Drysuit for woman Advice needed

Wondering if anyone has any advice on drysuits for women. Specifically drop seat or relief zipper? I want a Kokatat gore-tex drysuit and thinking I would rather have relief zipper but all Kokatat drysuits with relief zippers are unisex. Does anyone have any experience using a portable urinating device using a unisex drysuit?

one on the butt
Are you sure? I know of one model designed specifically for women with a relief zipper on the upper buttocks area (UBF)

I’ve tried both
and I recommend the lowered relief zipper. I don’t like the rear zipper as, for me anyway, it bunches up uncomfortably in the cockpit.

When you order your drysuit just make sure and order it with the lowered relief zipper for women.

I use a Kokatat GFER unisex with lowered relief zipper and have for several years.

I use a freshette female urinary device which I have found to be the most comfortable and easy to use.

I love the drop seat.
I had the relief zip added to my drysuit, thinking I would like it. But I didn’t, so I ended up using the drop seat 90% of the time. The only time I used the relief zip was if I was paddling with a bunch of guys on a crowded beach. But if there is a rock or bunch of grass to duck behind, I use the drop seat. I never found it to be uncomfortable in my boat but I’ve heard others make that complaint. And it helps to have decent knees for squatting.

have tried both.
the releif zipper is nice but easy to make a mistake.

reid chill cheaters with a zip is my favourite, its soft and supple enough to work with the cardboard devices i make up. i can’t always find the commercial ones.


Try em
This is one of those things you just have to try. Some gals like the zippered seat. Others, like my wife, discovered that the zipper on the bottom was pretty painful while paddling. She thought she wanted the zipper seat, but wound up with the lowered zipper. She does not like the FUD, but it is a life saver for her when needed.

George and Barbara at Kayakacademy.com warned us that ladies usually had a strong preference for one or the other after a trial paddle. See if you can get a trial of each before buying.

thanks to everyone for their opinions. I guess moral of story is to try each out for myself.

Only downside is that I can’t seem to find a dealer in Canada that carries the lowered relief zipper option. I can get it ordered via the States but the cost to pay duty and cost to send if back if I opt out of relief zipper…

Much prefer the relief zipper

– Last Updated: Mar-01-10 11:22 AM EST –

Just to throw in a wrench here - NRS (nrsweb.com) has a women's suit that uses a lowered relief zipper standard. You may want to see if anyone you know has one of them.

My stuff is Kokatat. One of my dry suits has a drop seat, a Coast Guard dry suit made by Kokatat which especially suits winter use. It is older, heavier Goretex and has nice cold weather stuff like a fleece-lined collar I can bring up around my lower face. I've used it as a back up suit for warmer weather as well.

The first suit I got was a unisex with shortened legs and arms, and a relief zipper at normal height. I have used it enough that the material is pretty much toast.

My hands down favorite is the relief zipper/FUD option. I happen to be closest to the Unisex sizing when I ran the numbers - Kokatat's fit chart is quite good - and got a new Expedition with the relief zipper lowered an inch. But I've used the FUD with the older suit that lacks that change, and can make it work with either. It takes a few times to comfortable with it, but it is so nice to be able to handle some basic relief without having to find a place you can fully squat.

The drop seat is just too limited for me - no ability to handle any relief while in the boat if need be, or at least darn challenged, and that zipper is so long it takes really scrupulous maintenance to be able to get it fully open without having to ask someone else to unzip you. Come summer vacation I do paddle long enough that being able to handle things in the boat can be a help.

I have been told that Kokatat has gotten difficult about lowering the relief zipper in the Unisex and that can be an argument. I have no idea why. But, in mu experience, it'll work tolerably if that has not been done.

By the way, reread this thread and the person who said that women tend to have strong preferences is correct. Then again, I have come to the same preference as a woman I know who comes from rock climbing, where use of a FUD has been standard for a long time. One thing that tends to color my choice is that I often paddle in a group where I may be the only woman, or at least we are in a distinct minority. And in venues where cover is behind a rock, no foliage, with an open vista if someone is at the right angle behind me. I simply have more places I can use the FUD than a drop seat.

Peak UK
You might also want to check out Peak UK drysuits. The zipper goes on the inseam of the legs. Very comfortable and great quality of materials.


Just make sure your zipper is closed properly because you’ll feel water getting in when you step into the water.

Drop Seat
I’ve always had a drop seat Kokatat and never had issues with it. While I do paddle with men more frequently than in a mixed or women only group, I usually can find a secluded spot to unzip the “rainbow.”

As for finding it uncomfortable in my boats or the stiff zip making it difficult for an exit or re-entry, it’s also never been an issue and I paddle low volume, smaller cockpit kayaks.

