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It's starting to get colder and I'm starting to use my colder weather gear. I have a pair of kokatat dry bibs and love them, they very dry and warm. However I have heard of stories of people drowning because water gets into the bibs/pants. Have you heard of this? Are they dangerous? Should I just save up for a dry suit?

Thanks!
 

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If they are being combined with a drytop, they are not going to take on enough water to drown you. In fact I hear the bibs are quite dry. Go paddle. This stems from tales of fishermen drowning in waders. Go find a report of this happening with a drytop (and skirt etc..) combined in. Or probably even one with a PFD and a decent belt over the waders.
 

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Not unsafe. Swam plenty in them before I had a dry suit and combined with a dry top they are a great combination. I have the NRS Blackrock.
 

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Keep in mind that there is no difference in your buoyancy if the water is inside or outside of your bibs (or waders) as long as you are still in the water. To put it another way, you can completely fill a pair of waders and other than the bulk and reduced range of motion you won't feel a change in buoyancy. Add a pfd to the equation and you maintain what could be considered an acceptable level of safety.

We actually extensively tested a variety of wader combinations in a controlled whitewater environment a few years back and were a bit surprised at the results. The water in the waders only became an issue when our test subjects reached shallow water and the shore where they had to spill the water from the waders to maintain maneuverability.

Specifically relating to the OP, in close to 30 years in the whitewater industry I have never heard of an issue with the safety of dry suit bibs when used in conjunction with a dry top (or without for that matter but I can't picture a situation where you would want drysuit bibs and not a dry top...)
 

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i wear the kotatat bibs and a dry top.... LOVE the combo.
My last swim was Rigormortis and i was completely dry.

i am planning on sending my bibs in this winter for a relief zipper.
 

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Here is the situation. On the Grand for example in my raft, in warm weather I just have my bibs on rowing lots of flat water, then when approaching big rapids I put on dry top. I worry about it a little but it works great.

To warm to row with dry suit or dry top, but if I flip in big rapids in that cold water I want to stay dry as long as I can.
 

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Here is the situation. On the Grand for example in my raft, in warm weather I just have my bibs on rowing lots of flat water, then when approaching big rapids I put on dry top. I worry about it a little but it works great.

To warm to row with dry suit or dry top, but if I flip in big rapids in that cold water I want to stay dry as long as I can.
I have thought about investing in them for that very reason. After 1 winter trip and 1 summer trip I consider wearing a dry suit much safer for potential in that 46F water. Easy to keep the bibs wet and providing evaporative cooling and great option to keep the core cooler until at the rapids.

They also seem a great option for fringe season boating for rigging/derigging and use between major rapids.

I love my full dry suit but it definitely gets warm in there when rowing flat water.

Thanks to Sawatch Rescue for testing out the hypothesis and laying the question to rest. I understood the idea for years but the idea of drowning in bibs haunted me for years as a fisherman who often explores places alone.

Phillip
 

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Keep in mind that there is no difference in your buoyancy if the water is inside or outside of your bibs (or waders) as long as you are still in the water. To put it another way, you can completely fill a pair of waders and other than the bulk and reduced range of motion you won't feel a change in buoyancy. Add a pfd to the equation and you maintain what could be considered an acceptable level of safety.

We actually extensively tested a variety of wader combinations in a controlled whitewater environment a few years back and were a bit surprised at the results. The water in the waders only became an issue when our test subjects reached shallow water and the shore where they had to spill the water from the waders to maintain maneuverability.

Specifically relating to the OP, in close to 30 years in the whitewater industry I have never heard of an issue with the safety of dry suit bibs when used in conjunction with a dry top (or without for that matter but I can't picture a situation where you would want drysuit bibs and not a dry top...)
Did you publish anything relating to this study?

Of course, the water in your bibs/waders won't affect your buoyancy, but it sure as hell will affect your ability to actively swim away from obstacles or into eddies. It also seems that recovery of swimmers into a raft would be a whole lot more difficult if they have waders full of water on. Imagine self rescuing onto an inverted raft with 80 pounds of water sloshing around in your waders.

I don't think that waders are the death trap that some people think they are, but it does seem like they would be quite a hazard in a rescue scenario. In fact, I can't really think of much you could do to help yourself or others if you were wearing sacks of water on your legs.

I know, wading belts, pfds and dry tops are pretty effective in keeping the bulk of the water out in short, calm swims, but I don't see how any of those things are really going to stop your waders from filling up in a long rough swim.
 

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Are dry bibs significantly different from breathable waders? I have Kokatat dry pants, haven't used them much.
Before that I tested a pair of waders with dry top over them in a pool. Stayed dry and used that set up one time before getting dry suit.
I didn't take a swim with that set up in moving water. Can't see how it would be much different. Option if you have a pair of waders already.

