Dry Suit.......Two Piece Problems or no?

We are below 30 degrees paddlers. … er… 30 degrees Lat. So hydro skins work pretty good for our winter paddling. Which is primarily top and pant combinations. We are going north for some adventures in the future and looking at some dry suits. So still the majority of our paddling will still be in the south so some flexibility is often best designed into the mix. What is the success rate of some two piece, top and pants, dry suits. Do they leak, some or lots?

The one time my Kokata Radius leaked was when I was in a rush to test some gear and didn’t secure the top and bottom properly. Even then, it was just a small trickle of water that left a small damp spot. Hasn’t happened since.

I use a bit of Zip Tech before I put it on and have had no issues with the zipper. Aside from the ease of getting it on and off, it’s nice to be able to use it only as a dry top.

I did spend an hour or so when I got, it zipping it together and unzipping without putting it on. I wanted to understand the mechanics of the zipper, especially in the docking area. That practice paid off the first time I donned the suit; fumbled it the first attempt but got it the second try. It’s easy enough now and if I somehow damaged the suit beyond repair, I’d not hesitate to get another two-piece.

Also a fan of my kokatat radius purchased from Marshall’s shop

Your Radius leaked Rookie? YOU were in some serious rush. Zipper tab at the start not seated ? How could you get the hatch “dogged” down per se? I really like my Radius, after one season.

I think op is referring to the two piece separate jacket/pants semidry suit systems like Peak UK and similar makes/models.
And they leak substantially in my experience. My Peak UK jacket/pants is a few years old and I like them, but there is no neck gasket and the setup will ship/wick water right down to my toes if I go play rolling in it. I have waded in it past the waist and
it “sucks” in water. Don’t get out of the boat and you’re fine.

I am a fan of the Kokatat Whirlpool Bib system. I have a similar older version (not breathable fabric) that I should update to the newest. It’s easier to get in and out of than a drysuit, and if you put it on correctly, it doesn’t leak. Probably not suitable for more extreme conditions where long or pounding swims are possible, but for milder stuff, I like it more than my one-piece.


@Paatit Rookie is hardly the first person in the world to slightly miss it with a dry suit zipper. I don’t know anyone with a one piece who did not wade into the water to find they had not gotten the pee zip totally tight at least once. Nice if you have achieved perfection yourself but no need to hit others who have not.

OPer - I agree with Paatit that it is hard to tell whether you are talking dry suits, where the zippers and any middle seam are intended to be watertight, or just two separates that WILL leak if you swim. The only non-dry suit alternative I know of that tends to stay dry is the Kokatat bib system mentioned above. Could you clarify? BTW, two really good separates cost not so different than one dry suit.

@Paatit said:
Your Radius leaked Rookie? YOU were in some serious rush. Zipper tab at the start not seated ? How could you get the hatch “dogged” down per se? I really like my Radius, after one season.

Clearly operator error on my part. I was testing some new under layers on home water. Got careless the second time I went into the water. On the plus side, I wasn’t in a boat; just had walked down to the water and into the lake to float a while.

Why was I in a hurry? Most people on the lake don’t know what a dry suit is, so it looks like someone is walking into the water fully clothed. That might concern some. Don’t want social services stopping by for a wellness check. :wink: .

I probably should do such stuff after dusk.

@Rookie said:

Clearly operator error on my part.

Rookie (and Celia). Apologies, I was not trying to belittle your post in anyway. Not zipping in, oh my I have been there done that. I’m old timer (experience) and my post response was really a question on your experience with the new gear that we have in common. I find radius zip system is touchy at start, so I was interested to know where your weeping occurred, I always crank the “bolt buckle clamp” down all the way with the belief the rubber pads had some sealing quality. I have posted here for years, used to post under the name kheyashunka. I refer to my radius as my astronaut, nascar racing driver suit, I use it in a craft that goes very slow in comparison to those “sports”. Social services? I have had the cops called on me for rolling in November to close to the highway. Peace

No apology needed on my part. I thought your comment was funny. I probably didn’t have that knob screwed down all the way in my haste. Now I make sure it is. Zip tech at the start is helpful; mine just won’t zip unless I have it docked correctly at the start. The rest of it’s easy-peasy.

