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immersions suits kayaks

For Kayaking and Sailing

  Kayak drysuit

So whether it’s Sit On Top Kayaking, Kayak Angling, Sea Kayaking, Recreational, White water, Touring or Open Canoes we should all dress for the water temperature and the eventuality that you might end up in it.

It is important to note that though referred to as dry suits the suits sold for kayaking by companies such as Typhoon, Peak UK, Palm Equipment, Kokatat, Yak and Crewsaver are sold as Surface immersion Suits. E.g they are not designed for diving or for being submerged entirely under water but perfectly suited for sailing and kayaking.

Kayak dry suit


How does a drysuit work?

A dry suit doesn’t keep you warm on it’s own. The way to stay warm when paddling is to layer your clothing properly.

A layering system is only as strong as the weakest link.  A full dry suit over jeans and a cotton t-shirt is not going to keep you warm as neither have any insulating property.

However when a dry suit is accompanied with well-fitting base layers and fleeces you can stay warm and dry in some of the hardiest conditions!

Base Layer This layer must have wicking quality. A wicking layer will remove perspiration from against your skin. Fabrics like cotton soak the sweat up and leave it next to your skin cooling you down and defeating the point. 

Example The Yak Toki   drysuits kayaks

Mid Layers This is your insulation. Your mid layer can be lightweight or heavy weight depending on the temperature or you can wear more than one.  This layer or layers stop the heat your body is creating from leaving the suit keeping you toasty.  It also stops the cold water/air drawing the heat through your suit via conduction. 

Example The IR Union suit   Kayak drysuits

Outer layer/ Shell A dry suit is the outer most shell to your layering system.  It stops you getting cold by preventing wind and water touching your skin. Remaining dry is very important. Water  cools you down more than  20 times  faster than air of the same temperature.

Heat is lost to the environment in four ways

Radiation - Heat flows from a warmer object to a cooler one. Since your body is often warmer than the air, you lose heat when your skin is exposed. With the right clothing covering your body and a hat, you’ll probably be more comfortable.

Convection - Heat is lost through air movement. A cold, windy day will steal your heat and energy faster than a calm day. Windproof garments will cut convective heat loss.

Conduction - Heat is lost with contact with something cold and that loss is up to 32 times faster when that something cold is water. Conductive heat loss can be balanced with good insulation.

Evaporation - Heat dissipates when moisture leaves the body as vapor (perspiration). Even though it may be cold outside, if you are exerting yourself, you will sweat. As that sweat evaporates your body will get colder. You can manage that moisture with a good system of moisture wicking, hydrophobic insulation and breathable, waterproof clothing. By the way, cotton holds moisture, so it is not the best clothing to wear if you are trying to stay warm and dry.”

Taken from www.kokatat.com

Benefits of Dry Suits

We have highlighted the main benefits of a dry suit when compared with Two Piece's and Wet Suits.

  • Dry Suits vs Two Piece
  • Dry Suit vs A Wet Suit

Benefits of Dry Suits vs Two Piece

A dry suit has three major advantages over wearing a two piece outfit.

  • As there are no joins between top and bottom there is nowhere for water to “seep” in.
  • There is much less bulk in the middle as there is no overlap between top and bottom layers a dry suit is considerably less bulky in the middle for comfort and a greater freedom of movement.

  • The ease of pulling up to a venue and quickly sliding into a one piece dry suit with the confidence that your warm and dry for the day makes paddling faff free and very enjoyable!

Kayak drysuits

Photo Above:
Two hours bobbing around on a cool evening and not a bite but warm and comfortable in a drysuit

Benefits of Dry Suit vs Wet Suit

"We strongly recommend that you don’t use a wetsuit for kayaking during the colder months. "

Here are just some of the disadvantages of a wetsuits compared to dry suits.

