5 Best Kayaking Drysuits That Actually Keep You Dry!

Best Kayaking Drysuits

Kayak drysuits open up new horizons, as they allow for year-round paddling and fishing even during the cold months of winter. Being able to go out in freezing weather conditions is a true game-changer for passionate kayakers and fishermen.

I started winter kayaking several years ago, it is an awesome hobby that is hard to stop once you start.

Having tried many dry suits during the years (rentals and own), I will give my opinion on the best drysuit for kayaking in this article. Also, I will explain how they work and what you need to look out for if you buy one. Let’s jump right in.

Best drysuits for kayaking in 2024 (reviews)

Here are the best mid-range and high-end kayaking drysuits that will keep you dry all day long.

Kokatat Legacy Gore-Tex Pro Dry Suit

Kokatat Mens Legacy Gore Tex Pro Dry Suit


Gore-Tex is the best drysuit material available in 2024
Lifetime warranty
Very comfortable
Men’s and women’s versions are available


No sprayskirt tunnel

This is my top pick for the best winter kayaking drysuit. It is an upgrade to the previous Kokatat Front-Entry model, with several noticeable improvements.

It is a front-entry suit made out of a new type of Gore-Tex that was developed jointly with Kokatat and released in 2021. It is called Gore-Tex Pro, and is a 7.2 oz/yd 3-layer fabric. It is thicker and more durable than the previous model, you can tell it is firmer when you put it on, but you don’t feel constrained in it at all.

The new Gore-Tex Pro material is the most rugged, comfortable, reliable, and functional drysuit material on the market, period. It keeps you dry of external water and still releases your own perspiration. Yes, Gore-Tex is magical.

As with most of Kokatat’s dry suits, you can customize the suit by adding any of the following features:

  • left or right shoulder pockets
  • front zipper (entry zipper) cover
  • reflective tape on the arm
  • internal suspenders, which make it more comfortable when you are walking around with the top off around your waist.

These extras can really add up though. The base price of the Kokatat Front Entry is $1,180, but selecting all of these options adds $500 to the final price.

You can even customize the exact fit of the inseam, sleeves, torso, drysocks, and gaskets. This will add another $300 to the price of the suit though.

Perhaps the only shortcoming of this suit is that it does not have a sprayskirt tunnel. If you need one for whitewater kayaking in the cold, you’ll need to spend a bit more on a Kokatat Meridian (see below).

The extras included in the base model of this drysuit are:

  • Made out of Gore-Tex Pro material
  • Reinforced seat and knees
  • Relief zipper for men, or extra-wide drop seat for women
  • Nylon zippers (which are lower profile than metal zippers)
  • Zipper flap to protect the relief and the entry zippers
  • Neoprene coated latex seals for increased tear and UV resistance
  • Fabric drysocks
  • Adjustable wrist and ankle
  • Bungee drawcord at waist
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Sizes S-XXXL

All Kokatat kayak drysuits are water tested at the factory before being shipped out.

Kokatat Mens Legacy Gore Tex Pro Dry Suit Front

Kokatat Legacy Gore-Tex Pro

review rating stars

Great fabric and wear

Editor’s Choice

This is the upgraded version of Kokatat’s most popular model, the Kokatat Front-Entry. It is a no-frills dry suit that just works, thanks to the fabric used, and the comfortable fit. This makes it my pick for the best drysuit for kayaking.

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Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian

Kokatat Hydrus 3l Meridian Features


Hydrus is almost as good as Gore-Tex
Lifetime warranty
Many features, including sprayskirt tunnel
Men’s and women’s versions are available


No customizable features

The Meridian is another very popular Kokatat drysuit. It is front entry, meaning you get in through the front zipper (which is my preference by the way).

This suit uses Kokatat’s Hydrus 3.0 fabric, which is a 4.57 oz. 3 layered fabric. It keeps water out perfectly, but is not as good at breathability (letting your sweat exit the material) as Gore-Tex. This is noticeable when you paddle on a sunny day.

