Drysuit recommendations?

I am looking at getting a drysuit and wondered what people recommend. I have looked at the Kokatat, Alpacka and Kokopelli websites but apart from big price and weight differences I’m not sure how to choose between them.

What did you get? Why? Have you been happy with it?

Hi Simone,

Am hoping that others will offer their thoughts and experience on this too. I have used a Kokotat Meridian suit for a number of years (http://kokatat.com/gore-texr-meridian-dry-suit-with-relief-zipper-men.html) and prior to that used a two piece Kokotat set-up. It is definitely very heavy and bulky but it is bombproof. I didn’t buy it just for packrafting as I also needed it for whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, river rescue training etc. As I work in these areas professionally I needed something robust that was going to handle anything and last forever. Probably next time I would get the model without the overskirt. The one thing I would say is definitely don’t get a semi-drysuit (one with only neoprene at the neck) or one made from a non-breatheable material but do get one with relief zippers. I have seen many drysuits being used on rivers over the years and the best feedback always seems to come from those made by Kokotat. Note that the Alpacka drysuits are also made by Kokatat.

If I could afford it I would love to have a lightweight suit as well but as I spend a lot of time walking through thick scrub/bush/forest and scrabbling around on sharp coarse rocks I have stuck with just having this heavy suit. The absolute best thing for me about this model (& similar ones) is having the gotetex socks. I love the fact that I can often wear normal socks and step in and out of my drysuit into/out of normal shoes. Previously I had latex cuffs at the ankles and I found I often had cold feet and it was a pain to get the suits on and off. However, goretex socks are also the main weak (& danger) point in a drysuit and do need particular attention and care (I am often putting Aquaseal on pin prick holes in my goretex socks). Alpacka correctly mention in their product info that all drysuits need maintenance and I completely agree. The advantage for those in the US is that they can send their suits to Kokatat for regular maintenance and revitalisation however due to freight costs this is not really viable in Australia. As a consequence I have personally replaced a lot of neck seals and wrist seals over the years and now it is no big deal to do it myself. On a major trip/expedition in a cold river environment I will always carry a spare neck and wrist seal and of course some Aquaseal.

I think for mainland Australia that the lightweight suits would work really well as most rivers are accessible without having to do a lot of heavy scrub-bashing to get there. Here in Tassie moving a few hundred metres through the bush/forest can literally take an hour and it may involve wriggling along the ground, getting under branches, etc. For my wife and I, outside of our packrafts, our bombproof drysuits have been our best paddling investment and completely worth the expense. It obviously depends though on what river environments you want to travel in as for those paddling in different environments to ours I am sure that the lighter weight suits work great. No doubt others on this site can/will offer more info on this option.

All the best, Mark

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the detailed feedback. Interestingly, it was the Kokatat Meridian Dry Suit that I was looking at online. I guess I have some thinking to do about where we think we will use them and you have provided some useful guidelines.


What did you decide on for a drysuit? I’m at that point now. I had not idea the Meridian was that durable, it was the top contender until now I see the ‘Tough’ from Alpacka and made by Kokatat. So I need to figure out which one to go with. Would love to know which you purchased and what your feedback is for durability. I had not idea the Meridian was heavy… but that may be 1lb or 2 lb heavier v diving suit heavy.

Has anyone used the Alpacka Stowaway Tough? If so, how did it perform? About how durable compared to regular drysuit (e.g. Kokotat Meredian)? Thanks!

I have a Stohlquist EZ. I love it and it’s cheap (relatively). The neck gasket is so comfortable compared to my old drysuit, and it’s a drysuit gasket not a semi-drysuit gasket. I weighed it - about 44 ounces

I have the same question. Can anyone offer advice on any of the three drysuit options Alpacka offers? https://www.alpackaraft.com/rafting/paddling-suits/

I have Alpacka’s lightest suit, the Stowaway. I’ve used it for three years and used it on probably around 80 days on various rivers - cold to warm. Day trips to week-long paddling/backpacking combinations. I’ve swum in it more than a good paddler should have (!) in water from 45 to 65 or so degrees, and paddled with it in air temps from 25 to 75 (maybe 80). I love it and I’ll definitely replace it if it wears out. For me the main point is the extreme light weight and compressed size when I’m backpacking. If you’re not going to be carrying the drysuit then I suspect other suits could be better - more durable, better gasket at the neck, possibly drier (although I’m not sure). But if you’re going packrafting (emphasis on the pack part) you ought to consider the Stowaway - it’s tiny when packed and weighs very little.

I’ve not used any other drysuit - so I can’t compare the stowaway to others. It keeps me warm enough. I use base layers, fleece, or R1, under the suit in could weather and thin base layers under the suit in hotter weather - I prefer the feel of at least a thin layer between my skin and the suit. When it is hot, those base layers are often damp at the end of the day after a paddle from persperation but I don’t find that uncomfortable or bothersome as they dry quickly at camp with the suit off. When it’s cold I’m usually dry when the suit comes off, but if there has been a lot of water over my deck (cruiser deck), especially at the back, the layers may be damp or slightly wet around my waist. I don’t feel that fluid when the suit is on, but if it’s really cold at camp, I might change out of those layers.

The suit usually dries well over night so I’m not putting in on wet in the morning. It is thin and if there is much bushwhacking involved in a scout or portage I take more care with spiny vegetation than I would in hiking pants and a shirt.

Not sure what else to say - I can’t imagine a better suit for trips that involve significant hiking.