Dry suit?

A friend gave me a two piece Kokatat suit that has the rubber gaskets at the neck and leg/arm openings. Much of the rubber has dry rotted, but the suit is overall in great shape. I trimmed the rotted rubber away. My question is is this a suit to keep me warm or does it act as a dry suit to keep me warmer in the case of a capsize? Will it not work now that some of the rubber around the neck and ankles has been removed? It is a bright teal and purple and looks almost like a clown suit! I am not familiar with these suits and was just wondering what people here could tell me about it.

If you had to trim
enough of the gaskets that they won’t seal to your skin in those areas, then it won’t keep the water out and won’t be “dry.” A Drysuit is only meant to be a barrier against water, so it won’t keep you warm by itself - you need to dress appropriately undrneath (wicking underwear, fleece, whatever depending on the conditions).

Back to the gaskets - those can be replaced. I believe Kokotat even replaces them.

BTW - I think the look like clownsuits, too :).

The good people at Kayak Academy might help you out, even though you didn’t get the suit from them. They do gasket replacement, or they will sell you the tool and the gaskets so you can do it yourself.

To answer your question: a drysuit without the gaskets is no better than a glorified raincoat. You have to have the seals to keep the water out. Speaking of keeping the water out, you should check the supposedly waterproof zippers, too.

Once the suit is waterproof, you can adapt the clothes you wear under the suit to the water temp, the air temp, and the conditions in which you will be paddling.

– Mark

Don’t wear without seals
It could be dangerous. I was told of a drowning in the American River (white water) where a person wore the drysuit but had removed the neck gasket. When the person went under, the suit filled with water through the neck, and when they tried to get out of the water, the weight of it inside the suit was a factor.

Get the suit repaired.

Dry Top/Suit
I have a Kokatat dry top for kayaking and I love it. The gaskets have to be trimmed when they’re new because they’re purposely made too small in case the user is a small person. Mine almost strangled me the first time I tried it on. IMHO, there is none better than the Kokatat Gore-Tex dry gear. They’re not even remotely cheap but the gaskets are replaceable. I take/send it to a paddling shop that knows how to do gasket repairs. I’ve never tried to do it myself so I don’t really know how hard is to do it right. When you do get new gaskets treat them with 303 (NEVER Armorall) about every 2-3 months or immediately after use. The gaskets will last virtually forever if you do that.

BTW, they’re not meant to keep you warm but keep you dry. I’ve swam several times wearing mine and I stay bone dry from the waist up. What I do in cold weather is wear a Mountain Gear Thermalstretch top under it and ever a polyester fleece over that if it’s really cold. They keep you that dry, so you can wear fleece under a dry top/suit. :slight_smile:

Gaskets do not “have to be trimmed.” If it helps to trim a little off for comfort, then fine, but it’s not required. Kokatat neck gaskets come in two different sizes.

Gaskets will not last “virtually forever,” even if treated with 303. Most gaskets will deteriorate or rip with usage.

Dry Top
Well, I must’ve gotten the one with the smaller gaskets because I had to trim off a fair amount before it was remotely comfortable. I’ve had the same “mango” dry top for 7 years and the gaskets are still soft and still seal.

My wife and I have two piece Kokatat
dry suits and never wear them.

We got them for our first trip to Alaska, but after the first few days in them we opted for splash jackets and gortex cycling pants over layering.

I am sure they would be a life saver had we swam, but we decided we would take our chances without them they were so uncomfortable.

They are hot as hell, and as you are paddling all you can hear is “swish, swish, swish”.

So my take would be: without the rubber gaskets, it wont help you much if you swim, but if you want to be hot, hot, hot then go ahead and use it.



call kokatat or kayak academy
and replace all the gaskets. a gasket failure if you capsize in cold water is potentially catastrophic. if the rubber is “rotted” the gaskets are not to be trusted. while you’re at it see if you can get gortex booties retrofitted to replace the ankle gaskets which are a huge pain.



In fact
I have had brand-new gaskets last exactly 2 wearings before they blew out. And then I had a nylon drytop that the fabric wore out before the gaskets did. The top was 9 years old when I retired it.

