1 or 2-piece drysuit

As I am moving I will be paddling in very cold waters soon.

What would be the preferred set-up.

1-piece drysuit like the Kokatat Expedition or

2-piece drysuit like Kokatat TecTour jacket and Bibs which could turn out to be more year round versatile.

Depends on your needs

– Last Updated: Mar-03-10 2:59 PM EST –

I Have the two-piece Kokatat setup. It does keep me (mostly) dry in a swim, but I haven't tested it in a very lengthy swim. I'm extremely unlikely to be immersed for more than a few minutes at a time, so I'm confident that it will do the job. I have doubts about how well it would do in an extended swim in big water though.

I think it's easier to get into and out of a one-piece suit. [Edit] a little explanation in order...The bibs on Kokatat's two-piece have a skirt that rolls into the inner skirt of the top. If you do it right, it makes a good seal. But it's a bit awkward and slow. I suspect that after taking some thrashing around for a while in big water, the roll might work loose and leak. [/edit]

OTOH, if things heat up - and especially if you are taking a break on land (portage or whatever), it can be handy to have the option of shedding the top for a while....so long as you know you won't be swimming for sure.

All things considered and price not being an issue (I was able to purchase the bibs used and the top on 1/2 price sale), I would still prefer to go with the one-piece dry suit, I think. If and when I wear mine out or if I get into doing bigger water, I will be getting a one-piece. But for now (I'm not doing anything over cl2 and not going on the ocean or big lakes), the two piece works well enough.

One piece all the way!
I have a 2 piece and it’s not dry at all. I use the top by it’self alot. That’s why I went to a 2 piece. But if I do it all over I would go one piece. I would also buy the best I could afford. At least full Gortex with fabric feet too.

Getting in and out of the suit

– Last Updated: Mar-03-10 3:58 PM EST –

I've seen this convenience issue talked about at times, that a two-piece suit is easier to get on and off. Well, I find a one-piece suit to be only a little awkward to get in and out of, certainly not awkward enough that I'd sacrifice protection to make it easier. Getting the suit on and off isn't really that difficult. On both drysuits I've used, the hardest part of getting it on or off is being able to pull hard enough on the zipper when the tab is in an awkward location, but that can be solved by looping a bit of rope through the tab and adjusting it to the right length to put your pulling arm in a "strong" position, just for those moments. The rest is pretty easy.

I've only seen ONE two-piece suit, and it had a band which had to be tightly wrapped around the person's mid-section to maintain the seal. Sweating and overheating inside a drysuit can be bad enough as it is, so I know I wouldn't want to have a wide band wrapped tightly around my waist. A loose fit seems to me like it would be more comfortable (though a loose fit is all I have any experience with).

There may not be as much weather/
temperature range difference between 1 piece and 2 piece as you might imagine. Except in whitewater, if it’s cold enough for a drytop, a drysuit may be just as comfortable.

Get a relief zipper, and booties.

two piece drysuits don’t exist

it’s nice to have options
I now have a full drysuit with booties for the colder weather – but also, a splashtop and NRS Blackrock pants which gives me versatility on warmer and rainy days, and a shorty wetsuit which is nice for swimming in cool waters.

With a 2 piece
you’d really need to test the thing every outing to make sure it doesn’t leak where the top and bottom come together. If water comes in at this point, it is right at your core and it won’t take long before the suit is ineffective.

You have to test a drysuit too, but the likely failure points are smaller and closer to your extremities (away from your core).


One Piece Suits Are The Rule…
…here in Newfoundland, where even our summer waters are dangerously cold. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen a two piece setup - and those who get wetsuits, like we did, and stick with paddling don’t tend to go more than a season or two before going dry…

one piece with a male
or all purpose (female) relief zipper—costs a bit more but is worth it

1 piece
Go for the one piece option. You will be drier and more comfortable in that than a 2 piece option.

Besides, the jacket you are interested in is NOT a dry top and therefore wouldn’t make a very dry 2 piece option regardless. The Kokatat Tec Tour Anorak http://www.kokatat.com/product_detail.asp?code=xtt is a very lovely jacket but not a dry top and therefore should NOT be mated to a bib.

I have always felt that a dry pant/dry top combination ends up being semi dry regardless and at the cost of the two pieces, you are paying more for that than a one piece semi dry suit.

Highly recommend a one piece drysuit over 2 pieces.


have had both

– Last Updated: Mar-03-10 10:22 PM EST –

and would recommend a 1 piece as its dryness is less dependent on how well the user puts it together.

I used a rogue dry top mated to kokatat gore dry bibs (booties and zipper). In order to not have water seep in along the roll between garments I had to make sure I rolled it correctly, used a neo tunneled skirt to hold it in place, and most importantly - burp the suit. That can be challenging when launching from a beach with a dumping break. Trapped air would work it way out along the roll during a swim otherwise. When burped and rolled right I took some enthusiastic swims in dryness.


