Sweet Protection Supernova Dry Top
Size Tested: Large
- Shell Material: Gore-Tex Pro
- Cordura elbow reinforcements
- Neoprene neck, waist, and wrist gaskets
- Articulated arms
- Hypalon waist adjustments
- Neck tube drain hole
- Zippered chest pocket
- 5’10”, 165 lbs.
- Wingspan: 71”
- Shoulder Width: 19”
- Chest: 41”
- Waist: 31”
Days Tested: 30
Locations Tested: Norway; Austria; Washington State, USA
Kokatat’s Gore-Tex garments have set the bar in the world of dry tops. There are certainly good dry tops available for a lower price tag, but in my mind, Kokatat has always been the benchmark for high-end dry tops.
The Kokatat Rogue was also the most expensive dry top available, until recently. Sweet Protection’s Supernova dry top now sells for $479 in the USA, $30 more than either the Kokatat Rogue or Legend.
Sweet is the new kid on the block in the world of dry wear, but the Supernova is made with the same shell material as the Kokatat Rogue. Both garments feature Gore-Tex Pro and a high price tag, so this is very much a Rogue vs. Supernova comparison review.
Comfort and Fit
Gore-Tex Pro gives the Supernova the same lightweight, flexible feel that I love about my Kokatat Rogue. In fact, both tops have a “barely there” feel that does not inhibit my paddling whatsoever.
The cut on the Supernova is fairly roomy, and feels even less restrictive than that of the Rogue (which isn’t all that restrictive itself), making the top very easy to put on and take off. The Supernova also has a slightly wider chest and longer arms than the Rogue.
I wear a Large in the Rogue and the Supernova, and the Supernova fits me better than the Rogue does. Although the chest and arms are roomy, the Supernova’s waist can be cinched down quite a bit. I have to close the outer velcro tunnel as tightly as possible, but I can still achieve a great fit with a relatively slim 31 inch waist. If you have a slimmer waist than 31 inches, you will probably need to go with a size Medium. And paddlers with narrower shoulders and shorter arms should consider sizing down to a Medium in the Supernova, too, even if a Large in the Rogue fits them.
Materials and Construction
Gore-Tex Pro is a waterproof yet highly breathable fabric that is lighter and more flexible than other waterproof fabrics I have used on less expensive tops.
Sweet and Kokatat both add Cordura material in certain high-wear areas to protect the expensive Gore-Tex Pro fabric on both tops—Kokatat reinforces the Rogue’s forearms and shoulders, while Sweet takes more the minimalist approach, only adding Cordura fabric over the elbows of the Supernova.
Design and Features
The Supernova and Rogue both have long inner tunnels that extend well below the waist of the outer garment. However, while the Rogue’s inner tunnel cinches around my waist with an elastic drawstring, the Supernova’s inner tunnel remains loose, with a simple band of non-adjustable elastic. Even so, the Supernova’s inner tunnel still fits well underneath my skirt, and isn’t likely to ride up.
The Rogue’s outer tunnel has more velcro around the waist where it meets my skirt than the Supernova, with 125 cm² of surface area on the Rogue, and 108 cm² on the Supernova.
However, the Supernova’s outer tunnel creates a very snug seal around my skirt, and in fact, lets less water into my boat than the Rogue—or any other top I have used.
The Rogue and the Supernova have similar neoprene cuffs on the neck and to cover the latex neck gasket.
The Rogue has neoprene wrist cuffs that are comfortable and simple, but I prefer the Supernova’s velcro wrist cuffs. If I ever tear a latex wrist gasket out in the field, the Supernova’s adjustable wrist cuffs can be tightened down to serve as a makeshift, semi-dry gasket. If one of the Rogue’s wrist gaskets fails, the outer neoprene cuffs won’t do much to keep water out.
The Supernova’s wrist cuffs are also softer than those of other tops I have used, and I have yet to have the wrist cuffs come undone or chafe my wrists while paddling. Overall, the velcro cuffs on the Supernova are comfortable and unobtrusive.
Both dry tops feature a nearly identical draining chest pocket, though the Rogue’s pocket is slightly larger. I personally don’t use this zippered pocket on either top because I store my small items in my PFD, but either one can store small, non-waterproof items like car keys or energy bars.
Unfortunately, unlike the Rogue, the Supernova doesn’t feature any reflective taping. I like this feature on the Rogue in case I end up paddling or hiking in the dark — you never know when some additional visibility will be an advantage on a river trip.
In the same vein, I am a huge proponent of highly visible color schemes on the river, and I recommend purchasing the Supernova in “Catchup Red” (shown in the picture above) instead of “Gunmetal Blue.” The blue is fairly visible, but the red is significantly easier to spot on the water.
Dryness and Durability
I expect a high-end drytop to do three things: keep my body dry, keep water out of my boat, and last for a long time.
The Supernova is still keeping me dry after 30 days in the field. A small amount of water will seep in through its latex gaskets when faced with high water pressure, but this is the case with every dry top I’ve ever used. The Supernova’s Gore-Tex fabric, however, does not let any water through, even in high-wear areas like the elbows or through the seams, which are fully taped.
By limiting their use of Cordura fabric to the top’s elbows, Sweet has potentially exposed the shoulders to long-term wear from life jacket straps. Of course, only time will tell if Sweet’s less extensive application of Cordura fabric results in a less durable garment. I’ll update this review if wear becomes an issue in these areas.
I have not seen any major signs or symptoms of durability issues so far with the Supernova. Kokatat garments have a well-established and well-deserved reputation for longevity. Sweet Protection’s dry wear hasn’t been around long enough to earn a similar rep, but after using the Supernova for a full summer season, I am optimistic that it will.