The cops were called because you were rolling too close to the highway? Did someone think you were a traffic hazard or needed help?

@Overstreet - how far north are you looking at? What sort of water temperatures.

When I last paddled in Northern Baja (close to the 30degrees north latitude), I still wore a dry suit. This was in April.

One of the little secrets of dry suits is that they actually don’t do much to keep you warm - it is the layers that are worn below that do. Dry suit only keeps you dry. You do generally want to wear long pants and long sleeves below the dry suit, as it can feel weird to have dry suit right on skin, but you can wear light weight layers in warmer conditions.

There are different weight dry suits out there. Light weight ones are made of lighter materials. Doesn’t mean they insulate all that much less (or heavier more), just that the material is thinner. You may want to consider one of these - you might find you even wear it in your 30 degree lats.

Note if you go Kokatat - the paddling suits (which have neo necks) seem to be the lighter materials. The neo necks they use for the Goretex is different than for the non-Goretex, and the Goretex version neck I find seals much better. Neo necks are much re comfortable than latex and last longer, but don’t seal out water as well.

I have a Kokatat Whirlpool Bib and agree with Steve that it works quite well when mated with a real drytop (with Latex neck and wrist gaskets) that has a suitable inner tunnel. Using a pair of “dry pants” that has only a neoprene waist band will not keep you dry. I used a Whirlpool Bib with a Kokatat Gore-tex dry top during a two day swiftwater rescue symposium a couple of years ago. We spent quite a bit of time in the water, swimming rapids, group wading in swift current in water well above the junction of the top and bib, taking turns acting as “victim” lying in the water, and the water was pretty cold.

I had minimal leakage through the junction with a bit of dampness at the waist of my fleece undergarment but remained warm and comfortable. And that was all the leakage I had after hours in the water.

It takes a bit of time and practice to mate the tunnels together cleanly. It may help to have an assistant keep the folds even and neat at your backside. The dry top/bib combo does eliminate the need for an entry zipper but it does result in a somewhat thick band around your middle, consisting of at least three folds of the two mated tunnels. I personally do not find that objectionable, but some might.

If you are paddling in cold water on a warm day it is nice to be able to go with only the dry top if you are paddling in a sit inside kayak with a sprayskirt. Likewise, if you are in conditions in which you are fairly certain that you won’t come out of the kayak, or it won’t be a disaster if you do, you can just go with the dry top and forego the bib, so the combo does afford considerable flexibility. It is also nice to be able to put the bib on before driving to your put in, unloading your boat, etc, then don the less comfortable dry top when you get ready to hit the water.

Paatit, sorry if I jumped too quickly.
I think we still need to get a better sense of how Overstreet is thinking about the gear.

The cops were called because you were rolling too close to the highway? Did someone think you were a traffic hazard or needed help?

Looked scary to motorists I guess they thought I needed help, someone called 911. EMT came too

I lived on a lake in Tennessee years past and one day had my canoe out at my floating dock and was practicing rolling it. There was a fairly narrow channel in the lake where I was situated and I did not realize there was a motorboat coming up behind me. As soon as I deliberately capsized and my head was in the water, I could clearly hear the boat’s propeller. I thought the boat’s wake would mess up my roll attempt, so I decided to stick my head up into the air pocket inside the inverted hull, hang out and wait until the boat had passed.

The next thing I know the boat motor had stopped and a short time later, someone was trying to wrestle my canoe upright. The poor guy in the boat had seen me turn over and not reappear, and thought I was trapped in the boat and drowning. He had killed his motor and jumped out of his boat. I was embarrassed to say the least and thereafter always made sure there were no observers close by when I practiced rolling.

I went paddling today. Funny thing was it seems the tunnel on my skirt shrunk. Maybe there isn’t room for more layers…or mushroom Swiss burgers.

Thanks for the reply I have a plan.

@pblanc said:
I was embarrassed to say the least and thereafter always made sure there were no observers close by when I practiced rolling.

Someone needs to make a flag that mounts to the bottom of a boat boldly stating: “I’M OK! REALLY!”