Dry Suits^

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Simon Willis
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Dry Suits^

Post by Simon Willis » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:08 pm

Seeing so many of the kayakers on Skye last Saturday wearing dry suits, and being the only guinea pig who took a swim, it was perhaps understandable that I started wondering whether I ought to get one.

Which dry suits do users recommend please?

I had a brief chat with Douglas about the Dam X (have I got the name right?) and the strategically placed, expensive-but-well-worth-it zip. I can't find retailers on the web, but I may have the name wrong.

Since dry-suits tend to be designed primarily for divers, are there any makes/models which are unsuitable for kayaking due to their bulk/cut/other restrictions? I've seen the models in the new Knoydart catalogue but hoped users might advise.

Thanks in advance.
S

Dave Thomas
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Dam-X dry suits

Post by Dave Thomas » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:22 pm

Andi Riley makes Dam-X dry-suits/cags/dry trousers to order (to your measurements) mail order. He doesn't AFAIK have a web site - e-mail him at damwatersports.drysuits@ntlworld.com to get details/prices/measurement chart.



I have drycag & trousers and have found them very good. I have heard many good comments from others - and only a very small number of negatives.



One comment on sizing: don't pull the tape measure too tight when measuring yourself - the allowance Andi claims to add in for fleece clothing etc isn't over-generous!



Dave Thomas

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Simon Willis
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Post by Simon Willis » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:28 pm

ah... something I hadn't thought about. Thanks Dave.

Could I add to my request advice regarding the relative merits of a dry suit as opposed to dry cag/trousers combo.
S

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tpage
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dry suit

Post by tpage » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:35 pm

Simon, I wouldnt go to the expense of getting a dry suit exclusively for sea paddling- get yourself some decent sallopettes or dry bottoms and a high quality dry top. It will be a lot more versitile - all year. This would be my personal preference.
I actually have a Kogg Polar dry suit for winter river paddling- but would never consider wearing it on the sea even in the depths of winter (unless for surfing- but even then probably not)- it will be way too hot under almost all conditions and once on I would be stuck with it. I would guess that the guys on the 5* were wearing the dry suits in anticipation of getting wet. The single occassion I did wear mine was on a 4* training and assessment- that involved wet exits and re-entries. Tony

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Post by Dave Thomas » Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:03 pm

Actually, Tony makes a very good point about rarely needing a drysuit on the sea - I overlooked the fact (in hastening to answer your specific question) that I normally wear a non-dry touring/sea cag and salopettes on the sea - the dry cag and dry trousers being principaly winter river wear, apart from training and asessments when 'wet stuff' is on the agenda!

Now to answer your second question (in case it is still relevant!). The 'two -piece' combination is not as bomb-proof as a one-piece drysuit - my gear will survive a relatively quick swim with no appreciable leakage around the waist, but does let some dampness in on a more extended swim (not unknown, I'm afraid!!!) - not saturated with an icy blast, provided I take care when layering the waist tubes together on trousers and cag, but enough to have decidedly wet fleece around the waist and legs at the end of the day. Advantages, it is cheaper (drysuit zips seem to be very expensive) and in principle more versatile (I do sometimes wear the dry cag plus wetsuit shorts in warmer conditions - eg summer on the Tryweryn). Disadvantage - you don't get the 'comfort zip'! (hence the need to re-layer waist tube seals, spraydeck, etc midway through the day!!)

Another comment: if you do go for 'dry' gear, latex bootees (with socks under) rather than ankle seals are great for keeping your feet dry and warm).

Dave Thomas

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Simon Willis
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Post by Simon Willis » Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:14 pm

This is VERY helpful, thanks.

Just to clarify, I was thinking of a dry suit specifically for wet-stuff, as well as the odd winter paddle. We've been practicing rolls in Sanna Bay off Ardnamurchan and it has been decidedly chilly! These photos were taken on the same day.
http://homepage.mac.com/simon.willis/PhotoAlbum56.html

Fortunately Liz my girl friend isn't that much smaller than me (no jokes please!) so we hoped to get one-between-two for practicing the "wet work". Which I believe is also a CIA term meaning something rather sinister.

