Drysuit Owners...Need Thoughts

Ok, I asked the 2 piece vs Drysuit question and am now looking at the Drysuit.

The Bio: The use will be specifically Whitewater. I am big (size xxl looks like it will work with Kokatat and maybe Palm, the NRS looks too small). Not rolling in $$, so expense is a big issue to me. Usage, will be probably only 15-20 days per year Nov-Mar.


  1. Material: Is the difference between GorTex and the less expensive materials worth the extra $$$, sometimes as much as double ($400 more)?

  2. Movement: What is the difference in cut and movement between the newer Kokatat GRF models and the older Meridian styles?

  3. Back to $$: I recently bought a new truck and new Whitewater boat. If I make one more personal high end purchase, there are going to be people around me discussing my need to be institutionallized. So with that said, would you go ahead and buy the $450 drysuit(Meridian) and get out on the water now, or wait a season and buck up for the $900(Kok everything/new gen) suit?

    Feel free to give any other thought that I have not addressed. Thanks again for any input


Do you already have a wetsuit? I don’t whitewater so wouldn’t know well, but it strikes me that for that number of days of use you might be able to get away with a wetsuit under a semi-dry suit or two piece (which also usually becomes semi-dry). The neo wetsuit would handle basic warmth for water getting in, and the semi-dry top layer would block wind which is the one thing that wetsuits flat out don’t handle. My last shivering bout was once out of the water in a wetsuit on a night in the 60’s.

And, that’d still leave you with a top dry layer for when you end up paddling in rain, or get caught in it, in warmer temps when you can wear lighter weight stuff than neo under it.

All I Can Tell Ya…
is that my small Palm Stikine is cut roomier than my small goretex Meridian.

I have drytops by Bombergear, Rapidstyle and IR and find, for me, no significant difference in function from these other laminates to the more expensive goretex. Frankly, I sweat quite a bit and I am almost always damp after a session in white water or surf.

I have a semi drytop by MountainSurf. I would not use it in the winter unless I pair it off with a full coverage surfing wetsuit. There is enough seepage when rolling – yes you will flip if you play aggressively in white water – that you can get chilled with just some farmer john combo underneath. If you’re going to wear a lot of neo under the drytop to stay warm, then you might as well swing for a drysuit unless said drytop just adds on to existing neo gear.

The one place where drysuit will really shine is in having booties. With good socks underneath, you’ll rarely feel cold feet again.


Try Looking At Used
I have not looked in a few months, but there used to be several on the P.Net classified and I did see a couple of used on ebay.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays



– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 8:34 AM EST –

the reason that I went with a Stikine this time is that I believe, for me, the goretex is not worth the $400 bucks difference. I know some others will disagreed. But, heck, get whatever that intersects at your mind and wallet.


$$ vs Time
Jay Boyd:

Save your marriage (or inter-personal-relations) and wait a season. The extra time may give you a chance to find a bargain.

I just bought a WW canoe and am itching to go out on the rivers. My wet suit is not enough for Wisconsin winters. Instead, I am spending my time in pool sessions with a local club.

If you find a great deal on a dry suit for somebody 6’4", let me know. I have to be patient.

Besides, there are other needs like: a GOOD quality life jacket, helmet, quality paddle and an emergency knife.

Jay Hawkins

The Problem is…
the Big Boy thing. Limits the offering. Percentage wise, not a big pool of “BIG” whitewater paddlers.

Thanks for the advice.


The problem here is…
that I am missing a gene that causes me to give no thought to how my paddle related expenses effect those around me. The other problem is (and i left this out of the original equation), is that one of my best friends has everything and is ready to go, and I am Drysuit away from having everthing and it is driving me nuts.

Thank you for your input.


When I first started paddling, I couldn’t bear the thought of not paddling for the winter but I dutifully put away the boat and skied instead.

Second winter I knew I couldn’t do that so I bought a Ravenspring drysuit which got me on the water for two winters. I then sold that and bought the Kokatat Meridian w/ tunnel which is what I wanted all along.

I felt that the Ravenspring was a “light duty” suit, not up to continuous regular use. Fabric was a laminate and after just the two seasons of use was already showing signs of wear.

The Gore material is warranteed for the life of the garment. If the fabric fails, you send back to the maker and they deal with Gore and send you the replacement.

At this point, I wish I had kept the Ravenspring for a back up drysuit in the event a dryseal goes or to use as a loaner.

So, point of the story is that maybe it would work either way - least you can rationalize it away pretty easily. Buy the less expensive now to get into the water and then when you can replace with the one you really want. You then have a back up suit. OR Buy the one you really want because you are going to do it eventually!

PS - I am also missing the gene you are…

Kokatat “Paddling” suit?

