Best Drysuit For Kayaking In 2023 – Stay Dry And Prevent Hypothermia

Waterproof but breathable fabrics, water-tight gaskets, and enough room for thermal layers you can wear underneath to stay warm and dry; that’s what the best kayaking drysuits bring to the table. You’d be silly not to invest in one if you often find yourself navigating colder waters. But here’s the ...
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Sam OBrien

Founder, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Expert

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

Waterproof but breathable fabrics, water-tight gaskets, and enough room for thermal layers you can wear underneath to stay warm and dry; that’s what the best kayaking drysuits bring to the table.

You’d be silly not to invest in one if you often find yourself navigating colder waters.

But here’s the tricky part:

Choosing the right drysuit isn’t as easy as finding one that fits.

Allow me to guide you through the wide selection of kayaking drysuits available on the market – and we can choose the best one together! 

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At A Glance: Here Are Our Picks for Best Dry Suit for Kayaking

  • Overall Winner:  Kokatat Hydrus 3L Drysuit
    “A highly practical, comfortable, feature-rich, and reasonably-priced – Kokatat’s Hydrus 3L is an immediate classic among drysuits.”
  • Premium Pick:  Kokatat Men’s Gore-Tex Meridian
    “The Kokatat GORE-TEX Meridian drysuit is like you’re wearing a waterproof hug. It kept me completely dry – while still being breathable. Worth every penny.”
  • Budget-Friendly:  Level Six Cronos Semi-Dry Suit
    “Who knew being semi-dry could feel so good? Give the Level Six Cronos semi-dry suit a shot; you won’t be disappointed – especially considering that you don’t have to spend a fortune.”
  • Top Men’s Choice:  Stohlquist Amp Drysuit
    “You get the bells and whistles – on a budget. At this point, I’m pretty sure the Stohlquist Amp drysuit has superpowers. I could swear I saw it deflect a lightning bolt at one point.”
  • Top Women’s Choice:  Kokatat Women’s Hydrus Swift Entry Drysuit
    “Finally, a drysuit that doesn’t force you to twist yourself to get into it. My wife swears by her Kokatat Swift Entry drysuit and considers it a budget-friendly game-changer!””
  • Top Kids’ Choice:  Kokatat Youth Hydrus Supernova
    “The Kokatat Youth Hydrus Supernova might be a kids-sized drysuit, but it offers the same level of protection you’d find in any of the models made for grown-ups. And that’s what matters most.”
  • Best Rear-Zip:  Level Six Emperor Dry Suit
    “If you prefer rear-zip entry drysuits – or have someone to zip you up – the Level Six Emperor is definitely worth considering. It gets extra points for the practical pockets!”
  • Best Kayak Drysuit For Comfort:  Nomad Comfort-Neck Drysuit
    “The NRS Nomad Comfort-Neck drysuit seriously takes comfort to the next level. You will forget that you’re wearing it – although you probably won’t forget the price tag.”

In A Rush? After 41 Hours Of Research – The Winner Of Best Kayaking Drysuit: 


Kokatat Hydrus 3L Drysuit

Why is it better?

  • Made from Kokatat’s proprietary three-layer fabric that performs comparably to Gore-Tex waterproofness- and breathability-wise
  • It’s a front-zip drysuit, complete with a relief zipper for maximum convenience
  • Reasonably priced and suitable for kayakers on a budget while still being as feature-rich as some pricier models
  • It has a self-draining, zippered chest pocket and a key lanyard
  • Features built-in dry socks and reinforced seat and knee patches
  • The dual adjustable overskirt ensures a better seal when paired with a spray skirt
  • Backed by Kokatat’s limited lifetime warranty

Do I Need A Drysuit For Kayaking?

upstream kayaking

The not-so-straightforward answer to a question like that begins with a counter-question:

Where – and, more importantly, in what conditions – will you be kayaking? 

A drysuit is a piece of water sports equipment that, as the name implies, is meant to keep a person dry while they’re on the water. The combination of waterproof fabrics and water-tight gaskets on the neck, wrists, and ankles seals the moisture out. 

You can stay on the water for hours, end up taking a swim – and you’ll still come out as dry as you were when you first got to your put-in spot.

