how to choose a kayak drysuit

Drysuit 101 Guide: How to Choose a Kayak Dry Suit 2023

A drysuit: what is it? The drysuit is a specific type of paddlesports apparel, to put it simply. In all save for the warmest temperatures, drysuits offer great levels of comfort and protection against immersion in cold water. Drysuits are a wise investment for many paddlers and the finest purchase you can make for comfort and safety when paddling.

You may use this dry suit guide or list to select the best kayak dry suit and learn about drysuit 101 guide – how to choose a kayak dry suit 2023. It will help you to find a good kayak wetsuit for yourself and be warmed when kayaking, paddling, fishing, and navigating whitewater.

Drysuit 101 Guide: Uses of a Kayak Dry Suit

Anytime the water is chilly enough to put you in danger of hypothermia when you go swimming, a drysuit should be worn. Although it can seem excessive, this is not the case. In a lot of North America, the summertime water is chilly enough to require a drysuit for ocean kayaking and whitewater rafting. Water dissipates heat from the body 25 times more quickly than air. This implies that if you are not properly attired, even cool water temps might be hazardous.

Neoprene wetsuits are popular choices for protection in cold water, but dry suits work better. Drysuits provide greater protection from immersion in cold water and a wider range of comfort in warm weather. Whatever way you look at it, drysuits are still a hidden weapon for comfort and safety when paddling.

Recommended reading: Best kayak for lakes in 2023

The Function of a Drysuit

Drysuits function by shielding your skin from the icy water. You won’t experience the water’s immediate cooling benefits if it can’t come into touch with your skin. Drysuits achieve this feat by enclosing your body in an airtight container.

The suit is constructed of waterproof materials, and entry is made possible through a waterproof zipper. Super-tight latex gaskets are used to seal the neck, wrist, and foot holes. Although various suits employ somewhat different materials and fasteners, the fundamental idea is the same: water is kept out, and you are kept warm.

Although the drysuit itself doesn’t provide any insulation, everything below will stay (almost) dry. This implies that you may adjust the amount of insulation beneath the suit to accommodate varying air and water temperatures. The main factor contributing to drysuits’ adaptability is their capacity to have variable levels of insulation for various environments.

Consider These Factors When Choosing A Dry Suit

How to Choose a Kayak Dry Suit

There are several things to consider while choosing the best kayak dry suit. Considerations for temperature, comfort, and movement are all crucial, and your requirements may vary based on the circumstances.

For instance, the only suit suitable for whitewater kayaking is the Emperor model made by Level Six. While each of the others has a certain use that is suited.

A dry suit’s specifics differ slightly, and this variation is reflected in both its pricing and its functionality. Think about these 5 components:

  • Dry suits or semi-dry suits: one for comfort and one for frigid extremes.
  • Whether the zipper has a front or rear entrance.
  • Booties are fabric or latex socks, or bulkier shoes.
  • Relief zip: Are you strong enough to resist?
  • Cuffs, zipper coverings, and a waist strap (tunnel) all increase durability and protection.

Having said that, while taking into account these components, other considerations to bear in mind when selecting the finest kayak dry suits for your demands also include:


Selecting the appropriate dry suit requires knowledge of the temperatures of the air and water to which you will be exposed. Generally speaking, hence more layers the dry suit must-have, the colder the weather. The dry suit can provide greater insulation and keep you warmer if it has more layers of cloth.


Kayak dry suits are made of a wide variety of materials. Most businesses use a unique combination of materials to create the layered textiles used in suits. Most dry suits are constructed from laminated sheets of nylon, butyl rubber, and Cordura insulated with an internal layer of polyurethane, sometimes known as Trilaminate and Cordura.


Different varieties of kayak dry suits are available to accommodate various kayaking styles and weather conditions. Get a dry suit such as the Gill Dinghy Kayaking Dry Suit, which offers plenty of insulation plus latex socks that keep your legs dry, if you own a sit-on-top kayak.

As an alternative, this Typhoon Multisport Five Kayak Dry Suit is preferable if you own a touring boat since it provides greater comfort and movement.


Dry suits for kayaking often cost around the same. Spending between $600-$900 on a high-quality kayak dry suit is reasonable. Consider this an investment in warmth and comfort so that you may take pleasure in your kayaking adventure without worrying about being chilly.


Your drysuit’s fabric should strike a balance between breathability and waterproofness.

Unfortunately, a lot of drysuits on the market today have one of these qualities compromised, which means that when your adventure is over, you might find yourself wet or moist from perspiration.

When it comes to the materials used to make drysuits, nylon and Gore-Tex are often the two choices.

There may be substitutes that perform almost as well as Gore-Tex and cost less, like proprietary laminate materials.

Before making a purchase, confirm that your paddling drysuit is composed of one of the following fabrics.


Remember that you’ll be wearing this outfit over your normal clothes even if you might be tempted to get a dry suit that is the same fit as your usual clothes.

