, I’ve coated the fabric sections with thinned Aquaseal – not a perfect fix because it stiffens the fabric, but it does stop the water getting through the fabric.
I was paddling for a couple of hours this morning, wearing the Cronos with the Aquaseal-treated 2.5 cuffs.
Sleeves (and all the rest) of my base layers were perfectly dry at the end of the paddle. There were a couple of damp-ish spots on chest and shoulders from perspiration, nothing like the sodden layers - starting with the sleeves - in that suit on previous paddles.
"Patient got better with the standard drug treatment for the disease; diagnosis confirmed!"
:)
I don't expect that the Aquaseal treatment will be a long-term solution as the fabric seems quite stiff in spots and might even crack eventually, but it has 'kicked the can down the road a piece' .
 

pryaker

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Good fix would be to replace the breathable cuffs with totally waterproof fabric. I'd rather have sweaty wrists than soaking ones. Are you going to pass on your findings to L6? Seems you've empirically shown that the fabric is the problem and maybe they'd change future production to a suitable fabric?
 

AM

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Good fix would be to replace the breathable cuffs with totally waterproof fabric. I'd rather have sweaty wrists than soaking ones. Are you going to pass on your findings to L6? Seems you've empirically shown that the fabric is the problem and maybe they'd change future production to a suitable fabric?
I‘m intrigued by this idea. The fixation on “waterproof”/“breathable” fabrics (yes, sarcastic quotes for both) is a problem. We all know from our personal experience that truly waterproof barriers do not breathe, so a tradeoff is inevitably involved and the result often is the worst of both worlds.

A hybrid suit, as @pryaker suggests, is a very interesting proposal. So the question would be: where would we want waterproof and where would we want breathable?

For me, the following areas should be waterproof: feet, butt, shoulders, tops of arms down to the wrist.

And these would be my choices for breathable: underside of arms, armpits, torso, groin, thighs.

Workable or not?

Cheers,
Andrew
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Good fix would be to replace the breathable cuffs with totally waterproof fabric.
Yes.
That's a tricky area to 'attack' for alterations, though.
Re-taping a seam around the wrist would be difficult.
If (probably when) the 2.5 fabric + Aquaseal fails, my plan is to remove that lighter fabric and the attached wrist gasket(s), and attach the gasket directly to the end of what is now the over-cuff, after removing the Velcro tab end of that cuff. There are a few small (2-3 mm) drain holes in the over-cuff that would need taping. Then I would have the sleeve design I prefer, with no over-cuff.
Are you going to pass on your findings to L6? Seems you've empirically shown that the fabric is the problem and maybe they'd change future production to a suitable fabric?
In the email correspondence I had with them, Level Six was quite clear that they consider that fabric to be 100% waterproof because it passes their standard inflation and soapy water test.
Really, I'm not surprised at that response. If they admitted the problem publicly, would they then have to recall all the suits? That would be a disaster.
I'm hoping that they will check the newer 'contour line' 2.5 fabric and resolve the problem in future production runs.
I have a Fjord suit and L6 drypants - both made with the older 'graph-paper' 2.5 fabric and they don't leak.
 
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cougarmeat

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Seems there are cross purposes. The concept of partially breathable (i.e. not waterproof) works when the goal is comfort. I don't want to overheat or drown in my own preparation, but I want to be shielded from splashes across the deck and be able to submerge my arm in the water and bring it up dry. The other goal is survival. I'm going to be in the water for a while and I want to be alive when someone gets here. There is no concern about overheating (in the water); just the opposite. In that case, I'd think you'd want those very same heat-generating places (armpits, etc.) protected.

We know the "dry" suit doesn't provide warmth, it is simply an aid, as with the clothes you wear under it, in maintaining the heat you generate yourself.

If I'm going to be in mild, populated (where I know there will be a quick recovery if needed) waters, I'll just wear my splash jacket. But if I'm wearing my drysuit, that means there's an awareness that I might be in the water "for a while" either helping myself or helping others.

