Curvy lady's kit

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
ForeverYoung
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2023 7:58 am
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 9 times

Curvy lady's kit

Post by ForeverYoung »

Which manufacturers make the best kit for accommodating wide hips? At the moment, I am around a size 14 - 16, but with a small waist. Even when I am smaller than I am now, I still have chunky hips and thighs but with a small waist. As a relatively new sea kayaker, I haven't yet sussed which brands are worth considering.

For the neoprene kit, it is less of an issue as it is stretchy enough to make it work. But I am thinking that by next winter I might want to start looking for dry trousers or even a dry suit, and the lack of stretch makes it trickier to work out what would suit. I am very very short (inside leg around 27 inches), so anything that comes in different lengths is even more of a bonus. I know nothing will actually be short enough for me, but I can at least try to minimise how much excess is there!!

Any pointers towards brands that might suit me would be appreciated :-)
Chris Bolton
Posts: 4604
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:33 pm
Location: NW England
Has thanked: 169 times
Been thanked: 446 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Chris Bolton »

I suggest Reed's Chillcheater - quite stretchy, but they will also make things custom.
ChrisJK
Posts: 877
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:18 pm
Has thanked: 356 times
Been thanked: 148 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by ChrisJK »

HI Foreveryoung

I'm male but no matter if you buy a drysuit they are basically a boiler suit made for paddling so it needs to have room for our widest and longest dimensions.
With zip's for entry and coping with the call of nature.
There are companies that will make them to measure.
I suggest that you type drysuits into the search box at the top right of the web page and several threads will be listed.
One of those threads does compare Reed Chilcheater with drysuits
Chris Bolton
Posts: 4604
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:33 pm
Location: NW England
Has thanked: 169 times
Been thanked: 446 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Chris Bolton »

I missed that you'd asked about drysuits. Reed do a 'paddle suit' which is effectively a light duty drysuit. For a full drysuit, I recommend DAM Watersports (often called DAM-X which is/was the name of their main product). All their suits are made to measure, and they are excellent quality. Andi, the owner, is very helpful. He doesn't advertise as there are plenty of customers from personal recommendations, and doesn't have a functioning website, but he is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DAMXAIR/?locale=en_GB and you can email on info@damx.co.uk
mrcharly
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:56 am
Has thanked: 29 times
Been thanked: 75 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by mrcharly »

Someone recently recommended Crewsaver drysuits to me.

I'm not female, but I am short of leg, thick of thigh and buttocks. Fit is a real pain. Had to buy a 'short extra large' wetsuit (for swimming), and even that is difficult to do up around my chest! Ridiculous, I'm not that large. So I sympathise with your pain.
ForeverYoung
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2023 7:58 am
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 9 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by ForeverYoung »

Thanks folks.

I am hoping to avoid buying new if possible, I try for all activities that I do to buy second hand as there is too much stuff already on planet earth! So for now I am hoping to find an "off the peg" model which might suit so I can keep an eye out for one coming up second hand.

Obviously, I do accept that sometimes it isn't possible to get something second hand and I do buy new then, at which point the made to measure options do sound very good.
Paul-C
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:24 pm
Has thanked: 43 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Paul-C »

I would be cautious about buying a second hand drysuit. The fabric they are made from doesn't last for ever. I'm sure there are some good deals out there, but I'd want to be confident that the seller was being honest about it's age and how much use it has had.
If you do end up buying new, Trident Marine are another UK company that make made to measure, and fairly reasonably priced, drysuits.
Dam-X are good, as Chris says. I have one of their breathable suits, which is good, but I'm not sure if they still make them. They're usual suits are non-breathable, and bombproof, but I know some people who find them a bit too clammy.
User avatar
Grian
Posts: 610
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:50 pm
Has thanked: 209 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Grian »

I also like to source used goods but it seems unlikely you will find a 2nd hand suit that fits well and being uncomfortable really spoils a paddle. Reed will fit latex seals to their paddle suit and make it to your measurements and are relatively low cost compared to others. I have found them really nice to deal with.
twopigs
Posts: 1414
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:55 pm
Location: Usk Valley
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by twopigs »

ForeverYoung wrote:
Mon May 13, 2024 9:58 pm

I am hoping to avoid buying new if possible, I try for all activities that I do to buy second hand as there is too much stuff already on planet earth! So for now I am hoping to find an "off the peg" model which might suit so I can keep an eye out for one coming up second hand.

Obviously, I do accept that sometimes it isn't possible to get something second hand and I do buy new then, at which point the made to measure options do sound very good.
I'm still using my DAM-X drysuit bought in 2007 - Andi has a great repair service, so it should be a "buy once, use many years" drysuit. I'm sure if you ran a poll on here you'd find a 16 - 17 year old DAM-X drysuit is nowhere near the oldest!

