Drysuits 101 - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-13-2013   #1
 
Great Falls, Montana
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Drysuits 101

I'll be looking for a drysuit over the winter for next spring. I'll have to buy one used due to $$ but as I search on CL and Ebay I see a lot of brands and models and etc. I don't really want a scuba suit, but For Cats or Rafts will any drysuit do? What are the major manufacturers of drysuits for catrafting? thanks. I have seen these on this site.

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Kokatat (sorry spelling)

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Old 10-14-2013   #2
 
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Sandy, Utah
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Here's my experience regarding dry suits. I purchased a Kokotat Super Nova semi-dry suit a few years ago. I got mine from Kayak Academy. Decent price, nice & knowledgable folks. The Super Nova uses Tropos fabric which is a waterproof breathable fabric that's very good, but a notch down from real Gortex. The Super Nova uses latex wrist gaskets and a neoprene neck gasket, and has full attached tropos booties. The neoprene neck is much more comfortable, and for me, an acceptable trade-off for a rafter/cat boater. They advertise that the neck will allow a tablespoon or so of water entry if submerged. I never went upside down in mine so I can't say for sure. I know that other rafters on Mountain Buzz use & like this suit. When I bought mine it was around $450 new. I used it for one season, then sold it. Two main reasons I sold it ......for the type of rafting I do it seemed to be overkill. I'm not a play cat person, and I don't raft in early spring or winter. The second reason was ease of use. As a female, I chose the drop seat option. It took a bit of getting used to, and wasn't terrible, but in the end it was a headache to deal with on a regular basis. Now I use NRS paddle pants and a Kokotat Gortex Paddle jacket. This set-up works fine for me and is much more user friendly. If I were a play cat boater, did cold weather trips a lot, or ran Westwater on a regular basis I might consider a dry suit again, but I'm happy with my current system.
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Old 10-14-2013   #3
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Baytopia, Colorado
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For any serious cold weather whitewater you will want the Kotatat gore-tex drysuit with built-in socks, relief zipper and latex gaskets. Hands down the best although you might need to take out a second mortgage. Think about this though, you spend $2 - $4k on a raft/cataraft setup just add another $1k for a decent drysuit if you want to extend your season.
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Old 10-14-2013   #4
 
Loveland, Colorado
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I am contemplating a dry suit also. How important is it to have a skirt tunnel built into your dry suit?
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Old 10-14-2013   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul B View Post
I am contemplating a dry suit also. How important is it to have a skirt tunnel built into your dry suit?
Fairly critical unless you never kayak.
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Old 10-14-2013   #6
 
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Sandy, Utah
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Here's the Kayak Academy website page for men's dry & semi-dry suits. This will give you an idea of options and prices. They are nice folks who can guide you in the right direction to choose a suit. I found them very helpful when I bought mine. Their website always has some good basic info on dry suits in general. If you click on the bargain tab there are some sale & used dry suits.
Kayak Academy | The Kayak Store With Everything You Need |
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Old 10-14-2013   #7
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BZN, Montana
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I wouldn't buy used and I wouldn't buy anything outside of gore-tex or the off-brand equivalents. The budget tropos etc materials aren't as tough and will fail. If you can't figure out how to afford a good dry suit how will you afford to replace a marginal one every couple years? Get a good one keep it for a while. Kokatat does factory (at cost?) servicing to help you get the most out of your money.

All that in mind, if you are in a raft you may not need a full on dry suit if you can stay in the boat most of the time. Dry top-bottom combos aren't as warm or dry but since they are modular you may already have half the setup. In a raft the difference between a suit and a top-bottom combo is probably not that significant.
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Old 10-14-2013   #8
 
Arkansas during the off-season Nomadic during the summers! :), Arkansas & Colorado
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Save up and spend the $$ on the gortex now and you won't have to worry for a long time!
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Old 10-18-2013   #9
 
Orange, California
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At what level of air/water temperature & weather forecasts for a multiday rafting trip where there is a possibility of flipping, do you consider the options of Goretex jacket, wool clothes or a wetsuit just not good enough and its time to either buy a drysuit or not go? I don't own a drysuit but have done cold & wet caving in a wetsuit. Haven't tried either one rafting yet.
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Old 10-19-2013   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRiverGo View Post
At what level of air/water temperature & weather forecasts for a multiday rafting trip where there is a possibility of flipping, do you consider the options of Goretex jacket, wool clothes or a wetsuit just not good enough and its time to either buy a drysuit or not go? I don't own a drysuit but have done cold & wet caving in a wetsuit. Haven't tried either one rafting yet.
With a thick enough wetsuit you can endure really cold water and air. Surfers deal with much more cold water exposure than paddlers. That said drysuits are so much more comfortable. When the weather is in the air is below 80 I almost always wear a dry suit. Air above 80 needs a warm river. I'm usually overdressed compared to my crew and rafters tend to be warmer to start with so adjust accordingly. On multidays in thw rain or with a light load a drysuit is irreplaceable.
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