When you’re kayaking, tumbling into the water is inevitable. You need to invest in a decent drysuit if you don’t want to end up uncomfortable or, in a worst case scenario, catching hypothermia while you’re out on the river.
We’ll walk you through getting a drysuit for kayaking the easy way.
What Is a Drysuit?
A drysuit is cut looser than a wetsuit but is sealed around the wrists and ankles, leaving you cocooned in totally dry, warm air. Unlike a wetsuit, you get no insulation to help keep you warm. If the climate dictates, simply layer up underneath and you’ll be toasty warm even if you tumble into the water time and again.
Drysuits are made from laminated nylon or Gore-Tex. You can also find neoprene drysuits. The idea is to get a waterproof and weather-resistant suit that’s also hard-wearing and highly breathable, so go with what feels best for your needs.
You’ll need to spend much more on a drysuit than a wetsuit, so you need to think about whether or not you really need one. That said, if looked after, your drysuit can give you a decade or more of faithful service, so you’ll get great overall value.
We’ll guide you now through what to look for when you’re tracking down the best drysuit for kayaking to simplify your buying decision.
What to Look For
Buying the best drysuit for kayaking is really not that complicated. Laser in on the following areas and you’ll end up paddling and fishing in a great deal more comfort.
Drysuits come in various fits, some pretty slim and body-hugging, and others with a much more relaxed cut. Think about your levels of activity when you’re kayaking as well as the climate.
Think about whether you prefer your clothing lean and tight or a little looser. You should also factor into the equation whether or not you’ll be layering clothes underneath.
What’s It Made Of?
Most of the very best drysuits are made from Gore-Tex. Although expensive, this waterproof and weatherproof fabric is highly breathable and well worth the investment if you can afford it. Nylon is also used for drysuits and this is often coated to ward off the water.
Look for reinforcements around the knees and rear. Neoprene cuffs at the neck, wrists, and ankles will prevent chafing.
The core purpose of any drysuit is to keep you warm and dry at the same time. It’s extremely dangerous to be out in cold weather but sweating under your clothes. You’ll end up exposing yourself to the risk of hypothermia.
This is why breathability should be near the top of your priorities when you’re looking for a drysuit for kayaking. Gore-Tex is the standout winner that also delivers remarkable durability.
Traditional drysuits come with either back or front entry. Getting in and out of a front entry suit is more straightforward.
Recently, however, a new style of drysuit has emerged which breaks down in the middle. This allows you to use the top or bottom section alone or both in tandem.
Price and Guarantee
Drysuits are not cheap, so you shouldn’t consider price your sole deciding factor. If you’re planning to put your suit through some boisterous action fishing or out on white water, it’s also worth keeping your eye on what kind of guarantee is offered.
Set your budget in advance and stick to it. Not only will you not then be tempted to overspend, your options will also be whittled down without you needing to do anything!
Now you’ve got a clear overview of what to look for in a drysuit for kayaking, here’s when you should you use one rather than opting for a traditional wetsuit.
When to Use a Wet or Dry Suit
In the majority of cold water conditions, a wetsuit will serve you best for performance in the water, but a drysuit will work better out of the water. This means if you’re kayaking and you’re more likely to take the occasional spill rather than spending your time swimming, you’re better off staying warm than prioritizing maneuverability in the water.
Whether you’re kayaking or stand up paddleboarding, if you’re hitting the water when it’s icy cold, investing in a drysuit is key. Drysuits rule when the mercury dips below 20 degrees Celsius.
Assuming you’re going to be kayaking and you’re sold on the idea of a drysuit, we’ll showcase six of the very best options.
Reviews of Top Kayaking Drysuits
1) O’Neill Boost 300g Drysuit
This breathable nylon drysuit from O’Neill combines impeccable brand heritage with ruthless efficiency so you can stay toasty in your kayak even if it’s the middle of winter and the water is cold beyond reason.
The loose fit of this suit serves you well in a couple of ways. First, you’ll enjoy plenty of freedom of movement without feeling hemmed in. Also, you’ll be able to wear as many layers of clothing as you need to underneath, making this an extremely versatile drysuit.
With latex at the ankles and wrists for security along with neoprene at the neck for maximum comfort, you’re in safe hands with the Boost.
- Keeps you beautifully warm on the water
- Relaxed fit allows you to layer up underneath
- Neoprene at the neck eliminates chafing
2) Ocean Rodeo Soul Breathable Drysuit
This sleek drysuit from Ocean Rodeo looks great, but it’s certainly not a case of form over function. The suit’s breathability is impressive, and the proprietary heating system in its underwear elevates this drysuit above much of the competition.
Waterproofed down to the zip and seams, entry is straightforward and you’ve got a zipper at the crotch for when you’re taken short. Available in a full range of sizes and a broad spread of colors, the Ocean Rodeo Soul is a strong contender for the best drysuit for kayaking at an incredibly good price point.
- Outstanding value without compromising performance
- Awesome heat retention ideal for bitter winters
- Robust enclosures keep all water out
3) Stolquist Drysuit
Stolquist is a heavy hitter in the drysuit arena, and the Amp is a classic in their substantial range of suits. This drysuit measures up at 7 feet and it’s 20 inches wide, so you’ve got a nice generous cut unless you’re the size of a pro athlete. This means you won’t feel restricted whether paddling or fishing.
The multi-layered fabric is breathable while also fending off the elements so you stay glowingly warm and dry as a bone. For a bargain basement price with top shelf performance, check out the Stolquist Amp and you won’t be disappointed.
- You’ll enjoy unfettered freedom of movement
- Waterproof and very breathable material
- Ideal combination of comfort and warmth
4) Kokatat Hydrus Meridian Drysuit
This great men’s drysuit is also available in a female version so choose from electric blue, orange or pink. This waterproof suit is made from nylon with reinforcing where it counts. You’ll get neoprene and latex gaskets and some socks for a toasty package.
A medium fit, you’ll be able to pile on the clothes underneath and remain comfortable even if it’s bitter cold and the water’s near freezing. If you’ve got any lingering doubts, Kokatat offer a class-leading lifetime guarantee. That shows the degree of confidence they have in this drysuit which is well worth a place on any list of the best kayaking drysuits.
- Super-warm suit perfect for adverse conditions
- Self-draining pocket is a nice touch
- Limited lifetime warranty for total peace of mind
5) Crewsaver Cirrus Drysuit
If you’re looking for a cheap drysuit for kayaking, Crewsaver has your back with the pocket-friendly Cirrus. You’re not going to get the ultimate breathability of Gore-Tex with most generic fabrics. Crewsaver don’t specify the nature of the triple-layered material but it feels good even if you get the impression it won’t last the distance.
All danger areas are nicely reinforced and you’ll get a fleece included so you can get going straight out the box. For a no-nonsense budget drysuit, the Cirrus can’t be beat.
- Outstanding value to performance ratio
- Drybag and fleece included
- Triple-layered fabric is fairly breathable
6) Level Six Emperor Drysuit
The Emperor is not the cheapest drysuit, but it’s certainly among the very best. The attention to detail extends to fleece-lined pockets so your hands stay as warm as the rest of your body even if it’s raw on the river.
All enclosures relief zippers are well-constructed, so this suit might be pricey, but it should last for many years if you don’t abuse it. If you have a more fluid budget and you want an intelligently designed drysuit which is the perfect all-rounder for kayaking, check out the Level Six Emperor.
- The ideal year-round drysuit
- Dual-cinch system keeps the waist nicely sealed
- Zippers don’t obstruct your paddling motion
We hope you’ve now got a good idea of the best kayaking drysuit for your needs.