With summer starting to fade into memory and the cold, dark, and hopefully wet, embrace of winter starting to descend upon us, the time has never been more perfect to start thinking about updating your dry-wear. More specifically your dry suit.
In this particular blog we’re going to cover all the bases with our top picks, whether your looking into getting your first dry suit or, after a couple of seasons of getting a bit too damp, you are looking to replace your existing suit.
Best Budget Suit
Naturally there are a lot of cheap as chips “dry suits” on the market, but here we want to focus on a suit that is: A) actually dry; B) Paddlesport Specific; and C) affordable.
The suit that fits this bill perfectly is, in our opinion, the Palm Cascade. Available in both men’s and women’s, the Cascade is a 3 – Layer front entry dry suit, made with Palms XP 3 fabric. The XP 3 fabric used in this suit makes for a remarkably breathable product for the money, with reinforcement over the knees, elbows and seat. The suits also come equipped with YKK entry and relief zippers, the same as used in their more premium suits, so the zips are plenty flexible and do not restrict the paddlers movement. The finishes are a tad simple, with a velcro neck and wrists over the latex but these are easy enough to get on with.
In summary, if you want an affordable dry suit to last you well then at £529.95 rrp, you can’t go wrong with the Cascade.
Best Women’s Drysuit
In order to determine the best suit for women we had to really focus on both design and fit, but we also took into consideration the quality of the materials used, the after care available and the longevity of the suits. Looking at all of these factors there could really only ever be one winner; Kokatat’s Hydrus Women’s Meridian Drysuit is our top pick.
It’s safe to say that, without going Gore-Tex, Kokatat’s 3-layer Hydrus material is the best on the market, being both breathable and durable, with suits lasting upwards of 6 years. While coming in a bit dearer than many suits on the market, at £779.99 Kokatat’s Hydrus Womens Meridian dry suits are definitely worth the investment, as rival suits that come in cheaper will likely need replacing 3 or more times during the lifetime of one well maintained Kokatat suit.
What’s more the after care available on Kokatat gear is excellent, with a service center based in Wokingham nearly all repairs to seals and fabric punctures can be done quickly and easily. The warranty is also for the “reasonable lifetime of the product”, far better than the standard 1 year, meaning you can be confident you suit is going to last.
Best Suit for the Sea
The criteria for a dry suit while out sea kayaking is often slightly different to that when out blasting around on whitewater. For starters the style of paddling often involves much more time spent in the upright position, chipping away at some miles, with less water breaking over your face and neck. As such features such as an adjustable neck seal become far more appealing as they reduce overheating and make for a more comfortable fit for long days. One particular suit which is exceptionally well equipped is the Peak UK Adventure One Piece. Using Peak UK’s X4 mid-weight nylon the Adventure One Piece is a comfortable, breathable suit that will leave you feeling comfortable and dry while out on the water.
Coming in at £599 the Adventure One Piece is very affordably priced and has all the features you could want from a touring and sea kayaking focused dry suit. As mentioned before the adjustable neoprene neck seal means you can be nice and well vented for most of the day, but when the weather closes in or the surf gets a bit more spicy you can close up the neck to be nice and dry. This combined with the stowaway hood makes for an excellent suit to extend your paddling season. The only downside to the Adventure One Piece is the lack of a ladies option, however the vertical relief zip is lovely and familiar for blokes in comparison to the horizontal zippers on most dry suits. Peak do however offer a dry suit that is more convenient for ladies, the Peak UK Explorer One Piece, which utilizes Peak’s unique leg entry system.
Overall the Adventure One Piece is an excellent, durable, breathable and comfortable suit that is definitely worth considering for anyone who spends their paddling trips out on the big blue.
Now the decision making process for this was relatively easy. We had a quick look at what all of the staff members wear when they go paddling and it became pretty clear, pretty quickly, what the favourite was: Kokatat’s Gore-Tex Meridian Dry Suit. With half the dry suits owned by staff members being the aforementioned, and thee other half being different models of Gore-Tex Kokatat suits you can see why it was an easy choice.
But now for why.
Well there is of course the performance benefit of Gore-Tex. Made using
Evolution 3.21 oz. nylon 3-layer GORE-TEX®, Kokatat’s suits are unrivaled in their breathability, especially when combined with good quality thermals underneath. You can read more about layering here. This combined with the self–draining Cordura® seat and knee patches result in a suit that is really dry, light and durable in all the right places.
Aside from the comfort, dryness, breathability and style that you get from a Kokatat suit, the key element that sets these suits apart from other Gore-Tex suits is the after care servicing available, including the limited lifetime warranty. The ability to send your suit to a UK based, dedicated Kokatat service center to patch up any small holes and leaks from wear and tear really does mean that your suit is going to be dry and perform at its best for far longer than any other suit on the market.
What’s more is that Kokatat offer a wide range of customization’s on their Gore-Tex suits, meaning that you can get the perfect fit and colour combination for you. You can even change the zip position. Check out there Gizmo to see for yourself!
“Kayaking kit? Maintenance? Surely I can just stuff it in a bag after I’m done for the day and then hang it out to dry the night before my next trip?”
If this is sounding in any way, shape or form then you’ll be lucky to get more than a season out of your gear. You’ll also be lucky if you don’t catch some sort of disease. Just a small amount of maintenance will help you get the most out of your dry suit in terms of both performance and longevity.
- Firstly be sure to rinse your dry your suit after each use, particularly if you have been wearing it in salt or particularly polluted water, and then hang it up to dry. Salty and polluted water, if not rinsed off, will drastically decrease the lifespan of you dry suit; eating away at the fabrics, in particular the seams and taping, salt water can be very damaging to your gear. It will also take longer for your suit to dry if left salty!
- Next tip for maintaining your suit is to lube up that zipper. A small dose of something like Kokatat McNett Zip Tech Zipper Lube every once in a while will keep your zipper running smoothly. Like any moving parts on a machine, the more friction there is the quicker it will break or wear through.
- Wrist and neck seals! Now no manufacture of dry suits covers the latex on their suits under warranty. This is due to the latex being made from a natural rubber that is relatively fragile and will perish over time. To make your seals last as long as possible there are a few things you can do. Step one is to rinse them after you’ve worn the suit; the natural oils from your skin, sun cream, pollutants and even the sun can all dry out your seals, making them brittle and more likely to crack or split. To combat this use a small amount of 303 Aerospace Protectant, which essentially acts a moisturizer for latex, keeping your seals supple for longer.
- Last tip for maintaining your suit is to give it a wash every now and then. But don’t just chuck it in the machine with your normal washing powder. Using liquid detergent, hand wash your suit at a cool temperature. Don’t use anything with any bleach!
Always store your suit hung and out of direct sunlight!
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