Drysuit zipper location

I have been looking at a new drysuit – Reed Chillcheater – that has its main zipper located across the top of the shoulders. I didn’t give the zipper location much thought until a friend – whose drysuit has the more traditional location (from shoulder diagonally across body to hip) – suggested that he thought that it might be a struggle to get in and out.

I’m not as flexible as I used to be, and it would be most frustrating to purchase a drysuit that I couldn’t get out of.

Does anyone here have an opinion they’d like to toss into the pot?


yes the back zipper would be more awkward to deal with than the traditional front zip. the same goes with the vertical back zipper ala Palm drysuits. However there is a tradeoff. When the zipper is in the back, you do not have a big heavy duty zipper on your chest to restrict movement. Basically it is ease of putting on the suit vs. additional mobility while paddling.

Whichever You Choose…
make sure there’s a zipper by the “fly” area! :wink:



– Last Updated: May-04-05 12:07 PM EST –

Seems to me the PFD would then weigh on the zipper..perhaps resulting in chaffing? Then again, the zipper might limit shoulder movement while paddling.

Works in front
Have the across the chest and over the shoulder zipper on my Kokotat Expedition, which comes with their really big thick zipper. I also had to order a Unisex size with shortened legs and arms to have enough room in the shoulders, so I actually have a lot of dry suit happening around my chest. (with no great fill happening there…)

On above points - I have never had a chafing problem from the zipper. The cloth layers around the zipper keep it quite comfy under my PFD. (I wear the PFD on the tight side as was recommended to me early on.)

As to the location of the zipper - the one problem I have even with the chest/shoulder zipper is that sometimes I need to ask someone to hold onto the end of the zipper run for me to get the zipper started. The hand and finger strength required to get a good hold on that point back there with one hand while the other is pulling forward isn’t always present. If that could get worse with the across the shoulder zipper, I’d make real sure you tried pulling one on wearing a representative set of thermal layers before committing the money.

I can get it off OK by myself, by the way, because I can get the neck gasket over my head without the chest zipper being 100% open.

I have both …
I have an old rear zip Kokatat and an older front zip Kokatat. I can get into an out of the front zip without a problem, but need help into and out of the rear zip. I think I’m just not flexible enough.


Drysuit zipper
OK, I’m going to go with the “normal” front zipper location.

Thanks to everyone for the comments.