Who Makes the MOST Durable Drysuit?

For those of us who are hardest on equipment, surfzone, expeditions, frequent rolling, assiting recoveries rescues, etc, who do you feel makes the most DURABLE drysuit out there. All pretty similar, or strong opinions based on experiences?

Do different materials hold up similarly or way differetnt? Gore-tex immersion vs other breatheable PU coatings? Do over the back zippers have less leakage, hold up better than diagonals? What types of seams come undone, like crotch seams, etc.

Any help appreciated from a confused buyer.

durable? OS Systems
they have suits they make for the military that are bombproof. literally. and velllllly $pendy. triple sewed seams, thick, tough coatings. quite stiff and un-comfotable. they also make PaddleSport suits that reflect some of that bomber aspect.

personally… I like Kokatat. I get 2-3 years outta my suits and I put 100+ days a year on 'em in a commercial guiding/ instruction enviro. gore with front zip/relief zip and booties.


about .33 an hour!
Thanks Steve

I guess that makes the cost per hour around 33 cents. Figuring on 3 years 8 hour days and 100 days per year, total hours 2400! Does that sound cheap when think of $2.40 per day user fee, I suppose so. Hey better than freezing to death.

NRS and Palm
both have excellent suits which are exceptionally durable. The NRS has Cordura enforced elbows and seat which helps in terms of durability. Both NRS and Palm are cheaper than other suits and are made of breathable fabrics that perform comparably to Goretex. Of course you can’t go wrong with a nice Kokatat dry suit, but my personal feeling is that the Kokatat material is a bit thin for my tastes. For sea kayaking, there is nothing better than Kokatat, but if you’re banging off rocks doing whitewater, I’d look for something a little tougher.

pin hole leaks
my kokotat started getting pin hole leaks around the groin/belly after a year,I started patching them but I’d like something a bit tougher.


– Last Updated: Dec-11-04 5:59 PM EST –

If your Kokatat Dry suit leaks, send it back. They will repair or replace it. I know of a couple of guys that had 5 year old Kokatat dry suits and started to have some de-laminating. They sent them back, and Kokatat replaced them free of charge with brand new suits. One of the advantages of Goretex brand, is that is waranteed by the Goretex company as well as the suit manufacturer.

No small deal
This is no small thing as otherwise out a luck possibly

Anyone try Bomber Gear’s drysuit?
I like my Kokatat, but this drysuit looks pretty nice.


Comes with a skirt tunnel standard and looks well done. The relief zipper option would up the price some. The cut of my Bomber gear drytop is more comfortable than my drysuit. If it’s anywhere near as durable as their drytops it may be worth consideration. I’m interested in hearing if anyone has one since I never hear it mentioned in any of the drysuit talk.

Are there any that aren’t durable?
I haven’t heard of any that are problematic. For a long term garment, Gore-Tex is probably the best choice, since the fabric has a lifetime warrant on it. Even in the garment manufacturer goes belly up, Gore will replace a defective garment with one that’s comparable from another manufacturer. That’s pretty hard to beat.

delaminating after two years in same

Old heavy kokatat polyester

– Last Updated: Dec-12-04 1:14 PM EST –

but they do not make them any more. Yes the breathability has improved with the lighter fabrics but durability is down.

Other than that I'd take flat pick's advice. including relief and booties!

And the venue defintely matters. Jagged rocks or sharp coral(I imagine can mess up a suit pretty quick.

That's why jon turk does not like dry suits as much as wet suits unless the water temperature just demands one... HIs missed rolls are probably about 1/10000 these days, a bit different from me.

I agreee about gore's guarentee. I took some 10 year old gortex pants (not a lot of wear) to ems and the jerks laughed at me and offerred me $20 off some overpriced new ones (some satisfaction guaranteed" warranty. gore took them in retaped them and had them back to me in 5 days. (leaving for a 350 mile solo two days later, told them about it (including the ems abuse). Ten years (and about 1000 hiking miles + lots of snow shoveling later) still going strong.

Two separate questions
The coated products (not drysuits) I’ve used start getting psoriasis fairly quickly compared with Gore-tex, which is a laminated membrane. The coating peels off in ugly patches.

