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Dura Gore Tex Drysuit by Kokatat
For wilderness trips in the subarctic we like drysuits as
they offer the best possible protection against hypothermia induced by
the often icecold water. They can be a life insurance in more situations than
just a capsize. For example tracking, lining if you have to wade, rescues,
boat-recoveries and (!!!) scouting rapids are a lot easier with
My favorite drysuit for tripping in open canoes is the "Dura GoreTex
Drysuit" by Kokatat.
GoreTex makes this drysuit not only reliable waterproof but also
breathable. When travelling through the north I'm not permanently submerged from
exploring the inner architecture of every play-hole on the way, so this
Don't expect a miracle, it's not a t-shirt. Keep in mind that the gaskets
of the suits block air exchange through openings normal clothes
have. But, it can make the difference between scouting a rapid or
whishing to tear that thing apart as fast as you can. In genral, my
insulation layers do not get damp as fast, so they work longer, which enables
me to paddle in comfort for a long time.
The 3 ply lamination is based on a tough nylon with cordura reeinforcements
on knees down the shins and buttocks. Therefore, paddling in a kneeling
position is no problem for the suit, even with some dirt in the boat.
A nice feature are those small drainage holes where the suit is reinforced.
This lets water rinse out of the space between the layers.
The heavy duty metal zipper requires some power to operate, but
it is 100% waterproof and it lasts (...did you ever see one of these
zip duffles which HAD a waterproof zipper?).
It is placed diagonally along the suit's front, so that it can be
operated by the user himself, which is not the case, at least quite
harder, with suits having the zipper on the back side.
Another sort of complication belongs to the past since the invention of the
"relief zipper", a second, shorter zipper of the same quality.
It is placed where you would expect it for nature's call. No longer
do I have to pull down the whole upper part including wrenching hands and
head through the gaskets for every one of those events. No kidding! Don't
you know "Murphy's law of drysuits"? It makes you have to pee
every time at exactly the moment when you just finished putting on your
One optional pocket on arm and leg take utensils I want to have close
at hand. They are surprisingly roomy. Due to a geniously simple elastic
strip sewn into the 3D cut, the pockets return to a snug fit after
use. This prevents them from catching obstacles when I go for a swim
down some rapids without the boat.
Arm and head gaskets are covered by neoprene. This is important because
you loose lots of body heat at your wrists and throat. Also, the
latex material of the gaskets needs to be protected from direct sun light,
which deteriorates the latex quickly.
A really great option are integrated footies ("GoreTex socks"), especially
for open canoeists.
While other paddlers have their feet in the relative shelter under decks,
we suffer from cold, wet feet all too often. So, why should I put them, the
coldest part of my body, through gaskets outside the drysuit and cover
them with neoprene - a material whose limits in cold weather are the
reason to chose the drysuit?! Thanks to these socks, cold feet became an
Besides all these thoughtful options it is the superior ergonomic cut I
like; another technology-step ahead of comparable suits.
At first, you just feel a surplus of cloth an overall must have to enable
bending, kneeling and crouching (suits do not have the overlaping cloth
jacket and pants combinations have).
Once the river forces you to do some gymnastics in boulder fields you'll
know for shure what's a well designed drysuit and what's just a "Zip-Lock bag".
Note: there are special cuts and sizes for women, including a female version
of the "relief zipper"!
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