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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.

NRS
Kokatat (sorry spelling)
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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I have what I think of as the nearly perfect rafting setup. Kokatat bibs with latex ankle gaskets and a dry top with a neoprene neck gasket. I get over heated easily and have to pee a lot too. So I can't think about a drysuit without a relief zipper and that adds cost.

I am also a bit round with just over a 30 inseam at six feet tall...hey round is a shape. So a one piece suit has less chance or really fitting me. Maybe at some point I will have one but for now this is perfect. Used this setup for spring boating the last two years and loved it. I don't plan on swimming but if I do the minimal amount of water that might come in the neck gasket will not endanger me.

Much easier to get off and on but it does still take some effort to pee, but I can do it by myself. Typically just roll the dry top up, unclip the bibs and let fly. Not having to do Houdini type moves to get to the zipper and get one elbow out of the arm is good since a couple of big snowboarding crashes has wrecked my shoulders a bit.

That's my two cents. A full gore tex drysuit with relief would be awesome though. Start saving.
 

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The amount of trips where I actually needed the dry suit weren't enough to justify keeping it for me. It was $ 450 hanging in my closet that could be used to buy new oars. I didn't miss it for a second after I sold it. The paddle pants & paddle top work fine for me. Much more useful and user friendly. If I do a trip were I feel like I'll really need a dry suit, I'll rent one.
 

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Warning maybe more advice than you want to read!!

The fact that you are considering a dry suit, indicates to me that you want to boat in cold water and weather.

Bottom line is if you swim for what ever reason in cold air and cold water, a dry suit is for sure a life saving device not a comfort item like warm clothing to wear in dry cold setting around a big camp fire drinking hot cocoa laced with peppermint snopps. Failure of gear in really cold environments is not good!

Don't get a wanna be gore tex dry suit and expect it to protect you with the comfort and quality a Kokatat gore tex unit will. Expecting the wanna be's to perform like Kokatat GoreTex is false security in my opinion. There is a reason Kokatat costs so much I think. Some wanna be's can work ok depending on how the owner's experience uses the item. I am not bad mouthing wanna be's as I have boated in a lot of them over the years - just don't buy the wanna be's and then bitch cause they don't work like Kokatat quality real GoreTex certified products do.

My opinion here based on many decades of boating and spending money on gear - some of gear which worked many did not here is my opinion. Take it for what it costs you in reading time.

Don't waste time and money on wanna be gore tex dry suits or combo ideas - if you are boating in real dry suit conditions. Equipment failure in a dry suit swim in cold water and cold air can easily end up in death. My opinion here.

Save your money till you can get a Kokakat GoreTex with latex neck and included gore tex built in socks. Then wear appropriate thicknesses of quality fleece or smart wool under the dry suit. I have zero affiliation with Kokatat or Gore Tex, just have purchased a lot of gear from a lot of suppliers over the years and Kokatat Gore Tex has worked for me better than anything else has. Get the relief zipper for sure if male - need feedback from the ladies on this for female boaters.

Kokatat Tropos is a higher priced fabric than the other much cheaper wanna be gore tex. Don't expect it to work like kokatat gore tex even tho kokatat makes both kinds of outfits. I purchased a Tropos dry suit and after a one week winter trip sent it back and got GoreTex. One of the benefits of Kayak Academy (at least at the time I did my purchases) is they would take returns (in decent condition) and either sell the garment for you or in my case gave me a fair value for the item. They got a life time customer due to the way they worked with me. There may be other retailers that do the same, I just have not found them yet.

Buy the kokatat gore tex setup, pay the money, take reasonable care of it and it should last many many years. I have commercial guide buds who wear their kokatat gore tex dry suits day after day all season long. Many are years old and they may be dirty from what ever but still work. If it does not last and you take reasonable care of it, Kokatat customer service is legendary.

Some one mentioned Kayak Academy. I highly recommend them. They may not be the cheapest place to buy but their customer service, quality of products they sell and just the way they do business is one of the best I have found.

