I’m looking at three dry tops and I wanted some help picking one. I’m looking at the Palm Switch, the Kokatat Tropos, or the Kokatat Rogue. I’m brand new to whitewater paddling and I want something that’s going to be good enough to learn in/swim in, but also going to last me for a while. I’m out in Oregon so the water’s cold but I don’t really want to invest in a full dry suit. The other catch is money, as in I’m somewhat short of it. The Switch and Tropos are close enough to the same price that it doesn’t matter but the Rogue is almost double what they cost. I know the Rogue is really highly rated on the forums, but is it really worth it (and why)? If not, then what would people recommend between the other two?
I have a couple of tops of this material, and a dry suit. It ain’t bad, but it isn’t as long term rugged as some of the ones that come with a stiffer guarantee. How it’ll last for you… anyone’s guess.
Gore-tex is going to be a lot more comfortable and durable in the long run than Tropos material. It just comes down to how much capital you can invest up front - a Gore-tex top will still be good after the Tropos has fallen apart. It breathes better too. Don’t know about the Palm stuff.
I have had a Gore-Tex Kokatat dry top for many years and it has served me very well. It's been intimate with many rocky rapids and never ripped.
Any dry top or dry suit with latex gaskets will need to have the gaskets replaced periodically. It depends on use, obviously. Some people only get a year, some 5 years. You can buy replacement gaskets and do the job yourself, or send the suit back to Kokatat and they will do it for a fee.
Environmental ozone and oil from your skin makes the latex break down quicker. Rinsing the seals after use may prolong life, and storing the suit during the warm season in two tied-off garbage bags (one inside the other) to protect it from environmental ozone I am told helps as well. Ozone is generated by electric motors, so you definitely have it in your house (like in your basement next to the furnace).
Dry is a relative term. Some water definitely leaks in around the gaskets if you do a lot of rolling. A lot of boaters in the Southeast have gone to the so-called semi-dry tops with neoprene, rather than latex neck gaskets, which many people find much more comfortable. Most have latex wrist gaskets, but some short-sleeved tops have neoprene biceps gaskets. These allow a bit more water in but many find them a very acceptable and comfortable compromise.
Palm Switch v Sidewinder
Have the Palm Sidewinder, investigated both.
IMO Sidewinder > Switch…
Better articulation at arms and shoulders, two useful pockets, more reflective piping, kevlar and Cordura reinforcement for better wear, etc. And I just like the sportier, closer cut of the Sidewinder. YMMV
go to a British paddling site or two, Palm and both these drytops are well known and popular, most seem to prefer the Sidewinder esp. for serious get-wet paddling.
Here is one: http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/forum/index.php
Read all about the Sidewinder here:
Got mine from these guys at a slightly lower price in early spring, & service was excellent. Be aware these are not 2010 or even 2009 drytops, so the gaskets need a good lube w. 303. And the gaskets run extremely small - I’ve never had to trim wrist and neck gaskets before.
Kokatat Rogue w. Goretex rules but don’t do enough paddling w. a full-on drytop to justify the $$$. Do have a Kokatat Goretex drysuit and they really know how to make a Goretex paddler’s garment.
It`s just that simple.
Immersion Research. Check em out, they make awesome dry tops.
Don’t forget NRS
The NRS E-Vent is supposed to be a very breathable fabric and they make good garments. I have both a Kokatat Gortex and a Kokatat Tropos. I love my Gortex one but they’re on top of the price range.
OS Systems are the dry suit people often overlooked
They make excellent products used daily by professionals
could not agree more
the rogue is the most comfortable top I’ve ever worn.
another one to consider
is from Reed. Check out their storm cags, they’re great. If these don’t appeal, I’d go with Kokatat. Great gear and exemplary customer service.
I second Reed and Kokatat
I wore my Reed semi-dry with a wet suit yesterday as it was too hot for a dry suit but the water is still in the high 50’s. I was comfy and, as an added bonus, the Reed doesn’t have latex gaskets but manages to keep the water out fairly well. Reed isn’t necessarily cheap but it works.
As for Kokatat: Yes, it’s pricey but it lasts and has an excellent history of customer service/replacement. Your initial investment will be high but you won’t be buying new gear every few years.