Getting wet is inevitable when you go kayaking and if you’re a kayaking enthusiast, what you need is a good drysuit that fits your needs and provides the perfect temperature and protection in your adventures. Aside from the discomfort it brings, getting wet and cold while on your boat will also increase the risk of getting sick and suffering from hypothermia.
Drysuit vs Wetsuit
Suits that are designed to keep your body warm and slow down heat loss are recommended for water activities. A wetsuit traps a thin layer of water inside which serves as your body’s insulation against lower temperatures. The wetsuit uses your own body temperature to warm the trapped water.
A drysuit, on the other hand, traps a thin layer of air inside to insulate your body. For water activities that do not require you to go in the water, a drysuit is the recommended attire. Drysuits prevent water from entering the suit, allowing you to stay dry.
Aside from their insulation method, wetsuits and drysuits differ in how they fit on your body. While wetsuits are skin-tight and usually can be worn with just a swimsuit underneath, drysuits are more loose-fitting and can be worn over regular clothes. For increased insulation and flexibility, you may wear a wetsuit underneath a drysuit.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Drysuit
Drysuits come in many different types. Choosing the right one to fit your needs and preferences takes a bit of consideration.
One of the most important considerations when getting a drysuit is the material.
There are many different types of neoprene drysuit. The neoprene used may be regular, crushed, compressed, or a combination of different types. They are highly durable and can have good lifespans. In cases when a neoprene drysuit gets a bit of damage, it is usually easy to fix. However, it can be bulkier than other types of drysuits but provide excellent buoyancy.
If you are looking for a drysuit that’s more lightweight than a neoprene drysuit, then a trilaminate or a laminated drysuit is a good option. Although it is less buoyant than neoprene suits, they are thin yet durable. These drysuits are usually less expensive than other types but they are harder to repair in case of any damage.
If you’re looking for heavy-duty drysuits, then drysuits that are made from vulcanized rubber and nylon are what you need. These suits are often used for commercial, scientific, and hazmat diving. Highly durable and made to last, these drysuits are easy to fix and clean. However, they are not as thin and lightweight as trilaminate suits, but less bulky than neoprene ones.
Some drysuit models feature branded breathable linings, including eVent and Gore-tex. These linings that are semi-permeable prevent perspiration buildup and water entry, keeping you dry by allowing sweat vapor to pass through. This feature is crucial for kayakers, primarily because if you have a prolonged period of physical activity in a drysuit that is non-breathable, it inevitably leads to significant moisture buildup and therefore affecting the purpose of your thermal clothing to maintain warmth. Drysuits that have breathable linings are always better options than those that don’t.
If you’re opting for purchasing Gore-Tex drysuits, Kokatak is also the only brand that does so. You might wonder why no other companies make Gore-Tex drysuits. It’s because Gore doesn’t sell their fabric to drysuit manufacturers that did not exceed their set standards. Kokatat is the only drysuit manufacturer with qualities that meet Gore’s given requirements.
Fit and Size
Drysuits may be tight-fit or loose-fit. The fit often depends on the water temperature of where you plan to go kayaking. For cold waters or activities that involve immersing your entire body such as whitewater kayaking, loose-fitting drysuits are ideal. Looser fits allow thicker clothing underneath for additional thermal protection. If waters have a mild temperature and your water sport activity has a low immersion risk, wearing tighter drysuits will reduce the bulk.
When it comes to drysuit sizes, there is only one brand that creates drysuit sizes for women – Kokatat. This brand has perfected proportioning their drysuits for women to fit actual women instead of supermodels. Kokatat is also the only manufacturer that offers drop-seat zippers that are waterproof for women’s drysuits.
Common designs of drysuits either have back or front entry points. The choice between these two types mostly depends on preference. Males, however, may find it easier to have entry points at the front for easier access when there’s a need to go to the bathroom.
Two-part drysuits, pioneered by the technology of Kokatat’s SwitchZip, are also growing in popularity. Unlike one-piece suits, two-parts are noticeably more comfortable to wear and remove. They also provide additional advantages to kayakers since they can be used as either trousers or jackets. If you own a spray skirt, then wearing a full drysuit might not be necessary.
Must-Have Drysuit Features
Drysuits come with various features and the need for each one depends on your individual preference.
Waterproof pockets provide added storage for small and essential personal items such as keys, phones, and essential gears such as flares and GPS units.
Drysuits that are designed for cold-water fishing often have nylon gear loops. It allows anglers to maintain their tackle within arm’s reach.
Reflection is a vital safety feature of drysuits, especially since bigger crafts often don’t notice kayakers along the way. Additionally, having the ability to be located or spotted quickly is critical when it comes to emergency rescue missions. Opt for bright color drysuits that have reflective strips.
