I am shopping for my first dry suit. I started seriously sea paddling this past spring, and have used just my 3 mil wet suit and semi-dry top. But now that I have gotten into rolling and I plan on continuing paddling through the autumn into the winter (in sea conditions), it is time to buy a dry suit. I’ve done some online research, and I am most drawn to the Stohlquist bPOD T (with spray skirt tunnel). From what I’ve read, and the testimonials I’ve read, it looks like it has great comfort (especially on the neck), while keeping you bone dry. The price is $599, but I’ve seen it on sale for $539. Of course, my local kayak shops push the Kokotat series of drysuits, and I have looked up some of them. Though they are lesser in price, I am still drawn to the Stohlquist. I am looking for feedback and recommendations from all of you who have used drysuits for some time. NOTE: I don’t like very tight things around my neck, and from what I’ve read, the gasket systems around the neck seem much more uncomfortable than the Stohlquist’s ultra-stretchy, waterproof neoprene neck. Though being totally dry is the #1 goal here, a very close second is great comfort. Also, what is the best, warmest, most comfortable item to wear UNDER the dry suit. I am looking at a couple of one-piece dry suit liners. Kokotat has one that looks very comfy and warm, and so does NRS. Recommendations on drysuits and liners (or under garments) are very much appreciated. Thanks.
bPod is an almost dry suit. Their neoprene neck doesn’t quite cut it, at least not for rolling. It would probably be OK for general use where immersion woul be infrequent. Mine let in a cup or two of water after about 10-12 rolls. I sent it in to Stolquist and they installed a smaller neck (no charge) but it still lets in some water when rolling. My Kokotat doesn’t. A friend has the NRS drysuit and seems to have good luck with it.
Material and Features
I don’t find a drysuit to be really dry unless it has a latex gasket, the kind you want to avoid. I know of others with the same experience. It has been proposed by a fellow paddler that it has to do with skinny necks, but if you want really dry for rolling etc you should try on a bPod and make sure that it starts out a bit uncomfortably tight. If it’s not, good chance you have the skinny neck problem. Also bend and twist your head around, make sure no gaps open up.
Get breathable, whatever brand.
As to underlayers, I agree with the above. I have a union suit and wear it at times, but the two piece fleece, poly and silkweight layers are more practical for most paddling. More often than not I am changing out at break, and the one-piece makes that both more cumbersome and requires larger trees and rocks to hide behind. Not practical in some spots.
I bought the NRS Extreme without the
releaf ziper. I have never needed it so for me it was a nice savings. I am very clostraphobic and the neck gasket did bother me at first. I stretched the gasket by placing a tupperware bowl in it that was just a little larger than my neck. That made it fit much better but it still bothered me a little. So what I did next might sound a little strange but I would wear my drysuit around the house and I got to the point that it no longer bothers me at all.
I Don’t Like Tight Things…
…around my neck, either. But I do fine with a latex gasket as long as I trim it right (two rings for Kokatat). I’m on my second suit and third neck gasket. Stretching them doesn’t work for me. It seems to for other folks but not for me using Kokatat gaskets. Positioning the gasket does work wonders for me, though. If I have it pulled up high over my Adams Apple I am one claustrophobic freaking case of weirdness. Pull the top below my Adams Apple and I’m fine.
I see that the the BpodT has a relief zipper. That’s a good thing. Maybe this is too much information but I cannot imagine living life without a relief zipper. Kokatat wants what? $100 to furnish one? I’ll pay twice that much any day over the life of a drysuit in order to pee without having to get out of my boat and once out of my boat have to remove the top half of my suit or do that ridiculous water bottle dance where you hope no one is watching and those who are don’t wonder what you are doing turned away from them with both hands down your pants. No contest for me. Due to my genetics neither Flowmax nor any male enhancement surgery or drug product is going to allow me the paddling comfort that $100 buys me with a relief zipper.
one-piece under the drysuit liner
I have the Kokatat one-piece suit, and it’s okay
but I just got the NRS union suit and LOVE IT!
no going back
Kokatat GMER dry suit
Have had it for 2 years …
Have NRS “wavelenth” Union suit and love it too.
Drysuit is very comfortable, after some tweaking with the latex around the neck. Dry suits are expensive, I only wanted to buy once, with no regrets.
I am very pleased
with my Kokatat goretex suit except for the unreliable latex gaskets. Some might think I’m over doing it about the reliability of the latex but I find them to be unacceptable for sea kayaking in 32 degree water. I’m in the process of installing neoprene gaskets and thats what I would recommend if you paddle in the conditions I do. I just talked to the people at Stohlquist about their neoprene neck gaskets and they said they work pretty good for most necks but some necks are harder to seal with the neoprene and those people have to use latex. They seem like real nice people who will make sure you are happy with whatever you buy from them.
