View Full Version : drysuits?
06-17-2006, 11:08 AM
Anyone use one? Anyone have good recommendations? Any known sources for good used ones? I'm assuming they're a lot better for cold water (which is what I'll be paddling here), but are they a pain for moderately cold water and warm temps (if I head to the lower 48)?
I'd really like to get in a river or two up here and don't have a dry top or bottoms, so I figured I'd just go for the whole meal deal . . .
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
06-17-2006, 11:44 AM
Kokatat is the old standby. They have a women's specific model. Some folks like the built in socks since you avoid ankle gaskets. I don't know if they even still do plain coated nylon - but regardless, get breathable.
If you get down the lower 48 you'll likely have plenty of use for it. Most places are mighty cold boating in the spring. Even in southern California the spring water is icy.
Another option is a good drytop and a farmer John. Very flexible combo. But there are tradeoffs. In the boat, warmth is pretty similar (assuming a double seal top & good skirt), but if you bail, you will be a bunch colder initially in the wetsuit. But tearing or cutting a wetsuit is no big deal vs a drysuit. You can get great tops from Lotus (Patagucci), IR, Palm, Kokotat, Stohlquist, etc. They tend to have very different fits and gasket sizing so you can generally find a good fit with gaskets you don't need to play with (unless you are super practiced, cutting gaskets always carries the risk of them having a nick that will blow out).
My kids choose to use the drytop/farmer john combo. If I were still boating much, I'd grab myself a new Kokatat suit... Pick your poison...
06-17-2006, 01:20 PM
All I can say is stay away from Bomber Gear stuff. They're out of business now, but their stuff can still be found all over the place. It was good gear until they outsourced it all to sweatshops in China or somewhere, then it all went to shit. No drytops are 100% dry all of the time, but Bomber Gear tops are just like Dagger boats, they leak right out of the package.
06-17-2006, 02:24 PM
In your situation, I'd most likely shell out for a drysuit because I don't like getting cold. I've spent one too many trips shivering in the initial stages of hypothermia which can take all the fun out of a trip. For warmer trips, you can wear lighter clothing underneath.
If you can spring for the $$$, you could get a drytop, too. For warmer conditions, I like to wear a drytop with neoprene shorts.
If you take good care of the gaskets, drytops and drysuits can last a long time. If you blow a gasket, you can get a replacement for it.
I think drysuits and drytops are well worth the investment.
For winter kayaking in the PNW, a drysuit is REALLY nice. Kokatat is expensive but you get what you pay for, they're awesome. I've heard really good things about the women's version with the rainbow zipper, and like above, make sure you get the ones with ankle socks - so much better than ankle gaskets.
06-17-2006, 03:42 PM
Agreed with the above. Kokatat-once again, you get what you pay for. DO NOT get a non-breathable drysuit. They are about as effective as a wetsuit. I've heard good things about Palm breathable drysuits and they are about 60% of the cost of the top end Kokatat. Ankle gaskets suck. I would say get the sewn in socks because you can wear warm woolies under.
06-17-2006, 06:13 PM
Would the ankle booties make the drysuit hard to use for other sports (say, kiteboarding)?
I found this one (http://www.outdoorplay.com/store/Product.asp?DID=91&PDID=9&SKU=PDS_KTGMBM_DIS). . . 40% off for a total of $473 - no booties or drop seat though.
06-17-2006, 07:53 PM
Don't know about kiteboarding but no pee zipper = major pain in the ass. I would not buy a drysuit without socks or a pee zipper. You're already spending a big chunk, go ahead and do it right the first time. Females can use a lady J to pee through a mens pee zip, I would think the dropseat on the ass would be really uncomfortable sitting in a kayak.
I went through 3 drysuits getting "good deals" until I finally splurged for the kokatat with tunnel, pee zipper and booties. The Palms look nice but as far as long term durability and customer service you can't beat kokatat - don't forget you will probably need to send it in to get leaks fixed from scouting, portaging, etc, and gaskets replaced if you don't want to do it yourself.
