Dry suit question

I’ve had both also and agree . . .

– Last Updated: Dec-17-13 2:06 PM EST –

. . . with all the points made by pblanc.

In general, I guess I like the two piece better, because that's the latest and most expensive one I ever bought. It's a Kokatat Goretex, but with an open-up-able collar and hood, which they used to call the "sea touring" model or something like that. So it's not really 100% dry around the neck if your head is submerged. However, the open collar is great for ventilation.

My very first dry suit was also a two piece. I tested it by jumping into the snow melt class 4 Freight Train rapid on the Contoocook River in New Hampshire in March. I had safety ropers on the banks. The folding join line didn't leak. I then test floated an easy stretch of the Contoocook with no PFD, just using the unburped air in the suit.

The openable collar design works for me because it's my personal experience that I don't tip over very often, don't get my head wet much even when falling out of an open canoe, and that it doesn't matter much if a cup of water or so gets inside the suit, which is almost always damp inside anyway. However, I'm not a chronic roller, so someone who is would probably want a traditional neck gasket two piece dry suit.

I wear the bib alone a real lot for open canoeing and wading. I don't wear the top alone nearly as much, but it could be used as a dry or rain top. You can roll-mate the top with certain kayak skirts -- or you could with the equipment of about 10 years ago.

I went from 2 to 1
The one-piece is far better. The slight cost difference is worth it.

2 vs. 1
If the two piece is a combination of dry pants and dry top them unless you have a very rare pair of dry pants with a tunnel like bibs then it will always leak on a swim. Usually right at the small of the back where the least amount of tension on the waist band makes for the weakest sealing point on the waist.

Go one piece until its lighter weight neoprene weather (Kokatat neo-core for example)

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



When that seal breaks, it’s hilarious
…as long as you’re just practicing in warm water and air.

Dunk! Then GlubGlubGlubGlub, whoooooosh in comes the water and suddenly you get gigantic, two-ton legs that create odd floaty balance situations in the water and make it impossible to walk when you manage to swim (? if you could call it that) to shore. Then the real fun begins! Carefully open up one ankle gasket and WHOOOOOOSH out pours a torrent. Repeat for the other side.

Yup, 1-piece is better.

What type of system are you describing

– Last Updated: Dec-19-13 2:28 PM EST –

I don't know what type of two piece dry suit you had but I don't think what you are describing is an accurate reflection of how a proper two piece dry suit works.

The pants or bib of a proper two piece dry suit has an outer tunnel that starts at about pectoral level. This mates with the inner tunnel of a dry top by pulling the dry top tunnel down over the bib tunnel, matching the edges, then folding the two tunnels together three or more times like the seal on many dry bags. The mated tunnels are then covered with the tunnel of a spray skirt in the case of a decked boater, then the outer tunnel and waistband of the dry suit is pulled down over the junction and secured. The mated tunnels wind up being between pectoral and waist level, closer to the former, and are also covered by a PFD. This video shows the process:


It is possible that a small amount of water could leak through in a prolonged swim just as a small amount of water can make its way into a roll top dry bag. But I have not had a properly designed and properly mated dry top and bib combo, such as those made by Kokatat, just come apart. In fact, I have sometimes been absent minded and tried to pull my dry top off without unmating the tunnels and they won't come apart despite a good tug. Of course, this is only the case if one properly mates the tunnels together.

This product review of a Kokatat Tropos Whirlpool Bib by Colorado Kayak Supply also describes the procedure. I think the comments pertaining to the pros and cons of a two piece dry suit are very accurate.


I think those to whom a Bib dry pant would most appeal are decked boaters who already own a quality dry top, or plan to purchase one. So long as the dry top has an inner tunnel it will mate with a Kokatat Bib. It need not be a Kokatat dry top. Buying a dry top and Bib instead of a full dry suit allows the flexibility to use the dry top alone in moderate conditions in which a swim is unlikely.

On the other hand, neck gasket failure can occur with any dry suit and can be potentially dangerous. In a normal swimming posture a blown neck gasket is largely above the water surface but if a gasket blows during a long swim in heavy whitewater, or while a boater is getting trashed in a hole, a lot of water can enter the suit at the neck quickly and make swimming very difficult. That is something I have heard of.