The paddling season here in the Southeast is just getting started. Lots of talk here about cost and effectiveness of various gear combinations.
 

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Glad we are beginning to dispel the notion that water inside your waders is somehow magically heavier than the water in the river when they fill up. Seems like for a long time people thought you would be dragged to the bottom. As far as the other issues it creates another good reason to carry a knife. Should only take seconds to spill water from waders or bibs if you needed to.
 

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I have at least one friend who was on a trip where a person had a really bad swim. The severity was largely attributed to their dry pants filling with water, and they were unable to get back on their boat because of the water weight. I don't recommend them to anyone except in maybe really easy water. Sure you can use a knife in a pinch, but heck my knife is blunt tipped. And using a knife during a swim would be asking a lot except to an experience swimmer IMO. I wouldn't say if that is all you have not to use them, but I would be prepared, especially in how you fit them, and if you are loaning them to a newbie in more challenging water.
 

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I have at least one friend who was on a trip where a person had a really bad swim. The severity was largely attributed to their dry pants filling with water, and they were unable to get back on their boat because of the water weight. I don't recommend them to anyone except in maybe really easy water. Sure you can use a knife in a pinch, but heck my knife is blunt tipped. And using a knife during a swim would be asking a lot except to an experience swimmer IMO. I wouldn't say if that is all you have not to use them, but I would be prepared, especially in how you fit them, and if you are loaning them to a newbie in more challenging water.
Dry pants and kokatat dry bibs are two different critters. The bibs I have and the way they nest with my dry top with the tunnel are very secure. I wouldn't hesitate to swim anything in mine.

Not sure what they pants you are referring to were but it sounds like something else.
 

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Dry pants and kokatat dry bibs are two different critters. The bibs I have and the way they nest with my dry top with the tunnel are very secure. I wouldn't hesitate to swim anything in mine.

Not sure what they pants you are referring to were but it sounds like something else.
I completely agree with this statement. in my experiences, Dry Pants and Splash pants perform very similar. (you can get a bunch of water in your splash pants, but at least the seals at the ankles let some drain out. ) Dry pants you're basically wearing a bucket. - but I've never had issues with either. Both have performed as advertised/expected.
 

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I have at least one friend who was on a trip where a person had a really bad swim. The severity was largely attributed to their dry pants filling with water, and they were unable to get back on their boat because of the water weight. I don't recommend them to anyone except in maybe really easy water. Sure you can use a knife in a pinch, but heck my knife is blunt tipped. And using a knife during a swim would be asking a lot except to an experience swimmer IMO. I wouldn't say if that is all you have not to use them, but I would be prepared, especially in how you fit them, and if you are loaning them to a newbie in more challenging water.
That only seems like it would be a problem with an IK/Raft. Hardshell kayakers do not reenter their boats until they've swam to shore.
 

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Important point: There are three types of drytop to pant interfaces and they make a real difference:

1. Roll together seal. This works well. It is solid. Three rolls keeps a dry bag dry and will keep your pants sealed to your drytop. see: Bomber Gear | Bomber System

2. Layering with bibs. How much water makes it up into your drytop? With bibs the only water coming in has to enter your drytop first - for most people that is very little. Some bibs also have a tunnel you can roll together with a drytop. This is as close to a full drysuit as you can get with separate tops and bottoms. See: http://kokatat.com/media/pdfs/KokatatBibFold.pdf

3. Dry pants layered into a drytop without a roll together seal. If the waist of your pants doesn't come up high enough to stay securely between the inner and outer tunnel of your drytop this is where you can get a significant amount of water into your dry pants on a long/violent swim. Kayakers have an advantage as their skirts help hold this area together. High rise pants are ridiculous - except if there dry pants - then it should be mandatory. I also prefer my splash pants to have a high rise for proper sealing. This is the least waterproof option listed.

Obviously if you wear dry pants or waiters without an appropriate top you can/will get a lot of water in them. And while the weight of the water is the same while in the water - there is a lot of extra drag and momentum to overcome to swim with a lot of water trapped in your clothes. I highly recommend going to a local pool/lake/calm stretch of river and trying out any combination of top and bottom that you have questions about. I know a lot of people that have used the Kokatat bibs (with the roll together closure) with a drytop and had zero issues.
 

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Raftus makes some great points. For the price of new Dry Top and Dry Pants / Bibs, you could find a used Kokatat GMER on Craigslist. I got mine for $400. It is 2 year old and had bad gaskets. He included shipping and had the new / repair gaskets (w/ aquaseal). I replaced the gaskets myself and plan to send it to Kokatat for reconditioning this winter. I do like options so I have splash pants, splash top, dry top, etc
 

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You may be buoyant but you will not be able to swim as well,or climb in a boat as well. I wouldn't wear them. Dry pants and some quality long underwear work well. Then a good dry top so you can take it off when too hot or add layers under it.
 
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