Drysuit advice

I am a new owner of a Current Designs Storm, and intend to do a lot of paddling over the winter. A friend I kayak with has told me I don’t really need a drysuit for paddling here in SE Alaska, but I have decided he’s full of it, and am now looking for a good drysuit.

What’s the best bang for the buck? I want booties and a relief zipper, but I don’t want to spend the extra for Gore-Tex if I don’t have to. I don’t tend to sweat too much. I do want to be comfortable in it, and be able to move around (I was looking at the NRS Extreme but some posts here said it was probably too stiff for sea kayaking). Would the Kokatat Super Nova be a good choice? I realize it’s only a “semi” dry suit but some other posts here said they only got a small amount of water through the neck when doing rolls (which I do want to learn). How well does the Tropos material in this suit breathe? Or should I just bite the bullet and get a Gore-Tex suit?




– Last Updated: Oct-12-05 3:38 PM EST –


They ship overseas so no problem getting one. Great people who stand behind their product.

Insurance policy
is what I consider my dry suit. I live up here in Skagway and also paddle year round and I always wear my drysuit! The water is just to cold to go without one and it really increases the confort level on these cold rainy days. I have a Kokatat suit and though it was expensive I have found it just part of enjoying the sport safely. Where you at? Maybe we can get together for a paddle some day. Stephen


– Last Updated: Oct-13-05 8:16 AM EST –

Some find this suit drier than I have - my concern with the lightweight neoprene neck with hook and loop closure on this suit is that it won't stand up to a swim. For me, when I think abotu immersion clothing I am thinking about whether it would be sufficient if things went wrong and I was in the water, not if they went as planned.

The SuperNova semi-dry suit has its place, for conditions in which either you are sure that you can control your immersion or you would be OK being wet with that and whatever was under it if you swam. I have one and use it for those purposes. But for big water, colder temps, serious practice work I use the GoreTex suit (Kokatat).

You should keep in mind that, since you can't roll right now, an accidental capsize will leave you in the water for at least a couple of minutes while you execute a paddle float re-entry, or are assisted back into your boat. Both involve more time in the water than a roll.

Once you get a drysuit you'll find yourself living in the thing. I like my Kokatat but a lot of people do fine with the Ravenspring or Palm suits, which tend to be cheaper than the top of the line Kokatat.

I’m in…
I’m in Ketchikan.

I looked at the Ravenspring site, and they do look nice. The custom sizing would be a huge plus for me, as I’m pretty tall (6’3") but slim (185lbs), so looking at the Kokatat and NRS size charts, I fall into the XL range for height, but I’m in the middle of the L range for everything else.

How long does it take to get a suit made and shipped from Ravenspring? I’m actually not plannng on going out again unti November, but it would be nice to get one sooner rather than later.

How does the breathability of their suits compare to the Kokatat non Gore-Tex material? If somethin goes wrong, it seems like it would be a pain to send the suit all the way back to the UK for repairs.


It does not take long
a few weeks at most. I had to have mine repaired under warrantee (a small defect that did not affect the waterproofing in any way) and I had the suit back in my possession within 3 weeks. And Ravenspring covered all shipping charges. The suit seems to breath fairly well, I’ve never used a GoreTex suit so I can’t compare. I will say it is far more comfortable than layering up with neoprene and polypro and spray jackets etc.

Custom Sizing
Kokatat will custom size their GoreTex suits, not the others. But again, it’s their most expensive suits.

Can you rent one?
You might want to try out the watertightness of those neoprene necks for yourself.

NRS Extreme
I got an NRS extreme late last year. I haven’t used it all that much, but have used it in both WW and touring.

The NRS Triton fabric is stiffer than the Goretex used by Kokatat. I have not experienced any problems related to this however. I find the freedom of movement to be very good. I have never worn a Kokatat, so I can’t offer a comparison.

As for breathability, I wore the suit one day when the air temp was about 70 but the water still in the mid 50s. I was wearing only a short sleave rash guard shirt and lycra tights underneath. We were touring at a good clip. At the end of the day I had maybe half a shot of sweat inside each arm at the wrists. Other than that I have never had any breathability problems.

ravenspring also
I purchased a ravenspring and love it. It was a great price and excellent quality

I will…
…when the local kayak outfit is open and see what they have to check out. They mostly cater to summer tourists by giving guided tours so they have limited off season hours.

I’m actually thinking about the Ravenspring, based on some of the replies here. I also really like the idea that it would be a custom fit.

If you amortize the cost of a Gore-Tex
dry suit over its life, it’s going to be less than pennies per day. Given that your life and certainly your comfort will depend on it, I wouldn’t do anything else. And I’d go with Kokatat because they are excellent quality and no one has a better warranty. The ocean water is much warmer here in Northern California than it is in SE Alaska and I wear my dry suit in the summer if I’m in the ocean. I certainly would want it in the winter.

e-bay kokatat
just sold last night. Kokatat large. not much information. went for about 126 bucks.


Gore warranty
All Gore-Tex garments have a lifetime warranty against defects in the fabric, regardless of manufacturer. If a Gore-Tex garment leaks and it’s not from wear, the manufacturer is required to repair or replace it under their contract with Gore. If the company goes out of business, Gore will replace your garment with a comparable one from another manufacturer. Gore is serious about its products!

Is the warranty transferable?
If someone buys a used GT suit, does the warranty still cover the new owner?

My husband bought a used Kokatat GT suit in excellent condition for $400, which included a thick pile union suit made by Stohlquist. Sweet deal!

and if the manufacturer is just foul
but still in business gore will do it for you. At least they did it for me and last I checked EMS is still in business.

Kokatat sizing
Just a quick question about Kokatat’s sizing. I’m right on the edge between L and XL for height at 6’ 3". They say L is for up to 6’2", and all my other measurements fit pretty well in the L range. Is an extra inch a lot of difference as far as these suits are concerned?


Extra Inch
It’d be worth a call to Kokatat to talk to them directly about that sizing question. The tightest part of getting a drysuit on and off is the amount of length and width combined that is available once your hands are thru the wrist gaskets but before you’ve gotten you head thru. At that point you need some looseness or getting your head in and out can be a bear.

Kokata reps could probably answer your question about the extra inch very well. You may be one who should go up on the size but have the sleeves or legs shortened a bit.

That is a sweet deal!
AFAIK, the warranty is the warranty. There is no “registration” of Gore-Tex garments, so how would they know if it’s had more than one owner? The warranty is on the fabric, so a defect is a defect.

Put the large on, then sit down in it
If you can comfortably do so and rotate at the waist, it should be fine. Kokatat dry suits tend to be cut rather roomy in circumference, so if you’re relatively thin, you don’t want to go any larger than necessary.