Dry suits (again)

This must have been discussed ad nauseum in some other thread, but I’m new to the site so I’ll bring it up again:

In your view, what are the comparative advantages and disadvantages to dry suits made out of urethane vs. breathable fabrics, such as Gortex, Tropos, etc.?

On the one hand, I’ve heard of people dying from exposure without a dry suit, but I’ve never heard of someone dying from soggy fleece (unless from catching a cold in camp!). People paddled in urethane for years.

On the other hand, some say “breathable” is an out-and-out misnomer, because you sweat liquid drops of sweat no matter what your dry suit is made of; as a result, the fleece gets soggy no matter what you’re weating; the only difference is that breathable fabrics allows the humidity (steam) out.

Kokatat, I noticed, is phasing out urethane completely. Your thoughts?

For me
Yeah - you should check the archives.

For me, the Gore suit I have from Kokatat is both warmer and when needed cooler than my Tropos material suit, itself a perfectly respocatble lower-cost option. I haven’t tried the non-breathable stuff, even in my drytops (before drysuit). But after having the drysuit for a season and a half, it frankly doesn’t make any sense to me to bother buying a non-breathable if you are going to go for a drysuit to start with. They already cost a pretty penny, may as well go the extra to get something that’ll be really right. The good ones wear like iron, the gaskets can be replaced when needed, so you’ll be in this thing a lot once you have it.

Get a breathable dry suit
Don’t waste your money on non-breathables. I have several friends who did and regretted it. Regardless of what you may have heard, breathable suit DO work quite well. If you do get sweaty, you will dry out when your exertion level drops.

A Gore-Tex dry suit can easily last ten years or more with periodic replacements of the seals. I consider my dry suit to be the best investment I’ve made in kayaking clothing.

Get a suit with a relief zipper and either Gore-Tex or latex socks. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had.

I am happy wiyh my urethane drysuit
And with the closeouts, you may find a great deal. Booties are a definate plus but I would nix the pee zip. You can urinate on land by unzipping your front entry zip and bend at your knees slightly. For long periods in the the boat in cold weather something like this works well under the drysuit http://shenis.whenyougottago.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=pee&Product_Code=CC02

And pardon me while I whip this out http://shenis.whenyougottago.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=pee&Product_Code=SH01

Check out Stohlquist
The new Body Pods have the booties, 1 less set of latex gaskets to worry about, nice wrist gaskets and a comfy collar that does work. The Eclipse fabric is interesting. It’s both vapor and moisture permeable so steaminess and claminess is kept to a minimum. Been pleased so far.

See you on the water,



In October I got a Kokatat GFER drysuit (relief zipper, fabric booties etc) which is just fine, but I also have a Stohlquist drytop with that cool silver-ish neoprene neck gasket,(same one, I think, as is on the Body Pod drysuit) and I have been so impressed with its comfort and effectiveness on both ends (neck & waist: 4 wet exits in surf, torso bone dry!)that I wish I had gotten the Stohlquist Bodypod instead of te GFER . (No dis on Kokatat, which is great). My neck is sensitive to constriction, I gag easily, which can also bring on seasickness for me , and I have had no neck comfort problems with the Stohlquist drysuit neck gasket. And no trimming or adjustment needed , saves me from the occasion to exhibit any more scissor and exacto bkade butchery than I already have inflicted poor GFER. Highly recommended! (by way of disclosure, I’m an anarchist , not shilling for Stohlquist)

I have both
I have a Bomber Gear non-breathable drytop and non-breathable dry pants. After paddling for a full day in that combo., my polypro layers were ALWAYS wet, whether I had sweat or not. In cold weather paddling, it was always very difficult to warm up after taking a break (those wet layers just don’t insulate as well.)

I recently purchased a NRS Extreme drysuit (made of breathable Triton.) I now wear my underlayers on the ride back home as they have always been very dry at the end of the day. I have done some strenuous upstream paddles that resulted in considerable sweating, but I’ve found my polypro to be dry by the time I’ve ended my trip back downstream.

Go breathable if you can afford it. It’s WELL worth it for serious paddling.

Breatheable - Yes.
I have drytops by Bombergear, Rapidstyle, and Mountainsurf. Also have Kokatat goretex Meridian and recently a Palm Stikine. Of the above, the Mountainsurf is non breathable. I only use it with a surfing wetsuits since it doesn’t make a difference and I am relying more on the wetsuit to keep me warm, albeit wet. The Mountainsurf just helps to minimize flushing and used only in colder conditions.

I wear thermax and thin fleece under the drysuits. I get damp but not sopping wet. I would say breatheable works much better for me. Why two drysuits? Well, the Palm fits better than my kokatat. There may be a difference in performance between the goretex Meridian and the breatheable laminate used by Palm. But, I can’t really tell the difference from my usage.

Drysuit will provide the best coverage in cold conditions. How much additional safety is determined by your skill set in preventing and handling capsizes and swims.


Stohlquist Neck Gasket
Curiosity - is the neo neck gasket they use on the Stohlquist Bodypod similar to the thick grey neo neck tubes on the IR Session tops? I have been impressed with how hard wearing the one on my short sleeve Session top is (as well as the rest of it). While I can get a litle leakage thru it, it’s been relatively quite dry compared to any other non-latex neck I’ve encountered. And it’s comfy too. It is a straight tube rather than a graduated diameter, something which I was advised to avoid at one point but seems to work out well in this material.

Do you like to suffer or something?
Non-breathable and no relief zipper? I think you’re the only person I’ve ever heard make such a recommendation. Enjoy your pain! :wink:

Neoprene neck seal limitations
It’s important to keep in mind that either a neoprene seal fits your neck or it doesn’t. You can’t trim them to fit as you can with latex seals. If you have a large neck for your body size, you probably won’t find a neoprene neck seal that fits well.

No suffering here
A relief zipper for men is just another potential failure point and a condom cath makes much more sense. My old Kokatat suit works fine and I have no problem taking a leak out the bottom of the front entry zipper. Will goretex breath if it is coated with ice? http://foldingkayaks.org/gallery/tsunami/490879_R1_041_19

I was fine in my 2 piece despite the core being cousted in ice. I did get a Goretex drysuit with booties and a relief zip on ebay for $80. Once I get the gaskets replaced, I will see for myself.

Different neck seal.
The neck seal is not the same as IR. IR uses for lack of tailoring vocab. a turtleneck approach. The B-Pod has a mock-turtleneck like collar with about a 1" collar that lays against the skin made out of smooth rubberized neoprene (I guess that’s what it is) so the gasket has a wide surface are of contact. You shove your head through like a regular latex gasket (without the rest of the world laughing) but it doesn’t have the same constriction characteristics as the usual 4-5" starting opening of a latex gasket. Works well.

See you on the water,