Zippers on one piece suits can fail as well. Catastrophic zipper failure should be very uncommon on a quality dry suit, but what is fairly common is for an individual to think the zipper is closed but leave a half inch gap at the end open. It takes a fair bit of force to close and seal that last bit. Leaving relief zippers open is another not too uncommon mistake.

I am guessing that your experience was with a pair of waterproof dry pants that only came waist high and just had a neoprene waistband. If so, I agree those will not keep you dry and could be potentially dangerous.

Of course you need to have a tunnel

– Last Updated: Dec-18-13 8:09 AM EST –

I would not recommend wearing any type of water proof pants with either attached socks or latex ankle gaskets without a tunnel and a proper dry top for anything other than wading where there was no chance of swimming. The likelihood of the pants legs filling with water during a swim is too great.

On the other hand, it is fine to wear a pair of dry pants with a loose ankle closure and a dry top. I have done so many times when paddling a decked boat. If you swim you will get wet but a huge amount of water will not be trapped in the legs of the dry pants.

Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian
I was hoping that someone else would mention this option but nobody has so…http://kokatat.com/products/dry-suits/hydrus-3l-dry-suit-with-relief-zipper-socks-men.html

The Hydrus 3L carries a lifetime warranty, also made in the USA. All suits get tested prior to shipping as the Gore-Tex suits do.

The Hydrus 3 L is a good alternative to Gore-Tex. Save about 25% of the cost of a Gore-Tex suit. Not quite as breathable and probably not as durable but same warranty against the material failing before the life of the garment.

Additional benefit is that the factory can do their own repairs when they are needed.


(New England Sales Rep for Kokatat)

Those are the two I’ve been looking at as a more affordable alternative.

this may be way premature

– Last Updated: Dec-18-13 2:40 PM EST –

but my friend Bob is launching Mythic Gear.. carrying affordable drysuits.


Bob is based in coastal Maine.

I was talking tunneled suits, too
Both my 30 year old two-piece from overseas and my newer two-piece Kokatat dry suit have stretchy fabric tunnels you fold or roll together. This system DOES NOT leak. I’ve gone long, bashing distances in snow melt class 4+ rapids in such a suit, including an interminable nightmare windowshading in the hole at Big Nasty on the Cheat at high water, which completely unzipped my PFD. (Thankfully I had replaced the waist ties with prusik ropes and a carabiner). No leaks.

The dry top of the tunnel gizmo can mate with a compatible spray skirt for a decked whitewater boat or seakayak for a water tight seal while you wear something that breathes and is more comfortable below decks.

Given all this, plus the utility of using the bib alone for in between season, well-ventilated upper body open boating, makes the two-piece suit very versatile.

The biggest negative, in my opinion, which isn’t really that bad, is the thick clump of folded material you end up with around your waist.

Y swims MV.

Less than $1000
For less than full-on brutally cold winter conditions or > 20 days/ year hard use, I would look at the Kokatat Lightweight Gore-tex paddling suit. It is the lighter weight Gore-Tex Paclight which breathes better than the heavier, standard Gore-Tex. It has neprene gaskets which make it significantly more comfortable to wear but will let a small amount of water in (usually just a few drips per immersion). If you can tolerate that it is a great suit.


JB, yep.
Like I said way back at the beginning of this thread, the Kokatat Light Weight Suit has fitted many a touring and SUP paddler precisely the amount of protection with excellent comfort and a price point that makes the investment in a longer paddling season more appealing.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



New supplier, lowest-priced drysuits
Mythic Gear recently launched its new line of drysuits at the lowest prices in North America. Breathable fabric, SCUBA-quality gaskets and zippers, and pricing literally hundreds below other brands. I’m president and founder and I’ll be glad to take your calls, answer questions. www.MythicDrysuits.com

I went with NRS
Six years later and it started to leak a little. I sent it in and they gave me what I paid for it Boater Bucks. Which I used to buy a new dry suit.

Sorry, missed your post.