Is an inexpensive drysuit without socks or relief zipper worth buying?

Would a suit like this substantially help me during rolling practice and other skills practice where I’ll be getting wet a lot, only not in very cold conditions but rather shoulder season? I ask because I can get a very inexpensive Kokatat model in the hydrus fabric without either of those features. Opinions? For reference I’ve never had a dry suit and only have used wetsuits thus far. Any advantage to a suit like this over my neoprene separates plus cag? Thanks.

Short answer is yes

I’ve never used one with latex ankle gaskets, but I’m sure I would find them annoying to get on and off. Hard enough with the latex wrist gasket sometimes.

And lack of a relief zip would be Troublesome on longer paddles. Would require that you take everything off when you need to go to the bathroom. But if you’re just doing role practice or other short time activities, that should be fine.

1 Like

I’ll differ with Peter on this. The only advantage of the drysuit is if it had a relief zipper and allows you to relieve yourself without getting off most of your drysuit off down to the ankles. If you have a good wetsuit (for the targeted season) that would keep you just as warm as the drysuit which has to be paired with the right undergarment. For me, I am not averse to peeing in my wetsuit if need be. If I do a lot of rolling (as is the case when surfing), the small seepage will clear out the pee over time.

The downside of wetsuits is that you need to have at least three suits of different thicknesses to cover the full range of seasons (outside of summer water temps where you can skip) if you are in the northern clime. But, i personally much prefer my wetsuits (for what I do) over the the Kokatat and Palm drysuits that I have (hung in the closet), even though these have the “convenience” of relief zippers.



OK, thank you for the differing perspectives. Hm.

Forget about latex leg gaskets I can’t imagine them keeping you dry.

Thanks, PD52.

Actually, the leg gaskets work just like the wrist gaskets – no/minimal leakage if fit/trim right. The problem is dealing with cold/wet feet. I had Kokatat change the ankle gaskets on my Goretex Meridian (this a 20 year old drysuit when integrated booties was not the norm) to booties. Then I found that I had warm wet feet with the booties. The reality for me, at the level of exertion, I do while surfing, inside my drysuit became wet and moisture pooled up in my booties. The vaunted “breatheability” of Goretex works only to certain point. If you are really exerting, your sweat output will outrun the breathability of Goretex. At least that is the case for me.

PS. Good surfing booties, like a good wetsuit, keep my feet damp and warm as well.


Latex on my paddling jacket sleeve’s from kokatat do a poor job when dipping my hand in briefly slightly underwater. That’s my only experience with latex.

The problem with latex ankle gaskets is putting on and taking off. If the deal on the suit is good enough, you can always send it to Kokatat and have them replace the gaskets with booties. {I don’t think they will add a relief zip anymore}

For rolling practice I would opt for a tuilik instead. Have someone there to help so if you don’t make it fully up, they can help so you don’t have to wet exit. Wear some good neoprene pants they will help pad your hips and thighs from bruising from all the practice. They will help with comfort and with temperature.

A greater value is a mentor and limit your practice to under an hour at a time. Fatigue is an enemy to learning how to, or practicing rolling.

Best Wishes

1 Like

Thanks, Roy, that makes sense. And yes, I’ve already discovered how fast I get tired when practicing. Probably putting the money toward a tuilik is a better idea, since I’m not ready (yet) to start paddling in the real cold water.

It’s really easy to get latex seals on if you dust the insides with talc first. That’s true for neck, wrist and ankle seals, It’s important to get pure talc and avoid anything with perfume or lanolin in it, as they’ll harm the latex. I actually use “tire talc”, which is used to dust the inner tubes of truck tires and is dirt-cheap online.

As for the OP’s questions about the suit, the biggest issue in my opinion would be the lack of a relief zipper. If you’re only using it for practice sessions or in situations where you can strip it off to the waist to pee, go for it. You could also contact Kokatat to see what they would charge to install one. Ankle gaskets are easily replaced with latex booties. That eliminates the possibility of leakage and doesn’t reduce blood flow to your feet, which can be a problem when it’s cold. I did this on my first dry suit and it made a huge difference. If you want Gore-Tex booties, you’d have to ask Kokatat about that.

If you decide to use the suit as-is, tall boots that prevent water from getting to your feet as you enter and exit the boat will help keep them dryer and warmer. Been there, done that, too.

Long-term, the bigger issue is likely to be the durability of the fabric. Cheap waterproof/breathable fabrics tend to not work very well and often fail pretty quickly. They typically have little or no warranty, so once they fail, the suit is worthless. Fully coated fabics will be waterproof, but they essentially like wearing a plastic bag and you’ll just get soaked with sweat. The coatings will fail in high wear areas, which again make the suit worthless.

Once again, I’ll put in a plug for Gore-Tex (they really should be paying me for this! :wink:). Yes, it’s expensive, but it works better than anything else and Gore’s lifetime fabric warranty is for real. If the fabric ever delaminates or otherwise fails to remain waterproof, they’re replace the garment, period (this doesn’t cover physical damage from cuts, abrasions, punctures, burns, etc.). I’ve had two Gore-Tex jackets (both over 10 years old) and one dry suit (~6 years old) replaced under warranty. In the case of the dry suit, the company who made it was no longer offering Gore-Tex suits, so Gore replaced it with a Kokatat. They told me, “Pick whichever one you want in their line and tell us the size, and we’ll send it to you”. I went with their top-of-the-line suit, which was better than the one I had, but when I offered to pay the difference in price they refused to accept any money and just sent it to me. If a company that you buy a Gore-Tex product from goes out of business, Gore will replace a failed garment with a comparable product from another brand. You won’t find that level of service with any other brand of fabric. To me, it’s worth the extra money to get what is basically a lifetime garment.


