The finest kayaking drysuit will include materials that are waterproof yet breathable, watertight gaskets, and enough space for you to put thermal layers below them while still being warm and dry. If you often find yourself traversing seas on the cooler side, it would be foolish not to invest in one.
But here's where things get tricky:
Choosing a drysuit that fits well is far more complicated than finding the perfect drysuit.
Permit me to walk you through the maze of drysuits for kayaking available on the market, and then we can decide which one is the most suitable for you together.
The not-so-obvious response to a query like that starts with a follow-up inquiry: “Why do you ask that?” Where will you be going kayaking, and more importantly, in what circumstances will you be doing it? As its name suggests, a drysuit is a piece of water sports equipment designed to keep a person dry while participating in activities on the water. The absence of moisture is ensured by using materials impervious to water, as well as watertight gaskets on the neck, wrists, and ankles.
You could spend hours on the water, even wind up going for a swim, and emerge from the water just as dry as you were when you initially arrived at the location where you placed your boat in the water. As a result, a kayak drysuit is an efficient method of preventing wetness and safeguarding yourself if you are submerged. Even more so, drysuits are intrinsically more adaptable due to the loose-fitting design and the fact that you are in charge of the amount of warmth – depending on the layers worn below, and this is because you can manage the level of heat.
If you want to determine whether or not you need a drysuit for kayaking, the easiest way is to do a brief risk assessment that considers both the temperatures and the surroundings. Will you be in an area of the water where the temperature is below or at least equal to sixty degrees Fahrenheit? If you're going to be kayaking, will it be on calm waters, or will you be attempting whitewater rapids? If you somehow find yourself in the sea, is there a possibility that you may suffer from cold shock and hypothermia? Would you rather avoid getting wet at all costs?
It is necessary to wear a drysuit while kayaking if the answer to the previous question was “Yes.” In some situations, I wear a wetsuit while kayaking would be the better option than not doing so. One of these scenarios is when hypothermia's danger is between moderate and low. However, if the water temperature is less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit, wearing a dry suit while kayaking is the only reliable way to keep your body and clothes dry and warm.
As a paddler, purchasing a kayak drysuit will undoubtedly be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you'll ever buy, second only to the kayak itself. The typical price of a drysuit depends on several factors. Drysuits of a better grade and with more features may cost as much as one thousand dollars or more. However, you should anticipate paying at least five hundred dollars on one. However, I would like to point out that they have a very long lifespan — about 15 years on average. Nevertheless, while shopping for a drysuit suitable for kayaking, you need to be sure that you are getting the most bang for your buck.
9 tips to make your drysuit last longer
How a Drysuit is Made
Waterproof and, preferably, breathable materials are used in the construction of drysuits. However, what precisely do you have available to you regarding building? In most cases, you may choose between Gore-Tex and nylon as your material choice. However, numerous manufacturers have developed their unique laminate materials for the production of drysuits for kayaking. These materials provide almost the same level of performance as Gore-Tex but are priced more affordably.
The following is a list of the materials that are used the most frequently:
Tips on Differences and Uses
When it comes to the building of a kayaking drysuit, the seals, sometimes referred to as gaskets, are the second most important component to consider. Moreover, to ensure that the drysuit will function as intended, additional watertight seals should be installed in conjunction with waterproof textiles to ensure the suit's performance. Because it is so effective at preventing water from entering the drysuit, latex is the material that is most often used to make the gaskets that are located at the neck, wrists, and ankles. Neoprene, on the other hand, is an excellent alternative to latex, even if it does not completely seal out water. This material is a good choice for those allergic to latex or who find the latex neck gaskets to be a bit unpleasant.
Quick Tips | How to Put On a Drysuit
Because this is not your typical article of clothing, the entry ports on a kayak drysuit are often positioned in such a way as to maximize its efficacy. After all, we are talking about a drysuit here, not just any old item of clothes. Now, in terms of entrance points – which is just a fancier way of saying "zippers" – you'll have two alternatives available to you:
These were the only choices available to you until very recently.