Purchasing a drysuit and other necessary kayaking gears can become quite expensive. Hence, you would not want to buy them and then not be able to use them because of some damage. To avoid this scenario, look for drysuits that offer a warranty – the longer, the better. These warranties usually cover not only the basics of wear and tear, but also from failures in manufacturing that mainly occur in the areas where the leakage is common, usually along the lining, zips, and seals.
Footwear to Use with Drysuits
Most drysuit models come with bootie. For the complete kayaking outfit, it’s best to go for those that also come with gloves and footwear. If you choose to wear dry socks that are as thin as paper, you will need to wear something for protection and cover. Footwear that is flexible enough to be worn both in the boat and for walking and hiking is preferred by a lot of kayakers. Sandals are not recommended since your heel must have cover to protect your dry socks during paddling. Wetsuit booties that have thin soles will do the trick for kayakers, especially for those that often do surf and river kayaking.
Top 7 Kayaking Drysuits
1. Stohlquist Amp Drysuit with Tunnel Drysuit
The Stohlquist Amp Drysuit features a 4-layer dry wear fabric called the Twin Sensor. The structure features quality DWR treatments, along with nylon shell fabrics of excellent durability and waterproof therapies, to provide the ultimate comfort and protection. The Amp also added a wrist gasket and latex neck. Not only are they softer for the wearer but are also infused with more resistance to accidental tears and ultraviolet light.
- It has a relaxed fit despite the 4-Layer Twin Sensor for water impenetrability and breathability.
- Its relief zippers and waterproof cross-chest entry are MasterSeal.
- The Duraseal coating makes the Neoprene latex wrist and neck gaskets durable.
- The seat and knees come with mesh drainers and carefully articulated armored knees.
- Lacks Breathable Lining
Why You Should Choose the Stohlquist Amp Drysuit with Tunnel Drysuit
This kayaking drysuit features comfortable dry socks made with breathable fabric, armored knees that are sleek and articulated, well-placed standard thigh and arm pockets for easy access and limited interference, and a double tunnel specifically for sprayskirt integration.
2. GUL 2018 Dartmouth Eclip Zip Drysuit Black/RED GM0378-B5 with Free Undersuit
The GUL 2018 Dartmouth Eclip Zip Drysuit is made of waterproof fabric in 3 layers. Its specifications include complete breathability despite full wet weather protection. It features the entry system by Gul Eclip Zip that utilizes the location of the Halo zip entry system. Its placement provides easy accessibility and real dynamic flexibility. The Dartmouth seals are all made of Glide Skin neoprene that guarantees quality waterproof protection along with providing much insulation and high comfort durability compared to seals made of traditional latex.
- It has a 3-layer hard-wearing fabric and is fully breathable.
- The suit reduces bulk, windage, and snagging due to its uniquely contoured body panels.
- Articulated knees and arms.
- It includes latex socs and a Velcro zip guard.
- Some features are not for use in chlorinated water.
Why You Should Choose the GUL 2018 Dartmouth Eclip Zip Drysuit Black/RED GM0378-B5
It is the ideal drysuit not only for kayaking but also for other known surface water sports. With seams that are 100% waterproof and heat tames, neoprene wrist and neck seals, and internally adjustable braces, the GUL 2018 Dartmouth is the kayaking drysuit that fills your needs.
3. Hollis Men’s NEOTEK Semi-Drysuit
The Hollis Men’s NEOTEK Semi-Drysuit is built from an 8/7/6mm neoprene that is compression resistant and an inner liner “ThermaSkin” exclusively from Hollis. Its front neck dam includes an innovative horizontal front zipper made from G-Lock. You can wear it and take it off with ease while having an impenetrable barrier against water entry. Upper and lower extremities also have an internal dam with a tight seal against leaks.
- The drysuit has an inner liner with an exclusive “ThermaSkin.”
- The wrist, ankle, and neck have internal dams with quadruple glued seams.
- It has double-taped seams for maximum protection.
- Includes thigh pockets on both sides for extra storage purposes.
- May add buoyancy due to the excess rubber.
Why You Should Choose Hollis Men’s NEOTEK Semi-Drysuit
You can guarantee no water entry due to the seams being butt joined and double glued using blind stitch construction – seamed with a unique seal as a cover. The drysuit comes in nine various sizes and has generous fit pockets on both thighs.
