Newb question about drysuits

I’m not yet at the stage where I’m ready for a drysuit or to paddle in really cold water. But there’s someone selling just the top half of a drysuit, and it got me wondering what one could do with just the top. Is it useful without the bottoms? Do people wear partial drysuits and if so why would you? Thanks.

A dry top is a paddling jacket with latex neck and wrist gaskets. To make it into a sort of dry suit you pair it with a pair of whirlpool {Kokatat} bibs. {NRS makes bibs too etc} roll the tunnels together meticulously. Go to the Kokatat site., I believe they have a video of how to do this.

I have a Kokatat Radius drysuit, which is two piece. Kokatat states: The Radius top can be worn alone as a dry top and has a fully adjustable hood that can be removed or stowed in its fleece lined outer collar. Additionally the top features full women’s patterning, has easy to access, self-draining zippered pockets on each sleeve, reflective accents, and latex neck and wrist gaskets.

I’ve often used it as a dry top on cool windy days in late spring, early autumn and even in the summer during a class where the water was warm, but the air temp was quite cool and breezy (and I knew there’d be a lot of wet work). I stayed warm while others were shivering.

Is the one for sale part of a Kokatat two-piece suit?

Thanks, both informative. Rookie, yes it is. It’s the top half of the Kokatat Idol drysuit. It’s pretty cheap. But as yet I’m unsure what I will need.

@Doggy Paddler said:
Thanks, both informative. Rookie, yes it is. It’s the top half of the Kokatat Idol drysuit. It’s pretty cheap. But as yet I’m unsure what I will need.

GoreTex is great, but I guess it depends on how low “cheap” is.

Thanks. I’m going to wait until I know what I need but I’m happy to be gathering information.

Since nobody else pointed out the obvious:
If you can roll up after a capsize, the top will keep you dry. If you have to swim, it won’t.

I have a two-part drysuit, but usually I use it the other way around: I walk around in the trousers on land and add the top when going on the water. I have never paddled in the top alone.

The other disadvantages of two-piece suits are:

  • The connection between the top and bottom has to to be carefully made or it will leak. I also wonder how well the connection will stand up to long-term immersion, as opposed to a brief swim. There are some zip-together two-piece suits that avoid this problem

  • You have more bulk around your waist, where you already have your underlayer(s) and your spray skirt. The suit is also much less flexible at the connection. This can inhibit torso rotation and may cause uncomfortable pressure around your middle.

I prefer to have a dry top for days where I really just want protection from spray, surf, etc. and when rolling. I have a dry suit for paddling when I need substantial protection from cold water immersion. For me, having separate garments is worth the extra expense.

Thanks. I’m hoping when I start to need this stuff I’ll be able to borrow some first, before committing to a purchase, because this stuff is expensive, and I’m guessing from what you all said that it comes down to individual preference.

@Doggy Paddler said:
and I’m guessing from what you all said that it comes down to individual preference.
Exactly. And the worst part is that we can’t even guess our own individual preferences in advance before we actually try something.

I never liked the idea of a 2-part drysuits, so I stuck to my 1-piece and was happy.

Then I found a 2-part Kokatat GoreTex on sale. It was so cheap that I decided to live with the fact that it was 2-part. I was so wrong: It is not something I have to live with. It is much better. I will probably never buy a 1-part again. But I didn’t know that before I actually used it on trips and discovered how much easier everything gets when you can use the bottom part all the time before and after the kayaking part.

What are you considering a two piece drysuit? Drytop/drypant, drytop/drybibs or a switchzip Kokatat suit? If the first, you are so right! That’s reason I don’t bother with separates.

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Marshall, it is a switchzip drysuit I use. A Kokatat Icon.

I have for many years been a flatwater or class1-2 current canoe paddler/racer. I am also a long time SAR land search volunteer crew boss certified by New York State . When the opportunity came up for me as a first responder to take a swift water rescue training course given by the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services at the state’s newly constructed swiftwater facility, I literally jumped in. I have never worn a dry suit before so this was my first experience strapping into one. The course was great fun, learning to swim and how to rescue others in up to Class 3+ rapids pumping 100,000 g/min. I loved it.

But I soon learned the gamut of dry suits available if i want to get my own to join a team. Such a large range in prices and features, It comes down to how much do I want to spend. Which one should I get?

Here are a couple of videos from previous courses held at the facility. Watch them.

Aside from needing readers to get the thing lined up right to zip the top on, IMO it is near impossible to argue against the value of the zip switch Kokatat suits like the Idol. I have had the traditional two piece stuff that most people start out with (not the Kokatat bib type that manages to stay relatively dry in a swim) for a long time. I always found it to be a bit limiting in what I would try in any but very controllable situations, because it always leaked on me. So if things were at all interesting I was in the one piece dry suit.