Dry Suit Buyer's Guide To Immersion Wear
Dry suits revolutionized kayaking and other water sports by allowing you to stay warm and dry even while in the water! Unlike wet suits, drysuits are loose fitting, comfortable to move around in and easy to get in and out of. With a drysuit, you control your warmth with the clothing layer(s) you wear under it -- the dry suit keeps your clothing dry, but it doesn't provide much insulation in or of itself.
Gore-Tex® drysuits and other waterproof/breathable dry suits (for example: Kokatat's Tropos T3 drysuits) have made dry suits comfortable to wear all day. Unlike the plain old waterproof drysuits, with GoreTex® and Tropos dry suits your sweat will "breathe" out through the fabric, yet the fabric is waterproof enough for surface swimming without water leaking in (it's magic!). With non-breathable dry suits you get soaked from your own perspiration. Same goes for most other non Gore-tex® drysuits even if they are advertised as "breathable". It's hard to quantify how "breathable" a fabric is, but in our field tests Kokatat's Goretex dry suits are still the driest of all (and yes we've tested Event® drysuits too). Kokatat was the first manufacturer to make waterproof/breathable dry suits that worked, and Kokatat is still the leader in waterproof-breathable dry suit manufacturing. To learn more about why Kokatat is the best brand of dry suits, click here Why buy a Kokatat dry suit. Suffice it to say, if we found other drysuits that worked as well, we'd be selling them too. The Kayak Academy proudly specializes in custom sized as well as standard fit dry suits by Kokatat. In fact we sell more custom fitted Kokatat drysuits than any other shop.
The two most popular options on drysuits are dry socks and pee systems. Dry socks make a dry suit much easier to step in and out of because the drysocks take the place of the tight fitting ankle gaskets -- so you can just step right in without having to bend over and stretch the ankle gaskets over your heel. Most men's dry suits are equipped with a waterproof "Relief" (pee) Zipper so you don't have to take all your gear off when natures calls. Women's drysuits can have either a waterproof drop-seat zipper or a front relief pee system (with the front Relief Zipper installed lowered than on men's suits so it can be used with a women's FUD Freshette® funnel).
Note we don't sell SCUBA diving dry suits. Diving dry suits cannot be made of waterproof/breathable fabric due to the high water pressure at depth. Also dive suits have large, clunky, expensive valves to let air in and out as you dive, and dive suits aren't cut for comfort when sitting in a kayak or paddling a canoe or raft, or sailing, walking in rain, and camping etc.)
To learn more about the difference between Tropos T3 and Gore Tex® dry suits, click here Tropos T3 vs. Gore-Tex®.
If you're not sure about which model or size drysuit is right for you, just call us Toll Free at: 1 866 306 1825. If you already know what you want, use our on-line store to click and buy any of the suits listed in our store (just use the message block in the check-out section to tell us your height, weight, shoe size, and other dimensions you think may be an issue, and we will double check your size selection before shipping the drysuit to you).
Call us perfectionists if you want, but we feel if you are going to spend $475.00 to $1300.00 on a piece of gear, it ought to fit and function as well as possible. So we put a lot of our time and expertise into every suit we sell. We us our own proprietary data to check the fit before selling you a dry suit. We double check the gaskets for nicks and other defects, we lubricate and seal the zipper(s), and that's just the beginning. So a dry suit from the Kayak Academy will fit better, keep you drier, last longer, and feel more comfortable than if you bought the same suit somewhere else. We are small and personal, but we stock the largest selection of men's and women's Kokatat Gore Tex and Tropos dry suit sizes and models including our own Silver Label Kokatat suits you won't find anywhere else. Other retailers generally consider XXL, King Size, and sometimes even women's sizes to be special order items, but we do our best to keep all men's and women's sizes in stock (including Women's XLS size). For women, we stock dry suits with and without Drop-Seat Zippers and front Relief Zippers (lowered for women) so you won't have to special order a suit just to get your choice of these important features. Most of the men's suits we stock have the waterproof fly ("Relief Zipper") since few guys want to live without that. After years of ordering custom sized suits (made to fit someone for whom the standard size suits didn't work) we now stock dry suits in what we've found to be the most commonly needed big and tall sizes and most commonly wanted features (i.e. arms or legs shortened for only $22 extra or body lengthened for $70 extra). So if you need a big or tall sized suit or special options, there is a good chance we have what you need already made up. If you need a dry suit with custom sizing or features that we don't have in stock, we are happy to order it for you -- with no "Special Order Fee", and if you need a suit to use right away, we'll even loan you one of our rental/loaner dry suits to use (free) while you wait for the manufacturer to build your custom dry suit (and we ship loaner suits anywhere in the US). So at the Kayak Academy you can have your cake and eat it too! We are on a first name basis with the folks at Kokatat and in near daily contact with them; we've toured their factory, given them input, done field testing for them, and we keep up on all the latest developments. We do more custom option and custom sized orders than any other Kokatat dealer. We do this custom sizing because we want you to enjoy using your dry suit as much as we enjoy wearing ours. When it comes to how much you'll use and enjoy your dry suit, getting the right style suit sized to fit you properly with the right size gaskets and/or dry socks makes all the difference. Everyone here owns and wears dry suits, and we have the experience to get it right for you.