I use two piece under garments under my drysuit. I have very thin thermal underwear and fleece that I mix for the conditions.
happy with my bpod
I’m very happy with my bpod. The neck isn’t typical neoprene; it’s “glideskin”, whatever that is. So far, it’s never let any water inside. (I also have a splash top from Kokatat with a neoprene neck, and that lets in tons of water–so the glideskin is much more watertight). I’m female, so those adam’s apples on men’s necks may mean glideskin lets in more water for them.
I have terrible claustrophobia–I can’t even wear a turtleneck, and I had to return my nrs drytop, because it made me feel horrible. The bpod is bearable. (Rolling is more fun in my homemade tuilik, however!)
the neck on the bpodT is titanium coated neoprene…if you have a thick neck it is great…if you have a thin chickeny neck then if you turn your head tendons pop out of the side of your neck creating tunnels to allow water in…
below the neck gasket is the ultra stretchy neoprene area to keep the gasketmoving with you…really comfy…
there are bpod’s for a good price on ebay…
my inner layer:
an Immersion Rsearch Union suit…Love it…so comfy…
the dry suit i would like to try: the IR Double D…
I'd suggest going for a trilaminate suit.
The easy way to tell is that trilaminate suits are not shiny white inside.
If you are planning on doing rolling, a latex seal is the best.
I like the B-Pod and I know people who use it for white-water. It looks like the neck closure on the B-pod works pretty well.
I like the NRS suits as well.
The "low end" Kokatat suits were not trilaminate a few years ago (I think even still).
You don't need the tunnel unless you are rolling a lot.
Regarding undergarments, you only really need to make sure what you use doesn't have a collar and doesn't absorb much water but wicks. You probably don't "need" a special suit.
Keep in mind that you may want to be able to vary the amount of insulation you wear.
NRS “dry” suit for $190!
(if you don’t mind a few leaks)
one vote for BPod
I bought one this spring and I must have a thick neck, because it never lets water in. Not after rolling, swimming for an hour, practicing rescues, etc., etc., etc. If you have a thinner neck or what corgimas descries as a “chickeny neck” you should probably try one first.
When I was shopping I was looking at the Kokotat Tropos, another “semi-dry”. But the stohlquist is just sturdier material. I ended up getting my BPod at Outdoorplay, if you sign up for a membership you get a discount and free shipping.
Another thing: I agree that no drysuit is dry, and don’t mistake “breathable” for “bone dry”. You will sweat if you’re dressed for immersion. But given that, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the comfort of mine.
I have the NRS extreme with the relief zipper. Pretty sweet suit, and bulletproof. The new NRS inversion suit looks even nicer.
I just got the Kokatat fleecy union suit late last spring, as well as the mid weight NRS one. The Kokatat is super comfy, and will become standard in colder weather with a layer of mid weight wool underneath.
I like the union suit because it is super comfy, and eliminates those annoying seams that always seem to bunch up in uncomfortable places after a few hours on the water.
It is worth paying the money for Gore-Tex for the lifetime guarantee.
I feel it is worth paying for a Kokatat suit becuase they are very good and Kokatat service is great!
The new gaskets Kokatat installed in my Expdition dry suit are heavier than the ones that came with the suit.
I’ve never had other than latex gaskets be absolutely dry for my use.
there’s some kokatat gore-tex drysuits on ebay right now for i believe $499 - i’d nab on quick if you need one. personally i use a palm torrent and love it - it’s comfortable, breathable, and built tough. good luck!
It has latex gaskets, but you really can not be totally dry without latex. Unless you do not roll, in which case, neoprene is fine. I love my Palm. It’s very durable, breathes, and is just plain comfortable and satifying to wear on a sub freezing day in water approaching freezing. Like a security blanket! The relief zipper is great, and the booties keep you totallt dry. Only thing that gets wet when I roll is my head, and a little bit of water on my hands.
Another vote for Palm
I have a Palm Stikine. Since it’s designed mainly for whitewater, it’s built pretty tough. It’s also built to accomadate a “v-shaped” person, if necessary, and you can flex/move pretty well in it. I’m 6’2", 225, with a 52" chest. I found the other suits I tried to not fit me very well: they were either too tight in the chest or, if I went up in size until the chest fit comfortably, I was swimming in the rest of it.
It cost me about $700.00 with a relief zip and booties.
also the bpod is very breathable
Warranty compared to Kokatat?
i would have no worries about approaching Stohlquist in a handful of years about warranty work on the bpod series…it is so innovative and proprietary that i am certain they would want to fix everything right again…
Good for what it is, but not the same as the more robust materials. For a primary drysuit, go with GoreTex or something that has an equal level of gurantee from other manufacturers.