How much do drysuit zips leak ?????

I and a friend ordered (not gotten yet) a new Kokatat Super Nova drysuit. Being the good folks they are, Kokatat was open with us that the zipper is not the highest quality one they use in their most expensive suits. They said it would possibly leak a little.

Has anyone here had any experience with their less than best zippers and found how much they leak if at all, to be a problem. For example, are we talking a few drops, a jigger, a cup or what?

Any ways to reduce this to negligible or just the cost of saving money over the higher priced spread. Do the most expensive quality zippers also leak sometimes even if taken care of?

No leak
I have a Kokatat Dura with booties that is two years old. No zipper leakage at all either relief or main zipper. I take a deliberate swim nearly every time I’m out to check it at the end of a paddle. The only moisture is at the neck and wrist gaskets from trapped body moisture.

If a dry suit leaks it’s not a dry suit
I wear a drysuit to save my life when I swim. But you do what you have to do.

Peter, exactly why I am rasing the question. For me anything more than a few drops is potentially worrisome to me. But I know not a thing about these zippers, so any of you who do know the information is helpful. Apparently there are many users of Kokatat’s less than top of the line products. Do you who have the top model find the zippers sometimes leak, if so how much? For those with the other models how much do they leak, and has it caused you enough of problem to be cold?

Thanks ahead. I can still cancel my order right now, that is why I ask with some urgency.

Good zippers don’t leak at all

– Last Updated: Dec-06-04 10:19 AM EST –

I can live with an occasional drop getting through my neck or wrist seals, since they have to be trimmed to be comfortable, but there's no excuse for a zipper to leak. As Peter said, if the zipper leaks, it's not a dry suit.

OTOH, if it's just a drop or two only during swims, it probably doesn't matter much. These suits are advertized as "semi-dry" and only have a two year warranty (as opposed to lifetime on Gore-Tex), which leads one to wonder what kind of leakage standards apply. I suggest that you try to pin Kokatat down on what they consider allowable leakage vs. what would be considered excessive and result in repair/replacement under warranty.

This seems like an attempt to reach the lower end of the drysuit market that Ravenspring and others have carved out, but with a potentially inferior product.

I wouldn't even consider the Nova, as the neoprene wrists mean that you'll likely end up with soaked forearms from paddling and considerable leakage while swimming. The Super Nova has possibilities, as the neck seal in seldom submerged, except when rolling. Some leakage could be expected while swimming, but it's hard to say how much. It makes me wonder if the philosphy behind these garments is:

"The seals will leak, so what difference does it make if the zippers do?"

For the relatively small difference in price, I'd go with a better suit.

Very practical!
Very practical ideas, I will follow up with them. Leaning toward the sticke shock product. I don’t want use the forum to run down a good company, just get up to speed on this before inherit a product that does not as you both say keep me dry.

I hadn’t thought of the warranty aspect fully, that is really essential. Thanks.

Sticker shock
It only lasts until you take that first test swim in february, and realize that you could survive quite some time in the higher end suit.

Plus, the breathable suits allow you to bypass wetsuits altogether, because they have a wider temperature range in which they are comfortable than the cheaper suits do. I almost never wear a wetsuit anymore – I go right to the drysuit.

My view is that it’s life insurance — how much is your life worth to you? Mine’s priceless. A good drysuit will last many years, making it cheap over the course of time.


they don’t
if they are maintained.

Kokatat response shows integrity

– Last Updated: Dec-08-04 11:57 AM EST –

Here is Kokatat's straight shooting response to my concerns. I appreciate their laying the cards on the table so that I can judge for myself what product I need for the conditions I will use it in.

"The zippers on the Super Nova are the same as on our coated nylon Swift Entry and Meridian dry suits. It is a lower quality/lighter weight zipper than the Optiseal zipper on our Gore-Tex dry suits. With prolonged submersion this zipper can let small
droplets of water through, since it is not a watertight zipper. It has been my experience that this zipper has worked great (especially on our semi-dry suits) and I have had not experienced a "noticeable" amount of water entering the suit, even while surf boating in the ocean.

If you are looking for a breathable, durable dry suit, than spend the extra money and get one of our Gore-Tex dry suits. Our Super Nova and Nova paddling suits are great suits, but I feel that these suits are in no way a replacement for one of our Gore-Tex dry suits, hence the semi-dry/paddling suit name."
I thank all for practical replies, Evan.

