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Current thoughts on dry suits?
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 19215

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed. The marshmallow/Michelin Man effect contributed to the loss of all my gear when I couldn't catch it last April. It's easy to burp the suit of air, but ya gotta do it before, not after, a swim. Excess air contributes to warmth, so it can be a hassle tightroping the line between too much and not enough air. Of course, those considerations apply to any roomy drysuit, whether neoprene, Goretex, plastic, nylon, etc. These new super-stretchy, lightweight suits seem to be a good compromise between steamers and drysuits ... once you get the damned things on.
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wevans



Joined: 29 Aug 1999
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had an Ocean Rodeo Soul for about 4 years.

It's been pretty good so far. I had to fix one leak that I may have caused. The latex gaskets have held up well.

One big annoyance is how the harness hook sticks out of the "over-jacket". The problem being that the jacket material gets in the way. Trying to hook in can be a huge pain. This is fixable by wearing a makeshift "belt" just above and below the harness hook that forces the jacket material out of the way. At first, I used an old tie down strap. Now, I have a couple of elastic straps that have a buckle. (Note: It appears they've changed how the harness hook sticks out on newer models. But, I dunno if this fixes the annoyances I've had or not. )

The Heat seems to be lighter-duty, no hood and no relief zipper. The hood is sometimes nice, but maybe not worth extra money. The relief zipper is sometimes very nice to have. But, I'd be much more concerned about the apparent use of lighter-duty materials (200 Dernier vs 420).
The $1100 Ignite seems to mostly get you adjustable neoprene seals, and waterproof socks instead of latex gaskets. They look comfy and more durable, but I'm not sure if those are worth the extra $200, as I've always had latex. I also have some concerns about wearing the socks over booties. Seems like it might be uncomfortable, but I haven't tried them.
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rtz



Joined: 31 Oct 2010
Posts: 253
Location: Oklahoma City

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So why is the Kokatak so popular?
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wevans



Joined: 29 Aug 1999
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rtz wrote:
So why is the Kokatak so popular?


I think Kokatat was the one of the first to offer the baggy style drysuit (for paddling), so they've been around a loong time. Over that time, they've consistently offered high quality and excellent service.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 19215

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kokatat was the first (to my knowledge) to offer Goretex suits, which are phenomenally comfortable. "Like sailing in pajamas" is not an exaggeration, and they keep you comfortable on shore, too, because you and they stay dry* ... none of that clammy feel the non-breathing suits are notorious for. One bud tried multiple brands of similar suits, and returned them all until he bought a Kokatat and never looked back. Sorry, but I don't recall the other brands.

* Even if some water gets in in a long session, it quickly leaves the suit. In fact, it leaves the suit even when immersed, because moisture goes through the fabric from the warm side to the cool side, not wet to dry. The primary reasons not to wear them any time we need thermal protection are their cost, the hassle of donning and doffing them plus the underlying fleece, and keeping them burped the way you want. It's just so easy to throw on a cheap shorty or cheap wetsuit when we don't need lots of warmth.

I had a plastic (polyurethane?) Helly Hansen bag dry suit in the early '80s, and while it extended my season significantly, it was one clammy suit.
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wevans



Joined: 29 Aug 1999
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Even if some water gets in in a long session, it quickly leaves the suit. In fact, it leaves the suit even when immersed, because moisture goes through the fabric from the warm side to the cool side, not wet to dry.


My experience with staying dry in Goretex suits isn't nearly as good. Maybe I sweat a lot, but after an hour or so of sailing, I can get pretty damp inside the suit. A few times, I've actually changed clothes after a couple hours of sailing. That's a huge pain, though. Now, I just accept that I'll get wet and wear a thin wetsuit under the drysuit.


One thing that can help a lot is to restore the DWR (durable water repellency). When a suit is new, water instantly sheds off the suit - it never really gets wet. But, that wears off. Having water evaporate off the suit makes it much colder than if it just sheds off. A colder outside shell makes sweat condensation much worse. There are a number of products that you can use to restore the DWR. But, none of the ones I've used are quite as good as a new suit and some are a big pain to apply.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 19215

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spray the DWR on the suit if it starts to seep (the harness can induce some seeping), and annually I'll throw the suit in the washing machine with a dose of the wash-in version of DWR. When even that failed after a few years of scarce use, I sent them the suit. They declared it toast and sent me a new suit, at no cost for suit or shipping.

BTW, I spend a lot of time in the water, most immersions preceded by wipeouts that really test the cuffs. I've even snorkled and submerged searching for a lost fin and stayed bone dry (and found the fin).

Don't get me wrong. The Kokatats don't always keep my lower legs completely dry. A LONG, wet session can result in damp calves, maybe even a few ounces of water. But if I stay on shore for a while (I often keep the suit on all day), even the legs dry out. It's only after many days of use that I get disappointed in its performance and spray on the DWR again, and it takes more than a season to wear it "many days". I bought it to extend my season, not to wear when cheaper alternatives will keep me warm and safe.

If I'm sweating, I shed some insulation ... remove a layer, change suits, remove a hood ... whatever it takes to get comfortable again. I HATE being too warm; NOTHING -- not even sailing for many hours -- makes me feel as tired as overheating when sailing. The odd part is that I don't feel overheated as much as simply fatigued. The minute I recognize that, I re-dress, and on the next reach I feel, sail, and jibe MUCH better. I often dress in layers, such as a neoprene top over whatever suit I'm wearing, just so I can peel off just the top when I and/or the air temps warm up. Like a hood but less hassle, even just a neck gaiter makes a huge difference.
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DanWeiss



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 2276
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though long since discontinued, the Bare Polar Heat was the go-to drysuit for most of us in New England and Mid-Atlantic region. The Polar Heat was a hybrid design, with thick neoprene for the legs up to the waist then mated to a "bag"-style top. It also included a purpose-built fleece liner for the upper torso that snapped in place. The suit used latex seals for the wrists and neck, a strap for the ankles based on the assumption that most would use winter boots when wearing the suit in conditions when a latex seal could provide any greater benefit.

The O'Neill Assault Hybrid also is a hybrid design and enjoys a decent following, although the legs are only 3mm compared to the Bare's 6mm. That is a huge difference in useful range. You can see the O'Neill here: https://www.wileyski.com/product/on-assault-hybrid-drysuit/

As for swimming in a drysuit, only the full-bag suits make the task very difficult if not impossible. The hybrid suits are designed to be "burped" before going on the water so trying to swim in inflated-mode never occurred in my years of using the Bare.
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