He also does dry trousers and dry cags ......
Canoeing - bigger boat, broken paddle, more skill!
User avatar
leighv
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2022 12:40 pm
Location: Hertfordshire
Has thanked: 95 times
Been thanked: 86 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by leighv »

ForeverYoung wrote:
Mon May 13, 2024 5:07 pm
Which manufacturers make the best kit for accommodating wide hips? At the moment, I am around a size 14 - 16, but with a small waist. Even when I am smaller than I am now, I still have chunky hips and thighs but with a small waist. As a relatively new sea kayaker, I haven't yet sussed which brands are worth considering.

For the neoprene kit, it is less of an issue as it is stretchy enough to make it work. But I am thinking that by next winter I might want to start looking for dry trousers or even a dry suit, and the lack of stretch makes it trickier to work out what would suit. I am very very short (inside leg around 27 inches), so anything that comes in different lengths is even more of a bonus. I know nothing will actually be short enough for me, but I can at least try to minimise how much excess is there!!

Any pointers towards brands that might suit me would be appreciated :-)
I feel your pain! Being perimenopausal I have gained a bit of weight over the past year, so I am in a similar boat to you - I have a "typical" curvy figure; I am a size 12 on top but a size 14 on the bottom with wide hips and a butt to match, with a 28" inseam. I've personally never seen kayaking gear that comes in different leg lengths in shops; the legs tend to scale with the suit as drysuit sizing is based primarily on height, which makes it frustrating when you have a fat bum like mine, and need to size up to accommodate that, but then end up with long legs. I know Kokatat do a special order drysuit for short women but it's a custom order which costs somewhere around £2300-£2400, so I just went with their standard fit Odyssey suit instead in a size L (I have a Kokatat women's cag in a size M, which demonstrates my earlier mentioned size discrepency between top and bottom). Funnily enough my drysuit's length is more problematic in the torso than the legs. Go figure.

Peak UK's tops tend to fit very well. I have one of their cags and have had a few of their PFDs, and they do fit me properly in the right places. Their dry trousers fit fairly well too, although the legs are slightly too long but not long enough to be an issue for me; your legs are slightly shorter though, so you'd have a bit more excess fabric but they have velcro along the bottom to keep it from being too much of a problem. I used to have a Peak drysuit too (size 14), which I found mostly alright fit-wise. I sold it though because I started finding the leg entry system a bit of a faff.

I find Palm's women's sizing a little inconsistent, and often slightly on the smaller side than expected, although their "Neoflex" neoprene leggings fit fairly well in size L, but do bunch up around my ankles a bit. NRS's women's sizing is quite good, and I actually find their gear fits pretty well. I've never owned an NRS drysuit though, and have read both good and bad reviews about them. But I regularly wear a pair of NRS women's splash trousers in L which fit me really well; they're perfectly wide in the hips and not overly long; in fact, the length feels and looks about right on me. I also have a pair of their neoprene capris in a size L that are nice (although a touch too big for me), and a size M neoprene top from them that also fits well (both of them are quite stretchy). So NRS is a brand you might want to try out.

I also have a Nookie Octane drysuit in size M for whitewater which fits very well, although I do have to yank it to get it over my hips when putting it on; it's worth mentioning that their customer service is really good - you might want to give them a call and see if they could make a customised suit for you because they handmake their suits down in Cornwall. I had them customise the neck of my suit because I didn't like the latex neck it came with. Their stuff is slightly more geared towards whitewater, but there's really nothing stopping you from using it on the sea.

For what it's worth, Escape Watersports in Wales have a free returns policy, so you can always order stuff from them and send it back if the fit isn't right. I've bought loads of kit from them and tend to keep using them because of the free returns.
ForeverYoung
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2023 7:58 am
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 9 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by ForeverYoung »

I feel your pain! Being perimenopausal I have gained a bit of weight over the past year, so I am in a similar boat to you - I have a "typical" curvy figure; I am a size 12 on top but a size 14 on the bottom with wide hips and a butt to match, with a 28" inseam. I've personally never seen kayaking gear that comes in different leg lengths in shops; the legs tend to scale with the suit as drysuit sizing is based primarily on height, which makes it frustrating when you have a fat bum like mine, and need to size up to accommodate that, but then end up with long legs. I know Kokatat do a special order drysuit for short women but it's a custom order which costs somewhere around £2300-£2400, so I just went with their standard fit Odyssey suit instead in a size L (I have a Kokatat women's cag in a size M, which demonstrates my earlier mentioned size discrepency between top and bottom). Funnily enough my drysuit's length is more problematic in the torso than the legs. Go figure.