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 9:23 AM EST –

I too am a "big" guy, and have been eyeing the Kokatat Supernova suit. Breathable fabric, included booties & relief zip, latex wrist gaskets but a neoprene neck gasket. The neck gasket is why Kokatat doesn't call it a "dry" suit I guess.

The Tropos fabric is not as high-tech a s Goretex, but for a suit with all of these features selling for less than $500 USD I don't see how you could go wrong.

As for the neo neck gasket, I have a large head (7-3/4) and a 20" neck. I would rather deal with neo than latex for this combo of measurements.


PS: The downside to Tropos fabric is the lack of a fabric liner next to your skin. The breathable PU coating is not as slick as the vaious fabrics used by Gore. I know this because I have a Kok Fijord anorak. BTW, it is not clammy.

For me, a breatheable fabric is absolutely worth the money over a plain waterproof coated fabric. I tend to sweat a lot, and with non-breatheable fabics I was always soaked. With the breatheable stuff I’m just damp.

As for Gore-Tex vs. other breatheable fabrics, I don’t have enough experience to say.

Other thoughts

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 10:52 AM EST –

Breathability is helpful for long trips (more time for sweat to accumulate) and trips where you stay dry (more likely to overheat and sweat). Thus, breathability is tends to be more important for sea kayaking that WW.

Also concider that at $900 suit may not be more durable than a $450. The SuperNova suit does not seem that durable to me. It might be fine for sea kayaking but it might not hold up that well to rocks in WW.

I think a trilaminate fabric, where the "magic" stuff is sandwiched between two pieces of Nylon, will be more durable. The NRS and B-pod suits (and the expensive goretex Meridian) are trilam. The SuperNova suit is not.

Missing Genes
My smarter half has the missing gene. Thankfully.

Jay, I have a Palm dry top
and a Kok drytop. If there is a 10% difference in the breathability from my older Palm to thje Kok I’d be surprised. There is a difference, the Kok is slightly better to me however Palm has changed materials so it may be a wash now.

A good drytop and a farmer john can be gotten away with for now. At the end of next summer you can get the bibs. That’s what I’d do. Just have a good helmet and a bag with some warm dry clothing in case you (or when) you go for a long swim.

Augustus Dogmatycus


Low temp may cancel this idea.

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 11:52 AM EST –

I was thinking of exactly this, a farmer john and a dry top. Then I was warned that it is a deadly mistake around 10F or below. As one person explained, "This may work for a small river, but 15 minutes in the water and your dead."

Perhaps my counselor was exagerating to keep the foolish (me) out of harms way. Maybe not... The test could be unforgiving.

10 F ???
Probably not going to be an issue. I will be curled up on the couch with a bag of cheese doodles watching VH1 Classic at 10F :slight_smile:

My anticipation of cold and time is 30-50F air, 35-55F water, 3-5 hours away from civilization. Very small rivers where time in water will (hopefully) always be less than 5-10 minutes.

I gotta say, being “completely” dry is not that much of concern for me as i have never been in a whitewater boat where that has happened. heck, I would not want to get spoiled.

Thanks for your response.


“Breathability is helpful for long trips (more time for sweat to accumulate) and trips where you stay dry (more likely to overheat and sweat). Thus, breathability is tends to be more important for sea kayaking that WW.”

Dunno… I have had white water trips last as long as touring trips. And because I actually play way more while white water kayaking than touring, I also sweat way more. With some paddling groups, I can tour all day with them and barely break a sweat.

50F+ Farmer John/DryTop combo may work

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 12:33 PM EST –

10 F was the high for the past week and I would love to out paddling today, if I could trust my gear.

In my youth we would go out at 50 F air temp and 32 F water temp Using wool camping gear and a complete change in a good dry bag. This was in a small river with the spring run off, a small armada of canoes and somebody would always end up swimming.

The quick change of clothes was critical and everybody had to bring them.

Now days have wet-suit and splash-top in addition. Even so, I would NOT do the same trip solo.

“tends to”

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 2:09 PM EST –

Nothing is absolute.

There are always exceptions and there is overlap. The characterization still holds. If you tend to do short trips with lots of splashing going on, you might not need the breathability.

"actually play way more while white water kayaking than touring". Well, what's your problem then? (Heh.) "I can tour all day with them and barely break a sweat". Maybe, you should find some -real- paddlers to tour with!

I do both WW (kind of new) and sea kayaking. It seems to me that the breathable dry suits (Kokatat especially) are the most comon dry suits being used in WW.

Very Good…
"“actually play way more while white water kayaking than touring”. Well, what’s your problem then? (Heh.) “I can tour all day with them and barely break a sweat”. Maybe, you should find some -real- paddlers to tour with!"

Very Good! Yeah, I need to get out with the big boys like you more. :slight_smile:

In terms of goretex drysuits more on white water kayakers, I can’t say I’ve noticed either. Again, running the little guys gives real limited perspective. :wink: