Thanks for the advice.
We have decided to get drysuits and have narrowed the search to the the kokatat lightweight paddling drysuit with the neoprene neck seal and Gore Tex fabric or the Stohlquist bpod/gpod with the TTL Eclipse fabric with the neoprene neck seal.
Which suit would be more comfortable and breathable?
Yesterday’s paddling conditions were 50 degree water and 70-75 degree air temp.
Thanks for the advice.
how much do you sweat?
If you sweat a lot chances are you won’t notice the difference.
I don’t sweat too much and don’t I get much of a sweat producing aerobic work out when paddling.Yesterday it was 75 degrees out and I was way too warm with Capaline base layer,splash top and PFD.I was damp but not soaked with sweat.Hoping one of these wet suits will be more breathable than the “breathable” Hypro Tex 2.5 splash top.
The water is getting too cold to go unprotected in case wet exit/swim.
I have the Kokatat suit…
… that you mention and have used it in those exact conditions with good results. I have also spent the best part of a day out on Lake Superior in the rain with temps around 60 degrees and 50 for the water and have been very comfortable. In those conditions I have worn ankle socks, light weight pants, wicking t-shirt and synthetic shirt.
The suit is very easy to put on and take off.
With layering I expect to do fine in colder conditions as well.
However if you roll a lot you can expect to take in a small amount of water around the neck. I do roll a lot and end up with my shirt getting very damp in front. I may ask Kokatat to install a latex neck gasket but that neo neck sure is comfortable.
Sorry I can’t offer any info on the other suit.
How dry do you want to be?
Not about the seat, but the neck closure in a swim. The lighter wight neo collar on my older Super Nova Kokatat suit is thinner and more flexible than the thicker neo I’ve seen on the B-pods, though I should caution that my suit is a few years old now and things may have changed. While I know people who find that neck to be OK unless they are doing repeated rolls or extensive sculling, my own experience is that I really have to limit my wet time lest a cascade of water finds its way in.
Comparing experiences, our unscientific opinion is that my rather long, thin chicken neck renders the neck closure a lot less tight than on those with shorter, thicker necks in our group.
The neck on the Bpod suit is similar to another garment I have, which even on my chicken neck is nearly as dry as latex.
No comparison on breathability
I’ve got a Stohlquist “breathable” Drytop, and a Kokatat GoreTex Drysuit. Unless Stohlquist has greatly improved their triple-layer fabric in the 5 years since I bought my drytop, then there is really no comparison between the two.
If i exert myself in the Stohlquist drytop, I’m wet with sweat on a 50-60 degree day. But in the goretex suit I’m dry, even with vigorous paddling, until ambient temps get up to 70, or the water is cold enough that I’m wearing more than one insulating layer under the suit.
Regarding drysuits vs. semi-dry “paddling suits”, I think there is a niche for the paddling suits, and it’s nice that Kokatat has begun offering their paddling suit in goretex. They’re perfect for people who have paddled a while, don’t roll, or play in advanced conditions, and are certain that they aren’t still expanding their paddling environments. But if you are still growing into the sport, then I fear you might regret not buying a drysuit in a couple years, if you discover that you really like paddling in rougher conditions, or surfing, or rolling, or stuff like that. If you really plan to stay upright, the paddling suits can be fine. But if rolling is part of the fun, (which it is for many paddlers) then you really want to be wearing a DRY suit.
Either way, I’d strongly recommend Goretex if you can afford it. You’ll stay more comfortable, and you’re buying a suit with a lifetime guarantee.
Even more important than breathability of your fabric.
KoKaTat gear is a bit more expensive, but the warranty the company gives on their Gore-Tex products is really worth it. It really is a case of “not if, but when” you will get small leaks in your dry gear.
My semi-dry suit, with the neo collar that looks similar to the one being talked about by the OPer, gets carried as a backup suit to my dry suit or used on evening paddles at change of season when rolling isn’t going to be more than one quick one on the way out of the water, the weather is a little inclement or the mosquitoes are so horrible that I want everything they can possibly bite covered up. There have been days that I go out with a pr of short jogging shorts and long sleeve bike top under it.