4. WindRider Waterproof Paddling Sailing Spray Top
The WindRider Waterproof Paddling Sailing Spray Top is lightweight and at the same time, waterproof. Its high versatility is perfect for any type of water activity. Its exterior is a PVC-coated oxford that is exceptionally durable with a PU neck made for comfort and velcro adjustments at the wrists to seal water out completely. Additionally, it has a barrel lock closure feature around the waist for a snug fit.
- It includes a neck adjuster that you can tighten or loosen.
- You can easily open and remove the suit with its quarter zip.
- Unlike other drysuits, the WindRider Spray Top has a pocket for small personal items to carry around.
- Both neck and wrist adjusters are made of PU material to ensure the wearer’s comfort and act as a better sealant compared to neoprene.
- Does not include a lower portion.
Why You Should Choose WindRider Waterproof Paddling Sailing Spray Top
The jacket has shoulder pockets for compact essential items such as your keys, credit card, or a knife. Its ¼ front zipper allows for an easier on and off and cool down if ever it gets warm. Everything you need is in this quality yet affordable waterproof jacket. You can purchase it in either bright yellow or blue.
5. O’Neill Men’s Boost Canoe & Kayak Drysuit
With a comfortable loose-fitting compared to traditional kayaking drysuits, the O’Neill Men’s Boost Canoe & Kayak Drysuit provides a better movement range. It also gives you plenty of space to wear warm and layered clothes beneath it. Created from nylon supported by PVC, it is 100% guarantee to have waterproof quality.
- The suit provides extreme comfort.
- It has a competitive price for its quality.
- It provides a looser fit if you want added thermal protection.
- It has a back entry point, making it difficult to open and close.
Why You Should Choose O’Neill Men’s Boost Canoe & Kayak Drysuit
The suit has latex gaskets that offer a tight fit around your wrists, ankles, and neck. However, you can only wear it from the drysuit’s back. Despite this, the suit still provides excellent quality and features for extreme kayaking adventures.
6. Men’s Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Kayaking Drysuit
The Men’s Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Kayaking Drysuit is mainly designed for adventurous kayakers. It has a wide range of unique features, making it the ideal choice for enthusiasts of paddle sports. With the famous Kokatat’s SwitchZip technology, the Gore-Tex Idol is a two-piece drysuit that joins at the waist along with several advantages. Other than easier access and removal compared to traditional suits with back and front entries, the waist seam also eliminates having awkward “relief zip.” Additionally, because of its detachable lower and upper halves, the Kokatat Idol makes a useful dry top, paddling pants, and drysuit in one.
- It has the two-part entry system of the Kokatat SwitchZip technology.
- Has efficient breathable lining from Gore-Tex.
- The seat knees and elbows have Cordura reinforcement.
- Includes a lifetime guarantee.
- Compatible with spray skirts.
- Lacks waterproof pockets for handy items.
- The seals are latex instead of neoprene.
Why You Should Choose Men’s Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Kayaking Drysuit
The Kokatak Idol includes a breathable lining with an exclusive specification from Gore-Tex Proshell that aids in aspiring sweat away from the skin. It maintains dryness despite intense paddling. The Gore-Tex also prevents body moisture buildup inside the kayaking drysuit, preventing your thermal clothing from getting soaked. It also includes nylon gear loops along with mesh pockets that are quick draining.
7. Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit
The Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit is a known flagship drysuit from Ply that is full of useful features, making it a promising choice for kayakers. The exterior is made of designed with ripstop nylon and reinforced with Cordura panels that are abrasion-resistant on the seat, forearms, shoulders, and knees. Even though it has a rear entry, the opening is especially positioned to facilitate easy access without disturbing your paddling stroke. It also has a Dual Cinch System (DCS) and a double tunnel that overlaps designed to work hand in hand with your spray skirt to provide dry seals at the waist. It aids in keeping the water out of your boat. Even if the suit does not have the Gore-Tex lining, its eXhaust breathable lining inside is as efficient and effective in keeping you dry and aspiring sweat. It’s also used in the booties of the suit.
- The panels are Cordura reinforced.
- It includes an emergency whistle in its waterproof chest pocket.
- The emergency whistle can be attached to the Dual Cinch System.
- The suit has an eXhaust breathable lining.
- You can only enter it from the rear.
- It has a guarantee of only one year.
Why You Should Choose Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit
Even if the suit does not have the Gore-Tex lining, its eXhaust breathable lining inside is as efficient and effective in keeping you dry and aspiring sweat. It’s also used in the booties of the suit.
Purchasing a drysuit can significantly improve your kayaking experience. Wearing one means you are no longer limited to higher temperatures and warm weather – it allows you to go kayaking at almost any time of the year. The kayaking drysuit that’s best for you will depend on your personal needs, budget, and preferences.
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