We have Knoydart cags & salopettes which seem pretty good, and wet-suits which we currently use when we're planning to take a swim.

So advice on relative merits of different brands/models still appreciated please. Ta
S

tpage nli

Post by tpage nli » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:11 pm

Simon, I would recommend the kogg dry suits (in fact just about every piece of kayaking clothing I have was made by them)- but that wont help you as the company went bust- which is a shame. The palm kayak dry suits are excellent but very expensive. I also know people who have bought MUSTO sailing dry suits (almost bought one myself when Kogg told me i had to wait 6 weeks)- they are excellent value- bright yellow with a large single diagonal front zip. They stock them in Duncans in Glasgow- may even get one off the shelf.
Tony

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:31 pm

Based on my experience with my cag, I'd say Kokatak but not cheap! I recall visiting the chandlers at Largs marina last year and they had some dry suits at sub £100 - - -

Occasional use perhaps?

Mike.

CaileanMac
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brands...etc

Post by CaileanMac » Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:02 pm

If you can afford it - Kotatat is the only way to go, I have gore-tex custom suit (a months guiding wages) but its worth it's weight in gold, many times over. The quality of manufacture is a different league from any UK kit I have used over the past 10 years.

Here's a wee thought - have a look at the USD / GBP exchange rates:

http://www.x-rates.com/calculator.html

the rates are rather good at the minute... £1 = $2

Try on Kotatat drysuit or gear here for sizing and then buy over web? I live in Glasgow if want to try on suit / see kotatat suit for your own eyes.

Other options -

DamX gear will use for years and years..... good price too

Kogg - went bust two years ago

Sailing suits (Musto, Henri-Lloyd) too cumbersome for use in kayak.

Palm 'Surface Suits' - new to market but suspect it won't last more than a few seasons....

2 pieces suits - very flexible but don't cut the mustard if your agenda is about keeping dry (no leaks or drips...). Choices however and weight up how much actual use the suit (1 or 2) will get and then might aid you in your decision making.


Hope this is of some use.

Cailean:-)

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MikeB
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Re: brands...etc

Post by MikeB » Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:30 pm

CaileanMac wrote:the rates are rather good at the minute... £1 = $2

Try on Kotatat drysuit or gear here for sizing and then buy over web? I live in Glasgow if want to try on suit / see kotatat suit for your own eyes.
If you go down this route, can you let us know who / where and the shipping rate please?? I looked at this a while ago - the few us retailers I tried either wouldn't accept a non-us order or wanted extortionate shipping - at the time, I was in a hurry to get my cag and didn't really do much research as they couldn't supply in time anyway.

I did get some stuff brought back from the states by a very kind man (thanks again Jim!) and it was certainly an attractive way to buy if you didnt have shipping (and perhaps VAT?) to pay on top.

Regs - Mike.

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Post by gary bb » Fri Mar 18, 2005 10:04 pm

I know I`m leaving myslef open for a right kicking but here goes.....
Whats the difference between semi-dry and dry?
Ok I know half the answer,dry.Opposite to wet.Nuff said.
But.Semi-dry? Isn`t that the same as semi-pregnant/semi-dead?

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Simon Willis
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Post by Simon Willis » Fri Mar 18, 2005 11:52 pm

I'm glad you asked. I didn't want to complicate my question any further!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed advice, and I hope others have found it helpful too. I've decided to order a Dam-X. The reports are good and Kokatat is out of my price league considering how much I'd use it.

On the subject of buying in the US - I've bought mail-order from Canada and shipped (ages ago) and while it started out being cheap, it cost a lot in the end because I wasn't allowed to collect the gear from the Post Office until I paid the VAT which hikes the price. IMHO the only sensible way to buy from the US is to have a friend buy it and then bring or send it as a "gift". Even then they have to play down the value on the customs form and package it without any logos or stickers on the label which might make it look like a purchase.

Then there's the issue of warranty. I've a friend who learnt to his cost that a seller (of a Canon camera in this case) will insist a product has a "worldwide warranty". But when he got it home and need to use that warranty, he found Europe had an entirely separate warranty system. I don't know if Kokotat's UK importers support US purchased product.