As far as general usefulness, I am still wearing my drysuit in June. You can wear lightweight capilene underneath and be fine in fairly warm temps. It's just so nice to take your gear off and be dry, not even having to change your socks!
06-17-2006, 09:23 PM
Would the ankle booties make the drysuit hard to use for other sports (say, kiteboarding)?.
Don't think of these as real booties. Think of them as an outer waterproof sock. Not sure about current options, but they used to be available in either gasket rubber or goretex from Kokatat. You put your socks inside the "booties" and then the "booties" inside real booties (like NRS grippy sole ones) or hard sole paddling shoes. I think I may have even seen rafter people just popping Chacos on too. Presumably such real booties/shoes work for other sports - unless you are fan of barefoot in relatively milder climes...
06-17-2006, 09:29 PM
I have the Kokatat Meridian with a relief zipper in a men's small. Even though I'm a woman, I chose the men's version because the store where I was shopping only had the men's and the drop seat women's in stock. I tried on the drop seat and didn't like the way the zipper felt when I sat in a boat. The men's drysuit has worked well for me, and it's well worth the $$$ IMO.
I've heard that Kokatat might be willing to make a custom women's version without the drop seat. If you want to wait, you could contact them and ask.
Nonetheless, as I said, the men's version has worked well for me.
06-18-2006, 12:27 AM
Kokotat is the best of the best.
Ebay can be a great place... kokotat goretex for $300-$500 instead of $600-$900 retail.
You can find neoprene surface drysuits for cheap (<<$100) The old ONeill Oasis 4/3mm neoprene drysuits are actually quite good despite their lack of booties. They are also very durable.
Nonbreathable drysuits are very usefull and can be just as good or better than a breathable *depending on the activity* for example activities where much of the the time you are fully sprayed or immersed in water.
Do not get a diving drysuit for surface use because the inflator valve will bruise the hell out of you if you take even a slight hit. Regardless it will be uncomfy under a tight PFD.
I think STP has size small Bomber breathable drysuits for like $200 or $300. Ebay has them for $300
Get a relief system.
DO NOT FORGET TO CLOSE YOUR RELIEF ZIPPER!!!!!!!! You will only forget this once.
Don't forget proper drysuit care. Do NOT store with zippers zipped.
06-18-2006, 04:40 PM
I bought one of the $299.00 Bomber Gear drysuits and am very happy so far,I've flippped my IK sevral times while wearing it, and spent about 5 or 6 days in my playboat and have stayed dry all day. I have several pieces of Bomber Gear stuff and am one of thier few happy customers I think, the stuff is not the same quality as my Stolquist or Kokatat gear, but for stuff I don't wear all the time,or loan out (splash tops, shorty drytop) it works well. I will eventually buy a Kokatat drysuit but for 300 bucks you can't beat it.
07-06-2006, 10:27 PM
it seems like every year one of the guides down in homer sells off some used kokatat gore-tex dry-suits on the kck.org website. there might be other ones around anchorage too. take a look at the knik canoers and kayakers classified ads: www.kck.org
also, george at alaska kayak on barrow street in anchorage has been selling the palm suits for a couple of years now with really good luck. you can get a breathable suit with pretty burly fabric, a pee zip (not a women's model that i know of yet) and breathable booties for a lot less than the kokatat suits. i've heard good things from friends with the Palm suits and have had a Kokatat Gore-tex Meridian with zip and boots suit for a long time that I'm not totally thrilled about... good luck with the paddling. i'm out of state and am really missing the 6mile and ingram this summer.
07-10-2006, 02:44 PM
Here's the women's version on the nrs website:
I have ordered from them and had good experience. Anyone here know if that is a fair price?
I have the farmer jane plus wetsuit jacket and then a top and pants but they are not full out dry suits. I might upgrade to the dry once I get more addicted to paddling though!
Good luck w/ this & let us know what you get.
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