Dry Suit etc?

I must say I get pretty confused when it comes to dry suits, dry tops, dry pants, paddling tops, etc. I am going to two large used kayaking gear events this weekend and I was hoping someone could toss out some items to look for?

I have wet suits already but want a dry suit. I would like a once piece. What else do I need to be looking for, just some dry boots? Also are those the same as paddling boots?

I decided I would probably use pogies for my hands if I can find some of those cheap.

I know dry suits are expensive and my budget is still low right now while trying to acquire stuff I just wanted some ideas on what to look for so I don’t pass up a really good deal. I don’t paddle much in the winter and it definitely would be on calm rivers and streams with little chance of me going over.

I just want to be able to easily jump out and walk the rapids too low to paddle across without having to worry, when the water is cold a wetsuit doesn’t really work for that.

Head inversion quotient
More anticipated head underwater time = latex neck gasket

ie: WW play boating, messing with surf, etc.

Kokatat Idol, Meridian, Expedition

Less anticipated head underwater time = neoprene gasket

IR: occasional out of boat experience, fording, launching, etc.

Kokatat Gore Tex Lightweight Paddling Suit, Super Nova

Other brands are out there but Kokatat of Arcata, CA is often seen as the Gold Standard

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



speaking of that
maybe watch for a hood on sale.

sewn-in booties
I also like a spray tunnel and relief zip but those add cost.

If you haven’t already done so, why not troll online merchants to get a sense of the price spectrum before attending the events??


– Last Updated: Mar-13-15 9:22 AM EST –

Regular paddling boots are not typically dry boots, both because the membrane does not have a waterproof barrier and because they are too low to keep water from coming in over the top anyway.

You can get boots with a dry membrane in mukluks, which are knee high boots. You can get those from either a paddling wear manufacturer or from a scuba shop. The boots from paddling resources might be a mill thinner but are also more likely to have a lace up option.

If you have a full dry suit with Goretex or similar booties attached, the only reason to have dry boots is if you plan to paddle in quite cold stuff where wet paddling boots would still leave your feet feeling chilly after the paddling boots had gotten wet. Otherwise regular paddling boots are plenty.

If you are not wearing a dry suit or dry pants with attached booties, your feet will get wet unless you go to a waterproof mukluk. But you still have to make sure you don't end up in water over the top of the boots.

There are a lot of moderate temperature situations where your best bet is going to be to wear regular paddling shoes and throw on wool socks underneath. Your feet will spend some time being wet and squishy but they won't be cold.

There are people who prefer two piece systems because the time spent if they do get wet with water coming in around the waist is not big deal. There are people who find the water that neoprene gaskets let in to be tolerable enough that they avoid latex gaskets. My one comment there is that if you are someone with a thin neck like me, you are going to have a harder time finding a neoprene gasket that doesn't let in gushes than someone with a thicker neck.

If the neoprene is leaving you chilly it is likely you will be happier with dry wear. Whether a true one piece or a two piece that could let in some water depends on how likely you are to be swimming. Check prices - the price of two good pieces might not be much less than a one piece suit if you can get a good deal. That said, if you have unusual enough proportions, you may have to choose between a custom suit at little in the way of a deal or two pieces that will handle those proportions.

2nd what slushy said

– Last Updated: Mar-13-15 9:41 AM EST –

I paddle more in the winter than "in season", and have had drysuits for I think 8 years now. Tunnel, no need as I canoe, but even my kayaking friends w/o tunnels are alright in cl. 2/3. That pee zip adds $$, and another thing to malfunction. Sewn in booties, that's a must. Had a friend w/o them, and his feet were always cold.
Feet and hands in cold weather, the two things to take care of.
Pack a thermos of hot water to rinse your neoprene gloves on occasion if your hands get cold.
I'm writing this based on memory, because as of 3 years ago I ceased paddling in sub-freezing temps. Got older and wiser...25 degrees today, my buddy and I are bicycling instead...older and wiser lol.
Also like Marshalls reference to neck gaskets. I've always had latex, and bet the neoprene is much more comfortable. As I am captain of our river running swim team, I'd best stick with latex, but you would probably be happier with neo..

Kayak Academy
Check out the Kayak Academy website. First, they have an excellent explanatory section on dry suits. Second, they are always selling lots of used suits, mostly Kokatat, from their student rental livery for good prices. I just checked and they have some for close to half off new. They maintain their gear well, these are not junk. Also, once you invest in a Kokatat you can count on a lifetime of excellent factory service. You can send the suit back for repairs, upgrades and even a periodic overhaul.

On the website, look under “kayak sales” then choose “used equipment” from the menu and scroll down to the drysuit section. They have detailed info on sizing and specs and condition.