Those with a keen eye on the Euro exchange rate might consider a cheap flight to Ireland to buy stuff and bring it back. I haven't studied this enough to know if the numbers add up.
S

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Douglas Wilcox
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Dam X

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sat Mar 19, 2005 8:02 am

Hi Simon, you will not go wrong with the Dam X. I did not go for the breathable version as my previous breathable trousers delaminated after 6/12. I have lost my specs and cant be bothered peering through all the posts, but has anyone mentioned what to wear under a dry suit. Ideally you should have something that wicks sweat through some kind of waterresistant membrane so that your skin is dry and any sweat stays outside the membrane.

I use buffalo trousers and shirt in really cold weather and polartec aquashell in cold weather. The aquashell can be worn on its own or with a conventional cag when the air gets warmer but the sea is still so cold you would not like to swim without thermal protection.

I also got the waterproof trousers with dry socks for clambering out into deeper water in the summer.


Oh and even if you are sharing a suit with Liz, that £50 zip is worth it!

Douglas :o)

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Post by MikeB » Sat Mar 19, 2005 9:25 am

Simon Willis wrote: I don't know if Kokotat's UK importers support US purchased product.
I see a fun scenario! Drop into Knoydart to spend a happy hour trying on suits, get advice and help etc. Buy from US / web. Return to Knoydart for warranty claim - - - -

I can just see Dave being really helpful and supportive.
Simon Willis wrote:
Those with a keen eye on the Euro exchange rate might consider a cheap flight to Ireland to buy stuff and bring it back. I haven't studied this enough to know if the numbers add up.
S
A web search last year found some bloke in Ireland offering Kokatak cags - at the time it worked out at £240 - bouht from Knoydart at £250.

The travelling friend is the answer I guess. Or go to Canada and buy lots of stuff and bring it back - - - -

Mike.
Last edited by MikeB on Sat Mar 19, 2005 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dave Thomas
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Semi-dry

Post by Dave Thomas » Sat Mar 19, 2005 9:25 am

My understanding of the term 'semi-dry' (but I'm willing to be corrected) is using neoprene rather than latex 'cone' seals on one or more of neck, wrists and ankles. More comfortable than latex 'cones' - particularly around the neck - and drier than adjustable velcro-fastened closures. They keeep out the powerful jet of icy water, but still allow significant seepage.

Dave Thomas

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Post by Tim Maud » Sat Mar 19, 2005 11:53 am

Hi,
Palm have two suits in their range at the moment. The Stikine suit was originally designed for a white water expedition in 2000, but folks like Olly Saunders have been using it extensively at sea. If you have watched his excellent sea kayaking instructional DVD, you would have seen the suits being put to some good use.

http://www.rockandseaproductions.com/

We finally replaced Ollie Grau's original suit (from the 2000 Stikine expedition) this year, not because it was worn out but we wanted to put it into the Palm gear hall of fame!!
The Stikine suit is used by guides, instructors and other such professionals all over the world. So I don't think their durability comes into question.
The other suit in the range at the moment is the Sidewinder Classic. This has been used in the the US and Japan as many out fitters main suit for their customers to use. It is not as high spec'd as the Stikine but again this suit has been on the market for a few years and durability does not come into question.

http://www.palmequipmenteurope.com/acat ... Pants.html

http://www.palmequipmenteurope.com/acat ... pants.html


We are bringing out a new suit in the near future which has been tested and used by Jeff Allen in his circumnavigation of Japan expedition. He has given it a real beating, whilst fight typhoons, floods and not to mention paddling in it. He had no major complaints.

http://seakayak.co.il/japan.html

Palm are also bringing out some new sea/touring paddle tops that will compliment salopettes and dry trousers for your two piece set up.
I hope you take a look at some of our gear, and if you get a chance, speak to Ollie or Jeff, I am sure they will be at some of the symposiums this year.
Thank you.
Tim Maud

Product Designer

Palm Equipment International Limited

www.palmequipmenteurope.com

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Sat Mar 19, 2005 12:30 pm

Thanks Tim.