Latex gaskets are a crapshoot at best. Since I paddle all winter in CT, I need a good drysuit, so I learned how to replace my own gaskets. Saves lotsa time & $$$$$$, and it’s not hard to do.

for all the advice. Kokatat emailed me and said it would cost $135 to replace all five gaskets. I will wait to see if I think I will even use the suit. I would think a neoprene wet suit as a base layer and some splash wear on the bottom and top would be more comfortable and less bulky.

Repair Cost
If that’s a Gore-Tex drysuit then it’s worth several times what they’re asking to repair it. My Kokatat dry top cost over $300 seven years ago, they’re not cheap. I did buy the smallest size I could get to avoid the bulk. I bought a medium when I normally wear a large shirt. The extra material from a dry top that’s too big can actually interfere with rolling. :slight_smile:

they don’t make
bright teal and purple Goretex drysuits

Oh really,
I didn’t know about the available colors these days, I haven’t looked at them in years.

REI Cary, NC
Has a Kokatat Super Nova XL on sale for 339.00 - It is not Gortex and has the latex neck band. Red and Gray 1 piece w/ booties

I bet it could be bought over the phone

Teal and Purple
If this isn’t a gore-tex suit, then what do you think it is? It doesn’t have any identifying tags or writing on it except Kokatat and LARGE. I don’t even know if it’s breathable. All I know is it looks like a clown suit!

Kokata has made such dry suits
Wetzool has a Kokatat dry suit in those colors.

bright teal/purple was once
used. In my bag of demo suits, I have one… very durable but a bit heavy and looks like Gore-Tex to me, just an earlier version. So if in good condition, sounds like you should replace the gaskets.

$135 to replace gaskets isn’t a bad deal, gaskets are expensive and then there is labor. Personally, you couldn’t pay me $135 to change 5 gaskets and I do them quite often. They are a fiddle, especially on the older suits - the newer suits are better suited to the jigs.

As for comfort, neoprene under splash protection is never going to be as comfortable as a dry suit. Remember with neoprene, you will be wet, either from the water or from your own sweat. Splash protection on top will keep the wind from stealing your heat but that’s about it. Your dry top/bottom combo will keep you dry and warm if you “mate” them properly.


Yes, but they used to. I have a drysuit
just like that.


– Last Updated: Aug-29-08 4:38 PM EST –

has the lowdown. A good breathable drysuit has it all over any combination of neoprene and coated fabric for staying warm in water, cool in air. It's kind of magic to get dumped in icy water, or have spray freeze all over your deck and PFD, but be toasty in a drysuit that actually kept your woolies dry. In other applications I'm a big fan of neoprene, Gore-Tex not so much, but in a well-made drysuit it performs miracles.

However, 'good' means everything perfect: zippers, waist seal, fit, weight, even looks… if seams or zippers leak even a tiny bit, or if you don't wear it for any reason, new gaskets will be money wasted. I met one fellow whose water repellency failed: water didn't leak through, but it wet the outer fabric instead of beading up and running off, which interfered with vapor escape, which steamed up his underclothes. Even so it's better insulation than a wetsuit, still windproof and waterproof, but the dryer your skin the better.

So, if you paddle in water less than 10° or so and will use the suit, $135 is a gift. (My Kokatat suit was I think $900, and worth it). Up here we use them half the year because, trust me, neoprene sufficient for swimming with ice in the water is far hotter and more constricting than the heaviest drysuit. If it doesn't fit or suit or match your interests, I'll be happy to find someone who will put it to good use. If nothing else, we have a circus school!

(That goes for you, too, JackL.)

Incidentally, you can stretch latex gaskets. Use a clean smooth rounded bowl or saucepan and some talc (or 303, it's slippery for a while). Don't stretch much but leave it for a few days. Stretching weakens rubber, I don't know why but I suspect it exposes the inner structure to oxygen or ozone. Trimming gaskets, on the other hand, reduces the seal length at the same time that it increases circumference, and it takes a steadier hand than mine to leave an edge as smooth and even as the factory. A microscopic nick or scallop concentrates stress every time you put it on. Eventually a tear will start there. At that point trimming past it is the only way to keep the tear from growing. The more seal you have left, the more new edge you can reveal before running out of room to retreat.