– Last Updated: Mar-04-10 8:53 AM EST –

Isn't it cold there? I've been paddling year-roud with a 2-piece (dry-top + dry pants) and that includes both sea and white water, including in freezing temperatures with snow and ice around. Unless I take a good long active swim this combo is adequate. Just getting in the water or floating with it, it stays dry.

But, I've also practiced self rescues with it and after the first one or two attempts water begins to get in. After about 15 minutes of very actively getting in and out of my boat during one such practice, I ended-up with about a quart or two of water in each leg of my pants (the water goes down, so most of your body will still be all right (wet but not immerset in water, pretty much like mine is from sweat anyway without any swimming).

Never had water get in while I am in my kayak though, and knock on wood, have not had to swim except for practice recently (and I paddle in such areas that if I had to swim it won't be for long till I reach shore and then I can either continue or head home nearby). So that has worked well for me. The cost is less than 1/2 of a comparable quality full suit. So for the occasional swim a two-piece is cheaper and you can use the jacket on cold windy days when the water is not that cold, where with a one piece you would be boiling under the deck.

That said, a one piece would still be my preference if the chance of a long swim is there.

Thank you for all of your qualified answers.

As I will be paddling year round in Norway and as I don’t have the opportunity to swim to shore and return home for dry clothes I will definitely put in the money for a high class 1-piece drysuit.

Some interesting comments here
I have both. I believe that security is highest when water and air temps are low and long, rough swims happen when one is in a properly functioning single piece drysuit with a latex neck gasket. However, My Kokatat bibs and either a Kokatat or Stohlquist drytop I use regularly and really only had water come in once during a swim long ago. On that day I did not properly roll the inner tunnel of the dry top with the exterior mate on the bibs well if at all. Perhaps 6 ounces in each bootie? On other swims, nothing.

Usually I roll them well together and seal behind my neoprene tunnel on my dry deck and it stays dry and well put. Long and brutal swims in big water might compromise that seal to an extent but not to any I’ve experienced beyond that, or that of my gal or another couple of friends that use them (all whitewater and sea paddlers.)

Here are some things left out of the discussion you need to bear in mind: First,when rolling the two mating tunnels up, the back bits are most likely to not be rolled well and mated properly, pay attention to that. When donning your suit, do it without interruption and then talk to your pals about the day afterwards. Second, not all dry top inner tunnels are the same.

My Stohlquist has a wide rubber band at the bottom that mates well with the Kokatat bib tunnel that has a similar wide rubber band at the bottom. When those are rolled together and then at least 3 rolls of the tunnel material afterwards I have a very good seal. It is made better by a tight neoprene dry deck tunnel. Not one of those cheesy nylon tunnels but a neoprene tunnel.

Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned, but is all too common: gear fails. It’s nice to have a dry top that is a backup to one whose neck or wrist gasket has popped. I can only get excited about the duct taped ring neck for 1 or 2 days, max. Which works great on day or at most, weekend outings. On longer trips I like a dry top with a Chillcheater type neck gasket or a very new latex one I know isn’t on year 2 and day 1 of a 2 week trip. I do bring a tube of AquaSeal and a spare neck and wrist gasket on trips in case of failure, but it is nice sometimes to not have difficult to replace in the field seals when your only tools for the fix are crude ones like tapered bow and stern drybags and heat from a campfire under a small tarp while it is raining. You get the picture?

A two piece system of the right kind gives me versatility and the freedom to change pieces if the top has a blown gasket or I holed my bibs in blackberries on the way out to my car. If I harbor doubts about it’s water tight integrity over the course of a very long and rough swim to shore, I just use a one piece with a well fitting, high quality latex neck gasket. I do my psyche justice. However, if a long and rough survival swim is really part of my backup plan, I really ought to think more in terms of technique, training and team work. This works for me, only you can decide for you.


I agree, there is no such thing as a 2
piece “dry” suit. Bill

Both of you guys tell us what experience
you have in comparing the one piece versus two piece dry suits in question. Here is what I’d like to know:

1)I’d like to know if you have actually worn a Kokatat Whirlpool bib in conjuction with a dry top.

2) If yes, have you swam with them either by failure to roll or testing them in flatwater, rapids or bumpy ocean water.

3) Which dry top?

4) tell us your report of your comparison between the two concepts.


ive used both too.
Today i got the kokatat t-tec anorak as a replacement for a defect rouge Top. I have started to use a light URSUIT drysuit and a tuilk or the new jacket on top…

this is a great combination for cold weather.

Ive used the combination tempest pants with the rouge top.It works well in summer , but in cold water a drysuit is a must for me. the combu\ination light breathable nononsense drysuit and various outershells if neccesary is very nice.