Full disclosure. I have a older but well taken care of Kayak Academy supplied Kokatat Goretex dry suit with attached feet, relief zipper and latex neck seal. It is my go to suit for when (not often these days) I go out to boat in really cold weather. The built in feet gave me warm feet for the first time ever in icey winter condition boating. This dry suit can work with thin synthetic or smart wool next to the skin as well in warm weather. I rarely do this but have had much warmer days than expected on multi day trips and it does work. By the way, I have used the kayak apron dealie on some dry suits but after one time don't use them. The regular dry suit waist is easier to use in my opinion. When rafting or canoe trips, perfect. When kayaking I use a neoprene waist wrap around velcro fastened dealie from the big box sport store (actually supposed to melt off fat when you jog - did not work for me) but it makes a great seal between kayak spray skirt barrel and the dry suit.

Most of the time in cool to cold weather, I find my self wearing a Kokatat dry top with latex seals and dry pants with latex ankle seals. Some combo of smart wool next to the skin.

Here lately I have been doing canoes, IK's a lot. Unless it is really cold requiring the dry suit I have been wearing just a paddle jacket with paddle pants with velcro ankles. A light or heavy weight smart wool top or bottom as required.

I still keep my neoprene farmer john chest hi NRS wetsuit type bottoms. If the float is real low water and rocky (pretty common Arkansas State fall and spring floats) and I think I might swim in the rocks, that farmer john bottom with my gore tex dry top or the paddle jacket depending on the weather and some combo of smart wool and fleece under the top. I find that the old style Norwegian open weave fisherman mesh tops and bottoms work really well under the neoprene stuff. LL Bean used to carry it and it is recommended.

Bottom line, I have saved and purchased this gear over time. You may not want to have all these options now.

The decision is yours to make, get opinions from this message board and you make the decisions and live with the results.

I can state from actual experience with a dump truck event from my raft on the hidden hole below Hance on the Grand Canyon one year that it does not take long to pass out even in reasonable air temps if you are in tee shirt and shorts rowing in the hot sun just before the swim event. ASAP after running the meat of Hance I stripped off the dry top and pants due to the heat generated rowing. Took a while to catch up to as I swam to my cataraft raft but went to sleep thinking I could crawl aboard over my front compartment loaded with rocket boxes. Thankfully my kayak buds got my hands unlocked from the front cross bar and my sleeping body into my cat boat buds big GC sized aircraft carrier sized cataraft where I got the classic dry off and fleece from head to toe and a warm up in the hot sun. I woke up to sun in my eyes and one of my RN nurse kayaker buds peering in my face saying "talk to me Dave". Proving once again that no matter how much rafters and kayakers post comments on the 'Buzz, we are all brothers and sisters when something bad happens on the river.

PS: I am watching the sales and switching over to smart wool style under garments over fleece. I find it warmer in cold and cooler in warmer times and for sure it does not smell as bad as fleece on multi day trips. For what it is worth.
 

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Fairly critical unless you never kayak.
I completely disagree.

I feel it may help keep out a little of the splashy bits but if Im in deep and probably upsidedown the water still comes, much as it always has.

Maybe theres better types than others?
 

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I had a Kokatat tropos suit for years. Base model, no socks, no pee zip and I loved it (mostly but I hated the cold wet toes I always had). Then I got enough $ together to get the goretex with all the bells and whistles. Huge difference! I didn't know what I was missing! I have never been cold and I can put a light down jacket on underneath and have great mobility and not overheat. The biggest difference for me was in the tropos I would sweat and feel damp at the end of the day. Never a problem in the goretex suit.
 

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In the winter, you can find a Kotatat GMER for 700-800 on sale. This is a no-brainer if you are serious paddler. It will extend your season, and makes your group safer every time you paddle in the cold.

IR and Palm are legit too if you can find a really good deal, but seriously you should get the Kokatat. That is all.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
For running serious class IV and V, is the latex ankle gasket inadequate? Goretex socks only?
 

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The difference between Gore and PU (most everything else) is barely perceptible. My NRS Triton suit is awesome and stil works great after hundreds of uses rafting and ducking. Under $500 on sale.

Kokatat is nice, but it's like posting "I need basic transportation" and everyone recommending a Mercedes-Benz. You'll stay dry in an NRS suit and they'll stand behind it, just with replacement, not repair (I do prefer the more sustainable latter option, but it's hard to argue when a brand new dry suit shows up 2 days after your warranty claim!).

Get full socks and a relief zipper.
 

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The socks make the suit easier to put on and it takes away an entry point for water.
 
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