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Last updated: June 23, 2021
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Your trips in a kayak are all about being adventurous, right? But adventure doesn’t mean you should leave all luxury and safety items at home. Buying one of the best drysuits for kayaking, you can make sure you’re prepared for cold weather conditions and even have a few features to help make your trips easier. If you’re kayaking in cold climates, this is actually a non-negotiable item. You need to stay dry, which makes an ordinary wetsuit impractical.
And now we want to make it easy for you to find the best suit to add to your gear. Our experts reviewed 28 of the most impressive ones on the 2020 market and then picked our favorite six to showcase below. In most cases we’ll advise you to try the Editor’s Choice, the Kokatat Hydrus 3.0 Meridian Dry Suit because it’s so comfortable, and the multiple pockets make it practical. And yes, there’s a women’s version too! But there are other great options on our list too, so browse before you buy.
During our reviews we looked at important aspects such as the fabric and its breathability. This is essential not only for comfortable kayaking but maintaining health—you don’t want trapped sweat to cool down and cause hypothermia. Other features are discussed to show you your suit doesn’t have to hinder in your adventures: pockets keep all your accessories on hand and with the right entry type you’ll get in and out of your suit quickly. Effortlessness is vital. And we tell all. To help you gauge your ideal investment you can use our comparison table below as well as browse the reviews. To help newbies understand the market we include a buying guide where you’ll learn more about this unique type of outfit.
Here you have a great all-in-one option, and you don’t have to break the bank to make it happen. Kokatat gives you multiple features such as handy pockets and even integrated socks at a very affordable price. The suit also has a relief zipper; one on the front for easy use.
And here’s the best news: the brand also manufactures a women’s version of this suit with a rear drop seat. This makes for effortless use if you need to relieve yourself—even better than the zippers found on some other designs. We also appreciate the selection of colors they make available. You can add some style to your outdoor gear.
Kokatat is a respected brand that uses the much-loved GORE-TEX fabric. The three layers of material create a comfortable and breathable suit. And of course, it’s waterproof, which is vital for this sport.
It’s the unique features that make something a practical investment: the brand added a lanyard to its pocket so you can make sure your keys stay safe and don’t accidentally fall out when you’re on the rough waters.
The brand uses both latex and neoprene for cuffs. Each fabric brings its own perks, so it’s a valuable suit all round. And that can be seen in the warranty as well: you’re covered for life. Part of its durability is thanks to the reinforced sections as can be seen at the seat and knee areas.
You’ll also enjoy a comfort fit after pulling on the bungee cord to adjust the suit around your waist.
Kokatat keeps on impressing with the second item on our list. First of all, we really appreciate the bright colors the brand chose for the top sections. You’ll be noticed easily by others, such as rescue parties, which is necessary if you enjoy kayaking in risky situations.
We also loved the extras you don’t find even in some of the best drysuits for whitewater kayaking other brands have on offer: a hood. It’s removable and easy to fold so you can pack it away when you know you won’t use it. But once it gets really cold, this may be exactly what you need to retain some body heat.
This is a unique design that only entered the market later on: Kokatat gives you a suit that separates at the waist which makes for very easy dressing and undressing. You can also wear only one section if a certain scenario makes it a more practical choice. You still get the brand’s three-layer design which will keep your dry and comfortable.
Kokatat keeps on impressing all niches in the market by giving women their own design. And you’ll just love the purple and orange in this range! On this model you have a relief zipper between the seat and the backband.
Kokatat promises the zippers are waterproof, and with their lifetime limited warranty you can have peace of mind that your adventures will be enjoyed while you’re dry inside the suit.
Bonus feature: your thigh pocket has a lanyard for your keys.
When you’re on the open sea and something goes wrong you want to be visible. That’s when a creative design like the Stohlquist will be to your benefit: it’s almost entirely yellow—or you can opt for orange—making you more visible for rescue parties. There are even reflective sections too.
This is another model that makes financial sense as it’s cheaper than the Kokatat one mentioned above.
It’s a cross-chest entry type suit, and this brand uses four layers to keep you dry. Don’t worry, it’s still a breathable suit. That’s thanks to a nylon shell, a hydrophobic layer over a hydrophilic laminated membrane and a nylon tricot lining which makes for great comfort.
The suit has a lifetime warranty, and once again reinforced sections add to its durability, so you’ll use it for a long time.