You need to separate the issue of outer-fabric durability from that of waterproofing durability.

If a maker combined a heavyweight abrasion-proof, highly tear-resistant outer fabric with Gore-tex laminate PLUS a slippery, breathable inner liner to prevent snagging on insulating layers, that’d be the most durable and waterproof/breathable drysuit possible. But it’d weigh a ton. My light-fabric’ed Stohlquist Gore-tex drysuit is already pretty heavy. Those huge metal zippers and overflaps, plus thick latex gaskets, weigh a lot.

The suit is perfectly adequate for my use, which does not include WW. Two years old and going strong. But fitness paddling and rolling practice don’t really abuse a drysuit, though they test its waterproofing and comfort. (The suit does have a slightly abraded area just below my hip bone from where the corner of the zipper flap’s stiff woven underflap rubs from torso rotation. I should probably glue on a small abrasion patch to take care of that; right now the abrasion is very minor.)

And that’s what it boils down to. For aerobic paddling in cold water or extended immersion practice, I’d go for waterproof breathability foremost. If I routinely put myself in situations where I was likely to rip the suit on rocks, I’d buy the cheapest heaviest coated nylon suit and plan on repairing or replacing it often.

good looking suit…not a dry suit.

bought one for my fiancee…leaked at the neck and wrist and across BOTH zippers. while not mentioned on the bombergear site, the zips are the cheap-o plastic and are not very effective

when we took her out in the suit on DAY 1 to give it a shake down cruise ALL of these failures ocurred in a 2 hour paddle in very mild conditions.

when i emailed bombergear to let them know that they’d be getting the suit back and we wanted a refund, their initial response was to ask if we had the zips pulled to the stops. needless to say, i was not terribly amused.

we mailed it back and then had to “remind” them to refund the purchase price.

i have one of their dry tops and love it and purchased the dry suit based on my experience with that product…however, it seems that until they work out some design problems, i would not purchase or recommend the dry suit for the reasons above.

good luck!

Any outright in-the-water failures?
NOT defects of material or manufacturing, such as what rick posted about his girlfriend’s Bombergear drysuit.

NOT failure to zip the zipper completely shut (user error).

Nobody has stated they ever actually tore up a drysuit from rocks snagging it during an “out of kayak episode.”

There seems to be a lot of fear on the part of WW kayakers that the “sea” drysuits are not tough enough.

Has anybody experienced such a failure themselves or know of a friend who has?

(And if the suit was 10 years old and threadbare when it happened, that’s a different case from a barely-used suit getting ripped.)

Just Happened.

– Last Updated: Dec-13-04 12:28 PM EST –

"There seems to be a lot of fear on the part of WW kayakers that the "sea" drysuits are not tough enough."

Trip report on NSPN site.


Tough Enough
WW v. sea kayaking toughness - one of the reasons I sea kayak is that I want to avoid going one on one with rocks, something that seems to be a more common problem with whitewater. The usual embarassing exits and entrances involving sliding on rocks are different than regularly hitting the darned things while you are in the boat. Surf zones are another matter, probably WW criteria apply.

As to the article on hypothermia above - at 56 degrees air temp I’m in clothing a lot closer to winter than summer, regardless of the water temp. It may be that paddlers like this, with a clearly more effective heating core than mine, have to think a little more about the different impact of air and water temp.


zipper blow out
Last weekend my friend (WW OC-1, rocky rivers) pulled the zipper off its rails on his high-end Kokatat suit. He had also been complaining about some pin-hole leaks.

We assume it will warrantied no problem. It was about 3 years old with moderate use.


Thanks for the info
I’m surprised to hear it. My drytop and my wifes paddling jacket (both Bomber Gear) have exceeded expections for wear and comfort. She needs a drysuit and I guess I’ll stick with Kokatat for her as well.


swimming ? or
Hey Pat,

Did that happen when swimming, operating the zipper or otherwise?


putting it on
Hi. No, nothing to do with paddling or swimming per se, the zipper busted while getting geared-up at the put-in. Good thing it was just for a little day trip though, or that he wasn’t unzipping at lunch, etc.