You’ll need to put a few layers of clothing under the dry suit if you’re going kayaking in freezing weather.

So, to feel as relaxed as possible, it is preferable to choose a dry suit that is larger than your typical size.

Choose a drysuit that best fits your body and allows for greater movement if you intend to solely wear a drysuit and no other clothing, or only lightweight clothing like merino wool or spandex.

You are OK to go as long as your drysuit doesn’t limit how your appendages move.


When it comes to keeping you dry throughout your kayaking activities, a drysuit’s seals are equally crucial.

They should be waterproof and can be found on the wrists, neck, and ankles. If not, you will feel somewhat uncomfortable when the water soaks such places.

Drysuit seals are often constructed of latex, and while neoprene is an option for individuals who are allergic to latex, it is not as effective at keeping water out as latex.


Does your possible drysuit feature a luminous trim or a connected whistle, both of which are helpful in an emergency?

Even though we want to think the best, accidents may happen, and these characteristics might save your life if you get into danger when kayaking.

It is greatly advantageous if the drysuit you wish to purchase features waterproof pockets for securing important possessions.

Better still if it includes meshing drainage sections or other elements to keep you dry.

Other characteristics you may come across while looking for the finest drysuit for kayaking are:

  • Hoods for paddling in rainy and windy weather.
  • Coordinated dry socks that will assist with keeping the feet dry.
  • Circles for gear for joining lightweight stuff.
  • Solid patches in regions like elbows and knees, upgrade the sturdiness of the drysuit.

Don’t forget to take this into account before buying.

Entrance Type

Everyone will have a different favorite dry suit. You may favor a drysuit with a front or back closure or two distinct sections, such as a top and bottom for a kayak drysuit. You can choose the style of your entrance dress in any instance.

Selecting a drysuit with a “top and bottom” design will allow you to choose when to utilize either one or the other, or both parts.

If you decide to purchase a back entrance drysuit, a helper may be required to raise the zipper.

Zippers need to be waterproof to prevent water from leaking out and compromising your ability to stay dry under the suit.

Before making a choice, consider all of this.

Warranty Duration

If paddling is your sport, you’ll likely use your drysuit frequently, increasing the possibility of any form of ripping.

Utilize the drysuit while you still have the opportunity to replace it for free because many drysuit manufacturers frequently provide limited warranties.

As an alternative, you may spend more money on a high-quality drysuit so that you have one that you can use for a long period when kayaking.

A Release Zipper

When nature calls when you’re kayaking, you won’t want to take off your entire suit to answer the call.

Relief zippers are quite important in situations like these.

They are strategically placed on the suit’s bottom, back, and front and the design differs between men and women.

Make sure you choose the greatest drysuit for kayaking so you may relieve yourself most conveniently.

Types of Drysuits

1. Drysuits by Font-Zip

In front-zip drysuits, the entry zipper is placed across the drysuit’s chest, starting at the right upper shoulder & slanting downhill toward the left waist. The front-zip entrance has the benefit of being the most user-friendly arrangement to zip shut on your own. Most kayakers can zip the suits up and open them at the end of the day by grabbing the zipper tab with a little practice.

Front-zip suits have the drawback of placing the large zipper directly over your chest, which may be unpleasant. Due to the necessity for a flap that permits the zipper to open and close to pass through any sprayskirt tunnels included in the design, they are also less dry on boats than rear-zip suits.

2. Rear-Zip

Suits with a rear zip open and close over the shoulders. The zipper is set back from the breast in this style. The benefit is that no penetrations occur through the sprayskirt tube on the garment. Whitewater kayakers and sea kayakers frequently paddle in choppy water like rear-zip designs because a dryer sprayskirt tunnel equals a dryer boat.

Once you’re inside, rear-zip suits are excellent, but they may be difficult to shut. You could not be capable of zipping the outfit shut by yourself, based on how agile you are. If you’re spending the day on the riverside with companions, this won’t be an issue, but wearing the suit on solitary outings may be challenging.

3. Two-Piece

A few outfits that match top to bottom are available on the market. If you don’t require the entire protection of your drysuit, you may wear the top portion independently as a dry top. The most popular of these systems make use of a standard dry top with a dual tunnel and a specific pair of paddling bib trousers with a tunnel that matches. For security, the two tunnels are folded up and placed within the neoprene sprayskirt tunnel.

Although the dry top/bib drysuit alternative is flexible, it doesn’t offer nearly as much protection as a real drysuit. In actual use, its roll closure is challenging to maintain sealed, and if you swim, some water does go inside the suit. 

This indicates that this sort of equipment isn’t a dry suit in the traditional sense. A professional drysuit will perform better, but if you already own a nice dry top, adding a pair of bibs could extend your season and increase your safety.