Hydrus fabric is probably the best on the market after Gore-Tex, performing at around 80% of it in terms of breathability. It is 100% as waterproof, so it will keep you dry from external water.

By the way, this suit can be purchased with the new Gore-Tex Pro fabric as well, but it is $400 more expensive. The 2 models are otherwise identical.

The Hydrus 3.0 version cannot be customized, but the Gore-Tex one can. You don’t really need much customization of this suit though, as it has a lot of extra features that make it ideal for winter kayaking, even in whitewater.

This suit is available in both men’s and women’s versions, with the latter having a drop seat.

The main features of the Kokatat Meridian are:

  • Reinforced knees and seat
  • Sprayskirt tunnel
  • Covered front zipper
  • Front relief zipper for men and rear dropseat for women
  • Self-draining, zippered chest pocket
  • Neoprene coated latex gaskets for increased tear and UV resistance
  • Fabric drysocks
  • Adjustable wrist and ankle
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Sizes S-XXL

If you want a lot of features and can compromise on breathability, the Kokatat Hydrus 3.0 Meridian is a good choice. In a non-Gore-Tex world, this might be the best drysuit for kayaking.

Kokatat Hydrus 3l Meridian Drysuit Review

Kokatat Hydrus Meridian

review rating stars

Loads of features, great for whitewater

Top Non-GoreTex Choice

If you want to save a few hundred dollars but want Kokatat’s quality and many features, the Meridian made of Kokatat’s Hydrus 3.0 fabric is a good choice.

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Kokatat Gore-Tex Pro Idol

Kokatat Goretex Pro Idol


2 piece suit that stays waterproof
Lifetime warranty
Many features, including sprayskirt tunnel
Men’s and women’s versions are available


No customizable features

Kokatat’s Idol 2 piece drysuit is made of the new Gore-Tex Pro fabric as of 2021.

The advantage of 2 piece drysuits is that you can use the 2 parts separately as a dry suit, dry top, or pants. They are also easier to put on/take off.

This suit incorporates the company’s SwitchZip zipper system, which creates a totally waterproof seal between the top and bottom parts of the wetsuit.

This is a pretty big deal, since other 2 piece dry suits that have a foldover connection between the top and bottom parts aren’t perfectly waterproof if you’re in the water for a long time. This is what makes this one of the best drysuits for kayaking.

The suit is super durable as well, with Cordura fabric present not just in the usual knees and seat, but below the waist and over the shoulders as well. It also has neoprene-covered latex gaskets for added durability.

The extras of the Kokatat Idol are:

  • 2 piece dry suit
  • Durable with lots of Cordura reinforced parts
  • Reinforced knees and seat
  • Sprayskirt tunnel
  • Relief zipper
  • Self-draining, zippered sleeve pocket
  • Neoprene coated latex seals for increased tear and UV resistance
  • Fabric drysocks
  • Adjustable wrist and ankle
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Sizes S-XXL
Kokatat Idol Gore Tex Pro

Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol

review rating stars

2 piece drysuit that stays dry

2 piece drysuit

The zipper system that Kokatat uses on the Idol dry suit actually keeps the suit dry, even after being in the water for longer than just a dip.

The versatility and convenience of this suit are awesome.

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NRS Extreme

Nrs Extreme Drysuits Mozaic


Durable, watertight fabric
Front relief zipper
3 -year warranty
Lower price


Not as breathable as Gore-Tex
No separate men’s & women’s

The Extreme is a budget-friendly dry suit by NRS, a reputable brand. It has a relaxed fit and is a front-entry suit, with a covered front zipper

It uses their 4 Layer Eclipse fabric to keep water out, and air in. This fabric is on the thick side, meaning it is durable and provides a bit of warmth as well.

The Extreme is totally waterproof, you can swim in it for as long as you want. It is not as breathable as Gore-Tex though, so if you are a very sweaty type, you should go with a higher-end fabric.

