I’m a huge dude. I still love paddling. I have a deep respect for cold water.
Trouble is, none of the big companies make drysuits in extreme sizes. No, not Grizzly sizing, not King sizing, bigger.
Big enough that I need custom built. Kokatat’s site laughs at me when I put my measurements into their website size finder as if I didn’t type in normal size numbers but maybe my phone number instead. Their “custom” size is a laughable ± 3” anyways.
Are there any true custom dry suit manufacturers out there? I’m expecting to pay double at this rate, if only there were a company willing to recognize that big and tall people exist.
Try a SCUBA shop. They may have knowledge of someone who does custom drysuits. It may be a good option.
Call Kokotat and speak to a person. Their customer service is usually VERY good.
I took a state sponsored swift water rescue course. Student dry suits ( in multiple sizes) were Kokatat brand. Some of the instructors were larger than average big guys. All the instructors were using Mustang brand dry suits. Expensive, I know.
Try Mustang Survival, they have a lot of options.
It’s hard trying to suggest something without knowing your measurements.
NRS G-XXL covers a chest size 56"-62", waist 50"-56", and for height of up to 6’4", suggesting a weight up to about 300 lbs.
Kokatat’s L-King has chest and waist size listed up to 56" and up to 6’6" height.
If these sizes aren’t big enough, contact the people at Kayak Academy, because you will have to have a custom drysuit made. No one I have found has anything larger off the shelf.
It sounds like you’re larger than me, but I’m 5’7, 245 lbs, have a 50 inch chest, 38-40 waist, broad shoulders, and Kokatat XL fits snug in the waist, adequate in the chest, tight in the legs, is a little difficult to get my shoulders through the front zip, and that’s while wearing a mid weight base layer. If I can drop 10-15 lbs, it would fit a little better.
Although I prefer drysuits for a number of reasons, you might have better luck finding a heavy thickness wetsuit. There are many more companies that fabricate custom wetsuits. Neoprene is much easier to deal with than Gore-Tex or similar fabrics with gaskets. Hopefully, you will only need it for a few months of the year unless you live well to the NE or NW.
Thanks for the rec of Kayak Academy, I’ll reach out to them. But as I said, I’m bigger than anything tgeain manufacturers list already.
Another option to consider, Reed Chillcheater makes drysuits/paddling suits supposedly “made to measure.” They do have quality gear, but it isn’t as breathable as GoreTex, their wrist and neck seals aren’t latex, but as long as you don’t have wide feet they might be able to make something for you. Just make sure you give them sizes a bit bigger than you want, because their stuff tends to be made on the small side of a given size. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
I absolutely relate to your situation! As a 5’ 11” woman with 36” inseam there is nothing made for women that will fit. Kokatat’s women’s XL is a short, as if broad shouldered curvy women don’t exist over 5’ 6”!
I ran into the same problem with Kokatat’s custom sizing form. It kept questioning my measurements as inaccurate. When I emailed the company I got the equivalent of a shoulder shrug. They basically told me to buy a men’s King. Of course there’s that darn hip and chest anatomy difference between the sexes. The extra space is in all the wrong places.
Thank doG for Reed Chillcheater! Understand they are not dry suits, but paddle suits. I have however never gotten more than a couple of tablespoons of water down the neck when practicing sculling and self rescues. I love my Reed suit and it is completely bespoke. You enter dozens of measurements into a form and you get a suit that fits. And it will cost you half of a Kokatat. Seriously! My suit has taken hard usage for 4 years, even getting several punctures while walking through some brambles. I put a dot of Aquaseal on the punctures and it was fixed…in the field.
Another benefit to neo neck and arm seals is the maintenance. Rinse and you’re done unlike the latex seals.
I personally have less faith than most about the breathability of Goretex. Half of you is under a spray skirt where water vapor pressure will quickly equalize and the parts above the spray skirt are half covered with a pfd leaving very little area for vapor exchange. But then I’m a person who sweats like crazy. It made no difference if I was wearing Goretex or the Reed, I still come off paddles in warm air but cold H2O sweaty.
My one complaint about Reed is the companies lack of communication. Expect to have to bug them with emails to get answers and updates on your order. But they will come through in the end with a suit that fits your contours.
For hard to fit folks, I handily recommend Reed paddle suits (https://www.chillcheater.com). Their undergarments are great as well.
Reed does make good stuff. I have a bunch of their stuff listed for sale in the classifieds here. Nothing wrong with it other than it’s all too small for me lol. I bought a box of miscellaneous new stuff from someone local, took what I could use, and am selling the rest. The only reason I didn’t get one of their paddling suits is because they said the socks on their suits are for medium width feet, and wouldn’t make a set wider that would fit my feet.
I tend to sweat quite a bit too and I find that Gore-Tex does make a significant difference, despite the limited amount of it that’s exposed. When I get out of the boat at the end of a paddle and remove the suit, the light dampness in my under layers flashes off quickly and I’m basically dry. I also find that accumulated dampness dissipates during stops when I get out of the boat. That doesn’t happen with non-breathable fabrics; you get wet and stay that way.
I didn’t mean to imply that I come out of my Reed as wet as if I’d fallen in. The tops of my thighs, and where the pfd compresses the suit front and back are all damp but I’m never wringing wet. I’ve had the same level of wet with Goretex.
The Reed neck seal can be opened and closed as needed which makes a nice vent. I also open the relief zipper and/or waist zipper to vent the suit at short breaks. This allows a great deal of warm moist air to escape. On long breaks, I do what the Goretex crowd does and pull the suit over my head and tie it off at the waist.
In the end it’s good fit vs. trade offs. I have a Kokatat SwitchZip in men’s XXL but because Kokatat doesn’t really do custom, there’s a fair amount of excess fabric to deal with in the belly and chest while the hips are snug. REI had it on sale for 50% off so that made it worthwhile - never would I have paid $1600 for a dry suit with a marginal fit. The advantage of the suit is the pants come off quickly should nature call. Something that we mature ladies learn to factor in when on expeditions.
I guess it boils down to a “tastes great, less filling” sort of discussion. Most of the members here are old enough to remember that commercial….maybe?
Wow, that’s a glaring deficiency on their part!
I do remember asking if they could size up the booties on my suit as they were a bit snug but it wasn’t that bad and too big a hassle to send the suit back to have the work done. Since the suit has a bit of stretch and wearing thinner socks, it hasn’t been a problem.
Keep us posted on what you find, though. There’s a few of us out there who just don’t fit the manufacturers molds. I at least am fortunate that I can wear men’s clothes.
Sounds like we are in the same boat. I canoe, but having little to no success finding dry suits or even splash jackets. 4 Corners found a splash jacket for me. Worked great until I left it in a restaurant somewhere. My solution for the Grand Canyon, a brutal temp difference. 100F plus during the day is normal, and the water comes from the bottom of Lake Powell, 50F plus or minus. Wearing a dry suit is almost impossible, you will roast, and yet when you begin a swim, the cold will just about stop your heart. (Been there, done that.) My solution for the Colorado and Green has been old style, multiple layers, cotton and wool, and a splash layer on top (as simple as a rain shell). The initial cold will take your breath away, just like a wet suit, but the water contained will warm a bit quickly. Merino wool and cashmere work great.
Reed Aquatherm paddle suit material is a breathable fabric according to their website: “The breathability of Aquatherm is 1.5 litres per m2 over 24 hours.”, which is similar to LevelSix’s eXhaust 4.