  • A drysuit keeps you comfortable whether you stay in your boat or have a dip. If the day goes to plan and you spend all day in your kayak/canoe a wetsuit is particularly uncomfortable to be in all day. Whilst paddling and being active in a winter wetsuit you will most likely get very warm very fast. However when you stop (waiting for the shuttle, waiting with a throwline or waiting for the fish to bite) the water/sweat will cool against your skin and you will begin to get cold fast.
  • A wetsuit gives very poor freedom of movement as your body has to work against firm neoprene rather than the light stretchy fleece you would wear under a drysuit.

  • A wetsuit can make you wet and warm a dry suit keeps you dry and warm – what would you prefer?

  • A wetsuit has very little protection against the wind. Blocking the wind is essential to keeping warm!
  • Versatility. The beauty of a drysuit and a layering system is that you can adjust how warm the system is to suit the weather and activity. E.g If you’re going kayak fishing on a mild but windy day and you know you’re going to paddle 300m then stop for three hours at a mark to fish you can really layer up with plenty of fleece to keep you warm as you stop and fish. If you plan to get out in your sea kayak and paddle hard and fast for two hours a drysuit is still you choice but you can wear a fast wicking top such as a Helly Hansen lifa and a lightweight thermal.
  • Convenience. Most dry suits are now fitted with a convenience zip for when nature calls.


Suits you?

An explanation  on some of the more important features found in a drysuit to make sure your looking at the most appropriate suit for your needs. This is not about what is better or worse but more about what is going to work best for you.

  • Fit
  • Zips
  • Seals

A Good Fit

This is essential. We hold a good range of drysuits in stock, come try them on. Our staff are active paddlers with a great knowledge on the features and design of drysuits. Make sure its comfortable and gives you un restricted paddling movement.

As paddling increases in popularity the ranges expand and there has been a increase of ladies specific suits available. The Typhoon Ladies Multisport, The Palm Element Ladies Dry Suit and the Kokatat ladies range

Twin Waist or Single Waist?

A twin waist means there is a integral sleeve for the waist tube of your spray deck to fit under. This stops water and splash seeping down your waist tube and into your boat. This is a great feature to have if you use a boat with a spray deck but if you are a sit on top paddler or Open canoeist it is of no advantage. 

Kayak Dry Suit Dry suits


BDM zips are the hardest wearing and also tested to the highest pressure. These feature on the Typhoon Models, The Palm Stikine, The Nookie Assassin and The Yak Titan. The top end Kotakat suits use a similar “Optisela zip”.

Plastic zips are not tested to the same pressure but are more than up to the job of paddling. They tend to have a better flex for more comfortable paddling, especially the new master seal zips that are found on the Palm Torrent, Palm Spark, Peak UK suits and Kotakat suits.

Zip Locations

A convenience zip is a huge benefit for obvious reasons . Not just for the boys either, the she wee has been very popular but opinions are split. Palms Element and Kota kats female suits offer ingenious drop down seats.


Front entry or back entry 

As mentioned these features aren’t a matter of what is better or worse but what is better suited to you. Some people prefer a front entry zip as seen on the Palm Cascade and Kokatat offerings Others favour the traditional zip across the shoulders.

Peak UK have gone their own way on this and created an innovative suit that allows you enter through the legs via a master seal zip.  Easy to enter and un restricted movement on the top half

Video Below: Palms designer talking us through the New Palm Element Suit.

Palm @ Kanumesse - new Ladies Element suit! from James Bebbington on Vimeo

Drysuit Seals

Take note of what seals the suit features.  Neo seals are less fragile and offer more comfort whilst latex seals are much drier.

For those who plan to be rolling or in the water a lot a latex seals is often the preferred choice. The neo neck seals featured on the Aleutian, Spark and Hyper curve are for those who want comfort when paddling all day but with enough protection if taking a dip.


However with repeated dips or lots of rolling water is more likely to seep in.

Again we recommend people try suits out in our shop to make sure they can feel the difference between the options.

Video shown below: Tim and Barney from Palm equipment discuss the features of the Aleutian dry suit

Palm @ Kanumesse - New Aleutian suit - Available Spring 2012 from James Bebbington on Vimeo.


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