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Folding Kayaks Forum • View topic - Drysuit Experiences

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 Post subject: Drysuit Experiences
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 10:01 pm 


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:22 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 12:48 pm 
I bought a much used, but serviceable, Bomber-Gear Radiator suit from Bomber Gear's own Rick, last year on Ebay. The suit's got a tunnel-thing layer over the torso designed to overlap one's sprayskirt, which it does admirably. The tunnel/layer, however, does seem to impede mobility noticeably, but not to so great an extent as to render paddling difficult or even unpleasant. To the good, the tunnel adds another layer between one's self and the wind, rain, temperature.

The suit is made of what I'm guessing is a Gore-Tex knock-off fabric, called Toray. It sort of "breathes," but, if your mutant power's sweating, you're gonna be damp in there.

The relief zipper's a good thing.

I tore an ankle gasket last time I wore the suit, in part because I stupidly failed to remove my sock before shoving my foot through the gasket, and in part because I "snapped" the gasket after using my forefinger to pull the opening wide enough for that foot.

My suit didn't come with the booties, so I use a pair of Chota Mukluks, their "light" version. I'd really like to get a pair of their marsh-boots. Anyway, the suit's inner leg with gasket fits down in the boot, I pull a pair of heavyish polypro socks over the inner leg, then the outer leg completely covers the boot and velcro-tightens at the ankle to form a snug but not even slightly water-tight outer seal. Not a problem, because the Chotas come up to about my knees.

I like the drysuit better than the farmerjohn/splashtop combo I got for a hundred bucks from NRS gearswap, so much so that rather than use that combo for a paddle today, I'm using the time to repair the drysuit.

Water out here in this part of Tennessee is probably about fifty-five degrees F right now, and doesn't usually drop too much below forty.

Chris


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 5:57 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister
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I've recently bought my first suit, the Kokatat "Supernova," which is sold as semi-dry rather than dry, because the neck is neoprene which doesn't give as good a seal as latex.

On the whole, I'm very pleased with it. A couple of things could be better, but I got this suit because it was in an end-of-season sale. I needed a size "large" for the body size. The arms and legs are longer than I need, but that's not a problem. The built-in socks are too big. I bought a pair of neoprene boots to wear with the suit, and had to get bigger than my normal size. The wrist gaskets are slightly bigger than I need - I can get my hands through without much effort, and I think a little water seeps in that way.

It's a front-entry suit, and I find I can get in and out of it easily enough. The neoprene neck is easy to get through; I have worn a dry cag with latex neck, and getting my head through that was really difficult - the latex clings to hair. I think that taking off a front-zip drysuit, when the neck has to be pulled to the back, would be difficult for me with a latex neck seal. The neoprene is also much more comfortable than latex. The downside is, it's not fully waterproof, even with a velcro adjuster. I'm doing some training at the moment that involves wet exits and swims. I do get some water down my neck, and end up quite damp around the chest and back (but not soaked).

I find the suit very comfortable, wearing a layer of fleece underneath. Far more comfortable than a neoprene wetsuit, and more effective at protection from initial cold shock. If I were doing extended paddling in extreme conditions I'd want a full drysuit, but for my purposes, the Supernova was a very good choice.

Mary

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 8:26 pm 
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as a dry suit and have been happy with it. It no longer fits on my shoulders s I am getting a NRS. I also use 2 piece suits a semi dry or dry top with Kokatat or Navarro bibs. Not as dry as the dry suit but still comfortable rolling and swimming in 20 deg air ant 38 deg water. Breathability is non existant when gear is covered with ice http://foldingkayaks.org/gallery/tsunam ... _R1_041_19

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:10 am 
It has been real effective at keeping me dry. (SUPERNOVA)
I have had several cold water (ice) rolling sessions with it. I wear a tuilik over it for rolling games. I used to use a similar setup with wetsuit, but a couple cups of water sloshing inside the kayak will wind up getting neo soaked up, and eventually I chilled. I was out for a good couple hours last week and never felt chilled. After a couple hours of rolling, I get some seepage around the neck gasket. It is so miniscule I don't even notice it, feels damp near the collar of the NRS union suit under it.
I know it's alot nicer to have less wet stuff to handle once it's cold.

