drysuit: with socks or without?

Thank you very much. You’ve all been very helpful answering my questions about the Kokatat Supernova Semidry Suit. Now I have one more question:

The Supernova comes with “integrated socks”. My old polyethylene drysuit comes without. Instead of sox, that one ends at the ankles and has ankle gaskets. I have always liked that arrangement because there is no danger of wearing things out and developing a leak. So a question for those of you with drysuit socks:

  1. Do you like drysuit socks?
  2. How do you dress with them?

    By the second question, I mean do you wear anything (e.g. fleece or neoprene socks) underneath? They look pretty big (one-size-fits-all). Do they fit in a bootie that in the summer you might wear bare foot, or do you have to go with a larger bootie to accommodate extra “sock folds”? Finally, do they develop leaks? How gingerly do you have to act?

    That’s a lot of questions. Feel free to answer only those that you want. And many thanks in advance.

Socks rock!
You don’t want to buy a suit with ankle gaskets anymore … especially if you have hair on your legs, ouch!

You wear your insulating socks under the suit’s socks. And I use a pair of crocs to wear or stand on between shoe changes. No problem and the life of luxury.

Socks rock, p2
Definite yes to socks. As above, I wear insulating socks in my socks :wink:

Sandals allow debris to get next to drysuit socks, will rub/creates pinholes over time. I find that booties work very well in keeping debris out, also provide additional insulating layer.

D-suit socks can be either waterproof fabric or latex. My experiences are with fabric, latex may be different.

there is the hair-on-your-legs issue
On the other hand, I can just reach down with my finger and pull the gasket to one side and empty the suit of three hours worth of sweat. Are drysuits really so dry that you don’t get water/sweat going down there?

sweat management

– Last Updated: Feb-24-11 9:32 AM EST –

You should be able to manage your sweat by judicious layering, rolling and limiting your exertion level if you start to overheat. If you've got to drain out water from sweat, I guess I can't relate. But I canoe and not kayak so I'm a bit more in the open air.

As for water entering, I'm a pretty dedicated swimmer and the only time I ever got anything in (so far) is when I didn't burp the suit properly and I got a couple of teaspoons in when the air exited the neck. Mine is a Kokatat GFER which has a neck gasket.

limit your exertion level?!
(insert growly face)

I have heard that some people use bare feet inside their drysuit - can you say YUCK?? Really gross. Socks can be washed more easily than the inside of a drysuit sock.

Wear just one pair of wool socks under the drysuit and wear a closed water shoe over the top. The shoe on top will protect the drysuit sock from abrasion. Depending on foot size, you may need to size up. I can wear the same shoe year round but others can not.


Love them

– Last Updated: Feb-24-11 11:25 AM EST –

Yeah, you have to wear something under them, like a polartec or Smart wool sock that wicks well. My feet tend to run small, so it is a good thing that I tend to buy my paddling boots up to the next full size. There is some folding.

Due to that, I also find that the socks develop leaks faster than any other part of the suit. But my experience with sending my suits back to Kokatat annually for checkup has been very good - they've replaced one suit for delamination that wasn't bothering me yet, and my husband has had the same experience. Aside from the shipping costs, they do a lot of checking and fixing for fairly small sums.

But I can live with some number of maintenance issues because it is so much nicer to paddle with dry feet.

You also have to make sure you don't walk around in them. But if you drop a pad or a blanket on the ground under where you will be taking the suit off or putting it on - I usually do it from the front seat of the car - it'll handle that.

I stay very dry
I use strong antiperspirant on my feet, good wicking layers under a Gortex suit. I do sweat at times, but little enough that it wicks and soon evaporates away. I may need to roll now an then after an especially hard push on warmer days.

Once you have them
… you can’t believe how you did it without them. Plus no more ankle gaskets to deal with taking the suit off and on. Way more warmth and comfort than you would believe.

I love them

– Last Updated: Feb-24-11 11:50 AM EST –

I wear a combination of polypro and wool socks inside my drysuit booties. I really wouldn't like to wear boots and socks with no booties, as my feet would end up getting soaked when getting dumped from the boat. If it's cold enough to wear a dry suit, I want my feet to stay dry too.

I can't answer the kayaking part, about wanting to wear very small footwear. I'm a canoe-er and wear the same kind of paddling boots over the drysuit booties as I'd wear otherwise, which is no problem since I'd still be wearing two pairs of socks inside such boots regardless of the weather.

I haven't used my dry suit enough to know whether the booties might develop leaks someday, but materials like that tend to develop tiny pinhole leaks (which could be patched easily) before there's any serious leakage problem, and replacing worn-out booties shouldn't be too much more difficult than replacing ankle gaskets (it might be easier to sew them on by hand than with a machine, so the job would be slower - but I might opt to send it to Kokatat for such work).

Another vote for the socks…

I like 'em
I had the same reservations you do. But the hair on the leg thing sealed it for me. Now I can’t imagine going back.

I just wear insulating socks under the drysuit socks, and then a protective sock/bootie on the outside. My suit did develop a small leak in one of the booties from my misuse.

My socks fill up with some sweat, but I’ve tried every way under the sun and at least for me, sweating in a dry suit is unavoidable. Often when I need it most is when I also need to exert the most energy ans when I have the least opportunities for cooling.