I’d be a little surprised if you found a drysuit you’d want at either gear swap this weekend, but if you do just make sure it fits and doesn’t look like it’s really been through the wringer. Neck and wrist gaskets can be replaced and pinholes can easily be fixed. I wouldn’t buy one that isn’t breathable and doesn’t have socks/booties. Most are/do but there are some older ones that aren’t/don’t and a gear swap would be a likely place to find them. If you do find a suit expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on age, condition and seller. Dry pants and dry tops are like suit separates. They can be worn independent of each other or mated together, but not all tops can be mated with all pants so keep that in mind. Also, a used drysuit can often be had for the cost of pants/top so unless you have a specific reason for not wanting a whole suit (some do) it usually doesn’t make sense to go that way IMO. Don’t waste your money on a hood. Won’t need one around here. As far as footwear goes there are all sorts of options. The dry component will be the socks of your drysuit. All you’ll need from your shoes is protection and traction. Some old timers just wear old tennies with the laces tucked in. I wear the wading shoes that go with my waders. My daughter wears NRS neoprene shoes (I forget which model but they weren’t expensive and she likes them a lot). Some people who do a lot of creeking swear by 5.10 Water Tennies or Canyoneers or Astral Brewers or Rasslers. What will work for you just depends on how and how often you plan to use them and what you want to spend. Be sure to account for additional layers under them when considering sizing. Happy hunting!

Second Kayak Academy if you don’t
find what you want at either gear swap. Super nice folks and they do have some great deals. I bought one from them last fall. Boatertalk gear swap section always has suits too as well as fleabay. BTW, did you buy that Animas from Harlan?

Thaks for the replies, looks like I will stick with Kotakak with attached feet, one piece, and neo neck. I’m not worried about a relief zip, I am never far from shore and my wetsuit I wear now I have to practically undress but it doesn’t bother me.

I appreciate all the information, I have a better understanding now and I am not in a big rush to get one since winter has pretty much ended here.

No, I didn’t get the animas, it is out of my price range and he wouldn’t budge on the price. Looked like a great kayak though! Thats primarily what I am looking for at these, a WW kayak and paddle! I did roll sessions in a Jackson Hero and liked it.

Neo neck
You do understand the neoprene neck will mean it’s a semi-dry suit, not a drysuit, correct? In order for it to be a drysuit you need the latex neck gasket.

my take
If it is a used dry suit, checkout gaskets and such carefully. And make sure you stick your head into the head gasket and wrists into the wrist gaskets. Feeling a bit tight is fine (if too tight, you can trim), but loose is bad.

I think the integrated booties are much better than ankle gaskets.

Others don’t seem to like, but I love having the relief zip.

I have one with neo neck gasket and one with latex. I use both. If less chance of swimming, the neo is a lot more comfy. If likely to swim (like when surfing), then latex.

I second the talk of researching prices so you have ballpark for new, so you can figure out if the used price is decent.

For creeks
I have both a gortex dry suit and dry pants and dry top. For creek running were the creek is generally not deep enough to even swim I just were dry pants and if cold enough a dry top with it. The dry suit comes out when out on one of the Great Lakes were swimming is possible.

On creeks you can always just pull to shore to dry off any water that might get through the dry pants dry top connection. I tried swimming in my dry top dry pants combo and it did start to leak right away BUT not huge leak.So if your not wading in water over the drypants that setup would work ok too. I have the Kokatat drypants with the built in sock like a drysuit would have. I hate wet feet.

really good point here
Good point about inspecting the drysuit’s condition thoroughly.

modifications can be made
If you find a great deal on a suit that is basically the right size and style but doesn’t have feet or has the neck gasket you don’t like, you can get those replaced or added by Kokatat or their licensed repair dealers. I got my Kokatat GFER Goretex drysuit (worth over $900) for $400 through an ad here on Pnet from the original owner who had used it twice and torn the latex neck gasket. Only cost about $60 to have it replaced. It doesn’t have booties but I plan to add them myself eventually, another add on option that the factory offers.

Yep, I understand it would be semi dry, but I don’t plan on having water near my head unless something really goes wrong and at that point a semi-dry suit will get me to shore or back in my kayak.

We’ll see what happens and what I can find, I won’t shut my eyes on latex neck but it won’t be my focus. Never know what the future holds.


Water near your head.
You’re gonna have water near your head (and more importantly over it) A LOT if you plan to paddle a kayak in WW, especially if you keep paddling with those guys in the RV and NW chapters. Is there some reason you prefer the neoprene neck (latex allergy for example)? If not, go ahead and get a drysuit. You’ll be glad you did.

Cold Temps
I don’t plan to be doing any WW in cold temperatures.

LOL that’s what I said two years ago.
If you limit your WW paddling to warm weather you won’t be paddling much WW in or around the Natural State. And, warm air doesn’t necessarily mean warm water. Just a sayin’…