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Post by gary bb » Sat Mar 19, 2005 11:54 pm

Thanks Dave.I`m glad somebody answered my question!
There`s something about the word seepage that makes me whince,but thats another story!
So if I`ve got this right semi-dry will breathe better than dry,because we all no that no matter how much you spend on super dooper breathable clothing,you still end up wet,moist or just cold and clammy.So.... if you don`t dunk,you`ll be dryer with semi-dry.But...if you do dunk,you`ll be dryer with dry.
It all makes seems so obvious now somebodys explained it!

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Post by MikeB » Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:21 am

Eeeeer - how does semi-dry keep you drier? Unless you've got wet, in which case it won't, but a dry suit would. If I read you right, you'll be damp in a dry suit, but dry in a semi dry suit, unless you're wet. If you're wet, you'll be dry in a damp dry suit, but wetter in a wet semi-dry suit - - - -

Its late -

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Post by boatin bish » Mon Mar 21, 2005 4:43 pm

it depends on the matereials that the suit is constructed from and also on the layering system that a particular person wears.
Work Hard! Play Hard!

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:17 pm

Someone claimed sailing drysuits are too cumbersome which I refute!

I use a trident drysuit (trident-uk.com I think) and don't find it cumbersome. Trident design and make their own suits and have a wide range of sizes and will build to measure for extra. The standard dinghy race suit is £260, non-breathable hard wearing fabric lower and soft breathable fabric upper, with belt and braces and built in latex socks and a back zip (front diagonal zip is extra). The price also includes the fleece undersuit. The only thing that detracts from the suit in a kayak is that is has no spray deck seal so water gets in the boat fairly easily, this could probably be prevented with an extra belt?

Not all sailing suits are the same, not all kayaking or diving suits are the same. I don't see any point in allow my legs to breathe when much of them is in contact with the boat (situation where breathability becomes seepability). My suit has had a years abuse and has lasted well (paddling, kitesurfing, kite buggy racing).

I agree that you won't use one much in a sea kayak, I had mine on the Bute trip last year and after the sun came out I nearly melted! But as I have braces (and a belt) I was able to simply roll the top down when it was sunny. Mine will go away with me at Easter, but as usual I will have separates and probably an old leaky cag and maybe my shortie cag with me so I can tailor my gear to the conditions!

JIM

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Post by Guest » Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:07 am

Hi All

Just found this site.. I am a sea kayak fisherman & use a sit on top style kayak -- this style is suited more for fishing mainly for stablity and ease of use reasons.

Kayak fishing is a new pasttime for me and I recently been buying a lot of my kit.. one item of which is a Kokatat dry suit.

After reading many reviews on the various dry suits available & talking to a few people a few things became obvious to me.. generally the cheaper nylon based suits do not do a good job of 'breathing' & you get end up too warm and too wet with sweat.

So, I took a deep breath, & went for the Kokatat goretex suit with relief zip and goretex booties and its the mutts nutts.. the suit offers little in terms of thermal protection which is good.. means I can wear it during the warmer months and simply add layers inside for when its cold. Was out in it yesterday for a good few hours near Hurst Point, the Solent, on a relatively warm day for this time of year. I certainly didnt get too warm despite the spring conditions.

Only on the really hot days & when the water temp is right will I be be shorts and tshirts!

On the way back I had to wade up a channel behind Hurst shingle bank as the tide was out wearing neoprene shoes over the suit. I didn't get wet inside...I have yet to go for a swim in this suit but will do soon.. from the way it is constructed and from what I have seen so far I am confident I can go swimming without getting wet. The Kokatat is the only goretex suit on the market specifically made for kayaking (I think!).

Buying from the US worked out cheaper for me than buying from Knoydart who I emailed prior to purchase and I never heard back from them :(-- also a supplier in Ireland who quoted me £600 for the GFER suit including delivery.

US based www.outdoorplay.com was my supplier and they currently bundle a FREE KOKATAT FLEECE SUIT with it -- I got this too. Its a polartec 100 fleece although the site says its 200. Polartec 100 is fine by me -- means I can gradually increase my layering system with this grade. By spending the $45 dollars to join the american canoe association you can get a 15% discount on this site. This is what I did. Your membership number may not be accepted if you use it when you check out (as database not updated often) so call Outdoorplay and get them to give you a number which you can use on the site.