Jeff


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:38 pm 


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 10:29 pm 
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 Post subject: Neo Neck closure
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 12:34 am 
Compared to the other two neo neck closures jackets I have used, the neck of the supernova has that broader coverage Dave refers too as latex neck seal having. It's a different style of neo neck. I don't have a meaty neck. I did'nt want to spend a ton on a goretex. I figured if the neo neck was unsat I would glue a latex gasket in the suit.


Again I have to stress that I'm wearing a tuiliq over the nova, if I wasn't I'm pretty sure the neck wouldn't be weepy damp, but something else.

I would never roll for fun in cold water, i.e. greenland games, without a tuiliq on. I paddle with one on in the cold as well, even if I don't roll.


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 Post subject: What's the skinny?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:36 pm 
Sorry for resurrecting this thread. I did, in fact, read through the thread before posting.

A drysuit is probably going to be my next big kayaking purchase, and I doubt that I can afford more than one. I don't plan on kayaking in any extreme conditions, i.e. surfing serious waves, so my main concern would be unforseen swims far from help during long expedition-type paddles. Since this is a low-liklihood event I am quite concerned with comfort, yet I may be far from help so effectiveness matters, too. ( I know you can't have everything- at least not cheaply.) Can someone give me the skinny on a few things?

1) Just how bad is it using a drysuit made of a non-breathable fabric, like coated nylon?

2) For that matter, since Kokatat seems to be an industry leader, how does their (less expensive) TROPOS fabric compare to Gore-Tex? I saw this issue addressed peripherally in one of the posts...

3) I like the idea of a neoprene neck gasket, since the latex ones look quite uncomfortable. I'm sure this is a good option for someone who probably won't need to take a swim, but I understand there is some leakage. (Thus you can't really swim or snorkel in them.) But is the neoprene neck dangerous if you may be in the water, though not in high surf, for a long while, i.e. expeditioning? Just how much leaking is there? I heard "tablespoons" every time your neck goes under. Would this add up to a death sentence if the water temp is particularly cold and the nearest help is an hour away? Or do you generally keep your neck above water with a decent PFD? Would it be a better option to get the latex neck? (My worry is that the neck would be so uncomforatbele that I wouldn't wear it, thus taking a big risk.) I guess one option would be to get the latex neck and if I can't stand it have a neoprene one put on...

4. If front-entry zippers are so much easier to get into, why do they still make rear-entry suits? Am I missing something? Is there an advantage to rear-entry?

5. I'm pretty sold on the idea of integral socks. Any reason to reconsider?

6. How tough is the Gore-Tex or TROPOS? Will I have to baby them, or can I swim around and crawl over rocks?

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: What's the skinny?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:58 pm 


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 Post subject: Gaskets and booties
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:37 pm 
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:36 pm 
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Last edited by krudave on Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:50 pm 
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Acrosome, here is the text from another thread I was thinking of; no mention of Tropos, though. My CRS must be getting worse!

Have you considered a Goretex drytop with a farmer john bottom? That might be a lower-cost alternative that is nearly as good as a dry suit. I've swum for an hour or so in 50-55 F water in a rig like this, and did OK.

Alm wrote:
As to the drysuit, there is apparently only one choice - goretex material, preferably with booties. Full drysuit (not just drytop or drypants) made of Goretex will cost you a fortune (from $350, I think), but full drysuit is the only way to go, if you want to paddle through the winter.

krudave responded:
I own and sometimes use a goretex drysuit from Kokatat. Our winter temps do not get as low as they do in NJ, so in NJ I would use one more often.

The Kokatat units are closer to $800, but they are worth it. If you shop around, you'll find nonbreathable (i.e., made of coated nylon) suits, for about the price Alex quotes, but I don't think there are any new goretex suits out there for $350.

Check out what NRS offers.

As to whether a non-goretex suit might work for you: depends somewhat on how active a paddler you are. If you like to paddle at a highly aerobic rate, then get a goretex one. If you like to just lope along, the cheaper ones might be OK.

If these prices are way too high, consider a farmer john plus dry top combo. Pretty warm, and a lot less costly: maybe about $120 - $130 for the FJ, and about $200 for a good drytop with latex seals at the wrists and a neoprene flap closure at the neck. Gives some flexibility as the water warms in the spring, because the FJ alone provides quite a bit of immersion protection.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:21 am 
lord high faltbotmeister
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