Different dry suits available on the market join their top and bottom halves with a waterproof zipper. This makes it possible to wear the suit’s top alone as a dry top or to combine it with the drysuit pants to make a whole suit. 

The suit’s two pieces are sealed together completely dry thanks to the employment of a waterproof zipper. This is the safest choice if you want a single suit that can serve as both a dry suit and a dry top.

4. Semi-Drysuits

The semi-drysuit is one more category of suit that is worth mentioning. These suits normally have all the advantages of traditional dry suits but use a neoprene closure in place of the dry latex neck gasket. Although the closure can be changed for comfort & ventilation, it is not as dry as a latex gasket.

According to this theory, if you flip over and exit your kayak, your neck and head will immediately be above water, preventing you from letting much liquid in through the larger neck opening.

Given that you won’t likely turn over with your head submerged, semi-drysuits can be an excellent alternative for expedition canoeing. They may also be the best option for someone kayaking in cold water and extremely heated air. 

Some people can’t wear a suit with a collar gasket because they are allergic to latex. In these conditions, a semi-drysuit might be a wise decision. However, keep in mind that it didn’t keep you dry as a full-dry suit. The best choice is often a genuine dry suit.


1. What are the purposes of kayak dry suits?

Dry suits are required for paddlers who perform their sport in chilly environments that are frequently influenced by wind and rain. Dry jackets for kayaks are made to keep paddlers comfortable and dry in chilly weather. Kayakers should be able to move freely and comfortably in dry suits.

2. Why do I require a relief zip, and what is it?

The kayak dry suit has a relieving zip bag on the front that you can quickly access when the bathroom is needed. Although not necessary, it does make things simpler if you suddenly must use the restroom.

3. What kind of dry suit is best for a tourist kayak?

Touring boats keep you in a cockpit that is similar to a sit-in. Because of this, you won’t need a particularly thick dry suit and will likely be a little warmer than in a sit-on-top kayak. However, if you are paddling in a chilly environment, you should still wear a dry suit since it will keep you warm and dry while offering all the required weather protection.

4. What distinguishes a wet suit from a dry suit?

The primary method each kind of suit utilizes to maintain your temperature is where wet suits & dry suits diverge. Wet suits efficiently keep you warm by preventing fresh, cool water from coming into touch with your skin. Water is contained in the suit and heated by your body. Dry suits, in contrast, hands, prevent water from penetrating the suit through seals, keeping you dry & toasty by preventing water from coming into touch with your skin.

5. How should I pick a dry suit?

The suit you pick should not limit your range of motion, be simple to use, and not be overly tight around the neck, wrists, and ankles. If the drysuit features hard-bottomed boots, the overall size of the boots should also be taken into account.

6. What is the ideal drysuit fit?

It ought to fit snugly but not tightly. A tight neck seal could feel awkward out of the water if you are a novice to drysuit diving.

7. Does a dry suit make you float?

Air is present within the drysuit due to its construction. You will remain buoyant as a result and spend most of your time floating lightly on the water’s surface. If you decide on a dry suit, we advise putting on warm underwear below it.

8. What is the lifespan of a dry suit?

Of course, if you take care of a good dry suit, it may last you ten years or even longer. When using your dry suit, take care of it. The most important parts of a drysuit — the seals and zipper—are most vulnerable to damage when wearing and taking off the suit.

9. Can I use a dry suit without a BCD?

Contributor. You must employ the BCD to manage buoyancy. To keep warm and prevent being squeezed at depth, the dry suit must only be filled with air. To feel comfortable & prevent suit folds that might cause your skin to get indented under pressure, you should only utilize a minimal quantity of air within your dry suit.

10. Do dry suits entirely keep you dry?

The dry suit ensures that no water enters the suit and keeps you entirely dry. Neoprene foam,  vulcanized rubber, crushed neoprene, and robust nylon can all be used to create it. Additionally, it is completely sealed and keeps you dry using a combo of a neck seal, wrist seals, as well as a waterproof zipper.

11. How cold should a 3mm wetsuit be used?

The 3mm wetsuit, full-body wetsuit, or shorty wetsuit would be comfortable in 25–29°C (77–84°F) water temperature conditions. You can move around with complete flexibility and warmth in the sea with a 3mm wetsuit.

Conclusion: How to Choose a DrySuit

Now that you are aware of the important features to search for, you may purchase the best drysuit for 2023 available for kayaking. Consider how long you want to spend kayaking. You’ll need to have a relief zipper if it’s too long for restroom breaks. If it’s chilly outside when you go, keep in mind that the liquid will be frozen. Verify that your drysuit’s seals are sufficient and there is no leakage. Additional features like pockets, reflective trim or strips, and whistles are essential for your safety and are highly beneficial.

To avoid hypothermia, keep yourself warm and remember to layer below the dry suit.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this information. If you found it useful, please tell your other kayakers about it. Do you use a different dry suit for kayaking? Please share in the comments section.

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