Kudos to them!
It’s nice to see such a straight reply from a company, rather than “corporate speak” that’s been filtered through a legal department. Highly commendable!

Disclaimer worries
I am pondering the Supernova for cold water paddling in protected areas. But now that Kokatat has finally placed something on their website about this suit, I am worried. Anytime I see a disclaimer on merchandise use, i worry. From the website:


Building on the Nova, this paddling suit adds

latex wrist gaskets, integrated socks and a

relief zipper for men or a drop seat zipper for

women. Designed for touring and recreational

paddlers, this full-featured suit is not intended

to replace a dry suit in more challenging

conditions such as whitewater or very cold

water. 2-year warranty.

if it’s not for very cold water,
what is it for?

My personal take

– Last Updated: Dec-09-04 7:47 AM EST –

Martin, this is my personal take on this, not meant for you or anyone else. In talking with the Kokatat staff person he said that their experience with the neck closure is that it is 97% as effective as latex, and that the zipper will have small leakage with prolonged immersion while swimming. They state the suit will NOT fill up with water nor subject the wearer to risk by that manner.

I personally feel it is acceptable to me to use it for calmer conditions, protected waters, with cold water. With my hyperstretch hood on I get zero leakage down the neck. Again I have a solid roll used repeatedly in those conditions and I don't make long crossings nor go out alone. I mostly will use it in the spring and fall. The $500 savings will hopefully go towards other things. If my interest in cold water and ocean travels increases I will sell it and get the higher priced spread. Just for me mind you. It is sometimes not a good idea to get something new and unproven and thus it reamains to be seen if this product has value and is worth it. I am really stretched budget wise, and Kokatat has a good reputation so I am taking the risk it will be worth it.

Overestimating the savings?

– Last Updated: Dec-09-04 11:18 AM EST –

There are waterproof/breathable dry suits with latex seals and waterproof zips available for a lot less than $500 more than the Super Nova. For one example, go to Not only are these suits as described above, but they're custom made to fit the paddler and have nice features like pockets and internal suspenders.

I'm not saying that the Super Nova is not the right choice for you, that's for you to determine. I'm just trying to point out that it doesn't cost much more to get it all and then some.


– Last Updated: Dec-09-04 4:47 PM EST –

Thanks. I, myself, have poor circulation espcecially in feet, so this suit comes with booties is a plus, along with the relief zip all for this price pushed me this way. The neck gasket is a plus for me as little or no leak and more comfy, for me. the price is more like $420, not $500. We will see, could be a mistake, I guess that is why they call it a risk! I do see what you are saying.

Here is a slightly different sounding description by Kokatat
Super Nova Semi-dry Suit
Full-featured semi-drysuit available in January, 2005. The waterproof/breathable TROPOS Super Nova sports wrist gaskets, socks and a neoprene neck closure for comfortable, safe paddling in all but the coldest conditions. A relief zipper or drop seat are also standard. Men’s $429 US S-XXL/Women’s $485 US S-XLS. 800-225-9749,

Exchange Rate?
I would agree with Bnystrom; and I was considering purchasing a RavenSpring Rapide, but the exchange rate is so high that I will either wait or purchase a Kokatat. To get every thing I want from RavenSpring, I’ll have to pay $707.75, plus postage and VAT. I can purchase a comparable Kokatat Dura Gore-Tex (with relief/booties) for $699.00, plus postage from an Alaskan-based outlet. Since I don’t have the money for either, I’ll continue to save and purchase the lowest price when I get enough (hopefully for early spring paddling).

I was hoping to get a Rapide because they are customed sized, but the exchange rate right now is a killer. I recently heard that 95% of the purchases from NY outlets are from Europeans cashing in on the exchange rate while Americans over seas are in a jam.

Super Nova has 2 year warranty
Evidently the Super Nova has only a 2 year warranty. They are up front about it. But I will admit it gives me pause, since I can see that the taped seams, and the PU inner coat could very well come to grief even with careful care. The dura suits are not bombproof, but perhaps quite allot longer lasting with care.

FWIW, no VAT on US orders
VAT is a local tax and goods shipped outside the UK are not subject to it.