If you want to use a kayak in colder weather conditions, you’ll find that investing in a high-quality drysuit is a smart strategy.
The right drysuit will keep you warm as you paddle. It may provide life-saving protection from hypothermia if you capsize. To help you find a style which is a perfect match for your needs, tastes and budget, we’ve created a practical buyer’s guide.
We’re going to recommend nine drysuits which offer impressive comfort and performance. All of these specialty garments are produced by trusted manufacturers. Before we check out these feature-packed drysuits, let’s talk about the top qualities of a good drysuit.
- 1 Top Qualities of the Best Drysuits
- 2 9 of the Best Drysuits for Kayaking
- 2.1 Stohlquist Ez Drysuit
- 2.2 Crewsaver Cirrus Drysuit
- 2.3 Stohlquist Amp Drysuit with Tunnel Drysuit
- 2.4 Kokatat Hydrus 3L SuperNova Angler Paddling Suit
- 2.5 Kokatat Women’s Gore-Tex Meridian Drysuit
- 2.6 Kokatat Men’s Gore-Tex Icon Drysuit
- 2.7 Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit
- 2.8 O’Neill Men’s Boost 300g Drysuit
- 2.9 Crewsaver Phase 2 Drysuit in Grey/Orange
Top Qualities of the Best Drysuits
A drysuit is a full-body garment that should:
- keep warmth inside
- keep external water out
- let internal moisture escape
The key to kayaking safely is dressing for the temperature of the water, rather than the air temperature. An excellent drysuit will help to protect you from the ill effects of frigid waters. It will also help you to feel comfortable as you paddle, by keeping you warm and protecting you from wind.
When the air and water are chilly (or even colder), a drysuit is the right garment to wear, even if the odds of capsizing are extremely low.
If you’re in the market for your first drysuit, or want to upgrade to a better drysuit, you will benefit from discovering the top qualities of these protective garments. Once you learn how to separate the good drysuits from the bad drysuits, you’ll be able to find a style which is a great investment.
Waterproof and Breathable Material
The drysuit will be your external layer of clothing. It’ll be your shell. It should always be waterproof and it should be made from a breathable fabric, such as nylon or Gore-Tex. While it may not seem like a waterproof fabric can “breathe”, the most impressive textiles do breathe while they keep water out.
If you are trying to decide between nylon and Gore-Tex, consider your budget. Nylon costs less, but doesn’t breathe as well as costlier Gore-Tex. When you pay a little more for Gore-Tex, you’ll find that you access a very high standard of breathability.
If affordability is a primary concern, nylon may be right for you. Plenty of drysuits are made from multiple layers of nylon. This material will breathe to some extent and it is waterproof.
While you’re shopping around, you should also look for moisture-wicking performance. Fabrics that wick away moisture pull moisture out of the body, into the exterior of the fabric. Once it is wicked away, moisture is able to evaporate quickly.
Without a drysuit that wicks away moisture, you’ll sweat as you paddle and your perspiration will become cold. You will feel chilled, clammy and uncomfortable.
Styles with handy pockets are available. For example, a drysuit with a thigh cargo pocket will be a sensible choice if you want somewhere to stash keys or other essentials. Some drysuits don’t have this feature. It’s not mandatory. Decide if it’s important to you.
If you find a great drysuit that doesn’t have a pocket or pockets, you may store your essentials in a dry bag which is kept inside of the cockpit of your kayak, or stashed under the bungee lacing on the exterior of your kayak.
Practical Front-Entry Zippers
Getting in and out of your drysuit should be easy. When you select a drysuit with practical, front-entry zippers (and relief zippers which make it simple to use the washroom when you have to), you’ll enjoy superb convenience.
Zipper systems should be fully waterproof.
Premium Seals at Neck and Wrists
Neoprene seals at neck and wrist tend to offer the best leak-proof performance, while still being comfortable to wear. Materials for neck and wrist seals (also known as gaskets) will vary. Latex is another material which is commonly utilized in drysuit seals. It offers good comfort and performance, but may not be as comfortable and durable as neoprene.
Drysuits which have all or most of of the features that we’ve just discussed will be good choices. Drysuits which lack many of these features should be avoided. It’s not hard to find an exceptional drysuit at any price point.
It’s all about knowing what to look for.
We’re going to recommended nine drysuits that are popular choices with kayaking enthusiasts.
One of these drysuits may be perfect for you.
9 of the Best Drysuits for Kayaking
Superb product options are out there online, for competitive prices.
Here are nine of the best:
Stohlquist Ez Drysuit
The mid-range Stohlquist Ez drysuit is crafted from tough nylon. Its four-layer construction ensures waterproof performance and breathability.
Equipped with a stretchy neck gasket made from neoprene, relief zippers and a cross-chest entry zipper which is waterproofed, the Stohquist Ez Drysuit offers a lot of impressive features.
This drysuit comes with fabric drysocks which are “one size fits all”.
Made in the USA, this comfortable and stylish garment is available in your choice of bright mango or basic black. The knees and seat of the drysuit are reinforced and feature mesh drainers.
Care for this drysuit by hand-washing it with soap and water.
Crewsaver Cirrus Drysuit
This sporty, red-and-black drysuit from Crewsaver comes with a drysuit dry bag and an underfleece. The drysuit is crafted from breathable, 3-ply material. Seams are taped for leak-proof performance.
