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After 3 brands and 4 suits the verdict is in: Kokatat drysuits will last a long, long time!

The facts:


  1. Drysuits are an investment. A quality brand is important, but how you treat them is key to their longevity.


  1. David owns a Kokatat Meridian drysuit that is 10 years old and still dry.He also owns a Kokatat Icon that is 3 years old and of course, still dry.


  1. I own a Kokatat Idol with switch zip that is 4 years old and still dry. I also own a Kokatat women’s Icon with drop seat that is 3 years old and still dry.


  1. I am now satisfied that Kokatat surpasses the competition.


There is simply no better way to make the most of the cold winter months than to spend it comfortable and paddling as much as possible.

I remember all too well the days before drysuit ownership… soggy fleece from the waist down,  shivering at every scout, dreading the cold,  deep splashes that might threaten to penetrate where the jacket rode up my back, fantasizing about the takeout at every corner on the bottom half of the river! Never have I experienced such bone chilling cold, and having done so has resulted in a true appreciation for the drysuits I have owned!


Since drysuits are so expensive, I am frequently asked my opinion. I always tell people to hang their drysuit after every use, never leave it wadded up with wet gear, and don’t ever let it get smelly enough that you are tempted to wash it, but if you must, use Nikwax wash. Keep 303 protectant on the gaskets, and don’t apply sunscreen before putting it on. Gasket replacement can be done at home with a few clamps, aquaseal,  and some patience.

I will now share my drysuit experiences:

We bought our first drysuits 10 years ago. David chose a Kokatat Gore Tex.

Mine was Level Six. A tasteful navy blue, slightly oversized men’s small, it kept me dry for 18 months of heavy use (200+ days) before I passed it on, prior to any leaks or failure.  It was not, however,  completely breathable.

Sandiline was the next drysuit I purchased,  and it fit me well.  It was, until recently,  what I considered the holy grail of drysuits, completely dry and breathable. It held up under 3 years of heavy use (500+ days). The hardest and most frequent paddling I’ve ever enjoyed, was in that drysuit. I decided to stay the course, and after 3 years, the feet began to leak, but the rest of the suit was flawless to any damage. The back zipper closure always worked easily. I kept it for a spare, loaning it occasionally.  After 3 more years, the fabric failed in the sleeves following a washing.  Don’t wash your drysuit ever! It never regained it’s dryness again.  

My husband stayed dry inside his Kokatat Gore Tex drytop and drysuit the entire time I wore the Sandiline,  and it left me anxious to own one. I purchased my Kokatat drysuit 4 years ago when the feet began to leak in my Sandiline. It was a custom size Idol with switch zip technology at the waist,  a brand new concept. Since I needed a dry top too, I decided to be a guinea pig and go for it.  The switch zip has never failed me,  and I have no issues with the bulky connector impeding my paddling, whether I am playboating or dropping vertical boofs… no situation has allowed me to notice it’s presence while paddling.

The sole reason I own another Kokatat drysuit is that my custom suit was cut a bit too short in the legs. I ordered a standard small the following year and was very satisfied.  Now I own both and couldn’t be happier.

As a gift, I ordered David an Icon suit with a rear zip for playboating. Then he was able to send in his 7 year old Meridian for repairs it suffered on a barb wire fence. It was repaired, pressure tested, and sent back in excellent condition at a fraction of the cost of a new suit!

It’s crazy to think that I’ve spent triple the cash on drysuits in 10 years than he has by purchasing a Kokatat all those years ago!  I have nothing extra to show for it either. So, as you can see,  Kokatat is the way to go. Their customer service and test/repair services are in the USA,  and you always find a person to speak with. That being said,  my other two suits served their purpose and worked for a reasonable duration. Winter is here… Happy drysuit shopping!