This suit’s sizing is unisex, so there is no separate men’s/women’s cut. It comes with a front relief zipper only.

This is a no-frills suit at a lower price point. It does not have any extras (like a pocket or spray skirt tunnel), but it is well made and NRS provides a good warranty in case something goes wrong.

The extras of this suit are:

  • Reinforced in high-wear areas with an additional layer of th Eclipse fabric
  • Front relief zipper
  • Neoprene coated latex seals for increased tear and UV resistance
  • Eclipse fabric drysocks
  • Adjustable wrist and ankle
  • Reflective material on arms and legs
  • Buckle waist band
  • NRS limited lifetime warranty (does not cover wear and tear)
  • Sizes S-XXXL

Overall, if you need to save some money, this NRS suit should be OK. If you need more extras, have a look at the Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian above, which costs about $100 more.

Nrs Extreme Drysuit

NRS Extreme

review rating stars

No-frills suit

Budget option

If you are looking for a low-priced, yet reliable drysuit, the Extreme is a good choice. It is totally waterproof, but doesn’t breath as well as Gore-Tex suits do. Being a budget suit, it also doesn’t have any extra features, nor a women’s model.

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Level Six Emperor 2022 Ply Drysuit

Level 6 Emperor Drysuit 2022


Very tough, suitable for whitewater kayaking
Multiple reinforcements
Lifetime warranty
Lots of extras at a good price
Hand warming chest pocket


Somewhat bulky because of the heavy-duty materials
Rear-entry needs getting used to (for me at least)

The Emperor is a loose fit, rear-entry drysuit made out of a durable 3 ply material that the company calls eXhaust 3.0.

It was redesigned in 2022, building and improving on the previous Emperor 3.0 model.

It has reinforcements all over the suit, and the material itself is thick as well. This is as tough as they come, meaning you can safely go whitewater kayaking/rafting during winter in this drysuit. All the toughness makes the Empreror the bulkiest dry suit in the list.

The extra features of the Line Six Empreror are:

  • Reinforced seat, knees, elbows, forearms
  • Double tunnel waistband for a watertight seal around your sprayskirt
  • Relief zipper
  • Articulated stitching which allows more freedom of movement when paddling
  • Dry socks
  • Fleece lined hand warming chest pockets
  • Latex gaskets covered with neoprene to protect against tears and UV
  • Several pockets
  • Emergency whistle
  • Lifetime warranty against defects (not wear and tear)
  • Sizes XS-XXL

If you are looking for a durable kayak drysuit that will keep you dry, the Emperor should be your pick.

Level 6 Emperor Drysuit 2022 Front

Level Six Emperor

review rating stars

This suit can take a punch

Extra rugged

If you are looking for a drysuit that can take a beating, the Emperor by Level Six is a good choice. The material is safe for whitewater kayaking and is reinforced in all the right places.

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How do kayak drysuits work?

The first dry suits were used by divers, but drysuits specialized for kayaking and water sports have been available since the 2000s. They are different from dive suits though, allowing for more freedom of movement and comfort.

Modern dry suits use advanced materials and seals (gaskets) at the ankles, wrists, and neck area to keep water from entering the suit. At the same time, they are breathable, meaning they let your sweat exit the fabric.

Kaykaing Drysuit Parts

High quality kayak drysuits will have the following features:

  • Neck gasket – Latex seal to keep water out around the neck opening. Can also be made of neopreme, but Latex is better at staying dry. The seals are flexible and comfortable.
  • Wrist gasket – Similar to the neck gasket, keeps water out around the wrist.
  • Ankle gasket – Just like the neck and wrist gaskets, the ankle seal keeps water out around your foot.
  • Entry zipper – Waterproof zipper for putting the suit on. The front zipper means the above is a front-entry suit, but there are back-entry suits as well.
  • Relief zipper – When mother nature calls, this makes things very convenient. Women’s drysuits have a dropseat. Just unzip and go.
  • Reinforced knees/seat– Reinforced patches to strengthen the suit in areas of high friction.
  • Dry socks – Optional extra, but worth it. Dry socks are made of the same material as the suit itself and are permanently attached to the suit.