However, the third kind of drysuit is now designed specifically for kayaking, called "two-piece drysuits." These drysuits have a zipper that goes all the way across the waist. The top and bottom components of the drysuit may be used alone or together to create a full-body drysuit, thanks to the zipper that connects them.
Check whether the drysuit has a relief zipper in addition to the primary or entrance zipper. This is an important feature to have in a dry suit. If you've ever worn a wetsuit before, you undoubtedly already know that when it comes to going to the restroom, you typically have two options:
We remove the complete suit each time or relieve ourselves while wearing it.
The construction of a drysuit is different from that of a wetsuit, so going to the toilet in one requires a little more planning than it would in a wetsuit. However, doing what you need in a wetsuit is possible.
Any way you look at it, a relief zipper, also known as a "drop seat" on women's models, is a feature that should be taken into consideration while shopping for the ideal drysuit for kayaking.
When you start looking around the market, you'll realize that the finest kayaking drysuits may be described as "loose-fitting," "relaxed," and in some instances, even "tight-fitting." This is something you'll notice as soon as you begin your search. Drysuits are designed to allow the wearer to put an additional layer below for further warmth, so you can generally anticipate that they will be spacious and comfortable. When it comes to the models that have a close fit, you shouldn't expect them to be as skin-tight as wetsuits often are: They are simply more maneuverable due to their reduced mass and lack of extra fabric, which enables more freedom of movement.
The following things should be kept in mind when evaluating the fit of a new kayak drysuit to ensure that it will fit well:
Since you are spending a significant amount of money on that kayak drysuit, you have earned the right to satisfy some of your goals and requirements. The greatest drysuits for kayaking come with many additional features, each of which contributes to the drysuit's increased functionality, comfort, and ease of use. Although not all of them are required in and of themselves, the presence of certain ones may often differentiate "excellent" from “great.”
The following are some examples of other kayak drysuit elements that are important to think about:
Ultimately, it will mostly depend on your preferences as to which of them you need. Before moving on to the next section of my roundup of the finest drysuits for kayaking, I recommend that you first spend a few moments compiling a list of your requirements and preferences.
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This roundup will begin with O'Neill Boost because I want to demonstrate that it is possible to purchase a quality drysuit while adhering to a limited budget. The three-layer, 300-gram nylon used in the construction of O'Neill's Boost drysuit gives the garment a rugged appearance while allowing for a respectable amount of ventilation. The gaskets on the drysuit are composed of latex, except for the neck seal, which is constructed of neoprene for increased comfort levels.
Additionally, I enjoy that it has built-in suspenders; they help keep everything in place while wearing several insulating garments below, such as a down jacket. However, it does have a zipper that opens from the back. You could ask someone for assistance in zipping it up, but if you paddle by yourself most of the time, this could be an issue for you. Oh, and while we're on the subject, it also has no relief zippers.
The cheaply priced O'Neill Boost might be a suitable match for you if you don't mind the drysuit having rear-zip access, and you don't mind if some water makes its way into the suit.
The Stohlquist EZ is another kayaking drysuit that comes at a reasonable price and merits a mention in our roundup. It is constructed out of Stohlquist's exclusive 4-Layer Twin Sensor nylon fabric; the inclusion of the fourth layer is quite beneficial in terms of the thermal protection it provides. However, because it has a neoprene neck gasket, it will not be completely watertight; however, you will find that wearing it is rather pleasant.
The cuff coverings on the wrist and ankle seals are adjustable, which is a desirable feature. Concerning ease of use and comfort, this drysuit has a front-entry design, relief zippers, and built-in universal-size dry socks. Additionally, it has a relief zipper. It also has movable armored knees, increasing the suit's movement. Because a drysuit cannot be cleaned in a washing machine, doing routine maintenance on it might be pretty aggravating.
