As thoughts turn to the UK whitewater season we’ve been asked by a number of people looking at the Kokatat range of Goretex suits whether they should be getting a Meridian or Idol suit for the winter? The well established and trusted Meridian or the new fancy Idol with its unique ‘Switch Zip’ that makes this a proper two piece drysuit?
The Goretex Meridian is the suit that cemented Kokatat’s reputation as a market leader in paddle sports drysuits for both whitewater and sea kayaking, and has been rightly praised by the many people who have one for its enduring dryness thanks to the quality Goretex Fabric , Brass zipper, and excellent fit. I’ve used one for the last 3 years paddling in the UK both rivers and Thames Weirs, European adventures and multi-days in Nepal and have been amazed by how good it is as most people are, the zip placement takes a couple of go’s to get in and out of smoothly and can feel a little bulky over your shoulder at first, but after that you don’t really notice it. After a few years of use I got it serviced and patched it’s as now dry as the day I got it, meaning I can keep my pants on the whole day avoiding that moment when your changing and drop them in a puddle and greatly reducing the amount of time I spend faffing in car parks!
In Summary then :
- Super Dry – Gore-tex Pro Shell fabric
- Durable – Cordura Overlaid Knee and Seat reinforcement panels
- Comfortable – Lightweight and breathable
- Relief Zip – Very useful!
The Idol using the Switch Zip system has one big advantage straight away; you get a Goretex Cag as well as a drysuit! Aside from that rather pleasing bonus, by doing away with the split waist tube found on the Meridian that allowed you access to chest zip, the amount of water that can find its way into your boat is greatly reduced; something that has always nagged a little if I’m honest.
Using a plastic zip means a lighter suit and more flexibility as well, not just because the zip is more flexible than a brass one but because it’s placement between the backband and seat means you have the comfort, fit and freedom of a normal dry top. Don’t worry about the plastic zipper being less dry than a brass one either. Kokatat still fully water test every suit and plastic zippers have improved so much in recent years that the gap between the 2 types is getting smaller to the point of irrelevance for surface suits especially when you factor in the performance benefits.
A feature missing from the Idol is a dedicated relief zipper with the Switch Zipper allowing for a non gender specific solution to this problem and it will no doubt work especially now the boys can sit down if they want, but it might take some practise with the zip seal cover before I’m as quick with it as the relief zipper on the Meridian!
Kokatat have done away with the overlaid Cordura reinforced panels on the pants and replaced it with Goretex Cordura panels that are cut into the suit again reducing the overall weight (because you only have 1 fabric layer not 2) and allowing for better breath-ability in those areas. Goretex Cordura panels have also been added to the sleeves and shoulder areas of the Idol increasing the wear resistance in those areas.
So same again to summarize;
- Super Dry – Same great Gore-tex Pro shell fabric but now a drier boat as well
- Durable – Better Cordura reinforcement on pants and jacket
- Comfortable – Better fitting thanks to new zip placement
- Switch Zip works as non gender specific relief zip –
- Suit and Cag in one
On top of this Kokatat have also just announced a new product that make the Idol an even more attractive option for those that paddle whitewater and do some sea paddling. A Goretex anorak, the Passage has been designed for sea kayaking and can be mated with your Idol pants to give create a touring drysuit! It will be exciting to see what other compatible options will be available in the future as well, short sleeve dry suit anyone? The Switch Zip line up has also been increased to include a dedicated sea touring suit the Radius, and lightweight Surge paddling suit. Kokatat clearly see this technology as the future.
So should you get a Goretex Meridian or Idol? Well the choice is yours! I’ll be swapping my Meridian for an Idol though!
Both the Meridian and Idol are available in the mens and womens fit and don’t forget Kokatat offer a custom suit option allowing you to design a super colourful suit that will fit like a glove! Backing up the full range is a UK service centre that can water test, offers repairs and latex seal replacement services as well.
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