This design has a front-entry zipper, as well as an abrasion-resistant seat and reinforced knees. Durable and easy to wear, the Crewsaver Cirrus Drysuit has neoprene gaskets at the neck and wrists, in addition to latex socks and internal braces. This garment doesn’t have a relief zipper.
Stohlquist Amp Drysuit with Tunnel Drysuit
The Stohlquist Amp Drysuit is made from four layers of nylon. Its twin-sensor material is rugged and comfortable. The shell of the garment comes with a DWR (durable water-resistant) finish. The fabric features a coating which is microporous and hydrophobic. Its membrane is laminated. Each Stolquist Amp Drysuit with Tunnel Drysuit features a lining made from nylon tricot.
This garment has relief zippers, as well as a MasterSeal entry zipper. The drysuit has Cordura-reinforced seat and knees which are equipped with mesh drainers. Fabric socks are included. These socks are “one size fits all” and they are waterproof. This drysuit is made in the USA and may be cleaned with soap and water.
Kokatat Hydrus 3L SuperNova Angler Paddling Suit
The SuperNova Angler Paddling Suit is ideal for guys who use their kayaks for fishing. It’s an angler’s suit which is made from a high-tech Hydrus 3L shell. This blue-and-black garment is reinforced at the knees, seat, lap and elbows. It’s equipped with a neoprene neck gasket. Cuff gaskets are made from latex. This drysuit has cuff closures which are hook-and-loop designs.
Sleek, sporty and comfy, this safety-enhancing drysuit has three-ply construction, including its rugged nylon shell. Its inner layer is crafted from moisture-wicking polyurethane. You’ll like the soft feel of the inner liner. Another advantage of this drysuit is that its neck collar may be adjusted for premium comfort.
Cast with ease, as this garment comes with a bungee drawcord waist that keeps fabric out of the way.
Kokatat Women’s Gore-Tex Meridian Drysuit
This high-end drysuit is just for the ladies and it’s an ideal choice for sea kayaking or whitewater kayaking. This stylish garment comes in Ice or Purple and it’s made from three layers of hardy, breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex. This design comes with a chest pocket that zips up. The pocket is self-draining and includes a lanyard for a key.
The gaskets of this drysuit are crafted from latex. The collar and cuffs are neoprene “punch-through” styles. If you want front-entry convenience, you’ll find that this garment delivers. Its waterproof, front relief zipper is an Optiseal design with rugged metal teeth.
Kokatat Men’s Gore-Tex Icon Drysuit
Another deluxe drysuit from Kokatat, this one for men, which is ideal for kayaking adventures.
When you invest in this high-end design, you’ll stay warm and dry as you explore colder waters. The shell of this drysuit is made from Evolution nylon. Under the shell, you’ll find three layers of Pro Laminate Gore-Tex, which will protect you from water and also wick away perspiration.
Wrist and neck seals are made from latex and they are watertight. The seals have over-cuffs which are crafted from neoprene. This garment features Gore-Tex socks which are integrated. This design has an overskirt that is dual-adjustable. It’ll be compatible with your kayak spray skirt. Stash your essentials in the chest pocket, which zips up. This drysuit is a bit different thanks to its rear-entry design.
Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit
If you want a kayaking drysuit which is rugged, waterproof and breathable, you’ll benefit from this impressive, yellow-and-black design.
It’s equipped with reinforced panels on the shoulders, seat, knees, forearms and elbows. These panels will protect your drysuit from abrasions. As well, this garment features an “across the shoulder” entry zipper which is waterproofed. The unique entry zipper design will help you to paddle effectively, without being hindered by a front zipper.
This drysuit is ideal for adventure kayaking and it is compatible with spray skirts. Equipped with overcuffs that feature convenient, hook-and-loop closures and protect the gaskets, in addition to a handy chest pocket, emergency whistle, a hand warmer pocket which is lined with fleece and an inner key pocket, this drysuit comes with a one-year warranty.
O’Neill Men’s Boost 300g Drysuit
The Boost men’s drysuit from O’Neill is made from a nylon shell that is breathable. The material is rugged and resists abrasions. If you prefer loose fit which makes it easy to move around and layer other clothing underneath, you’ll appreciate this “relaxed fit” garment.
Equipped with wrist and ankle seals which are crafted from thick latex, this drysuit is designed to keep water out and keep you warm and comfortable in the water or inside of your kayak. Sporty and stylish, this drysuit comes from a trusted name in boating and watersports apparel.
Crewsaver Phase 2 Drysuit in Grey/Orange
If dryness and comfort are your priorities, you’ll find that this drysuit and undersuit combo from Crewsaver offers premium performance. Perfect for adventure kayakers or sailors, this Phase 2 kit is completely breathable and features an “across the front” dry zipper system. This drysuit is also reinforced in all of the right places (the knees and seat). When you order, you’ll receive an underfleece suit which is a one-piece design, along with the drysuit shell.
Other key advantages of this drysuit system include taped seams, cuff and neck seals made from Glideskin Neoprene. sturdy internal braces crafted from nylon and latex socks. You’ll receive a dry bag with your drysuit and underfleece.
That rounds up our top picks for the best drysuits for kayaking and river adventures.
Do you have a favorite brand or drysuit that we haven’t mentioned?
We’d love to hear your top recommendations below!