Drysuits are quite amazing when you think about it, since they:

  • Keep the water out, even if you go swimming in your drysuit.
  • The best drysuit fabrics are breathable, meaning they let your sweat out (but don’t let the water in).

You can paddle for hours, go swimming, and still be completely dry at the end of the day.

When do you need to wear a drysuit for kayaking?

The temperature of the water you paddle in will determine whether you need to wear a drysuit or a wetsuit. When the water temperature drops below 60°F (15°C), wearing a drysuit is recommended.

Here is a chart to show you at what temperatures you should wear a dry suit for kayaking.

70 °F <Low3 mm wetsuit or shorty
60-70 °FModerate5 mm wetsuit
50-60 °FHighDrysuit or 7 mm wetsuit, or wetsuit with dry-top
> 50 °FExtremeDrysuit

How to choose a kayak drysuit?

You already know my pick for the drysuit for kayaking, but how do you go about choosing the right one for yourself?

Here are the most important characteristics and features you need to be aware of before buying a kayak drysuit. You should also read my article on winter kayaking clothes.

What materials are dry suits made of?

The main fabric

The fabric of a drysuit is made of laminated layers of nylon. It needs to be durable, as it will be put out to a lot of friction during an average kayak trip. The fabric also needs to be breathable, so it lets your sweat out through the material but doesn’t let water in. As you can expect, there are huge differences in material quality and functionality!

The best material for drysuits is developed by Gore-Tex. After decades of research and development, their material is the best in the industry. It is 100% waterproof and 100% breathable, so you stay dry of your sweat even on sunny days.

The new Gore-Tex Pro fabric was released in 2021. It is an upgrade to previous Gore-Tex suits made by Kokatat, in that the new material is thicker, sturdier, but still very comfortable.

Hydrus 3L, developed by Kokatat, is almost as good, but is cheaper. Stohlquist and Level Six also make good fabrics, but again, they are not as breathable as Gore-Tex. The same goes for NRS’s Eclipse fabric.

Fabric manufacturers coat the nylon with water repellent chemicals, but the result is lessened breathability, especially with low-grade fabrics. They might keep water out, but you will get damp from your own perspiration and become a big plastic bag of sweat.

Seals (aka gaskets)

The neck and wrist gaskets of kayaking drysuits are made of either neopreme (like wetsuits), latex, or silicone:

  • Neoprene is not 100% waterproof, it will let a bit of water in when you turn your head. It will also stretch with time. Some people find neoprene gaskets comfortable, some don’t. It’s a matter of preference.
  • Latex is my preference, it is more comfortable for me. It seals better than neoprene, but being rubber, it is prone to UV deterioration. You should treat it with 303 UV protectant every so often.
    Latex has a rather short lifespan. A latex seal is not going to last more than 2 years, it will tear from use. Neoprene lasts longer than latex.
  • Silicone is UV resistant and very comfortable, but it tears easier than latex.


Drysuits can come with either metal zips or plastic zips. Metal zippers need maintenance against rusting, while plastic zips do not (because plastic doesn’t rust).

Loose or tight-fitting drysuits

The fabric of a dry suit does not stretch much, so they need to be slightly baggy for a comfortable fit.

When you shop for a dry suit, you will notice that they are labeled as loose-fitting, medium, or tight-fitting.

Loose fitting drysuits let you layer your undergarments more effectively, as there is more room in the suit for multiple layers of thermal protection.

Tight-fitting drysuits are less bulky, but don’t allow for as much layering as a loose-fitting model. However, if you’ll be paddling in milder weather and water, a tight-fitting drysuit will be OK.

