Dry Suit: Most Breathable Fabric?

Probably a different scale …
… For folks who have not used Goretex suits before.

Sounds like all non-gore fabrics are trying to claim “second best” to Goretex. Lots of opinions … after reading all I could and talking to folks, the vote tally for “second best” seemed about even between all non-gore fabrics claiming breathability. Figured Tropos would be about the same as the NRS suit, and seeing as how that worked OK for me, I picked the Kokatat for the features (tunnel) and fit.

But a few folks I talked to asked right up front: “ever use Goretex?”. Basically they said if you’ve used Goretex, you’ll be dissappointed with anything else.

So I guess having not been spoiled yet, and not being a year-round paddler, the Tropos works for me.

kokatat/Gore products ARE going to be
more $$$$$$…

i like the price point of the stohlquist bpod MUCH better…and it is more comfortable to me as well and just as dry…

if you want a suit that offers GREAT motion and breathablility etc… peek at the IR DD and Palm suits…IR has been making kick 4SS stuff for awhile now for WW boaters…as does Palm…

Upon further consideration…
After reading through the numerous testimonials for kokotat gore tex, I should reconsider. But if you are using a neoprene sprayskirt with a tightfitting body tube around your abdomen, seems to me its going to be sweaty no mater how breatable a fabric you have underneath. Then add the pfd. On a warm summer day, paddling with just a shirt, my shirt gets wet under the pfd. So again, I tend to think it does not matter how breathable the suit, but something impermeable over it, the moisture will start to build.

As for your legs inside the kayak, there is a limit to how much water can be absorbed by the air inside the kayak. Once the relative humidity inside the boat equals the humidity inside the suit, where is the moisture going to go?

My drysuit is a Bomber Gear Radiator, which BG describes as follows: “Full on, paddlers drysuit made of Toray™ 3 ply waterproof breathable material. This fabric was specially developed, tested and refined for paddle sports, and has a unique, quiet, soft hand and outstanding durability. The radiator has an outer tunnel and Vault Water Lock Waist Band™ that locks onto the sprayskirt to seal water out of your boat.”

I am disappointed in this suit and find I get just as wet inside as if I was using my nonpermeable splash jacket.

Based on this thread, I should dump the BG and get a kokotat, gore tex suit, even though it seems illogical to me that any suit is going to exhaust much vapor once you cover 75% with skirt and pfd.


i wear the drysuit during the coldest
times…when i start to get warmed up enought o build up a harsh sweat the water is a bit warmer and i have dropped the dry suit for dry pieces…a dry top over neoprene pants with a wicking shirt under the top is warm enough for me BUT VERY breathable at the same time…plus if i roll it gets the sweat to condense quickly and run down me…then no worry…


It’s a bit surprising

– Last Updated: May-11-07 6:31 PM EST –

I have not used my suit in very hot weather. It's possible (maybe likely, even) that it would be overwhelmed on a hot humid day.

I use my dry suit with a neoprene skirt and a PFD. Even after 2 or more hours I have kept rather dry. On one day, the air temp might have been 70 degrees.

No one is saying it is magic or perfect but it seems to work quite well.

The reason many people
like Gore-tex better is because it’s been around longer and it’s all they know and have never used anything similar - because there WAS nothing similar. Nothing wrong with that.

These other fabrics are made the same way as Gore-tex and act the same way - with a “membrane” fabric that blocks water in one direction and allows perspiration to escape in the opposite. The reason these other new fabrics are now being made is because Gore’s patent on the “membrane” has expired.

It’s still an expensive fabric to produce, hence the reason there aren’t that may to choose from, but it’s not as bad as when there was only ONE product to choose from - Gore-Tex.

FWIW, I’ve used Gore-tex products for years - both the first versions used in military applications and other stuff. It’s great and I love it. The only reason I didn’t get a Gore-tex suit from Kokatat is because their suits don’t fit me very well. But I’m happy with the Palm so far.

Money aside - Kokatat Gore-Tex

– Last Updated: May-13-07 4:23 PM EST –

I was pretty much cornered into the Kokatat suits because they come in XXL (and King, for that matter) and run big and I needed the size. If I'd been slimmer at order date I probably would have ended up in one of the other brands. I consider myself lucky now that I went with Kokatat. (Still in an XXL goretex loaner from Kayak Academy, waiting for my XL to arrive in June.)

I've only paddled with the goretex. I'll perspire and feel like I'm damp inside. By the end of the day though, when I remove the suit, I'm always surprised how dry I am and how dry my polypro layers are. Sometimes slightly damp around the belly, probably do to the neo skirt tunnel, and seat, do to um, the seat. I think I get a lot of slow ventilation out of the arms, arm pits, shoulders, and some out of the legs.

