Mountain Buzz banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,344 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I’m ordering a new drysuit…and I’m going back and forth on getting a front or rear zipper. Do the front zips suck? Seems like they’d be crunching into your chest from the pfd. I’ve only ever used a rear zip.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,273 Posts
I've only used a front entry GMER, have been very happy with them as I am on the second and almost 15 years in them. The new zippers/T Zip are substantially less noticeable then the old school metal zips. I noticed my internal layers rubbing off around the zippers but only after a year or two and would be replacing them anyway, but nothing with comfort or fit. But different use case being a kayaker vs rafter, I think you would be happy with either. Couple of my friends can get into their rear entry suit without help, the others request assistance zipping so I always thought the rear were the PIA for entry/exit reasons
: - )
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,499 Posts
I have their Supernova Anglers Suit with the front Ti-zip and its kinda bulky and weird when you are putting it on...but as soon as you have your PFD on its barely noticeable and far less annoying to put on then the rear zip drysuits that you always have to have someone help you with to get it on and off.

For rafting use....I actually REALLY like the neoprene neck gasket. Way more comfortable and does a more then sufficient job for rafting. Kayaking, where you may be rolling and getting heavy splashes a lot, is nice to have the full latex, but for a "only needed if you swim" kind of scenario the neoprene gasket works great.

I've swam a few times with mine and its always been comfortable with only mild dampness around the neck. I swam Hermit Rapid in mine in February and was quite comfortable. Got dumped off my Cat in Jonesey's Wave this year too, and was also very comfortable.

I've never felt like I need suspenders with mine...it kind rides down a little but the waist cinch seems to do a pretty good job of keeping it in place. I haven't gone for any long hikes in it though.

Water Boat Sky Vehicle Blue
 

·
My name isn't Will
Joined
·
642 Posts
I have a shoulder zip SCUBA drysuit. It's now my backup. The only advantage I can see is that it's more hydrodynamic. That matters for diving, but not for paddling. It's a neoprene suit made by Apollo in Italy. Great suit. Dives nice. You have to have a friend to zip or unzip. I replaced it with a used DUI CF front entry suit that was way too big. That suit was bomber, but all that extra fabric... Ugh. I now have a Bare Tech Dry that I really love. It fits well and dives well, and I can open the zipper enough to pee. No relief zip. Shoulder zip suits are less expensive; I'll never buy another one.

For paddling I've only used front-entry suits. I am now on my fifth one. First was a non-breathable. Ugh. Second was Gore Tex with latex booties, also too big. I replaced that with a GMER and am on my second. I have had zero issues with the zippers being comfortable whether rowing, paddling a canoe, or wearing a skirt in a kayak. I have only had the brass zippers; my diving suit has the TiZip plastic zipper that has held up fine. The dive suits have a crotch strap to manage some of the extra fabric that is required to be able to put the suit on and take it off. I've never seen than in a paddling suit. I think if I were surfing, a shoulder zip might be nice for paddling out. I expect laying on the zipper, and having all the extra material, would be a liability. For rowing and paddling? Not so much. My latest suit is yet to be tested. New old stock almost 20 years old that needs some maintenance before I even use it, but it's also a brass front-entry suit. A relief zipper on a shoulder entry suit would be a must, and they're also nice on a front entry.

If you ever find yourself alone and needing to get out of a shoulder entry suit, you can loop the zipper pull on a T-grip on your truck's canopy and SLOWLY rotate to get it to unzip. This is also a way to ruin your zipper. Zipper replacement ain't cheap, so it almost means time for a new suit.

Front entry suit for paddling is the way to go in my opinion. For diving there's some advantages to a shoulder zip, but I'll still be diving a self-donning suit (front entry) as long as I'm diving cold water. Love 'em. Maybe I should take my shoulder entry dive suit out for a dive so I remember how much nicer it is in the water, but in reality, the Bare I use is pretty damn awesome. And the Kokatat paddling suits with front entry are also great.

I'm more leery of the idea of the suits that zip around the waist. That seems like potential discomfort.

Let us know what you choose and how you like it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
I have been front zipping a meridian for a long while and it is pretty good, I just have to make sure it is fully unzipped to get in and out, It is really easy to get stuck if it is not fully open and then there is comedy gold for all but the person in the suit. I will say having the socks and getting to wear dry smartwool mountaineer socks is one of the best things ever. Warm dry feet. worth it. I do have a set of drysuit only booties one size up. I also use a pair of old crappy board shorts over the drysuit to add a wear layer and cover the relief zip. if you catch your thumb on it rowing it can suck. I had a rear zip too a while ago, and I like the front better, but not so much that I would never get another rear zip.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,094 Posts
It's been a while since I've been in my drysuit, which is a front entry Kokatat, but I don't ever recall it being a distraction from the gnar ahead. I agree with the above -- warm and dry feet are a very, very nice thing when the water you're in was snow a few minutes ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,732 Posts
My yellow kokatat front ( across side to side) entry bunches up and hurts my short ribs on my left side where the zipper is. . It’s not to bad but more like a rock in your shoe .It’s my pfd and the suit in combo cause my blue jacket doesn’t do it but it also doesn’t float my ass very well (brand new blue jacket for sale) my other that pokes my ribs is that older red rescue stolquist descent . Can you go try them on at Mike’s? From now on Iam going to try hard to try shit on before just cause it’s hard to know. There’s two shops in Missoula with them too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
I've used both the front zip (Kokatat GMER Gore-Tex Meridian) and back zip (Kokatat Icon) for several years each and thought both were fine with a sprayskirt and snug PFD on top. The back-zip is pretty challenging to zip and seal yourself, but might be slightly more comfortable than the front-zip. I wouldn't worry about either and would be happy using either for years to come.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
170 Posts
As someone said above and I agree, once your PFD is on, the front zip is a non-issue.

I only know you from what you’ve written here on the buzz, but the independence factor (solo trip or just don’t want to need someone’s help putting this thing on) seems like a key element for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,344 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
As someone said above and I agree, once your PFD is on, the front zip is a non-issue.

I only know you from what you’ve written here on the buzz, but the independence factor (solo trip or just don’t want to need someone’s help putting this thing on) seems like a key element for you.
I have a back zip now, and have figured out ways to get it on and off when nobody else is around…I make it work. The fromt zip seems to solve that problem, but a buddy told me that the front zip is uncomfortable under his pfd. Like he always feels it. That’s why I wanted more opinions.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top