The zipper can be sticky at times, but so can the front zip to the dry suit. Experience has taught me to keep it well waxed – I always carry beeswax or an old candle in my kit for those just in case moments – especially after washing. Yes, I’ve had to ask for assistance occasionaly from men not my husband, but I’m in a onesey and or long underwear/pac-lite gore-tex pants underneath, so I’m not particularly embarrassed.

To me the biggest advantage of having the frowny zip as we also call it is not having to take the whole shebang off should one have to do something more, er, complicated than a whizz.

Front zip or rear zip is a personal choice and one, as you can see, surrounded by strong personal opinions, sort of like rudders vs skegs.

I probably should have mentioned…

– Last Updated: Mar-01-10 1:54 PM EST –

I tend to dress in warmer layers than the guys I paddle with, I just get cold more easily, so when it's a full day paddle I just about always end up opening up the top zipper and more often than not taking it down to change into a dry top layer. I also have a unique situation that often means I have to strip further down anyway at the big breaks. So taking the whole thing down for a more involved need would not be a problem for me, it'd likely be when I already had things open.

If you are envisioning never getting out of the suit in a day, or taking the top half down, a drop seat would be the only that'd handle it all. If you figure you'd need more ready access to be able to drink a lot of water over longer days on the water, the relative ease even if risking a slight mess of the FUD may be more appealing.

There is only one point where the drop seat zipper has gotten in the way for me, that is for a wet re-entry or a regular assisted rescue when I've been too bonked to make a roll. The zipper has a tendency to pull down the back band in my P&H boat, where there isn't a third anchor point for it along the bulkhead. If you do go with a drop seat, make sure that the back band is anchored like in the NDK and WW boats so that it can't be pulled forward.

The ultimate word is probably from the folks who do major expeditions, where they get the suit modified to have both. But that's not much help to most of us in making up our minds...

My girlfriend prefers the drop seat

– Last Updated: Mar-02-10 10:37 AM EST –

She's had two dry suits with they and won't consider anything else. She paddles low volume boats (Pintail, Anas Acuta, Rumour and SOF) and has no problem with it.

Wow, that’s a LONG zipper!
It’s also in the area that gets the most water pressure during a swim/re-entry. I sure hope it seals well!

Anchoring the back band in the center…
…is a really good idea, regardless of your clothing. I’ve seen way too many that didn’t have a center anchor get twisted during re-entries or end up under the paddler’s butt. You don’t need those kind of avoidable hassles in the middle of a rescue.

Some of the back bands I’ve used didn’t have a center anchor, but it’s not difficult to add a padeye in the necessary location and an anchor point in the boat, if it doesn’t have one.

I have both, am undecided
I bought the drysuit with drop seat – made perfect sense at the time. Then I had to pee on a sandbar in Bogue Inlet (NC) in full view of people fishing several hundred yards away. So I got Kokotat to retrofit my suit with a front relief zip so I can politely turn my back and whiz like the guys (with a little female urinary device). Plus, it’s easier if you’re just peeing. I am thinking about having Kokotat take the dropseat zipper out and just sew up the back to make it easier for me to slide into tight cockpits – there may be ocean cockpits in my future. Haven’t decided yet, though, so I currently have both options. The great thing is that Kokotat is willing to do all this stuff to our drysuits. I think they’re a great company, and I love their functional, simple, and well-made paddling clothes.

G in NC

You may not find…

– Last Updated: Mar-02-10 10:43 AM EST –

...the drop seat to be an issue with ocean cockpits. All of my girlfriend's boats have them and she doesn't have any issues with the drop seat. I'd suggest trying it in the boat you have in mind before you modify the suit.

That Pesky Back band
I guess I was lucky that I never found any difficulty in exiting or entering previous boats with back bands without a center anchor, although I can see where it might present a hazard. I haven’t paddled the AvocetLV enough yet to see if the back band will be an issue, but I’m yanking it out, any way.

I’ve gotten used to the fitted foam blocks as back rests in my NDKs; the new boat will have one, too. I’ve found them not to be a problem at all for comfort or for re-entry/exit.

Ditto to what BNystrom said.
I actually prefer an ocean cockpit and found, when I briefly was paddling a SOF, that exiting in a dry suit wasn’t an issue. It takes a little bit of practice and it’s probably a good idea to do so with a friend close by if things get dicey, but, as BNystrom said, it shouldn’t present any more difficulty than getting used to exiting and entering an OC itself in regular paddling gear.

so far so good
the only issue is at the end. The connection there needs to seal all the way to the end - OR ELSE

Just re-enter, wet
I can’t see how the drop seat zipper could interfere with exiting, really from anything. I’ve used the suit in my Inazone which is a bit small for my current volume, so I am way squeezed in, and if I was able to exit OK out of that (I was) exiting shouldn’t be a problem from any boat.