Peak UK's tops tend to fit very well. I have one of their cags and have had a few of their PFDs, and they do fit me properly in the right places. Their dry trousers fit fairly well too, although the legs are slightly too long but not long enough to be an issue for me; your legs are slightly shorter though, so you'd have a bit more excess fabric but they have velcro along the bottom to keep it from being too much of a problem. I used to have a Peak drysuit too (size 14), which I found mostly alright fit-wise. I sold it though because I started finding the leg entry system a bit of a faff.

I find Palm's women's sizing a little inconsistent, and often slightly on the smaller side than expected, although their "Neoflex" neoprene leggings fit fairly well in size L, but do bunch up around my ankles a bit. NRS's women's sizing is quite good, and I actually find their gear fits pretty well. I've never owned an NRS drysuit though, and have read both good and bad reviews about them. But I regularly wear a pair of NRS women's splash trousers in L which fit me really well; they're perfectly wide in the hips and not overly long; in fact, the length feels and looks about right on me. I also have a pair of their neoprene capris in a size L that are nice (although a touch too big for me), and a size M neoprene top from them that also fits well (both of them are quite stretchy). So NRS is a brand you might want to try out.

I also have a Nookie Octane drysuit in size M for whitewater which fits very well, although I do have to yank it to get it over my hips when putting it on; it's worth mentioning that their customer service is really good - you might want to give them a call and see if they could make a customised suit for you because they handmake their suits down in Cornwall. I had them customise the neck of my suit because I didn't like the latex neck it came with. Their stuff is slightly more geared towards whitewater, but there's really nothing stopping you from using it on the sea.

For what it's worth, Escape Watersports in Wales have a free returns policy, so you can always order stuff from them and send it back if the fit isn't right. I've bought loads of kit from them and tend to keep using them because of the free returns.
[/quote]

Thanks for the detailed reply.

My torso is actually quite long for my height, it's my limbs that are particularly short, so actually one which fits your leg length bit long for your torso might be ok for me. I will keep an eye out to see if I can find a Kokatat to try on. Their custom fit one though does sound out of my budget!!

I find tops are easy enough (apart from the arms always being too long!), as I am pretty small chested and not much belly. I can generally get away with most tops off the shelf. My current cag is and NRS, so since you sound a similar leg shape and have found their trousers good, I might keep an eye out for some of them coming up.

Good to know about the free returns for Escape Watersports too, always worth knowing about!! Postage and returns to where I live can get pricey (we are sometimes not considered mainland Scotland, even though we are still connected by land) so I will check first that it does still apply to me before I order anything!
heybaz
Posts: 634
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2005 5:49 pm
Location: South Cumbria
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by heybaz »

Some useful advice & opinion above.

I would reiterate the suggestion that you contact Andi at Dam Watersports; you might get a (pleasant) surprise at the price of their kit.
I would also suggest, if you do go down this route, that you "personalise" the measurement chart that they send out and add extra dimensions - my dry trousers are a cracking fit and were made against measurements taken every 10cms from the floor to my lower chest!
Neptune001
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2024 8:25 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Neptune001 »

A second for Dam-X mine is now over 15 years old and still going strong after lots of use over the years, can't fault it.
User avatar
leighv
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2022 12:40 pm
Location: Hertfordshire
Has thanked: 95 times
Been thanked: 86 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by leighv »

The downside to the DamX suits is that they're uncomfortably close to, well, gimp suits. They're almost like rubber. Similar to the Reed suits. Personally I'd never use something like that; sure, there's no such thing as a truly breathable drysuit, but even the cheaper suits from Palm and Nookie are at least more comfortable in that regard.

I think the only compelling reason to get a DamX/Reed suit is budget. If you can afford anything better, opt for that instead.
heybaz
Posts: 634
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2005 5:49 pm
Location: South Cumbria
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by heybaz »

Interesting how much of an individual taste these things are and, presumably, how experiences of different kit varies from one paddler to another.

In over four decades of paddling recreationally, as a sometime provider and Outdoor Education Advisor / Head of Centre for a Scottish local authority, I have used drysuits from Gul, Kokatat, Palm, Peak, Typhon, others that I've forgotten about and one in particular that I wish I could forget about (definitely gimp-like and which lasted but a few months). In many cases it's been more than one drysuit / trouser / jacket from various manufacturer. Some had features which worked for me, some had features that didn't - others felt differently about such features. Some fitted me better than others and some just didn't last as long as others given the same sort of use and care regime.

The cost of kit is rarely an issue to me but the value, functionality and reliability of it absolutely is - which is why, for the last 6 or so years my drysuit and salopettes are from Dam X. It just happends to be reasonably priced, made to measure, robust and backed up by excellent customer service when it comes to repairs or replacing seals, etc. They will build you a suit, jacket, etc., from a chcoice of two different weights of fabric which you can specify having discussed the pros and cons with Andi. Neither fabric is breathable and neither does he or anybody else pretend it is - I'm happy with that, it's informed choice. My wife, a keen recreational paddler, appreciates that her Dam X drysuit fits her better than any off-the-peg suit she's had: a couple of phone calls, advice from Andi and the detailed measurement form likely has a lot to do with that.