As such, a kayak drysuit is an effective means of staying dry and protecting yourself in case of immersion. Even more so, given the loose-fitting design and the fact that you’re in control of the level of warmth – based on the layers worn underneath – drysuits are inherently more versatile, too.

When deciding whether you need a drysuit for kayaking, it’s best to do a quick risk assessment that’ll factor in the temperatures and the environment.

Will you be in a cold water environment, where the temperatures are at – or below – 60 degrees Fahrenheit? Will you be kayaking in open waters or running whitewater rapids? Is there a risk of cold shock and hypothermia if you end up in the water? Would you prefer to stay dry?

If the answer is “Yes,” then – yes, you do need a drysuit for kayaking.

There are instances where a wetsuit for kayaking would be the preferred choice, such as when the risk of hypothermia is moderate to low. However, generally speaking, in water temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, kayaking drysuits are the only efficient method of staying dry and warm

How To Choose A Drysuit For Kayaking: Things You Need To Consider

Man in red drysuit and yellow pfd holding kayak paddle

Your kayak drysuit will likely be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment – other than the actual kayak, that is – that you’ll invest in as a paddler.

How much does a drysuit cost, exactly?

Well, you can expect to spend at least half a grand – but higher-quality, feature-rich drysuits can cost upwards of a thousand bucks. But I’d like to add that they last a very long time – 15 or so years on average. 

9 tips to make your drysuit last longer

Still, when choosing the best drysuit for kayaking, make sure that you’re getting the best value for your money. 

Drysuit Material: What Are Kayaking Drysuits Made Of? 

Drysuits are made of waterproof – and, ideally, breathable – materials. But what exactly are your options in terms of construction?

How a Drysuit is Made -

You generally have two options – Gore-Tex and nylon. However, many manufacturers came up with proprietary laminate materials for making drysuits for kayaking that perform almost as good as Gore-Tex but are a bit easier on the wallet.

Here’s a quick run-down of the most commonly used materials:

  • Gore-Tex – This highly durable, high-end laminate fabric is made of ePTFE or expanded polytetrafluoroethylene. It’s more expensive than other materials since it boasts a higher level of breathability, so it’s reserved for making high-end kayaking drysuits. The extra cost is almost always worth it, as no other material comes close to Gore-Tex in terms of breathability and durability.
  • Nylon – Cheaper drysuits are typically made from this material. Urethane-coated nylon fabrics – essentially, nylon that’s treated with a waterproof coating – are good at sealing the water out but aren’t as breathable. Sweating and, in turn, build-up of moisture inside the drysuit will likely be an issue.
  • Proprietary Laminate Materials – These are also a combination of a waterproof-but-breathable membrane that’s sandwiched between two fabric layers. Brands developed these fabrics as a cheaper alternative to Gore-Tex, and while they can be almost as good, they’re generally not as breathable as the “original.” 

What About The Seals?

The seals – also known as gaskets – are the second most crucial part of a kayaking drysuit to consider construction-wise. In addition to the waterproof fabrics, water-tight seals are vital for ensuring that the drysuit functions properly.

Latex is the most common choice of material for making the neck, wrist, and ankle gaskets, as it’s very efficient at keeping the water out of the drysuit.

Dry vs. Semi-Dry Suits - Tips on Differences and Uses - Kayak Hipster

However, for those who are allergic to latex or find the latex neck gaskets a little uncomfortable, neoprene can be a decent – albeit not entirely water-tight – alternative. 

Relief Zippers: Waterproof & Strategically Placed

Entry points are generally strategically placed to ensure maximum efficiency of a kayak drysuit; it’s not your average piece of clothing that we’re talking about here, after all.

Quick Tips | How to Put On a Drysuit

Now, in terms of entry points – this is pretty much a fancy way of saying “zippers” – you’ll have two options:

Kokatat Gore-Tex-Front Drysuit Mantis

  • Front entry, where the main entry zipper runs across the chest, starting at the shoulder and toward the side of your waist. Front relief zipper drysuits are generally easier to put on and zip up by yourself. 
Woman in semi-dry kayak dry suit showing rear entry zip
  • Rear entry, where the zipper runs across the back of the drysuit, between the shoulders. Rear-zip drysuits are a popular choice among whitewater kayakers, who need to pair the suit with a spray skirt. However, you’ll probably need someone’s help closing it.

Up until recently, these were your only options.