Medium fitting drysuits are somewhere in between, as you might have expected.

But with that said, if you can only buy 1 dry suit, I think it should be a looser one. You can layer your clothes if you go out in the cold and still move around comfortably.

Entry type

With respect to entry method, there are 3 types of drysuits:

Back entry

A back entry drysuit has a big long waterproof zipper running across the back of the suit.

After putting the suit on, you need to have somebody close the zipper for you. If there is nobody around, you can put a string on it, or even hook it into a nail in the wall and zip it yourself.

Rear Entry Drysuit

Front entry

With front entry suits, the zipper is on the front side.

For me, these front zipper dry suits are somewhat easier to put on. This is a matter of preference though.

Front Entry Drysuit

2 piece drysuits

2 piece drysuits are a great innovation, as they are versatile. They can be used as a drysuit, a dry top, or the pants.

These dry suits join at the waist with either:

  1. A zipper, which you zip across your waist.
  2. Multiple folds of material that you roll together. Such folding models are not 100% waterproof though, as the water will find its way in between the folds if you are submerged for long.

Kokatat has 2 piece drysuits (Radius, Idol), which use a zipper at the waist. They become completely waterproof.

2 Piece Drysuit

Is a front vs rear entry drysuit better?

It’s a matter of preference. For example, I like front entry wetsuits, since I find it easier to put on and zip. Also, I can unzip it and leave the top hanging around my waist when resting without it being in the way.

If you are a man and your kayak drysuit doesn’t have a relief zipper, a front entry suit is more convenient for when you have to use the bathroom. The opposite is true for women, a rear entry suit with a rear zipper is more convenient in such a case.

Warranty and serviceability

A dry suit can cost upwards of $1000. It may even be more expensive than your kayak!

Look for drysuits that have at least a 3-year warranty against manufacturing problems, such as failing seals and leaky zippers. The warranty does not cover wear and tear though, so you need your wetsuit to be serviceable. Gaskets need replacing with time, or you may puncture the suit. Unless you want to buy a new wetsuit every few years, it is important to buy a brand name model.

Kokatat is great at honoring their warrant. You can send the suit to their factory, and they will repair or replace it. The process takes 1-2 months though, and you have to pay shipping & handling, plus a testing fee (around $40).

Extra features

Drysuits are not generic garments at all. If you’re willing to put up extra money, you can get extra features that add to the comfort and durability of the suit:

  • Waterproof pockets – If you want to keep your phone, car keys, etc. close by, dry suits with waterproof pockets are nice to have. You will have a waterproof bag in your kayak though, so it’s not really an issue if your suit does not integrate this feature.
  • Relief zipper for men or drop seat for women – When you have to go to the potty, these extras come in handy. Not having one is a real hassle.
  • Reinforced knees – Your knees are braced against your kayak, so protecting the knee area is useful.
  • Reinforced buttocks – Useful since your bum goes back and forth all day long as you paddle.
  • Dry socks – They make your journey comfortable, drier, and warm. Dry socks are thin, so you need comfortable water wicking socks under them to stay warm, and you also need to wear something over them. The most obvious choice here is neoprene booties. Booties don’t let your sweat evaporate, which is the reason you need socks that wick the moisture up towards your pants where the suit can “breath” it out.
  • Hoodie – If you know you will kayak in the rain and cold wind, hoodies are useful. If not, a neoprene divers hat does the job just fine.
  • Nylon loops – Drysuits made for fishing can have nylon loops built into the suit. Fisherman can hang their light gear, such as tackle, on these loops.
  • Reflective stripes – Having reflective stripes on the suit is a great safety feature. It makes the kayaker easier to spot by larger boats, and can also aid in a rescue. On that note, when choosing the color of the suit, you want to get a vibrant color that is easy to spot.

Kayaking drysuit FAQs

Are you new to the world of inflatable boats? Then my Getting Started Guide is for you. You’ll find tips, tricks, and how-to articles to start off right.

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