I guess my point is, are you describing something you'd like for wearing on a sunny day at the lake or something you'd wear crossing the Speiden Channel at the wrong time?

Sometimes, trying to solve both goals, results in a product that represents the worst, rather than the best, of both worlds, Apologies to Rancharo owners.
 

AM

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Here’s a scenario: you take a group of kids paddling in, say, early October. The weather is coolish and rainy. They are all wearing splash tops of waterproof/breathable material made by a reputable company that specializes in clothing for watersports. After an hour of steady rain, the kids are getting damp and cold because the fabric on their splash jackets is totally wetted out.

What do you do? You grab the contractor bags you have on hand for just such an occasion, you punch three holes in the bags (two for arms, one for the head) and you give each kid an improvised cag. Works well. Cost per kid? Maybe $1.50.

Then you go home wondering why you spend so much money on stuff that just doesn’t work that well.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

sofstu

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Jun 14, 2021
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Kootenays BC
If I owned Level 6 I think I would listen and work with someone like John to improve their products.

I don't think I would do a recall, I would just exchange the suits for the updated version as people complain about them.
There is a good chance their present design is still perfect for 90% of those people using them, so these ones wouldn't get returned.

Does anyone know why Mustang doesn't make a drysuit for us?
Being a BC based company, who actually hires BC testers, I would probably buy one in a heartbeat.
 

CPS

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Does anyone know why Mustang doesn't make a drysuit for us?
Being a BC based company, who actually hires BC testers, I would probably buy one in a heartbeat.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Here's an example of the neck closure on a Mustang Helix "drysuit".
Mustang Helix drysuit.JPG


Mustang says:
.......perfect for any in-water experience.......................Manufactured and tested for performance at the Mustang Waterlife Studio in British Columbia......

I wonder if there is much water in that Waterlife Studio where the suit is "tested for performance" or if it's the same old air-fill and spray with soapy water testing.

If a company doesn't know the difference between a drysuit, and semi-dry suits - a.ka. paddling suit, immersion suit, etc. -it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me. Or worse than not knowing, not explaining the difference to the customer.
Mustang does make suits with latex neck gaskets.

There has been a discussion here about the Mustang Helix:
https://www.westcoastpaddler.com/community/threads/mustang-drysuit.8858/page-2#post-96253
 
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kayakwriter

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Mustang says:.......perfect for any in-water experience.......................Manufactured and tested for performance at the Mustang Waterlife Studio in British Columbia......
I wonder if there is much water in that Waterlife Studio where the suit is "tested for performance" or if it's the same old air-fill and spray with soapy water testing.
I haven't been to the Mustang facility, but I've seen photos of it that show a pool at least several meters deep, so better than pump n' spray at least.

We chatted about the Mustang Hudson here. At the time, I noted that Kokatat switching to plastic zippers on their drysuits meant they were losing a major selling point in my mind. So this summer, when my hard-used Meridian began to seep, I replaced it with a Mustang Hudson with the cordlock neck seal and the neoprene wrists. (Partially because it's a Canadian company, partially because I like the internal suspenders and partially because stock of any outdoor equipment is hard to find because COVID and I happened to find my size in inventory and on sale!)

As far as I can tell, the neoprene used in the wrists of the production Hudsons is inferior to that in the prototype I field-tested a few years back; no matter how carefully I donned and doffed it (and how much talc powder I applied), I wound up tearing several holes in the seals. In the end, I paid a local dive shop a couple of hundred bucks to replace them with custom-sized, high quality neoprene cuffs (an option anyone with latex seals could take too.) A bit annoying, but less stressful than going on tour with gear that might tear in the field.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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I use baby powder from the drugstore, which I thought was the same thing? But I could be wrong?
All the powders I can find have switched to cornstarch, which isn't at all the same.
In spite of little/zero scientific evidence to support the claim, a court in the US awarded a huge cash settlement to plaintiffs who claimed that J&J (?) baby powder was carcinogenic.
 