But for paddling in winter, surf work or trips offshore, it’s the suit with the latex neck.
I third Nate and Celia
Gore-tex has been the only truly breathable and waterproof material I’ve ever experienced. The other materials tend to be fine for waterproofing but not as breathable. Might be OK for something with very low exertion level but nothing active.
Expensive, but worth the money.
Another option …
for 2012 Kokatat has introduced a 3 layer Tropos fabric in drysuits. These will carry a lifetime warranty.
Has anyone tried the Tropos fabric?
That’s the key, the breathability, not simply the warranty.
I have a Gortex dry suit and drytop and a Tropos top too. Tropos is not even close. I sweat like an animal in that top and only use it for rolling practice.
I heard that NRS E-Vent is a great breathing fabric too but have no personal experience with it.
I have an E-vent paddle jacket
and I don’t recall it ever getting steamy inside. But since it’s not a dry top, can’t compare it to my Goretex Stohlquist.
Anticipated paddling style.
Well I don’t anticipate kayaking in the surf zone or learning to roll my boat(Delta 12.10)for amusement in my future.
I am no longer interested in pushing the limits as I am now in my mid 50s and am approaching paddling as a tame endeavor with low potential for injury.
I believe the Neo neck seal will be adequate for my paddling style and I am reading that Gore fabric is the way to go.
Rolling for entertainment
About the age thing - I was no less than 53 maybe 54 when I got my roll, didn't have my first time in surf until after that. I am not a way aggressive paddler - just one that realizes what I have to be able to do if I want to paddle offshore in the ocean. Short of having some specific injury, you can go a long way in kayaking skills with just patience and taking your time.
Just an FYI - if you plan to have a solid roll, something which many including me feel is a basic safety skill, you will be rolling for entertainment for quite a while to be able to keep it. People don't get their first 3 rolls in a pool, walk away without regular practice and find themselves able to do one in a real capsize a few months or a year later.
The often used measure is that it takes 100 rolls in practice to have one in the tank for a real capsize. My husband managed to have this happen for him sooner, it took me at least that 100. So I rolled before or after every paddle for a long time, a couple or three times at least.
It's the same with sculling, same with good braces. You practice it, which means getting fairly wet especially if you miss, every time you are in the boat for at least a season afterwards or you won't have it. And even those of us who can skip that diligence now still have to go back into the pool every winter to refresh, or this stuff won't be reliable by the next spring.
This is something that newer paddlers often don't realize, especially since when you see people who are good at it you are seeing the result of years of practice. So looks much easier to retain than it is.
aging and paddling
well I do not have access to ocean kayaking. I mainly paddle lakes in Arizona,Utah and Nevada.kayaking is my replacement activity from mtn biking,white water rafting down hill skiing. Have had to give these sports up due to years of cumulative injuries to knee,back,shoulder,neck,tennis elbow ,carpal tunnel etc.So far with care to not overstress and to use proper torso rotation along with stretching and strength building I have not aggravated but improved my condition. I must avoid re-injury to my shoulder so I do not plan to be in conditions where a roll is a absolute safety necessity. I have a adequate self and assisted rescue in flat water conditions.I feel I must avoid the temptation to test my limits in ever more challenging conditions if I am to keep up paddling for years to come…Kind of tai-chi vs judo thing.
Celia as always…
…makes very good points. My first unplanned capsize was on flat water. I went to edge my boat, went too far, and failed to note that my support blade was perpendicular to the water. You can imagine how that went.
Anyhow rolling back up was soooo much easier than doing a wet exit and scrambling back in.
And I can’t imagine going out in my boat and not rolling a few times.
But back to the Kokatat paddle suit… I’m pretty small at 5’6" @ 145 but I have a big neck for my size and manage to get a pretty good seal with the neo neck. But as I mentioned above, this winter I’ll ask Kokatat if they can swap me over to a latex gasket. Drier is always better than wetter:)
rolling and shoulders
A well executed roll does not endanger shoulders, actually there is almost no pressure.
If that interests you, I would suggest looking into Greenland Style roll instruction with a knowledgeable coach . The learning progression is more gentle that the usual Euro style methodology.