Relief Zipper; How Important?

I realize this is a highly subjective question, but I’m hoping for a consensus on how important a relief zipper is on a drysuit. Perhaps more to the point, at what price would you be willing to forego it? I think I can get a suit in exellent condition cheap because it doesn’t have one. I looked into adding one and it’s cost prohibitve, hence the question. What say ye?

If your willing to urinate in your suit then the relief zipper isn’t a must have. At some point I would think there will be a need to relieve yourself when you are wearing the suit. If this doesn’t bother you, go for it. No ones opinion can determine this but your own.

Some wear Depends and don’t worry
about it.

Depends on how cheap
(sorry for the pun).

Let’s say I can’t come close to affording a drysuit and no prospects to do so for at least a year, but I can get this one at half-price. I wouldn’t let the lack of zipper stop me.

If it’s a top-quality brand that would also infuence my decision.

A convenience, but far from a necessity
I’d say the answer is this: How important to you is the difference between three seconds of unzipping vs. 30 seconds of partial drysuit disrobing?

I’ve had three drysuits since the mid 80’s and none has had a relief zipper. Before that I had a variety wetsuits – and still do – and none of them has had a relief zipper either. I’ve never felt particularly inconvenienced by having to spend 30 seconds or so to remove half the drysuit or wetsuit during a rest or food break on land.

The zipper is certainly more convenient. I’d get one today in three circumstances:

  1. The incremental cost was irrelevant to me.

  2. I had an urgency problem due to some medical condition such as prostate disease.

  3. My boating was frequently so far from land that I needed the ability “to go” while in my canoe or kayak.

Good Point
It’s an NRS made of Triton material (basically a Gore Tex knock-off I believe). I’d pay $200 (he’s asking more but won’t get it).

Not sure of the physics of the situation, but I wouldn’t open my relief zipper while on the water. What happens if you go in the drink and the suit fills with water?

good question
Here’s how I look at it:

  1. I don’t do long open water crossing. Some long coastal crawls though. Most of the time, if it’s calm enough I can get out every 4 hours or so. I can hold it 4 hours.

  2. If I’m in rough water, I’m not going to unzip and pee. It’s probably not going to be foremost on my mind. But if it is, I’ll just have to go in my suit.

  3. If I’m on a long crawl but in manageable water, THEN I can unzip and pee.

    I like having it on land though because it makes things so much easier, and I don’t get chilled (as much).

A couple of months ago I got a new-with-tags NRS Inversion drysuit (with relief zipper) for $203 as the highest bid. It’s no Kokotat but it will certainly do until I have more funds. It was a steal compared to the retail price. It might be worth looking into on eBay?

add on option
As a life long seamstress who frequently makes and modifies my gear, I can tell you that adding a relief zip is not a big deal. You can buy short wet suit sealing zippers from Seattle Fabrics – I bought one to modify a pullover neoprene jacket. Slash where you want to position the zip on your drysuit, stitch in the zipper by hand or machine (or have a shoe or luggage repair shop do so, they have the heavy machines) and then seal the hell out of the stitch lines with Aquaseal.

I know Kokatat will do some modifications on their suits if you send them to their shop (clean) – don’t know if they will add a pee zip and what they might charge.

There is a Kokatat men’s medium dry-suit for sale on Craigslist here in Pittsburgh for $250 – looks to be in decent shape from the photos (no pee zip though). Been on there for 2 months (local phone number so I doubt its a scam.)

Kokotat will add a relief zip
Done several years ago so that info might not be current.

We needed to have gaskets replaced and it was high time for zip and booties.

Or you can use a condom catheter
and a bag in the suit. If you are able to land and urinate, a relief zip is not really needed with a front zipper.

around here
we use a sponge with drain hole for reducing suit costs

…Deal breaker


I’ve had both
My first drysuit didn’t have a relief zipper. I never peed my suit but got pretty close one day. Mostly it was just inconvenient, having to unzip the main zipper, extract head from neck gasket and one arm from wrist gasket. You might need to remove both arms, not just one, depending on your flexibility and the suit’s fit and zipper placement.

I pretty much knew I would appreciate getting the relief zip on my second suit. Really, really appreciate it. Having experienced both styles, now I would never buy a drysuit without one. And that’s even though (being female) I have to use a FUD with it.

It’s only important when you need it
But then it’s REAL important. That’s a good price for a drysuit - buy it and check it out. If you do a lot of winter paddling, though, I predict you will eventually end up in a drysuit with a relief zipper.

I won’t buy a dry suit without one

– Last Updated: Oct-24-14 7:31 AM EST –

Is it absolutely necessary? That depends on the conditions you paddle in. In really cold weather, the last thing I want to have to do is to strip my drysuit to the waist just to take a leak. If you need to go while on the water, you're screwed without a relief zip. For the minor difference in cost, it's money well spent.

Thank you all very much.
That’s exactly what I was looking for. Sure wish I could wear a medium. I’d be all over that one in Pittsburghylvania, but alas, at six foots and 185 pounds I require a large.

I’m in Brian’s camp
If I had to forgo a relief zipper I simply would not purchase a drysuit. When it’s cold I certainly do not want to do the “Watusi” (google it) to access ‘Mr. Happy’ for relief.

Of course no dry suit would then limit my paddling to warmer water temperatures.

Something to consider
If you’re really getting it on the cheap, and you use it relatively lightly, you might be able to re-sell it at no loss to yourself if you later decide you really want a suit with a relief zipper.