New Drysuit: How Dry Should I Be???


I just bought my first drysuit. I paddled with it today for the first time, and am a bit disappointed because I got pretty wet.

I bought a Palm Torrent. It is made of a breathable material (non-Goretex). Before paddling I got in the water and burped the suit. I felt dry. I then paddled for about 2 hours and sweat a little but not too much (about 50 degrees today). While paddling I noticed that I was getting moisture building up around the wrists. I had to break the seal at the wrist to let it out. I also noticed that when I straighted my legs out in the boat my calves felt like they were sitting in a bit of water. I assumed that this must be condensation / sweat build up inside the suit. I realize that breathable suits help, but are still not perfect.

Toward the end of my paddle I did about 4 rolls and then got in the water to swim around a bit to test out the suit.

I noticed a good amount of water in my socks when I finally got up. I am not sure when it got there or from what.

When I finally got back and took off the suit I was pretty wet inside. My shorts were completely wet as was my shirt, and I had probaby about 6 ounces of water or so in each of the drysuit socks.

Shouldn’t I be a lot drier than this???

I am pretty sure that both the main zipper and the relief zip were closed all the way to the end.

How much condensation should I get inside the suit if it truly is breathable?

How much water should get in if I roll or go for a swim?

I did trim the neck gasket a bit, but I still have a good tight fit around the neck.

I am not really sure where or how the water got in.

I will have to test it out again.

Is this normal?



not working contact the manufacturer
or local dealer if you bought there. Patience thinds will get better.

Test Your Suit First
Isolate the factors that could be causing dampness. Ozs of liquid in the booties are not acceptable.

-Get in the water and get fully submerged and see of anything is coming in. If not, then it’s likely when you were rolling.

  • Now try to do some rolling, before paddling, to see how much water, if any gets in.

    -Then paddle to see if it is the “breatheability” (or lack of) that is the problem.


Try this
Let the suit dry completely. Fill a bathtub with cold water, put on the drysuit with zipper fully zipped, and get in the tub. You will know very quickly if it leaks.

If it leaks, send the suit back for repair or replacement. It should not leak at all, period.

If it does not leak, then the moisture is condensation. How much condensation will occur depends on how breathable the material is and how much you sweat. In my Gore-tex drysuit, the only places where I get condensation are under the gaskets (makes sense, since gaskets do not breathe at all) and under where the PFD lies. The PFD will definitely block moisture from evaporating, so no matter how breathable the fabric, there will be some dampness there.

But other than that, there really shouldn’t be any moisture, in a breathable suit.

Before buying the drysuit, I used a Gore-tex drytop and a nonbreathable coated nylon drypant. My reasoning was that my legs don’t sweat much. I found out that they still sweat enough to leave my longjohns completely soaked–and I wasn’t even working hard. For me, there was no alternative but to switch to all-Gore-tex. Other people do not sweat as much. If you do the bathtub test, you’ll find out if the soaking is due to leak(s) or insufficient breathability.

Shouldn’t I be a lot drier than this??? Yes! Being soaked is not acceptable.

How much water should get in if I roll or go for a swim? ZERO. No water should get in a drysuit, if the gaskets fit well and the zippers are fully zipped.

Just a question…
What were you wearing under the dry suit?

I found it best to wear polyester under it to wick the moisture from your skin, to the dry suit material. I doubt if you sweated several ounces of water in each sock, but if you were not wearing something to transfer the sweat from your body to the inside of the suit, then the suit cannot wick the moisture out.

This is just something I thought of while reading your post. Good Luck!

the sleeves
of any shirt you wear can wick lots of moisture in. Make sure all gaskets have full contact with your skin, not with any clothing.


six ounces plus completely soaked
clothes is about a pound or more of water.

It is unlikely that you sweated out a pound of water in 2 hours unless you were going pretty hard.

Your suit leaks. Fill your tub up, put on the suit, jump in and squeeze yourself. Look for bubbles.

I made this post quickly just before leaving the house this afternoon and did not perhaps get to explain fully.

I think that there is a combination of 2 things going on----I think that I do have a leak somewhere, or else I did not fully seal the zipper perhaps.

Additionally though, I think that the suit has some breathability issues. I did have to break the seal on the sleeves a few times to let moisture drip out. Quite a bit was forming around the wrist gasket while I was paddling. I think that this has to be from perspiration / moisture from my body. A good amount would pour out. Again, I know that no breathable suit will breathe to the point that you will not sweat, but I think that this is a bit more than I would have expected.

I am a bit skeptical of some of the more generic breathable membranes out there as I know that there is a lot of variability over how well they actually work—none really work as well as actual Goretex according to most of the tests I have seen.

I may try to get out again tomorrow morning and test the suit again—this time trying to isolate the source of the moisture as per Sing’s advice.


"…I know that there is a lot of variability over how well they actually work—none really work as well as actual Goretex…"

My personal conclusions mirror your premise.


What Level Of Dampness Is Acceptable…

– Last Updated: Jan-04-06 4:32 AM EST –

my standard set by my Kokatat Goretex Meridian is that my insulating layers of poly material will be damp/wet from a good paddle trip. The thin layer next to my body is damp and the thicker layer over that will be wet, not damp, with sweat to the point where it weighs two or three times its normal weight when dry. However, I have never had pooling of oz of sweat around the gasket or booties.

With my Palm Stikine, I am finding the same level or more of mositure on the layers after the two surf sessions that I had in the Palm. But, again, no pooling of sweat. I know that I have pinhole leak somewhere on my left sleeve because that side gets more moist than anywhere else. However, the lack of pooling relative to the amount of immersion when I surf, I think the pinhole leak is not a threat to me and not worth sending the suit back to Palm.

