Mating dry top with dry pants, any success?

I can roll.

For the longest time, I only use a dry top. That worked well enough for spring white water. I’ve done multiple rolls either in practice or even in white water in anger. Stayed dry all the while.

But that was some years ago. Now I’m older and my roll isn’t quite as strong as before. And I’ve gotten into touring in open water instead of white water rivers. So the risk of long immersion is something I have to consider. (“long” meaning 5 minute to effect self-rescue, without getting soaked while in the water)

My first thought is to get a pair of dry pants to mate with my dry top. After carefully folding the inner of top and bottom, I walked into the water. No leaks. Great! (ok, that was after a couple of trial and error in how to fold)

But, at the end of the paddle, I thought I’d go into the water for a swim. Oops! Water leaked in from the back!

So the next time, I was more careful in folding them. Again, no leaks right after. But again, at the end of the paddle, it leaked in the back!

It always leak from the back!!!

I think it’s from my bending over getting in and out of the boat. It just pulled on the waist area. And the top and bottom join got “un-rolled”.

Any suggestion to alleviate that problem? Anyone had better success using dry bib instead? Does it help in preventing that pulling from unfolding the join?

Swimming I’d say you need a drysuit. Others may know more.

What type of dry pants are you using?

Given that they mate much the same way that a dry bag is rolled down, and that you wouldn’t expect a dry bag to be waterproof if you submerge it for 5 minutes while also twisting and turning it (as you will be doing swimming and self-rescuing with it), I wouldn’t expect a mated top bottom to be totally dry under these conditions. If you need dry, go fr the dry suit. If you need it to be 2 piece, consider something like the Kokatat Icon.

Do you have a link?

My search only turn up a full 1-piece suit.

Yes, I want to stay in 2-piece if I can make it work. My dry top is Kokatat

My bad. it is the Idol that is the 2 piece. They use a zipper that goes all the way around the paddler’s waist to connect the 2 pieces.

(Idol Dry Suit (GORE-TEX Pro) with SwitchZip Technology - Kokatat)

I used a setup with a dry top and dry pants with the middle rolled together for a few seasons. I would hold the folds together in the back and then bend all the way forward to figure out where the folds needed to be tucked to allow that motion without tugging the folds apart.
Like when you tuck in your shirt. If you bend down, or sit down and get back up, the back comes somewhat untucked. Imagine leaving your shirt loosely untucked in the back, but the folded part is still tucked underneath your waist band. You need to have enough material - the sizing has to be right to allow this - and then just remember to account for it each time.

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Thanks, CapeFear. I’ll give that another try.

I accept that small amount of water can seep in given the folded seal are never going to be perfect. But water flooding in from the back kind of defeats the intended purpose.

It’s clear the “opening” always happens in the back, I’ll given it another try as see if I can reliably keep the two halves folded instead of having the fold entirely unravel as soon as I get in the boat.

Assuming that your dry pants have a tunnel to mate with your Kokatat dry top, you need to fold the two together three times with very smooth folds to have it stay reasonably watertight.

After you successfully mate them, will there be a litter?


The only two piece non dry suit option that seems to seal for a swim is the old Kokatat bib setup. Where the top and bottom are rolled together.


Well, at least a small step. I didn’t go into the water before the paddle, as I was reasonably sure that would pass. I only went in after paddling for a couple hours. No leaks!

I’ll do another try in a few days. Today’s paddle, I didn’t land nor did any rescue practice. I only paddled. Still, the fold survived 1 launch and 1 landing, from a dock. That’s a lot more challenging than landing on a beach.

Next test I’ll at least land and re-launch at a different configuration (beach or something else). I think I’ll roll a couple times just to give the fold a few extra tucks and pulls.

What’s the trick?

I had totally neglected there’s a big wide neoprene band on the dry pants. It’s there for a reason.

In the past few tries, I just pulled the extra material (inner tunnel) of the pants down with the extra material (inner tunnel) from the dry top, and started folding them together. The fold was precarious. It was tricky to pull the spray skirt on without unraveling the fold. Getting in and out of the boat, pulling on the skirt, and paddling… all contribute to make the fold unstable.

This time, I flipped the big fat rubber band down as well, which also means the extra material of the pants extended further down. Pull the inner tunnel of the dry top over it and fold away! 3 folds, then continue folding by flipping the neoprene band over the whole folded ensemble. Now the fold was “protected” by the big fat neoprene band!

No worry about pulling the skirt over the fold messing it up any more. The rubber band thingy kept the fold in place nice and secure. Skirt up, outer tunnel down. PFD on top. The fold isn’t too likely to be going anywhere…

Will do another test next time out. Hopefully the water won’t be too cold yet so I can try a roll. Will report back if the fold held the water out.

Another thing new today, as suggested by some of the replies here, I also changed how I fold. Instead of start folding from the front, I started folding from the back and work my way to the front. It’s much easier to managed the excess material when I can see it and my hands are at the most convenient position. I think doing it that way, I managed a much tinier fold as a result.