a_c

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Dec 23, 2014
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Victoria, BC
I commented about my Cronos suite earlier but an update:

I was kayaking surfing in Tofino this weekend, within 5 minutes my forearm was literally soaked. The water must be coming in through the wrist seal, which surprises me because I always felt it was a very snug fit. I only took one swim but there was obviously a lot of spray and green water flying around and my underlayer was pretty wet by the end of day - arms, body, neck. The second day I tried pulling the cuffs back to ride a little higher (farther up the forearm); the conditions were milder but I think it was an improvement. I'm still not convinced the 2.5 fabric is up to the task though.

RE: Mustang Hudson. It looks like they're making two versions now, one with "Trimmable latex at the neck and wrists..." and the Hudson CCS with "The neoprene wrist cuffs and CCS adjustable neck seal..."

I wonder if that's the corporate version of a subtle admission of failure?
 

Mowog73

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SW Ontario
I can understand wanting that bit of sleeve to be flexible, but it would be better to have it made from a piece of non-breathable material, rather than a 'waterproof', breathable material.
 

Uli

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I bought a cheap Level 6 splash top when I first started kayaking.. was poorly designed, and with light use the coating started to wear off inside. Did not inspire any confidence in that company. To hear that they don't back their high end drysuit leaking because it isn't designed to get exposed to direct water kind of tells me not spend a single penny more on them. Picked up a Kokatat drysuit a year ago and I've had no regrets (other than sizing, I'm a little tall and didn't quite order long enough for layering). Helps that I caught the tail end of pre-covid pricing and still got a metal zipper. I picked Kokatat because I know someone whose suit has seen 13+ years of solid use and is still going strong.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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...To hear that they don't back their high end drysuit leaking
I agree with the criticism, but the Cronos is Level Six's low-end 'basic' suit.
When my Kokatat GoreTex GMER suit started wetting through on the arms, back, and chest, I sent it back to them for possible warranty replacement. Their response was : "Nothing wrong with this suit" and they shipped it back with torn wrist gaskets. One of my paddling buddies recently bought a new Kokatat suit (~$2000 CAD) and it had a 1" seam section that was wide open. He had to ship it back to Kokatat (no local dealer backup) at his expense for repair.
So, I'm not very confident about either company's drysuits! So, for a similar product, ~$900 is a lot more attractive than $2000.
:)
suit has seen 13+ years of solid use and is still going strong.
That's amazing to hear. I only paddle 100 days a year max (in a good year) and I've gone through a few suits in the past 10 years.
Maybe I'm more 'picky' about water ingress than most people.
How often does your friend paddle in the drysuit?

Kokatat suits do wear out.....here's one with about 4 or 5 years on it..
mini-IMG_0435.JPG
 

dvfrggr

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It's a hassle but keep in mind if Kokatat will not replace your failed suit, GORTEX will if their product has failed.
 

Uli

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You'd think for $900 you'd get something reasonable. Considering I think I only paid $1300 for mine, I think that was money well spent. I went through the custom suit options (for a basic suit, larger feet, no frills/pockets) and through my local paddling store, though when checking the website today it seems they've suspended custom suits due to supplier chain problems.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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You'd think for $900 you'd get something reasonable. Considering I think I only paid $1300 for mine, I think that was money well spent.
You did well to get a Kokatat GoreTex suit for $1300 CAD. The current price for the 'basic' Meridian suit at the local dealer here is $1848 CAD (including sales tax but excluding any shipping cost).
The L6 Cronos is $840 CAD $945 CAD shipped to Victoria.

BTW, my Cronos seems to be working OK with the Aquaseal coating on the wrist fabric - I've paddled it a few times. It's a pity I had to do that, and it's something that a lot of paddlers wouldn't do at all.
 
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