The Gear Shed - Immersion Research Devils Club Pants
Waist: Wide Neoprene band
Shell Material: 3 layer Nylon Taslan fabric with taped seams
Ideal Temperature Range: 25 – 65 F
In many ways this review mirrors my feelings from my review on the IR Rival Semi Dry Top (which you can read here). What would be the point of a paddle pants if I own a wet or drysuit? After putting these pants through their paces I can say that there is definitely a place for this piece in any boater’s gear shed. Great in wind and rain as well as cold water rivers. Other than a bit of water absorbed into the comfy neoprene gaskets these pants absorb nothing and shed water like crazy. My only issue is that I have long legs and when I sit the waist slides down a bit. It is not an issue from a technical standpoint, just a personal comfort stand point. I would have liked to have seen the top of the waist rise up 1-2 more inches, but that is just for my body size.
For me these pants are ideal on days when the air is comfortable or warmer and the water is cold. It was great in the French/Italian Alps and during warm spring days in California. Like the Rival top these are fantastic in variable weather conditions when you don’t know what to dress for. These pants eliminate the biting cold of wind and helps reflect heat back at your body. Fantastic for Spring and Fall boating with just shorts or layered with fleece. The pants are ridiculously lightweight and pack down to the size of a burrito which is great for travelling if you are looking for something to globe trot with. As a funny side note I have worn these pants as rain pants on several occasions when I have been heading to the river and they worked great!
How is it in the water and how dry is it?
I wore these pants with my IR Rival top for some big swims and they performed much better than I expected. I definitely got wet from the waist band, but that is to be expected from paddle pants. They did not fill up with water, but again I would have preferred a higher top to the waist to help seal out the water. It was harder to swim in than a 4mm wetsuit and about on par with a drysuit. Again I think the cause of this is not the construction of the pants, but the fit compared to my body type (I have long legs and it makes finding pants difficult).
How tough is it?
Again like the Rival I walked through sticks, branches, and even had it rub against rough rocks / concrete and it is bomb proof in my opinion. At first the reinforcement seemed a bit lacking, but it was actually super tough, especially for as light as the pants are. I have worn them in the snow and they are probably as tough as alpine climbing pants.
When running brushy rivers you may want to consider selecting a wetsuit rather than these pants. Although the material is tough and I have not had issues with ripping, the propensity for this material to snag is a distinct possibility. For normal boating conditions I found this to be a non-issue. Like the Rival top this is not exactly a standalone piece like a full wet or drysuit is.
The toilet kingdom is also an important consideration in using this gear. The pants will drop like a drawbridge should the need arise for a quest to battle that chocolate dragon. Meeting with the duke in a wetsuit means your armor is coming off. From a pure wetsuit vs splash pants perspective, the pants win at the porcelain throne every time. Full drysuits and wetsuits are just not designed for convenience for a visit to the piddle palace.
Is it worth the cost?
It will trap heat significantly more effectively than a wetsuit and it seals out the elements better over time. I generally wore small shorts and these pants most days and I now prefer them to a wetsuit. Maintenance is a breeze and it dries well, but it does have the tendency to get mold embedded in the material. The neoprene cuffs do take a little time to dry so make sure you turn them inside out. Again these pants are a more complex piece of gear which works in concert with other items such as fleece, paddle jackets, or layered tops. If you do feel at home with layering and you want a versatile piece to keep you warm then this is a go to pair of pants for most days of boating. If you aren’t very experienced with layering principals you might have trouble using this item to its fullest.