Drysuit recommendations

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  • #17519
    Karen Jensen

    Hi All – especially any ladies out there

    I’m new to the club & am looking to invest in a drysuit.

    I test-drove the Kokatat Odyssey for a few days out in Barclay Sound recently, & while it seemed a great suit, the latex collar caused a lot of skin irritation.   Google mentioned the Stohlquist with a neoprene collar – but I’m not sure if that would be water-tight enough?

    Would greatly appreciate any recommendations on alternatives, and feedback if you prefer the drop seat version or the 2 piece jacket/pants version.


Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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  • #17574
    Karen Jensen

    Hello ladies!

    Thank you all for your thoughts, feedback & suggestions – it’s very much appreciated!

    I just picked up a full Kokatat drysuit (albeit with back ‘relief’ zipper) to try out…but will try to find a men’s version with the front zip before I take it out to play in the water.   As you mention Quirine, it’s bulky up top to get a proper fit in the bottom.  I looked into ordering one with some modifications from Kokatat…but the price tag is a bit…extreme.

    I like your idea Randy, of having both for the reasons you mention…especially as I hope to paddle year round too.

    Thanks again!!

    Maureen Benzon

    Hi Karen,

    A suit with a neoprene neck will not keep you dry if you swim, but if it is goretex, you will soon dry out on a warm day. On a cold and rainy day you might be in trouble.

    My first dry suit had front zipper with the drop pants. I found it very bulky, but very convenient. My current dry suit is a men’s (the legs are slightly longer than the woman’s which means I can get into a small instead of a medium and therefore it is less bulky). For a woman, they will drop the front relief zipper by one inch for convenience. To pee, use a freshette (I have been warned that the other devices leave a lot to be desired) and simply pee on the beach like a guy! You do not need to remove pfd or sprayskirt. You should never have to take off a dry suit until the end of the day. It is designed to keep you dry!

    I use KY gel on my neck to avoid latex rash. I keep it in my pocket, and if I get salt water in the neck whilst playing, it is easy to apply more without removing the suit. You get used to the neck and it gets softer as you wear an wash it.

    I love getting off the water after a day of playing and being able to just step into shoes and drive home. I wear it all the time… 🙂


    Quirine Schuyff

    Hi Karen:

    I have the two piece Kokatat  with Switch-Zip.

    I love the separating zipper to allow “relief” at pit stops. I don’t have to take PFD or Spray Skirt off. (Although it is a bit awkward managing zip with all the gear on.) However, having seen women with the chest zip it seems nice to be able to take the top part of the suit off and tie it around the waist, to cool down, and also to do bathroom breaks. I have to take the whole top OFF to cool down. I have yet to have a problem with the zipper leaking. Yes it is fussy but done right I can’t see how it would leak. I don’t feel that it could be done wrong because it just wouldn’t close at all and to finish you have to tighten the twisting lock so it’s pretty fail-safe. I also can wear the pants and top separately. With the Switch-Zip the suit becomes very bulky in the middle. I found there to be a layer which isn’t really needed but I guess it likely is there for a reason. Once everything is on and I’m in my boat it isn’t an issue. But, I can see how in a smaller cockpit it might be.

    The neck gasket is personal but I would echo Randy. I think that even if you were to go in your neck is about water level so the amount of water going in is minimal. And the comfort might just be worth it to some. I went for full DRYSUIT because I was planning to do rescue practice etc. , and hope to paddle year round and tend to get cold easily. I have had some irritation with the gasket but have a new bottle of KY to try next time. Any dirt or salt water in there will make the irritation worse so be careful. Mine isn’t too tight and actually feels pretty comfy. That might be due to the fact that the top is ridiculously large on me. This brings me to ….

    Sizing with Kokatat. I am a normal size but found issue with their sizing. The pants were tight when the top fit fine. I had to get the next size up and now feel like the top is way too big but the pants are good. I felt the pants were the more important as all the bending that needs to be done.

    On a warm day, it is warm inside. I find I sweat a lot. Be sure to wear quick dry layers under it. Generally, on the water it is usually a bit cooler and I haven’t found I overheat.

    Go try a few on to feel the difference. I went to Skyview Outdoors and they also help with measurements and sizing and have lots of good advice and thoughts on the subject.

    If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to email. If you are the same size you could try mine.


    Randy Chatterjee

    I’ll just speak to a neoprene versus latex neck.  Other companies, such as NRS, also sell suits with a neoprene neck tunnel.  Technically, any suit with a neoprene gasket for the neck is not a “drysuit” but a “paddling suit.”  Full submersion with a neoprene neck will invariably let a little water in, measured in teaspoons.  If you’d like to spend lots of time upside down perfecting the perfect roll, stick to a drysuit.

    However, if you like to breath, have any kind of latex allergy, want a suit that lasts a long time with no maintenance, or just want a tiny bit of air exchange during a hot day between the sauna inside your suit and the outside air, then go neoprene.  All wrists are still latex, and they need to be, but the neck doesn’t have to be if you aren’t scuba diving.

    My experience with neck gaskets on a new Kokotat was: 1) one year of suffocation and heat rash, 2) a little relief from KY for a while in the second year when I was sheepishly told about it, 3) in year 3 the latex gets tacky and isn’t evenly snug, and 4) in year 4, it rips and you have to cut it out,  glue in a new one, and you are back to stage 1.

    My neoprene NRS paddling suit, a better (snugger) fit to begin with, is still going strong after 7 years.  I never wear my Kokotat drysuit except on the coldest winter days and only because I can fit a down jacket inside it.  Go with a paddling suit if you value your neck.

    Karen Matier

    Hi Karen

    I know people who have issues with the skin irritation and they have told me they use KY gel and it helps their neck and it doesn’t break down the gaskets.

    I only have a one piece suit, but know of a few women who have the 2 piece suits and each person I know who has them have all had them leak at some time. The middle zipper is very fussy and if not threaded correct right at the start they leak. Unfortunately they thought they had done the zipper up correctly and only found out it wasn’t correct until they ended up in the water.

    I don’t have a drop seat now but my next purchase will have one. Pit stops on rainy days are not fun with just the chest zipper, your whole body gets wet.

    Hope this helps.

    Karen Matier

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