The Stohlquist EZ is an excellent option to consider purchasing if you are in the market for a drysuit that is suitable for kayaking, has a reasonable price point, and offers a satisfactory level of protection and comfort.
One of the most stunning kayaking dry suits that I have had the pleasure of wearing in recent times is the Kokatat Hydrus 3.0 Meridian, and here are the reasons why:
This Kokatat drysuit has a front zipper and is constructed of the company's patented three-layer Hydrus 3.0 fabric. This means that the drysuit is waterproof, but more significantly, it is very breathable. It is the most affordable option that comes close to replicating the performance of Gore-Tex fabric.
Latex wrist gaskets are combined with neoprene cuffs on the Kokatat Meridian drysuit, which also comes with a variety of bells and whistles, including the following:
You will get a relief zipper, a waterproof chest pocket that zips closed and has a crucial lanyard, and a dual-adjustable overskirt that is designed to be more compatible with a spray skirt. In addition, it has dry socks integrated into the design, reinforced patches in high-wear areas, and a drawstring waist for a more customized fit. If there is one drawback to point out, the neck gasket tends to feel somewhat constrictive at first – but this is only the case when the drysuit is fresh new.
The Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian is, in my opinion, the ideal drysuit for kayaking since it combines high levels of functionality and comfort with an extensive list of features and an affordable price tag. I would be hard-pressed not to suggest a model like this if I had the chance.
If the prospect of paddling in chilly conditions does not prevent the youngest paddlers in your family from joining you on the water, you may want to look into purchasing a Gill Junior Pro drysuit for them:
The younger paddler was kept in mind while designing this drysuit for kayaking. It is constructed out of a three-layer nylon fabric that is resistant to water and wind while allowing some breathability.
The gaskets are constructed out of latex and include ankle coverings for further safety. In addition, it has a zipper in the front for easy access, a pair of internal braces that can be adjusted, and an elasticized waist for a more comfortable fit.
Additionally, the strengthened panels on the knees and seat are a characteristic that is quite desirable in terms of longevity.
The Gill Junior Pro would have been the ideal kids' drysuit for kayaking if it included a relief zipper and built-in dry socks. Unfortunately, Gill did not include these features.
Even though it is designed specifically for children, the Gill Junior Pro drysuit for kayaking provides the same degree of protection as any adult-sized variants available on the market. That is the primary consideration.
At a glance, Stohlquist's Amp drysuit appears like your normal drysuit for kayaking. However, in contrast to the vast majority of drysuits that are not made of Gore-Tex that I've tried, this one takes things to the next level with its four-layer Twin Sensor fabric. There is a fabric sandwich that is completely waterproof and breathable and consists of four unique layers: a tough outer layer of water-resistant nylon shell, a microporous middle layer, a hydrophilic laminated membrane, and a soft, breathable inner layer made of nylon tricot.
It has a somewhat relaxed fit, so there is enough room to layer clothes beneath it for excellent thermal protection, which is an absolute need in a severe kayaking climate. The fit is slightly more relaxed than average. There are many advantages of DuraSeal latex gaskets, such as the ability to adjust the cuffs of the wrists and ankles and the fact that the gaskets are constructed from DuraSeal latex.
Additionally, the jacket includes a waterproof cross chest entry zipper for ease of access, a built-in spray skirt tunnel, an easy-to-reach zippered arm pocket, built-in fabric drysocks, and Cordura reinforced high-wear areas, and a relief zipper. These features are waterproof, and other features include a relief zipper. It's easy to see that it was created with whitewater kayaking in mind since it contains reflective stripes, enhancing the product's already impressive level of visibility. Despite being very well equipped, it is not capable of competing with Gore-Tex in terms of its robustness and breathability.
The Stohlquist Amp is a drysuit that demonstrates that you do not need to spend a lot of money to have all of the bells and whistles, including a relief zipper, a tunnel, pockets, and dry socks. It is one of the most affordable drysuits on the market.
