Are you thinking of kayaking in winter or frigid waters? Then, you need to consider getting the best kayaking drysuit you can find, and we are here to help you do just that.
We will add what you need to consider before buying a kayaking drysuit and throw in a few tips on caring for your choice kayaking drysuit.
Why Do You Need A Kayaking Drysuit?
Simply put, a dry suit is clothing designed to keep you dry. It is made using waterproof fabrics and has gaskets around the neck, wrists, and ankles to keep out water. Some also come with waterproof boots to provide additional seals.
Contrary to belief, a kayaking drysuit does not offer insulation. However, because it fits loosely, you can wear different layers of clothing underneath to control your warmth.
So when should you consider using the best kayaking drysuit? This is dependent on the surrounding temperature and environment you wish to kayak.
Use a dry suit if you need to stay dry and want to go kayaking in open waters or whitewater rapids with a temperature of 60°F (15℃) and below. Finally, wear one if you are in danger of experiencing hypothermia or going into shock if you find yourself in the water.
Drysuits Vs Wetsuits
We are sure that you have heard of a wetsuit. So what is the difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit?
Both act as protective gear while in cold water. However, that is as far as the similarities go.
Wetsuits are form-fitting. They are also made from Neoprene, which allows water to pass through. Therefore, they are not waterproof, and you will get wet. The water forms a thin layer between the wetsuit and your skin. Your body heats this water layer, which gives you warmth by preventing heat loss. You can use a wetsuit for low to moderate temperatures. However, if the waters are below 60℉, you must use a drysuit.
Unlike wetsuits, drysuits have waterproof properties and fit loosely. The warmth generated when wearing a drysuit mainly comes from clothing worn underneath. For more comfort, you should wear undergarments that prevent the build-up of sweat. Some dry suits made from Gore-Tex also have moisture-wicking properties that allow moisture to leave the kayaking suit with ease.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Kayaking Drysuit
The best kayaking drysuits have waterproof front or rear zippers. In recent years, though, a two-piece drysuit with a top and pants has become available.
Front Entry: The front entry drysuits have a front zipper. They are easier to put on, zip up and down by yourself because the zip runs across the chest – from the shoulder to the waist.
Rear Entry: Rear entry drysuits have a zipper at the back. The zip runs between the shoulders, across the back of the drysuit. Donning this type of suit may require a bit of flexibility, especially when zipping up and down. It is, however, the go-to style for whitewater kayakers who need a spray skirt while paddling.
Two-Piece: The two-piece drysuit has a zipper that runs across the waist. This type of suit can be worn as a full-body drysuit or separately as a top and pants.
Manufacturers commonly make paddling drysuits from nylon, Gore-Tex, or a combination of both. All these fabrics offer waterproof capabilities, as this is the core purpose of any drysuit.
If you do not mind spending a few extra coins, try and get a dry suit made using breathable fabric. The breathable material draws away moisture from your body and out of the drysuit, keeping you dry and comfortable inside your kayaking suit.
The nylon material with a waterproof coating results in the cheapest type of drysuit. As with most waterproof materials, the water beads up and runs down the suit, thus keeping you dry. Because these cheap drysuits do not have any moisture-wicking properties, you will experience a build-up of moisture inside the kayaking suit once you start sweating.
Kayak drysuits made from Gore-Tex offer the best of both worlds – waterproofing and breathability. Suits made from this fabric do not come cheap, but they are worth every penny. These types of drysuits are also durable.
If you cannot afford a dry suit made from Gore-Tex but still want something that offers more quality than the cheap suits, consider a dry suit made from proprietary laminate materials. The laminate fabric offers a combination of waterproof and breathable properties at a fraction of the cost.
Drysuits come with seals that keep water out around the neck, wrists, and ankles. The seals, also known as gaskets, are usually made from latex. You can also find some made using Neoprene. The Neoprene versions are known as semi-dry suits and are ideal for people allergic to latex. Neoprene seals offer more comfort at the expense of the drysuit waterproof properties.
A drysuit should loosely fit. However, if it is too loose, especially at the gaskets, you may not get the necessary protection you need. Also, if it is too tight, you will not have adequate freedom to paddle. Use the size guide for the respective brand and model for guidance. Also, if possible, put on the drysuit and consider the following things to gauge if it is a proper fit:
- Do you still have room for warm undergarments?
- Can you comfortably sit without feeling some tightness around your thighs, back, waist, or groin area?
- Do you feel tightness across your back when you bring your elbows together?
- Do you feel tight around your neck, wrists, and ankles?
- Do the built-in dry boots fit well?
- When you simulate paddling, do you feel comfortable and free to perform all ranges of motion?
Getting your appropriate size may be a struggle. However, do not compromise on your comfort and freedom to move while wearing undergarments.
Relief Zipper and Drop Seat
The relief zipper and drop seat features are convenient, especially if you will be kayaking and exploring for many hours. The relief zipper is a horizontal zipper at the front of the drysuit designed for men to relieve themselves when nature calls.