Unless Matt has extraordinary sweat glands, I suspect that Matt has a leak somewhere, or the neck gasket may have been trimmed too much and that water is seeping in on rolling. Thus the need to isolate the possibilities.


I experience a similar
amount of interior dampness when using a Kokatat GFER, variations relative to the level of activity.

Never any pooled liquid which I believe most certainly indicates a leak.

Most of my experience with breathable fabrics has been with outer shells (non-kayaking use), and the GoreTex has been much more functional for me. One must consider not only my personal metabolism but the ambient humidity (or lack thereof), of the Rocky Mountain region where I play. Thus, my comments are purely anecdotal.

Another fabric I am also very happy with is eVent which my tent features. Only one season under the belt so far but it looks very promising.

Breathables are very important to me as I do not perspire… I sweat!!


Someone asked what I was wearing underneath…I had on a Patagonia silk weight capilene shirt (very think wicking polyester shirt) and a pair of polyester wicking running shorts.

I am going to go out again this morning and try it again.

I think I definitely had a leak somewhere, but also think I had a whole lot of my own moisture building up. The pooling of water in the boots was obviously from a leak, but I am not sure about the dampness of the rest of my body. Some of it was definitely my own.

I will try wearing a better wicking layer and see if that helps keep my skin drier from the breathability issue.

Hopefully the actual leak was just an issue of not having a zipper completely closed or something.

I guess it is possible that I trimmed too much off the neck gasket, but I did not trim too much—about 3 lines. It is still snug. It would seem to me that this gasket would remain water tight unless it was considerably looser.

I will cinch down the neck closure very tightly when rolling as well to try to isolate whether or not it is coming from there.


quick test to learn!
here is my quick and easy test to see if my dry top has leaked when out surfing at the local beach:

LICK IT! yeah i know kinda weird but hey: if it is salty then i leaked-if it is fresh than it is sweat yum…

this is just my salt water test…i do not paddle much fresh…


but isn’t sweat salty as well?

I know my sweat is salty. Besides if you’re leaking that much, a lick could send you straight to Beaver Fear land. Diarreah in a drysuit sounds really gross. :wink:


Too much water
The 6 oz pooled water per bootie plus soaked underwear sounds like way too much water. If you DON’T have a leak in the suit, then it’s not breathable enough.

At worst, the sweat condensed under my gaskets amounts to a trickle down the neck (feels like a tiny bug running down). That’s all. There is no pooling in my legs or anywhere else. The shirt under the PFD are is merely damp, not sopping.

I usually wear thin layers underneath also; long underpants are the same silkweight Capilenes you use for your shirt. I do think you should use longjohns instead of shorts. But that’s not the reason you have so much moisture inside.

Took it out again…
Well, I took it out again today. At first it seemed okay. I got in water up to my neck, rolled, etc. Seemed dry. Then I paddled for a bit (about 45 minutes to an hour) and then swam again.

I noticed that my back felt wet, then I noticed that my legs felt wet too, then my feet.

I got home and weighed my clothes before and after drying them and found that I had nearly 2 pounds worth of water in them----which is a quart I believe.

I don’t think I sweat that much in an hour or less of paddling.

I am not sure exactly where the water is coming in or when it came in, but it seems to get in slowly from somewhere.

I think it is leaking somewhere up top, and does not get down to my legs right away because of the tenion around my waist from the neopren spray skirt and then waist cinch on the suit.

So, it is leaking somehow and somewhere. I can’t deal with that so I am going to return it…not sure if I should get a refund or an exchange. I really like the design and cut of the suit.

As it turns out I won an auction on a Goretex Meridian on ebay (it was priced too low and I jumped on it as an opportunity to make some money to support my kayaking habbit). It is a Goretex model. I think I am going to give it a try when it arrives and see if it works out better.

Although I like the design of the Palm better, the Kokatat will probably be better quality that this one (this is Palm’s $550 suit) and the Goretex should certainly be more breathable).

We’ll see.


proprietary breathable materials

You’ll find that with a lot of non-goretex breathable materials they do not perform as well as gore-tex. In some cases they do really well, in others not so hot at all. I had a breathable cloudviel jacket that performed really well, but did not last long. My marmot precip stuff is essentially a glorified garbage bag, which is ok for sitting around camp but terrible for even moderate aerobic activity. Goretex on the other hand for paddling seems a match made in heaven for me. I have never had moisture pooling in my back butt elbows etc from paddling even on warmer days. It will stay next to my skin and then slowly breath out when I stop. Where as with precip it pooled in my wrist gussets.

However it may be a matter of what layers you wear underneath, how closely they cling to your body, and also whether there really is a “leak” in your suit. I imagine it is simply a matter of poor performance against expectations.

I wonder if you are right and if all that moisture could be from me and not from the suit leaking.

I think it is possible. I was a wrestler and would routinely sweat out 5-7 pounds during a practice. That was a lot heavier sweating than paddling, but a non-breathable or poorly breathable material also catches your body’s moisture it releases naturally without sweating.

I wonder if I am just getting the “sauna suit effect”

I would agree with you about proprietary breathable materials. Some are better than others. It seems though that they are getting better, but a drysuit requires a whole lot more breathability than other garmets since you are sealed in air-tight.

I know that the difference between this suit and Palm’s Strikine (not sure of spelling) is that this one is made of a less expensive and less breathable material. Maybe it is just a matter of the material having very poor breathability.

Not sure.


There was a recent post about
somebody else thinking they bought a Meridian on EBay, and it turned out to be military immersion suit. Think it went back on EBay. Good luck!