Women's Drysuit FAQ, How to Look And Feel Your Best In a Dry Suit
Feminine Function Features on Dry Suits and Paddling Suits for Women
Written by Barbara Sherrill
Fashion statement? Ladies, dry suits are about function, but here's how to make the best of it. Getting a suit that fits you is the most important component of your investment. Now, you might say, it's supposed to be baggy, and who cares if the legs and sleeves are so long on you that they are bunched up a few inches? Well it gets aggravating to be pulling your sleeve up after each stroke, or fussing with the legs to keep them from dragging on the ground everywhere you walk. If you are lucky to be a standard size that's great -- buy a stock suit, but if not we offer Big, Tall and Custom fitted suits too.
Once we've determined your size there are lots of options to choose from for your suit. Here are the questions most women ask:
- The neck is so hard to put on, what options do I have?
If you are buying the suit in case of an emergency wet exit and will not be intentionally swimming or Eskimo rolling in the suit, consider the Kokatat SuperNova Tropos Paddling Suit. The SuperNova suit is offered in women's sizes with a soft, stretchy neoprene neck instead of the standard latex rubber neck gasket. However, SuperNova suits are only offered in standard sizes and packaged with a drop seat and dry socks, no custom options available. For those who need a dry-suit with a latex neck gasket, but wish the neck gasket wasn't so tight, you can loosen the fit of the gasket by trimming it down or ask us to custom order one with a larger gasket. Gaskets are tapered and are narrowest at the top of the neck, the more you cut off the top the wider it gets. For those who are reading this because they are frustrated with the gasket fit on their own dry suit, retrofit after market gaskets are available in more sizes than offered on new suits.
- I don't like the big drop seat zipper, but I need some kind of a relief (pee) zipper. Do they make such a suit to fit women?
Yes, Kokatat custom builds women's Front Entry and Meridian style dry suits with a front Relief Zippers positioned 1" lower than the men's Relief Zipper. This lowered position makes it easier to use a Feminine Urinary Director (FUD). Also, some women will fit a standard men's suit which can be custom built with the 1" lowered relief zipper.
Where do I keep a FUD so that it is handy and I don't lose it?
We have included a Left Sleeve Pocket on our Silver Label Women's Front Relief Zipper suits that's perfect for the FUD.
Why should I get a drop seat or relief zipper at all?
Trust me, you may not think you need this feature, but you will. You may never need to use your kayak as a bathroom but it is nice to be able to slip away for a quick pee before launching. Even if you don't use it a lot, one emergency and you will feel this option has paid for it self.
I like the drop seat option, but how do I fit it correctly to make it easy to use?
The drop seat works best when you have a loose fit in the hips. This allows you to shift the fabric and zipper to a comfortable position to fit your kayak seat and backband. All base layer fabrics you wear must have stretch so you can shift layers easily. Split pee bottoms, OR's Banff Suit Liner with a hidden crotch zipper, and Kokatat Women's Polartec Liner with drop seat zipper are the best choices available. Always pack a tube of zipper wax, drop seat zippers need to be lubricated frequently so it will be easy to open and close by your self.
Will the Gore-tex and Tropos fabric insulate me from the cold water?
No, the fabric will not insulate you from the cold water. Polyester, polypropylene and wool base layers are the ultimate choices for wicking moisture and insulating next to your skin. Liner suits add insulation with less bulk and more comfort than a top and bottom in colder water and winter weather. Gore-tex and Tropos fabrics are waterproof and breathable (transporting vapor, perspiration away from your body). Whether you need the more expensive Gore-Tex or are satisfied with a Tropos suit will depend on your typical activity level, paddling weather conditions, what you wear under the dry-suit.
What will the dry suit feel like against my skin?
The Gore-tex has nylon tricot knit fabric (thin texture and silk-like) and the Tropos is a coated fabric (smooth texture and plastic film-like) on the inside. For comfort always wear a thin base layer to allow your body moisture to be move to the dry suit shell and keep the fabric away from your skin. A short sleeve top and capri work best for warm weather paddle trips.
Will I really be warm in a dry suit?
Yes, assuming you want to be warm. The key is to layer with the right number of layers of the appropriate weight. Dry-suits with an overskirt feature (i.e. Kokatat Meridian style suits) are slightly warmer due to the extra layer of fabric around the middle.
To learn more, see our Dry suit FAQ