Women kayakers also have relief zippers known as drop seats. The drop seat zippers are at the back of the drysuit.
A kayaking drysuit with waterproof pockets is a plus. These come in handy when you want to carry your phone, keys, flares, or any other valuables that you do not want to get wet.
Bright Colors and Reflectors
Do you love kayaking at night? If you do, then it is wise to get a dry suit with bright colors and reflective material that makes you visible while on the water. These features also allow you to be seen quickly in a rescue situation.
Hood and Dry Socks
These are extensions of the drysuits that cover below the ankle, as regular socks do. Because they are attached to the drysuit, they offer continuous protection down to your feet. The hood offers protection from rain and wind. Some paddling drysuit hoods are built-in; others are removable.
Consider getting a drysuit with abrasion-resistant patches in high-wear areas, such as the knees, elbows, and backside.
Consider getting a paddling drysuit with at least a one-year warranty. The warranty does not cover wear and tears but covers any manufacturer defects that may put you at risk while on the water.
7 Best Kayak Dry Suit
These are the best kayak drysuits we could find for both men and women.
The Kokatat Men’s Hydrus 3.0 Swift Entry drysuit comes in a variety of sizes – small to XXL – making it suitable for a wide range of kayakers. It also comes in electric blue and tangerine colors, which other crafts will notice while you are on the water or in a rescue situation.
Kokatat makes the Hydrus 3.0 drysuit from a proprietary three-layer fabric. The outer nylon woven layer features a durable water repellent coating (DWR) that makes this kayak drysuit waterproof. The middle layer allows moisture to transfer from inside the drysuit to the outer layer. The innermost layer also has moisture-wicking capability, leaving you dry and comfortable.
This drysuit features a waterproof front entry zipper that allows you to slip on and remove the suit with ease. In addition, it comes with a relief zipper at the front to help men respond to the call of nature without a problem. The neck and wrist gaskets are made from latex, which offers excellent protection from water.
It comes with dry socks, which keep your feet dry. However, you cannot detach them from the drysuit. In addition, the suit features an adjustable hook and loop cuffs around the wrist for a more secure fit. You can adjust the bungee drawstring at the waist for a snug fit. Its abrasion-resistant patches around the knees and seat ensure the Hydrus 3.0 lasts long.
Kokatat designed the Hydrus 3.0 for beginner and occasional kayakers. It is also the best entry kayaking drysuit on this list, as it offers you the required dryness and comfort on a budget.
- It is durable.
- It has breathable layers of fabric.
- It comes with latex neck and wrist seals.
- It comes with integrated dry socks.
- It does not have any waterproof pockets.
The O’Neill Men’s Boost 300g drysuit comes in black and has a wide range of sizes – X-Small to X-Large. This rear-entry drysuit comes with built-in suspenders that make it easy to get in and out of the drysuit. It is loose-fitting, allowing you to wear undergarments without affecting mobility.
The O’Neill Boost drysuit is another budget drysuit that consists of three layers. It offers average breathability, and its gaskets are made from both Neoprene and Latex. The Neoprene neck seal provides more comfort than latex ones at the expense of its waterproofing capability. The wrist and ankle seals are constructed using latex.
Unfortunately, it does not have a relief zipper and dry socks. So you would need to buy socks or shoes separately.
- It has a wide range of sizes to choose from.
- It has a relaxed fit, leaving sufficient space for warm undergarments.
- It comes with built-in suspenders that make it easier to don and doff the drysuit.
- The latex ankle and wrist gaskets ensure you remain dry.
- The drysuit does not provide wick moisture adequately, so there will be some build-up of sweat.
- It may be difficult to open and close the zipper because the drysuit has a rear zipper.
- You have to buy dry socks or shoes, as the drysuit does not come with any.
The Ocean Rodeo Ignite 2.0 Drysuit also comes in a range of sizes- Small to XXL. It acts as both a drysuit and foul weather gear. When worn in full-dry mode, it keeps the paddler completely dry. When in more favorable conditions, you can remove the neck seal and open the dry zip.
It comes with many features, such as a wader belt at the waist. The band prevents water from leaking into the suit when in standby mode. In addition, its fabric is salt-water resistant. It features built-in dry socks, a removable hood, a storm collar, an internal pocket, chest and waist pockets, and adjustable wrist and ankle cuffs.
The Ocean Rodeo has reinforced patches at the knee, crotch area, and seat for added durability.
- The drysuit comes in a wide range of sizes.
- It is a dual-function kayaking suit, as it can act as a drysuit and foul weather gear.
- It features a wader belt to prevent water leakage.
- The drysuit is salt-water resistant.
- It features various pockets on the inside, chest, and waist.
- It has reinforcement patches at the knee, seat, and crotch areas.
- It does not have a spray skirt fitting.
- It does not have a breathable lining.
The Stohlquist EZ Drysuit comes in two colors – Black and Mango. It also comes in a wide variety of sizes and is designed for men. It has four layers of Twin Sensor material that are both waterproof and breathable.
