DRYSUIT - IR vs. Kokatat - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-10-2012   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 151
DRYSUIT - IR vs. Kokatat

My wife surprised me for Christmas with a new drysuit. It's an IR, and while I'm stoked to have a new drysuit, I'm just a bit leary...only becuase I've always used Kokatat dry tops.
Any opinions on whther I ought to keep it and give IR a try or exchange it for a Kokatat drysuit are welcome, but should be rooted in fact - i.e. good or bad experiences you've had.
Thanks in advance!

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Old 01-10-2012   #2
White Salmon, Washington
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 16
That is a sweet gift my friend! Give it a try- there are a couple of noticeable differences between the two brands that you may like better than the other. One being the rear entry zipper. This does a couple of things- it will free up your torso and will enable you to move around and roll with less restriction. The other benefit to this design is that it will keep your boat drier. The front zip designs allow water to flow right under the skirt tunnel, and into your boat. The first thing folks tend to notice is a drier ride.
The other notable difference is in the booties. IR is the only company that coats the footprint of the waterproof/breathable booties, which is 9/10 the first area that a suit starts to leak, as it is a high wear point.
The other note would be that IR has very few seams in our garments, whether it be shells or layers, this translates into comfort. By reducing the amount of panels the garments are made from, we do not need any 4-way seam intersections (hard to seam tape if more than 3 intersections), or seams in the armpits, reducing maintenance down the road, and keeping the user more dry and comfortable with less restriction of movement.
We also use a zipper called a TiZip, which we have had a lot less issues with than the ykk brass zippers that we had used in the past, on our old 3 layer drysuits...and needs pretty much zero maintenance.
We have made a lot of changes over the past few years, and the material that we use in our drytops and suits is one of them. Back that with really good customer service, and you should be set!
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Old 01-10-2012   #3
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
You might be suspected as Norwegian Naval Spy, but other than that, I'd be stoked.
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Old 01-10-2012   #4
Bugtussle, Kentucky
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 161
IR does have excellent customer service. Sent my Double D in last winter to repair a few leaks and had it back in a week. Combined with the Stohlquist bunny suit I stay toasty, only dampness is from sweat/condensation. I paddle almost every weekend in the winter so I get a good amount of use out of it.
Kokatat, from what I've heard, also has great customer service. From the research I did Kokatat and IR are the best in the business as far as drysuits.
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Old 01-10-2012   #5
GAtoCSU's Avatar
Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 709
I have a new Double D and I can tell you that it's the driest suit that I've tried. The fabric feels very different than the Palm, Kokatat, or NRS suits that I've had in the past, which inspires confidence for good things to come. I can't personally comment on the longevity of the new fabric, but I'm not sure that anyone can really tell you that, as it hasn't been out that long! With that said, it breaths very well, stays very dry, and the suit itself is very comfortable.

If there's ever a problem with the suit, I know that IR is there to make it right, which is one of the big reasons that this company is expanding and turning into the most common garments on the river.
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Old 01-11-2012   #6
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 226
I got a new drysuit from Kokatat last season and paddled many days in it. Dry as a bone and super warm. Great supple fabric, meticulous seam sealing and great craftsmanship. The folks at Kokatat are well known for their customer service and back their gear 100%.
To air is human, to get big air divine.
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Old 01-12-2012   #7
gypsy, Colorado
Paddling Since: 02
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 184
Personally I am a Kokatat fan, if you get the Gore tex fabric it has a warranty for life.... LIFE. That is simply rad. Use the $hit out of it and if some day it leaks on the cuffs or the neck gasket finally blows out send it back to Kokatat and they will repair it. They have been making DRY gear for 30 years, by little old lady's in northern California.

As far as IR goes.... well the last top of there's I owned I referred to as my soaking wet top. Last winter in a super contained canyon in MN I saw a buddy absolutely demolish the butt seam.

When it counts and you need to stay warm and dry there is only one company out there that is making DRY dry suits, and that is Kokatat.
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Old 01-12-2012   #8
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,108
I've had a few IR drytops. They're great for one season then they start leaking and you want a new one that, you know, is waterproof. I've given up on IR tops, but love their shorts.

I'll be on season 5 this year with the Kokatat drysuit - requires sending it in for some periodic maintenance but they keep patching it up and making it dry again. So my take is Kokatat is more expensive up front but much cheaper in the long run.
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Old 01-13-2012   #9
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
I think it's pretty normal for the non-goretex drysuits to need routine waterproofing maintenance every season.
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Old 01-13-2012   #10
Bellevue, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 112
I love my new Kokatat, but on principle I recommend sticking with the gear you have as long as it keeps working. Worry about what suit to get when your new one wears out. People may argue about which brand is THE best, but IR is certainly ranked up there, and will work fine.
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