On this one the pocket is situated on your arm—a functional position for many sportsmen. It may not be as big as found on some other suits but there is a second pocket on the thigh though.
The brand added drysocks of a universally size so anyone will feel comfortable wearing this suit. The wrist over-cuffs are adjustable.
Users appreciate the suit keeping some heat inside; a perfect option when kayaking in the cold.
Women: you have your own version with unique relief zippers.
This is your best suits for whitewater kayaking, since they have so many practical features. We’ll start by mentioning the seat and knee panels complemented with Bi-layer Cordura. This helps the suit keep its durability even after some rough handling.
Next, the brand added an emergency whistle. When the water rages around you, this may be the only way to contact others in your party or be heard when someone’s looking for you.
We’re also impressed by the pockets meant to warm your hands. In icy conditions you’ll appreciate these. They’re lined with fleece for comfort and warmth.
You’ll enjoy a comfortable fit thanks to the adjustable features around the waist.
This brand added a pocket to the chest area, which makes for easy accessibility.
The brand manufactures these drysuits in a variety of colors, so you can match your suit with your gear, or pick the brightest hue for maximum noticeability.
There is a relief zipper feature, but this brand doesn’t provide a ladies’ version in this specific design.
It’s a rear entry suit; the only one on our list. The one benefit of this type is that it tends to give you less hindrance during paddling than a front entry design, so we had to include at least one option for you.
This brand focused on many small details to create a more comfortable experience, such as adjustable features like the neoprene gaskets.
Here’s another design with the handy extra feature of a removable hood. And these take our label of most versatile kayak drysuits. You can wear it in different ‘modes’. If you’re simply drifting along you can pull the section with the neck seal back over your head to the front so you feel more comfortable. You can still zip up the front zipper for some protection against wind or moisture. This is called the ‘standby mode’. The Captive Zip design helps you stay dry no matter what you’re up to. In ‘full dry mode’ the neck seal and hood will keep you dry.
Your feet and legs were thought of too when they designed this suit: you can wear it with or without boots. Either way, the Polytex seals will keep moisture out.
The brand chose various bright colors for the jacket sections so you’re easily visible in open water. Pick your favorite hue.
It’s designed for extreme water sports so you can be sure it’s comfortable to wear and move in.
It has all the necessary features such as relief zippers, and there are chest and waist pockets for easy access. The tight seals may make it difficult to put on, but it only takes a few practice sessions to get the hang of it.
You can use this anywhere, even at sea since it’s saltwater resistant. Your suit will stay in good condition.
Just note this model has a shorter warranty then many others on our list.
Even if you’re on a budget, you can still get an exceptional suit. This design gives you a three-layered suit for protection and waterproofing. Along with the Dynat waterproof zip, you’re kept dry. With latex socks included this is another exceptional kayak outfit that gives you an all-in-one solution. There are even ankle covers as an added layer of protection against moisture.
It’s still breathable, making for comfortable wearing. The combination of Nylon, Polyester and PU reinforced layers will still let air through.
The brand did their research and removed excess material to improve movability.
It will still serve you well for a long time thanks to the durability of the brand’s 5 Dot fabric. This is an ocean grade material. And the knees and seat areas are reinforced to sustain hard wearing.
Another feature that helps you with comfort is elastic braces. These are adjustable so you can customize your suit to your unique build.
Users report that the suit helps keep the wearer warm as well; a good feature if you enjoy kayaking in cold conditions.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have the relief zipper many kayaking sportsmen need. But Gill did add a pocket on the thigh for easy access to your valuables when needed.
Why did it make our list?
Pocket on thigh
Ocean grade fabric keeps you dry
Adjustable braces for comfort
What is not ideal about it?
No relief zipper
No ladies version
Things to Consider
When you shop for clothing—even for kayaking—there are many factors to consider. If you pick the wrong size or type, you’ll feel uncomfortable. And with kayaking the wrong suit can hamper your performance. So, let’s avoid that and help you understand this niche. Below we share all the important details about how to identify the ideal buy.
When it comes to your suit’s material you have the tricky task of finding a balance of your suit being waterproof but also breathable. Yes! Modern fabric can be both, but how much you’re willing to pay will determine how well your suit performs.
One popular material is nylon. It’s an affordable option and it keeps water out because it’s coated with hydrophilic substances. Your suit will have various layers of nylon. It’s important that you feel comfortable with this rather thick suit.