Have socks
I have socks, and like them.

If I am not doing anything where I expect to be maytagged, I wear regular socks (some form of hiking or biking sock, depending on conditions) under the dry suit booties, and cheapy water socks on top. If I expect to be in more aggressive environments, I don’t wear socks under, but wear 2mm low top booties over the top of the dry suit booties. I do this because the water socks don’t hold on well (I’ve lost a few when wet exiting in surf).

I’ve seen people wear old tennis shoes over their wet suit booties (and presumably socks underneath) - I am considering this, but want to find shoes with enclosed laces or that use velcro (don’t want to worry about the laces catching on something when I need to exit).

socks - yes.
Socks are great. Without them you’ll have wet feet, and likely cold feet. That stinks.

I wear smartwool socks under my drysuit socks.

I do need a larger size shoe, but my socks on my drysuit are neoprene, so they take up much more space than a goretex sock.

If I’m exerting myself hard for a while, my base layer around my chest will be a little damp when I strip. If I unzip my chest zip while I eat, it dries in about 5 minutes. I’ve NEVER had moisture below the waist. If you see someone emptying liquid from their ankle gasket, I’d question their continence.

Durability isn’t a big deal. Don’t walk around in them. Change while standing on a doormat, or by keeping your feet on your shoes. After a while you’ll probably have some pinhole leaks in goretex socks, and after a number of seasons latex socks might wear out. But generally all you need is a few dabs of aquaseal to stop any minor leaks in the booties.

Socks Definitely,
Smart Wool blend with layering depending on the temperature. I wear NRS Kickers also.


I have both types

– Last Updated: Feb-24-11 4:12 PM EST –

My old drysuit has ankle gaskets and my new one has Gore-tex socks.

I like either style, but the socks equate to warmer feet, since I use wool or fleece socks inside the Gore-tex, plus a neoprene booty over all--and feet stay dry inside the Gore-tex. With the old suit, in cool conditions I used bare feet inside booties (wet), or for really cold water I used Chota Mukluks with a thin wool sock inside.

Because I don't like the weight and bulk of the mukluks, I prefer the drysuit socks etc. However, I had to buy a different pair of booties to accommodate the extra layers inside, one size larger from the bare-feet size. Not a big deal, and it's easier to put the drysuit socks on than ankle gaskets were.

The booties I use are over-the-ankle NRS Desperado Shoes. Not their Desperado Socks, which have a thinner sole meant to jam into WW playboats! Price was about $50.

Make sure you keep your toenails well-trimmed!

Go for the socks!

Oh Yeah!

– Last Updated: Feb-24-11 8:49 PM EST –

I like the socks on my drysuit. I watched my buddy freeze his feet in the Sound and try to accomodate that for a couple of years. He changed suits and now has happy feet.

I am 100% with Suzanneh on the Yuck sentiment and the use of closed footwear. With any amount of real-world wear you will develop some minor and probably unnoticable leaks in the socks. You might want to go up 1/2 size to accomodate the loose GoreTex sock with inner sock of your choice.

I'll go out on a limb here and incur the wrath of many others who love their Chacos, Tevas, Keen, whatever sandals with their drysuits and caution strongly against them. Think about it. Do you really want a GoreTex sock banging around inside and outside your boat unprotected by open sandals? Choose something that really will cover up the sock, particularly the heel and BTW, start keeping track of how many swimmers you see gathering up their floating Keen H2O's after a capsize. I used the Keen Banff until I wore them out and and found that they quit making them. They were excellent! Now I am protecting my socks with some NRS neo booties. Wouldn't be my first choice but they are OK for now. Soles and insoles are not robust enough for me on a long trip but my socks are safe. I am in between drysuit footwear.

I am a firm believer in wool socks as they stink less and on a longer trip how many are you really going to bring, right? Another meal or a pair of socks? Go for the meal.

They will stink, but not as quickly as synthetic, and when they do here's what you do with them:


I send my suits back to Kokatat annually to be water tested and every time they find and professionally repair some leaks. Costs about $20. My socks have been patched up a couple of times and I didn't even know they were leaking. It will be a good way to spend $20 and if they find that the fabric is delaminating you get a new suit.


Socks – always
Both the husband and I have always had socks on our dry suits; we were strongly advised by people who DID NOT(male persons, who found hair removal via gasket to be torture)to get them.

And socks – we swear by Smart Wool but any good, insulating wool sock will do that’s not too heavy – under the socks – ALWAYS. Not only is there the Yuck factor if you go without, but it’s a lot warmer with. My mind boggles at the idea of not wearing socks with a dry suit, but then my mind REALLY boggles at the number of people who wear UGGs without socks. I know that woolly lamb fleece is toasty, but come on…

I wear water shoes – pricey but with a hard sole; TEVA and New Balance make them – over my drysuit feet. I do go up a size to accommodate but this works the best for me.

SuzannahH advised me a few years ago to wear wool socks with my paddling booties and wet suit in summer, and I’ve been doing this ever since. I do live in New England where the water, with the exception of Cape Cod and RI, is cooler, BUT I also did that combo this past fall down in Tybee. It works really well and your booties don’t smell as badly. I have a dedicated pair of Smart Wool sox I wear with them but they wash up nicely and I air dry them – never in the dryer, although I know you can.