In contrast to the Hydrus 3L Meridian drysuit, constructed out of Kokatat's proprietary fabric, this model has a genuine three-layer Gore-Tex construction. Therefore, there are two things that you may anticipate from the Kokatat Meridian kayaking drysuit:
It will be quite a deal more robust and breathable, and it will cost a little bit more money as well. Gore-Tex is a tough competitor in this regard. The price tag, on the other hand, is more than justified considering all of the added features.
It comes with a pair of integrated Gore-Tex Pro dry socks, a front-entry zipper that is easy to use, latex gaskets matched with neoprene cuffs, Cordura knee and seat reinforcing panels, and a front-entry zipper that is user-friendly.
In addition, it has a practical chest pocket with a zipper, a drawstring waist that can be adjusted, and a dual overskirt that can be changed. In addition to that, it does come with a relief zipper.
Consider purchasing the Gore-Tex Meridian drysuit from Kokatat if you are interested in upgrading to a drysuit for kayaking constructed of Gore-Tex fabric and would value the additional degree of breathability it provides.
If you are a woman, this particular Kokatat drysuit is one that you should think about purchasing. The women's Kokatat Hydrus Swift Entry kayak drysuit has women's specialized patterning and, to make things even better, a built-in drop seat. This drysuit is explicitly created for women to use when kayaking.
The same proprietary three-layer fabric known for being waterproof and offering a decent level of breathability is used in the construction of this item, and that fabric is called Hydrus 3.0. The gaskets are composed of latex, and the wrist gaskets include hook-and-loop cuffs so that they may be adjusted to a comfortable level of tightness.
This front-entry suit, like the one I chose before, has a drawstring waist that can be adjusted to your liking, reinforced patches on the knees and seat, and dry socks that are incorporated right into the suit. The fact that it does not have a zipped pocket, as seen on the men's dry suits sold by Kokatat, is the primary reason for the criticism.
My wife has a Kokatat Hydrus Swift Entry kayak drysuit, and she believes it to be one of the finest women's drysuits available for paddlers on a budget. She uses it religiously. Ladies, you really must look into it!
The final one on the list is the Crewsaver Atacama, the larger brother of the widely used Crewsaver Cirrus Drysuit. It is a semi-dry suit for kayaking that has a reasonable price and is worth considering if you have an allergy to latex gaskets or if they make you uncomfortable.
Neoprene gaskets replace latex in this front-zipper entrance drysuit comprising three layers of nylon fabric, which is anticipated from models with a lower price point. This drysuit also boasts a front entry zipper. However, this does imply that the seals aren't entirely watertight; however, it is only fair to point out that the suit is equipped with integrated latex socks. While this is a benefit in terms of comfort, it also means that the seals aren't watertight.
Because it has an adjustable elasticated waist and internal bracing, the Atacama Sport drysuit allows you to create a personalized fit for yourself. In addition to this, the drysuit is constructed with articulated arms and legs, allowing for a remarkable degree of flexibility of movement.
However, the size is relatively restricted, so paddlers taller than six feet and three inches won't have much fun with this product, and it does not include a relief zipper.
If you don't mind having your paddle and legs wet sometimes when kayaking, the Atacama Sport semi-dry suit for kayaking that Crewsaver makes is a good choice for paddlers on a tight budget.
If you have the funds available, a kayaking drysuit constructed from Gore-Tex is an excellent investment. You won't regret it. However, if this is not the case, I want you to be aware that several suitable options are now available on the market, one of which is Kokatat's patented Hydrus 3.0 fabric. According to my experience, it is for this reason that the Kokatat Hydrus 3L drysuit is one of the most effective drysuits for kayaking that is currently available in the market:
It provides the ease of a front-zip entry as well as a relief zipper, has integrated dry socks, a dual adjustable overskirt, and an easily accessible pocket, but it does not cost an arm and a leg.
That can't be the best value for the money, because I don't even know what that is!