Real Fit Charts Have Curves
You've seen clothing fit charts that simply say a given size fits anyone from this height to that etc., but you know it doesn't always work that way even with shirts and pants let alone a one-piece drysuit. In reality, a fit chart would need to have curves -- not strait lines, and that's the way our proprietary fit system works. Instead of simply relying on the manufacturer's sizing table, we've created our own fit system based on actual test data from fitting thousands of clients in drysuits. This is part of the Kayak Academy's "secret sauce", so we don't display our fit charts on the Web, but you can call us at 1 866 306 1825 and we will get you the best possible fitting dry suit - we guarantee it.
Are your feet big or small for your height? If so you'll need a suit with non-standard sized dry socks. Similarly if your wrists or neck are larger or smaller than average for your height you'll need non-standard combinations of suit/gasket sizes so your suit won't leak or choke you. We offer custom sizing of gaskets and dry socks at no extra charge, just call us at 1 866 306 1825 and we'll order a custom suit for you.
Dry Suit or Space Suit?
Perhaps you've gathered by now that buying a dry suit isn't as simple as buying a rain coat or pants. It's more like buying your first spacesuit. We wish we could automate the process and sell all our dry suits via an on-line shopping cart (sure would save us a lot of time), but you wouldn't get as good a suit that way. There are so many judgment calls involved that depend on personal preferences and types of uses that unless you've owned a drysuit before, it takes an experienced person willing to talk you through the choices to help you figure out what is best for you. That kind of service is part of what you get when you buy a dry suit or anything else from the Kayak Academy. Call us at 1 866 306 1825 and talk directly with George, Barb or Whende about buying your suit.
We not only sell dry suits, we often spend a week or more paddling and camping with the customers we've sold and rented dry suits to. We have put well over a thousand students into dry suits, and gone out on the water with them. Over the years you learn a lot about helping customers by being with them day and night while they wear the suit you sold or rented them. I, George Gronseth, (owner and founder of the Kayak Academy) have personally been using dry suits for sea kayaking, river kayaking, white water rafting, sail boarding, and snorkeling / free diving for over twenty years (times about 150 days/year of use which adds up to a lot of personal experience with dry suits). Barb has about the same number of years experience wearing an even broader selection of dry suit and semi-dry suits for all the same sports, and Bob has practically been living in his drysuit for years. Between us, we've sold dry suits for kite boarding, dinghy sailing, wake boarding, jet skiing, sail boarding, metal detecting, white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking. So when we say, "we have experience", it isn't just a slogan, and when you're making an investment as big and complicated as a new dry suit, you don't want to make a mistake. Even if some web site is having a sale, is it really worth the risk of wasting hundreds of dollars on a suit that doesn't fit you right or doesn't fit your needs? We see that a lot. And what if you have a question about using your new dry suit, or a problem with it later? Will they have the experience or take the time to help you? We will, and all you have to do is buy from us. We just don't want to hear you say, "I wish I had bought it from the Academy."
If you ever need to send your suit back to Kokatat for repair (other than replacing gaskets which we can do here or you can do yourself with our illustrated instructions and tools), we will loan you one of our rental suits for free while your dry suit is being repaired (provided you bought the suit from us). Kokatat water tests every new dry suit to assure there are no leaks, but we go a step further and make an extra five point inspection of every new suit before shipping it to you. So between Kokatat's exceptionally high quality and our extra preparation of suits we sell, it is very rare to have a warranty problem. However, it is possible to cut a suit with a knife or the end of a bolt. So it's good to know you bought your suit from the Kayak Academy, and at any time after buying a suit from us we are always here to help you. We also include our own dry suit maintenance/repair kit and our "Dry Suit Owner's Guide", by George Gronseth with every new dry suit suit we sell. Our "Owner's Guide" includes instructions for maintenance, field repairs, and washing. The maintenance kit includes the products Kokatat recommends for maintaining the zippers and gaskets for longer life.
We offer free shipping (UPS Ground or Priority Mail to the contiguous 48 states, Priority Mail only for AK and HI) within the US for all new dry suit sales, and no sales tax for suits shipped outside WA. Faster shipping available for an added fee.
If you're not sure which model or size drysuit is right for you, just call us at 1 866 306 1825. If you already know what you want, use our on-line shopping cart to click and buy any of the drysuits listed in our store (just use the message block in the check-out section to tell us your height, weight, shoe size, and other dimensions you think may be an issue, and we will double check your size selection before shipping the suit to you).