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Old 09-25-2015   #21
shappattack's Avatar
Up North, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,147
I wear dry suits for work beating in the brush and high abrasion environments. Gortex is not the right fabric for that. We actually take huge tubes of aqua seal, thin it with a solvent and paint it on high abrasion areas prior to even using a suit.

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Old 09-25-2015   #22
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
Watershed here in WA quit making boats for pretty much all the reasons above. He's not wrong.

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Old 09-25-2015   #23
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
I've been doing the Kokatat drysuit thing for probably a good 8 years or so now. I haven't had any notable issues. The biggest selling point to me is their servicing: gasket replacement at a reasonable price & pressure test/patching. Do any other companies offer this service?

Their prices have been creeping up over the years. I've sometimes wondered if I should look at drysuits as more disposable and buy cheaper ones that I get fewer years out of but pay a lower cost of maintenance.

I noticed the new Kokatat Icon suits have some additional reinforcement around the shoulders, elbows, and such. I think this a good trend. The Gore-tex material inevitably gets beat up from the demands of kayaking. I still want a full cordura suit - that's only a partial joke.

Btw - someone above said they don't offer reentry suits - that's not true, Icon is rear-entry & they'll customize a GMER.
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Old 09-25-2015   #24
Dwave's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 211
I'm a Kokatat paddler so this may seem bias...this is from experience not from a sense of "I owe them" I go.

I've been with Kokatat for over 10yrs now simply because I believe in their product, company, and philosophy. I put in over 200 days a year paddling and their gear has always stood up to the test. Always.

Things that help me elongate the lifestpan of my equipment:
- never dry them in the sun unless there's no other option
- hang dry drysuits, drytops, shorties, etc. with a hanger inside/in the shade
- always lube up the gaskets and zippers while using them, then do it often while storing them
- never turn the items inside-out to dry. GoreTex is extremely susceptible to membrane damage and deterioration from UV penetration.
- every year I lightly wash my gear in warm water/soap using very little soap to clean the porous membrane and 3-layer fabric

I know there are days on the river where someone I'm with or me is swimming grade V/V+ and my drysuit is literally saving our lives. Taking impeccable care of it adds another measure of safety to the situation. I couldn't imagine not taking care of it, then wearing it going into grade "hard" whitewater. I'd be terrified thinking my drysuit is less than bomber.

When I re-read your post and saw Kokatat's comments about how "unrepairable" and "Lifetime refers to the suit not the owner. You destroyed your suit and the life of it is over. It is un-repairable. Our warranty is through Gore-tex and gore-tex holds us to rigorous stipulations. Gore-tex will not take your suit back and so we cannot. If you have a problem with our warranty send your suit to gore-tex and see what they say." it begs me to ask to see pictures of your drysuit. Can you provide pics ? I'd love to see what is refered to as "destroyed".
To air is human, to get big air divine.
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Old 09-25-2015   #25
erdvm1's Avatar
Lyons, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,565
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On my second dry suit from kokatat since starting to kayak in 1998.

I have used them well. Two things to note. These are quality products and the company and customer service are beyond typical standards and expectations.

Kokatat has always been more than generous with maintenance costs to me and they have ALWAYS supported our local kayaking events with significant sponsorships.

If you want quality and excellent customer service while supporting a business that supports our sport then don't hesitate to buy Kokatat!!

"It's ALL good"
Go Dawgs!!!
Happiness is a way of travel not a destination
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Old 09-27-2015   #26
Miller Time's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 288
Originally Posted by J View Post
That sucks.

I have a 13 year old well used Stohlquist rescue vest. Zipper blew out a couple weeks before a Grand trip last summer. I sent it in hoping they would fix it and fully expecting to pay for the repair - it wasn't a warranty request. Not only did they fix the zipper, but they rushed the repair in order to get the jacket back to me before the trip, and charged me nothing... not even the shipping.

Sorry for the thread jack.

Do you really have a 13 year old vest that you still use? And you're taking it down the grand? Wow! I bet there is likely only 2 lbs of float left in that thing. I don't buy into that 2 year replacement verbiage that some quote but 13 seems unsafe

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Old 09-27-2015   #27
Eureka, California
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 32
I have owned two Gortex dry suits.

If remember correctly the first one was purchased in 1993 or 1994. Definitely first-generation, as it had the "rubber" zipper instead of the metal zipper they now come with. The material was also considerably more heavy-duty than the newer ones. It was the old Teal/yellow pattern versus the dark blue/black that my current one is.

I don't remember anymore, but I had a ton of user days in that old dry suit before it was replaced in 2003. I sent it in for repair because zipper was leaking, they did a pressure test-no charge back then, which it Royally failed. In fact, they wouldn't even give it back to me. They classified it as a "Gore-Tex failure", and credited me probably two thirds the cost of a replacement dry suit.

So long story short, I was treated very well back then. I'm no longer boating like I did, and my current dry suit will probably outlive me- . I do believe, that if I was using it as aggressively as my old one, the fabric would probably failed a few years ago due to the fact that the lighter weight fabric.

I recently had the gaskets all replaced in my newer dry suit for a spring GC trip, which went smoothly, and I think the turnaround time was maybe a week and a half. Okay, I'm fortunate that I was able to hand deliver and pickup.
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Old 09-27-2015   #28
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
I never knew kokatat had a lifetime warranty. My take is that warranties usually cover manufacturer defects, but don't cover wearing gear out.

I boat class IV/V 60-80 days a year with my kokatat dry suit. First year is awesome, 2nd year is getting to be a damp suit, and by the third year, I am ready to call it my mank suit and get a new one.

Paddling IV/V is demanding and hard on gear. One time I sent my suit in and they patched about 100 pinholes! Pinholes are typically what gets you wet. They are hard to see if you don't do the pressure test.

Also, sweating makes you wet inside the suit even if it is cold outside. I have sweat buckets in 32F weather when I had on one too many layers.

I would say that 70 uses a year for two years is about par for the course for what I have seen from my kokatat suits.

Now that we are talking about it, I would certainly love to see a more durable drysuit. Its probably pretty tricky as you also want fluid movement with minimal restriction.

I buy kokatat dry suits (prob on my 5th one at this point) because they are hands down the best piece of safety gear I own, they are comfortable, and they are well made suits.

I send them back to kokatat for repair and new gaskets, and I think its a deal. I have also been impressed with kokatats customer service.
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Old 09-29-2015   #29
Rosa, At the bottom of the Lake
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 21
Brands like Switlik (U-Zip-It) and Mustang have been the choice of professional rescue swimmers in the Pj's and USCG for years. There is also OS systems for a wide variety of options.

I always wondered why I never saw other brands represented at the boat ramp before. Hell the Switlik is fire proof to boot.
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Old 09-29-2015   #30
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Originally Posted by GilaRobusta View Post
Brands like Switlik (U-Zip-It) and Mustang have been the choice of professional rescue swimmers in the Pj's and USCG for years. There is also OS systems for a wide variety of options.

I always wondered why I never saw other brands represented at the boat ramp before. Hell the Switlik is fire proof to boot.
For kayakers, having a built in tunnel is a big deal, which I'm guessing these lack.

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