The front entry zipper makes putting on the Stohlquist EZ drysuit a breeze. All its zippers have flaps to keep them clean. It also features a waterproof relief zipper at the front and integrated dry socks. The reflective accents help keep you safe as other crafts can notice you.
It has a relaxed fit that allows for additional clothing underneath while retaining mobility.
- Its four-layered fabric offers both waterproofing and breathable properties.
- It has a front zipper for easy entry.
- The front and relief zippers both have a flap to keep them clean.
- It features reflective accents that allow you to remain visible at all times.
- It does not offer as much breathability as Gore-Tex drysuits.
The Kokatat Women’s Icon GORE-TEX Drysuit is built for performance. It was designed in collaboration with two whitewater kayaking world champions. It is made from 200 denier GORE-TEX Pro fabric that offers the highest quality of waterproofing and breathability.
You may need some help to don and doff this pro drysuit, as it is a rear entry kayaking suit. It features GORE-TEX Pro socks, a drop seat zipper at the back of the kayaking suit, and a zipped chest pocket with a key lanyard. The dual adjustable overskirt comes with an adjustable Neoprene hook and loop.
It also features adjustable leg cuffs for a more tailored fit.
- It has high-quality waterproofing and breathability because of the GORE-TEX Pro fabric.
- It is durable.
- It features a dual adjustable overskirt, a rear drop seat, and a zipped chest pocket.
- The rear entry zipper makes it hard to wear and remove the drysuit.
The NRS Women’s Pivot drysuit sizes range between X-Small and X-Large. This back entry kayak drysuit has four layers with a durable repellent water (DWR) coating that keeps away water and leaves you dry.
It features a five-inch Neoprene band with double pull hook and loop closures that fit into the spray skirt, providing you with a more watertight seal. In addition, it has a drop seat zipper to make it easier to respond to the call of nature without having to remove the entire drysuit.
In addition, the pants section of the drysuit has a waterproof zipped pocket where you can put in valuables. Last but not least, it comes with built-in dry socks for additional protection of your feet.
- It is available in a wide range of sizes.
- It features a waterproof pocket and built-in dry socks.
- It has a spray skirt fitting.
- It is available in one color.
- It is a back entry drysuit, so putting on and removing it can be hard.
The Kokatat Women’s Hydrus 3.0 Swift EntryDrysuit comes in blue and gray. It has the same features and benefits as the male version, except for the relief zipper. The female version instead features a drop seat.
Without a doubt, it is the best kayak drysuit for women on this list.
- It is durable.
- It has abrasion-resistant patches in high-wear areas.
- It has a drawstring waist for better fitting.
- It features a drop seat zipper and integrated dry socks.
- It has a limited choice of color.
- It does not feature a waterproof pocket.
Tips On How To Get More Life Out Of Your Kayaking Drysuit
The best kayak drysuits can last anywhere between five and 15 years based on quality. Taking care of your suit not only extends its life but makes sure it functions as expected.
Here are a few tips on how to take care of your favorite suit.
Cleaning and Drying
You must rinse your paddling drysuit with fresh water after every use. Also, make sure you remove any particles of sand or dirt. Use a soft-bristle brush to clean the zippers. If the rinse does not get the suit clean, use a mild soap to wash it.
Some drysuits can be tossed into a washing machine and washed using a gentle cycle. However, it is best to read the label before doing this, to avoid unnecessary damage to the suit.
Once you have washed and rinsed the kayaking suit, hang the suit upside down using a heavy-duty hanger. The area should be well-ventilated and in the shade. Take care when putting on the hanger so that you do not cause any damage to the drysuit.
Lubricate the zippers regularly using beeswax or lubricant made for zips. The wax will ensure the zips continue to perform as they should. Apply it on the outer side of the zips and ensure the wax spreads evenly between the teeth by opening and closing the zippers several times. Avoid any oil-based lubricants.
Make sure the paddling drysuit is completely dry before storing it. You can choose to keep it hanging or flat. If you decide to hang it up, use a heavy-duty hanger. If putting the drysuit away for a short period, leave metallic zippers open and plastic ones closed.
If you decide to store it flat, loosely roll the drysuit from the feet upwards. Fold the sleeves loosely over the suit and never fold the zipper back on itself.
When storing the drysuit for extended periods, hang it upside down with all zippers unzipped. It should be kept away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.
Your kayaking drysuit is out there, and we hope our list has pointed you in the right direction. Remember to pick a suit that is durable, comfortable, and of course, waterproof. Consider looking for one with extra accessories and features that could make your trips more enjoyable.
For a more comfortable ride, we suggest you pick a kayaking suit with breathable properties. Also, ensure that you get an appropriate fit that gives you the freedom to move, sit, and paddle as you please.
The best kayaking drysuit is only as good as you maintain it, so follow the tips we have outlined to get the best performance out of the suit for years to come.
Have you used any of the drysuits on our list? We would love to hear from you, so share your comment in the comment section below.