I was quoted $50 shipping to the UK. The order was $750 after shipping charges.

I expected to incur import duty and charges and I did.
My charges based on a $700 value declaration under the category ' kayak goods' were:

Import Duty: £10.66
Excise Duty: 0.00
VAT: 70.96
Parcel Force clearance fee : £13.50

Total: £95.12

Goods were shipped USPS and I was able to track the moment of my suit through to UK customs online.. very good service.

If you find this information of benefit to you and do decide to go the same route I did and buy from outdoorplay I would appreciate it if you entered their site from my affiliate link (enabling 3rd party cookies in your firewall first) so I can earn modest commission on this. Sorry about this plug.

www.whathealth.com/gout (outdoorplay banner left hand side)

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Post by Guest » Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:10 am

Just checked their site again.. the free fleece liner is not running but they now have 25% off! Well worth buying its a bargain.

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:17 am

So, £400 (ish) + £95 for duty, VAT & clearance. Sounds like a reasonable saving !

What was the story with US purchase / sales tax btw - was it net?

Mike.

Guest

Post by Guest » Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:33 am

There was no sales tax when I ordered. Looking at their site now I can't see any sign of this promotional offer so can't comment on this. Worth contacting though.

Must add the reason why I went for a full dry suit was for safety reasons and so I can fish on the south coast year round. I mostly paddle on my own (not the best idea) & if the worse came & was dumped in the sea I would last longer in a dry suit then wet suit during the winter time.. heat & energy loss is obviously a lot less in a dry suit. Goretex booties appealed to me as I didnt want tight latex seal around the ankles. Can live with the wrist and neck seals they don't bother me in terms of comfort.

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Post by Richard Uren » Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:38 am

Doesn`t seem to have been mentioned yet but the Reed Chillcheater suits are well worth a look.Custom made and flexible enough for paddling, I have used one for about 18 mths. including plenty of immersions whilst learning to windsurf.



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John Cleaver
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Post by John Cleaver » Sat Apr 02, 2005 10:37 am

The only time I have ever worn a dry suit is while diving. Even in coolish weather I just remember being desperate to get in the water to cool off - the thought of paddling all day in one seems horrendous.

If the water AND the air is cold, then I can see that it is sensible; but personally I do not go paddling in those conditions - too old!

Here is a picture from Greenland, Disco Bay area. Water temp 2C, air temp about 15C, calm and sunny. We wore just the same as we would wear in Scotland in say May, and were perfectly comfortable.

What would you wear in these conditions?
Image
We did not go for a swim! If we had I would probably not be making this posting!
John Cleaver

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Post by Speciman » Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:20 pm

Hi Jim

As you probably know the dry suits made for diving are different in cut, material and breathablity compared to those made for kayaking. A goretex kayak suit offer little in terms of thermal protection -- you layer up underneath with high wicking layers which may include fleece during the colder water temps. Those who wear dry or paddling trousers & cags can be just as warm or cold as those wearing a goretex breathable dry suit.

During the really warm temperatures I guess its time to ditch the dry suits, cags etc and go for shorts and t shirt or long john neoprenes or a summer wet suit.

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Post by Whitey5678 » Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:08 pm

got to agree with richard... www.chillcheater.com
excellent dry suits, relief zip available, Chris Reed the owner and designer actually works in the factory cutting the material etc himself.
suits are custom made to your measurements not general sizing and he paddles as well.
Our club are almost exclusively paddling in his cags or dry suits now as they are superb.
he also does specific sea kayaking cag decks with hoods etc
top bloke!

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:44 pm

John Cleaver wrote: Here is a picture from Greenland, Disco Bay area. Water temp 2C, air temp about 15C, calm and sunny. We wore just the same as we would wear in Scotland in say May, and were perfectly comfortable.

What would you wear in these conditions?
We did not go for a swim! If we had I would probably not be making this posting!
Nothing more needs to be said really - - - - - - - - - -

Dress for immersion I guess!

;-) Mike. (Admitedly also getting old, but planning to get VERY old)

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