Much of the kit that I have used has been constructed using breathable fabric. Still didn't stop me sweating lke a sweaty thing, didn't "breathe" the moisture out (not through my spray deck tube, buoyancy aid or into my kayak cockpit which is understandable given the physics involved. Much of that kit didn't last anything like as long the kit from Dam X despite being subject to the same amout of use and treatment. And Reed kit didn't last half as long as the worst of the rest.

For tranparency - I have no affiliation with Dam X but am happy to share experience gained over a good few years.

I guess one paddler's "better" is another's "regret"...
Chris Bolton
Posts: 4604
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:33 pm
Location: NW England
Has thanked: 169 times
Been thanked: 446 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Chris Bolton »

The downside to the DamX suits is that they're uncomfortably close to, well, gimp suits. They're almost like rubber. Similar to the Reed suits.
DamX suits are definitely heavyweight, the fabric is heavily coated and doesn't stretch, but once I'm paddling I don't notice, they don't feel any more restrictive that lighter suits like NRS.

Neither DamX nor Reed are stylish, but other than that they have nothing in common, they're at opposite ends of the fabric spectrum. Reed's fabric is very light, slightly stretchy, with a fleece texture on the inside. My son, as a teenager, used to race on whitewater with a Reed top straight over his skin. They are more delicate than a typical drysuit, while DamX are top of the robustness tree. Reed make flesh coloured body suits for actors who need to keep warm while appearing not to be wearing much and I'm told they do actually sell gimp suits (on a different website!).
User avatar
leighv
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2022 12:40 pm
Location: Hertfordshire
Has thanked: 95 times
Been thanked: 86 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by leighv »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Thu May 16, 2024 8:03 am
Neither DamX nor Reed are stylish, but other than that they have nothing in common, they're at opposite ends of the fabric spectrum. Reed's fabric is very light, slightly stretchy, with a fleece texture on the inside.
But the fabric for both is rubbery to the touch, as opposed to a woven fabric like Goretex or various brands' proprietary fabrics like NRS' Hyprotex or Kokatat's Hydrus, which feel more like conventional outdoor kit (eg for hiking). That's what I meant about similar - the feel and type of fabric on the outside. Both DamX and Reed suits feel like you're wearing rubber.
My son, as a teenager, used to race on whitewater with a Reed top straight over his skin. They are more delicate than a typical drysuit
I've often been tempted to use Reed's spraydecks because they're so light, and I actually have one somewhere that came with a used boat I bought, but I've heard so many stories about them ripping. The fabric is definitely not very durable.
I'm told they do actually sell gimp suits (on a different website!).
I am definitely not surprised to hear that! :P
Sean_soup
Posts: 345
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:17 pm
Has thanked: 42 times
Been thanked: 116 times

Re: Curvy lady's kit

Post by Sean_soup »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Thu May 16, 2024 8:03 am
Reed make flesh coloured body suits for actors who need to keep warm while appearing not to be wearing much and I'm told they do actually sell gimp suits (on a different website!).
That last bit is a myth. Heard it from the horse's mouth - Chris Reed gave a talk at the Anglesey Symposium a few years ago.

He actually did explore the possibility at one point. Because Chillcheater have Aquatherm fabric manufactured specially for them to their own spec the minimum order is an awful lot of the stuff - *much* more than they needed to keep in stock back then and maybe even now. So he went along to a few trade fairs and the like to see if there might be a gap in the market to either manufacture products themselves or supply the fabric for someone else to do it. But as it turned out there wasn't - none of the people who like leather, latex or pvc were at all impressed by Aquatherm.
leighv wrote:
Thu May 16, 2024 10:36 am
I've often been tempted to use Reed's spraydecks because they're so light, and I actually have one somewhere that came with a used boat I bought, but I've heard so many stories about them ripping. The fabric is definitely not very durable.
Aquatherm spraydecks do need a wee bit more care than neoprene, especially if you do a lot of rescue drills. I guess there has to be a bit of a trade-off for them being lighter, packing down smaller and drying faster. The fabric is probably more durable than you think though, dunno, I haven't heard any of those stories. It's less stretchy than neoprene for sure, so they're less 'one size fits all' - they're made to order and you'd generally buy one to fit a specific boat. I can use the same neoprene deck on both my Delphin and Romany Surf - I don't think that would work with a Chillcheater deck.

The spraydecks (and clothing) are not for everyone to be sure, but fwiw if you use a cockpit cover while the boat is in transit Aquatherm is a no-brainer for that imo.
Post Reply

Return to “Sea Kayaking”