I tried on a tropos side by side with the gor, with under layers, in the house, walked around for awhile, got in and out of my boat, worked up a bit of a sweat. The goretex was definitely more comfortable and cooler in that situation. As Jay mentioned, the gor is also noticeably more flexible material. More of a fabric feel with gor. More of a plastic feel with tropos.

I have a friend who has a Bomber Gear (I had said Palm. That was wrong.) Very nice looking suit. Fabric looks tough. Just the other night though, another friend said that on their last paddle together the palm owner said maybe he should have gotten the Kokatat. Reason is the zippers are getting very difficult to close on the Palm. Lube hasn't helped. He thinks the Kokatat zippers are much better. My other friend said he helped to close the zipper and had to pull so hard he thought it might break. This is only one data point, and anecdotal at that. Don't know if others have had the difficulty with the Palm zippers. The Kokatat zippers are a hard pull too, but apparently not like the one Palm.

I also think I've read more posts here of people having difficulty getting in and out of their suits, and comfort issues, with other brands than with Kokatat.

Almost to the letter, the long-time sea kayakers I know who paddle regularly, year round, wear Kokatat Gore-Tex. Admittedly, many of them probably bought their suit 5-10 years ago when there weren't lotsa choices, but I don't hear any of them talking about switching, either.

Paul S.

On that Palm suit, do you know which suit and zipper was used? The whitewater designed Palm Stikine uses two heavy metal tooth zippers (back and pee) made by BDM. These appear to be heavier duty zips than anything I’ve seen on the Kokatats so far. The other Palm suits use the TIZIP, I believe–all plastic/nylon parts, and much different design overall. Both require specific lube–could that be part of the problem? Just curious. I’ve got a Stikine and would like to be aware of any potential problems. Thanks.

The zipper on my Stikine
was a bit tough to pull when I first got it, but after some lube - and lubing it after each use (I just keep a tube of the stuff in the front pocket), I haven’t had any problems. You’re right, though: it IS a pretty beefy zipper. But so is everything else on that suit, which is partly why I bought it.

Some people don’t like the back zip and it DOES take a little getting used to. I just like it better that way, I guess.

I Have Gore Kokatat & Palm Stikine…

– Last Updated: May-12-07 7:41 PM EST –

I don't really notice much of a perceptible difference. I get pretty sweaty in both when surf paddling. My inner layers are generally soaked. I tend to like the Stikine better because it's cut wider than kokatat which seems to think folks are all tall and skinny.

These day I use wetsuits year round. They work better for me when waveskiing and safer from tears from rocks and pinching from the seat belt.


I’ll let you know.
I don’t know, but forwarded your question. I’ll post here if I get a reply.


"I tend to like the Stikine better because it’s cut wider than kokatat which seems to think folks are all tall and skinny."

If I had wanted to get a tent-sized suit, so just I’d have some shoulder room, the Kokatat would’ve been great. I think maybe the fact that Palm has traditionally catered to WW guys - who arguably move around/contort themselves a lot more than most of us day-to-day touring folk - may have something to do with the generous upper body cut of the suits. Either way, I was happy to find one that fit.

Also happy not to have to wear that butt-ugly mango/purple combination :).

customizable safety gear…
I like that, Cor. thanks.

As a guide I was given Gore Tex and asked to give input. It’s great stuff, but products I’ve tested from Japan etc., have been as good or better. Somewhere I saw a report that indicated such. I think there are equal or better products. e-vent is great stuff, as is Torey’s material. Gore has the name though, and is great stuff, so that’s a hard blend to beat.

ocean temps off boston, sing?
I was interested in your using wet suits year round.

Correction - Bomber Gear, not Palm.
I was wrong. The suit with the difficult zipper is Bomber Gear. I’ve edited the above. My apology to Palm company and Palm owners. Here’s the Bomber owner’s reply.


My drysuit is by Bomber Gear. The zipper is quite different from

Kokatat’s, which Chris has. I know Chris’ zippers work much better

after they’ve been waxed. But for mine, the business parts of the

zipper (the little teeth that interlock) are enclosed with a

rubberized gasket material, so applying wax to them is

impossible. I’m thinking perhaps a silicone style lubricant might

work. The other thing I should do is move the zipper a little (kinda

like priming it) before I put the suit on, so I can use both

hands. Once the zipper is started, it seems to work OK. Getting it

going is the problem as it seems to stick.

Ignorance is bliss
The only people that claim that breathable fabrics don’t work in paddling clothing either:

A- Haven’t tried it


B- Are just trying to justify being cheap and not spending the money for it.

The truth is that breathable paddling garments work quite well and the difference in comfort is huge.