Don’t simply pick your usual size when you shop for the best drysuits for kayaking. Start with what you plan to use your suit for.
If you know you’ll kayak in extremely cold conditions on long trips where you’re bound to layer clothing underneath your suit, bigger is better. You need your suit to be slightly larger—not tight fitting. Otherwise you’ll feel constricted after putting on your suit over another jacket or jersey.
In contrast, if you’re used to only wearing a drysuit, a tight fitting one will allow for more movement. A snug fit IS comfortable, and you also won’t have excess fabric getting in the way. Just don’t have it too tight that you can’t easily move your limbs.
Remember: the suit itself won’t keep you warm as it’s usually not designed to provide warmth. It’s only a layer to keep you dry. So, if you know you’re kayaking in conditions with icy winds: layer up!
There isn’t a perfect option necessarily. It’s up to personal preference whether you want a back or front entry suit. Your suit will therefore either have a long zipper opening in front or at the back.
Lately you’ll also find brands that sell a suit with a top and bottom component so you can decide to wear one of them or both, depending on your activities. The Kokatat Men’s Gore-Tex Radius Drysuit is an example of this.
Depending on your suit type you’ll usually have additional zippers in certain places. This may prompt your choice of which design you prefer, so we discuss this separately below.
A drysuit should do what its name says: keep you dry. An important role player in this function is the seal aspect of the suit. There should be seals around your arms and neck and even your ankles if there aren’t socks attached.
Firstly, consider comfort. Will the seals allow movement while keeping water out?
Secondly, you can look at the type of seal the brand used. Most brands use either Latex or neoprene. Both work, but neoprene is the more comfortable and durable option.
Let’s start by saying that all your zippers—for entry and for relief—should be waterproof. You don’t want water leaking in!
Then, apart from entry zippers, drysuits have relief zippers to make life easier whenever ‘nature calls’. These additions are located at the back and bottom of the suit. They’re positioned differently for men and women. Some brands design suits so women can easily use them along with women’s pee funnels. So, ladies, you should keep browsing until you find one of the best drysuits for kayaking that affords you the most comfort—the fastest way to relieve yourself if you need to ‘go’.
If you’re spending some money on your favorite hobby, why not make sure you get real value for money? Innovative brands add handy features to drysuits to make them more practical, safe and user friendly.
For comfort, look on specs lists for outfits that have ankle and waist cinches, adjustable areas and even mesh draining areas. Anything that helps keep you dry is a bonus!
Your suit is also part of how you practice safe kayaking: a reflective trim could make the difference between life and death if you’re in trouble one day and a search party has to find you at night. An attached whistle also gives you some peace of mind. The Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit is an excellent example.
Durability and warranty
Some brands do provide you with warranties, though they’re often limited. Think about how often you will use your kayak suit. These suits will undergo some heavy duty use because that’s what kayaking requires. Because one tear can prevent it from doing its work it’s worth investing in more durable items that will last you longer.
Note that if you kayak, often your suit will wear out sooner than some other people’s.
Sportsmen use drysuits for many water sports such as kite surfing, kayaking, dinghy sailing and other scenarios where they want to keep dry. As long as the suit provides for enough movement it can be used in various water sports.
One of the biggest differences between men’s and women’s suits will be the position of the relief zippers. It’s positioned lower on the women’s outfits which makes it more appropriate to use with pee funnels.
In most cases you can try the same size of regular clothing that will fit a little baggy on your particular frame; definitely not super tight-fitting sizes. You need space to add layers of clothing underneath your drysuit. Also consider different cuts as some allow for more arm movement.
Your kayaking or other water sports can become safer and more comfortable when you buy the right outfit. We suggest you try the Kokatat Hydrus 3.0. It comes from a well-known brand and is a great balance between features & affordability. That earned it a 9.8 rating.
Alternatively, the Kokatat Gore-Tex Radius Drysuit is also wise option. We love that this brand offers a women’s version too. The 9.5 rating is thanks to the innovative hood which you can remove and unique features like the lanyard in the pocket. It’s also an option many want to try since a suit that splits at the waist is easy to wear and more versatile than some other type fits.
At #3 best drysuit for kayaking on our list with a 9.4 rating, you’ll spend your money well if you wear the Stohlquist Amp Drysuit. It’s a wise option for safety, thanks to reflective panels and the bright hue. It also has practical features like pockets, so it’s an all-round winner.