Question: I recently purchased my first sea kayak, a Rockpool Eto, here in Maine and I’m in the market for a drysuit for winter and cold water paddling. I thinking of either an entry-level (cheap) Kokatat suite or a Reed Chillcheater paddle suite. The Reed which is cheaper than the Kokatat has been recommended to me by the local sea kayak shop. Does anyone have any experience with the Reed paddle suites vs Kokatat? Many thanks!
Are you considering a Kokatat drysuit or semi-dry suit?
Have you compared warranties? If the Reed suit needs repair, where would you have to send it?
First, make sure you understand difference between dry suit and paddling suit. Latex neck gasket (better seal, often not as comfortable) versus neoprene neck gasket (can let water in, more comfortable).
For many, a paddling suit could work fine. My neck is large enough that with a decent neoprene gasket, I stay pretty dry with a paddling suit even when rolling. That said, I do also have a full dry suit for when the chances of me swimming are higher.
I am not sure what Reed paddling suits uses for gaskets, as most of theirs are listed as non-latex (where the full dry suits use Latex gaskets).
ON warranties, Kokatat does have a “lifetime” guarantee on Goretex (but is usable life of product, which is usually 5-10 years). Most others are 1-2 years, including the non-Goretex Kokatat products.
In general, you will want booties/socks built in (some cheaper one use ankle gaskets instead - both of these you are looking at have the socks built in) and a relief zipper (optional item on Reed).
If the retailer you are working with carries NRS, they have some price competitive dry and paddling suits also.
My wife recently got a non-Gore-Tex Kokatat semi-dry suit which is the same as their low end full drysuit except it has a neoprene neck instead of latex. She likes it, but I worry as it is very thin and I’m not sure how durable it will be. It is lightweight and seems to breath fairly well.
For myself, I got a Stohlquist Amp drysuit. It has much heavier construction and feels much more durable. I am very happy with this drysuit. It proved itself when I jumped into our local lake when the water was around 48*.
These suits are both in the $500 to $600 range new. I have also seen ads for the Level 6 Emperor drysuit for around $700. This suit is reputed to be even more robust and durable than the Stohlquist.
Good luck with your shopping.
I had the same question when I was trying to decide between a Reed or a non-goretex Kokatat. At the end, I found a like new Kokatat Supernova GoreTex Semidry at Kayak Academy. I paid about $500 and I am really happy with it. The suit is comfortable, breathes well compared to my old wetsuit, way easier to get in and out, and the neoprene gasket does a good job as long as you tie it - the Reed paddle suit has a similar “aquaterm” gasket that needs to be tied. I had to buy larger booties to accommodate the dry socks of the suit. In terms of warranty, both Kokatat and Kayak Academy said that the lifetime warranty was still valid for Goretex delamination even if I was buying used (it is a Gore warranty).
So if you are not in a hurry, keep an eye for used suits as you may get something better for the same price.
Thank you so much for your input. I’m going to go with a Kokatat. There seem be a used one for sale at kayak academy. Thanks for the tip!
The UK, good point, thanks!
I think you’ve made an excellent decision to go with Kokatat.
I have a typhoon hypercurve drysuit and that has glideskin seals and no problems…
This issue resolved, but be aware that Kokatat has changed the terms of their lifetime warranty. You have to be the original purchaser of the suit now.