Best drypants?

I can’t afford a drysuit for this winter, and probably not the nice Kokatat dry bibs either (especially since I prefer breathablility, and the Goretex version are pricey), so …

Which drypants work best and why?

Most, but not all of the time, I’ll be mating them with my double-skirted drytop. I’m mainly going to be on coastal Calif. rivers where it never gets too cold – and occasionally for ocean surf kayaking.


– Last Updated: Oct-09-05 7:38 PM EST –

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there is no such thing as "dry pants." All "dry pants" are only semi-dry because there is no real mating system (neoprene waistband does very little) to completely prevent water from entering the pants. The only way to make a true two piece dry suit is by using dry bibs. Why do you really need breathable pants? Your legs typically do not sweat that much and enclosed inside a kayak cockpit, breathability is at a minimum anyways. I sweat quite a bit and I have always been fine using my non-breathable Kokatat dry bibs along with a breathable dry top although I do recommend the relief zipper and the booties if you can afford it. Palm also makes bibs which may be in your price range. If you're really strapped for cash, look for a pair of used bibs on the internet. I'm sure you could find some out there. Heck, there are three pairs of Kokatat Bibs on Boatertalk right now for around $100 each.

Putting off the inevitable
I think you are merely putting off the financial pain of buying a good drysuit, but here’s a tip from someone who used to have a drypant and soon decided the financial pain was better in the long run:

Examine the waist of the drypants you are considering. Do NOT buy the kind that cinches shut with a flimsy bungie cord and toggle. Get one that has a wide neoprene band with big Velcro flaps to snug it securely (well, as securely as a drypant can be).

not really if…
he get’s the bibs. A good 2 piece system (good bibs and a good drytop) is every bit as dry and safe as a dry suit. It does take some practice getting a properly mated roll, it is a bit more bulky, and it is less convenient, but the safety is there.

I have Kokatat and Navarro Bibs.
Both work wellmated with a dry top… even when swimming. Dry pants are not.

Used to be…
Used to be an available design from Bomber Gear called Bombardment Drypants. Breathable, good non-strangling ankle gaskets, thigh pocket but most importantly a tall tunnel above the velcro’d waist band that rolled together with your drytop. If done correctly it actually sealed like a drybag. Finding them is going to be a trick though, I only have the paddlng pants (non-latex gasket) on hand anymore. Don’t think they are available anymore, although maybe this post will give a manufacturer a hint to add a tunnel to their pants.

See you on the water,


see a lot of stuff out there
and having absolutely no experience with cold weather gear I need to know the best options.

Everyone here knows how cheap = frugal I am but in this case it seems as if the best quality and the best material is the best choice, even more importantly in a survival sense than maybe the boat itself.

I guess the advantage to the bib and dry top is that you could use the dry top separately on warm(er) days. If this is so, and it works just as well as the full drysuit, what are the advantages of the full suit? Just seems more practical with the two pieces.


I am A Half Step Before You
I have been thinking about cold weather gear for the past two months or so. I did not want to drop 800-1000 or more on a good quality dry suit. I do think that that is the best solution for paddling in cold water and maybe I’ll upgrade in time. I paddle mostly in North Carolina and we have much more temperate weather as compared to some of the Northern states. I guess I am pretty much a fair weather paddler and I will pick and choose my days during the cooler months, half of Dec and Jan-Feb.

I picked up a semi-dry top and semi-dry pants last week. I looked at a bunch of differant tops and bottoms and finally settled on IR. I believe that from what I have seen Kokatat may have a minor edge on IR, but I liked the IR and my local dealer sells IR.

I tried my new duds out Sunday even though we had pleasant weather and I did not need to stay dry. My first surprize was that I had to purge the air out of the pants as they acted like a ballon. I swam around a bit and dove under and generally tried to figure out how dry I was going to stay. First time results were encouraging. No water got into the pants and only a bit of water got into the top.

My snap dragon skirt leaks, (the vinyl kind), and I’ve ordered a neoprene skirt. I am waiting on a pair of gloves and I should be ready at that point.

My opinion, again, is that a dry suit would keep you drier and therefore warmer than the semi-dry stuff that I have. However, my investment is a bit less than half and I feel pretty confident that I will be fine for the area that I paddle.

Thinking things through. It has been months and months since I have gone swimming by accident. I could change this tomorrow, but the number of times that I go into the drink involentarily is now at a minimum.


Except for the fairly unusual design like described by Marshall, dry pants are only dry if you stay upright and/or have a bomb-proof roll with a good dry skirt. A wider waist band helps, with good cinching options, but ultimately you’ll need to go to a drysuit for seriously risky temps.

That said, I picked up a pair of Lotus relatively-dry pants to use with my Stolhquist drytop for things like warm evening nature paddles. Here I will drop a few rolls, a scull or two, but for the most part am unlikely to swim and just want to navoid being soaking wet when we get out of the water and go out to eat somewhere. If you want to think of having that around for the long term, a decent pair of “dry” pants can be worth having around.

see the points in my post above…
A full drysuit is easier to put on, less bulky around the torso, more convenient to use, and it has one less seal which equates to a larger margin of error (if you seal it right a two piece is dry, if you seal it wrong, it’s not). What I especially like about the bibs is that on warm spring days when I paddling ice melt water, I wear the bibs with a shorty drytop to create a short sleeved drysuit! I’m a “frugal” person as well but the investment is minimal. You can get a used set of bibs for $100 and with a $100 breathable drytop (sierratradingpost), you essentially have a nice drysuit for $200. Heck at those prices it’s probably even cheaper than the “dry pants” and semi-drytops that are out there. I still plan to pick up a full drysuit in a year or so for the convenience but I’m not in any hurry as I know my cold weather gear is definitely appropriate.

Very similar to Kokotat drybibs but breathable for $140.

Hard to find a U.S. dealer but Cascade Outfitters will order them for you.