My suit was 7-8 years old I put new gaskets on it. Then saw piece of seam tape lifting about two inches. I ask them about repairing it or how I could. They said send it in we’ll look at it. Cost 100 to send back with insurance. They called or emailed and said pick colors for your new suit. I got it as a gift so I ask if they could send back a piece. They said no can’t send gortex back but did sent hood and pocket back. What more could you ask for? It’s worth the money even if you sell a kokatat Goretex item you’ll get more for it.

Hydrus 2.5 warranty is 2 years.

Hmm… Makes me think that I should just sell my Kokatat Goretex Meridian. Haven’t worn it in over 15 years. The gaskets seem a little soft. But, someone can send it back in for new gaskets, and be happy that they have a “breathable” "dry"suit… LOL.


Yes, such a suit would make it more comfortable—a lot more comfortable—when learning to roll. Two things are guaranteed at that stage: 1) You will have plenty of failures to roll, and therefore plenty of immersions, and 2) Your lesson should not be so long that peeing becomes necessity. Rolling lessons and practice typically are about 1.5 hrs. Especially when learning, there’s a lot to coordinate, and it’s hard to focus for a longer stretch.

My first drysuit had latex ankle gaskets and no pee zip. It was a blessing to use for rolling, because I was able to practice in water that was down to 45 degrees. No regrets about having bought it.

Advantage of latex ankle gaskets (which sealed perfectly well) is that you can wear any kind of footwear, accommodating seasonal changes.

Disadvantage is the added time and fuss to put the suit on and off.

For my second drysuit, I chose one with a pee zip and Gore-tex feet. I sort of regret the socks now, because they limit the footwear choice to winter-only sized shoes.

I can’t comment on Hydrus. Gore-tex gets my vote every time,

1 Like

I bought my GFER (Goretex Female Relief zipper) Kokatat drysuit used for $400 twelve years ago and it has held up very well. It was in excellent shaper EXCEPT that the latex neck gasket was deeply torn. I replaced that myself (huge pain in the ass since the older models of these suits had the gasket recessed inside a second wrap around collar assembly that made it really hard to finagle the right size of bowl under the remaining trimmed latex so I could stretch and glue on the new one.)

I also bought aftermarket latex sox, intending to trim the ankle gaskets and glue the sox on, but I have slim and flexible feet and ankles and have not found the ankle gaskets to be an issue so far, so that is still on hold.

I do use neoprene dive sox and knee high Kokatat Nomad boots over the suit most of the time unless I know I will be in water above my knees in which case I wear low Deep See 5mm neoprene hard soled dive booties or rafter sandals that are easier to drain. Wet feet, meh.

Speaking of wet feet, here is a sidebar on Goretex: I was working in the wilderness sports industry in the 70’s when Goretex hit that market and got a lot of manufacturer training in the characteristics of the stuff so I could explain how it worked to customers (i had also worked in a polymer chemistry lab and was already familiar with teflon film). Goretex film really only allows effective moist air transport through it if there can be some air pressure on the interior surface of the laminate and space for the transpiring moisture to dissipate on the other side. Therefore it is good for loosely worn garments like drysuit legs, bodies and sleeves – same for rainwear, hats and even tents and insulated sleeping bags or clothing. But it is not all that great at passing moisture in close contact with skin as in hiking boot linings, gloves or in drysuit socks that are crammed snugly into overboots. Those will get clammy inside eventually.

Anyway, my GT suit has held up beautifully but I admit I have not used it much until the last few years. Noticed when I took it off the last day of Delmarva last Fall that the left wrist gasket had a nick and tore so I’ll need to tend to that, but it’s a minor project that only requires the right size of wine bottle.

A seamstress/seamster with experience modifying outdoor gear could add a waterproof relief zip anywhere on a suit but you would pay so much for that customization that it would likely be more economical to just buy a suit that already had that.

I love a bargain as much or more than the next paddler but I think investing in a Kokatat high warranty dry suit is a bullet any serious paddler ought to bite. When this one dies I will replace it with same. I figure I have saved so much by getting terrific deals on the used kayaks, paddles and gear that I’ve ferreted out of remote barn sales that those savings can go into the new drysuit kitty.

Sing mentioned selling his Goretex Kokatat to someone else and that they could “send it back” for warranty work or replacement but I presume you need to be the original owner for that warranty work to apply, correct?

Gore never asked me for proof of purchase, so I suspect that they don’t care.

I think now warranty is for original owner only from kokatat I buy from them so they have the records if I don’t. I guess you can read their warranty online.

From kokatat page.

All Kokatat products are fully guaranteed to the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship for the reasonable life of the item. Products found to be defective will be repaired or replaced at Kokatat’s option. Repairs due to normal wear and tear, accident, abuse, etc., will be made for a reasonable charge. Latex gaskets are not covered by the Kokatat warranty. There is a 2 year limited warranty on all Hydrus 2.5 suits. Kokatat specifically disavows any other representative warranty or liability relative to the condition or use of the product.

Thanks, very interesting. My take away is whatever you get, get Goretex.

1 Like

I also had one replaced. Never asked… sent me the top of the line custom suit as a replacement {I was the second owner} Kokatat Gore-tex