However, there’s now a third style of kayaking drysuits – the so-called two-piece drysuits – with a zipper that runs across the waist. The zipper joins the top and bottom parts into a full-body drysuit while also allowing you to use them separately.

Besides the main – or entry – zipper, you want to check if the drysuit comes with the so-called relief zipper.

If you’ve ever worn a wetsuit before, you’re probably aware that you generally have two options when it comes to bathroom breaks:

Taking the entire suit off every time or – well, peeing in it.

While that’s something you could technically do in a wetsuit, drysuits have a different design – and that means bathroom breaks usually involve a bit more forethought.

In any way, a relief zipper – also called a “drop seat” on women’s models – is a feature to consider when choosing the best drysuit for kayaking. 

Size & Fit: How Do I Know A Drysuit Fits Me?

When you start browsing the market, you’ll notice that the best kayaking drysuits can be labeled as “loose-fitting,” “relaxed,” and, in some cases, even “tight-fitting.

Instructions for self-measuring a SANTI dry suit

You can generally expect drysuits to be roomy and comfortable; you’re supposed to add a layer or two underneath for warmth, after all. As for the tight-fitting models, don’t expect them to be as skin-tight as wetsuits tend to be: 

They’re just less bulky and don’t have as much excess fabric to allow for improved mobility.

With that in mind, when checking the fit of a new drysuit for kayaking, consider the following:

  • Does it accommodate the insulating layers you’ll wear underneath?
  • Does it feel tight when you sit down or bring your elbows together?
  • Does it fit well around the waist?
  • Do the built-in dry socks fit you?
  • How tight are the gaskets, especially the neck one?
  • Does it allow for freedom of movement throughout your paddling stroke?

Additional Features: Your Wants & Needs

You’re paying a lot of money for that kayak drysuit; you’re entitled to some wants and needs.

There are plenty of extra features that make the best kayaking drysuits more functional, comfy, safe, and user-friendly. Not all of them are absolutely necessary per se – but they often make a difference between “good” and “great.

Here are some examples of the additional kayak drysuit features worth considering:

  • Waterproof pockets will allow you to store essential personal items and valuables, as well as kayaking essentials, such as GPS units and flares
  • Built-in dry socks instead of ankle gaskets will keep your feet dry and warm but need to be paired with neoprene booties for added protection
  • Hoods that are either built-in or removable can be helpful if you often kayak in the rain and windy conditions
  • Reflective stripes on a vibrant-colored kayak drysuit are viewed as a safety feature that improves your visibility and can be crucial in emergency rescue missions
  • Reinforced patches in high-wear areas, such as the knees, elbows, and seat, add to the drysuit’s overall durability
  • Gear loops, usually made of nylon, can be handy to kayak anglers; they can use them for keeping lighter gear, such as tackle, within arm’s reach 

Which ones you’ll need is mostly a matter of personal preference.

Layer up! How to Dress Properly for Kayaking

So, while you’re at it, take a moment to make a list of all your needs and wants before you move on to my round-up of best kayaking drysuits. 

Frequently Asked Questions On Dry Suits For Kayaking

What are the best drysuits for kayaking?

Currently, the best drysuit for kayakers seems to be the Kokatat Hydrus 3L. Granted, the answer also depends on what you’re looking for. For women, the best choice would be the Hydrus Swift Entry by Kokatat – and for kids, I would say that the title goes to Youth Hydrus Supernova by the same brand. 

What do you wear under a drysuit?

Drysuits don’t provide any thermal insulation on their own; it’s important to add layers underneath based on the temperature. Start with a base layer – a drysuit liner or underwear and a form-fitting T-shirt made of synthetic, moisture-wicking materials – and go from there. The mid-layers provide warmth and should include one (or more) layers of insulating materials, like fleece and Merino wool. Drysuits often have built-in dry socks, but you should still wear liner socks under a drysuit, with neoprene booties on top. 

What is better for kayaking – wetsuit or drysuit?

Both types of full-body suits are suitable for kayaking. The choice between wetsuits and drysuits comes down to personal preference – and, more importantly, the conditions you’ll be paddling in. Drysuits are 100% waterproof and, combined with proper layers, they’ll keep you dry year-round – even in cold waters and temperatures below 45 degrees. Wetsuits are not recommended if the water temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Best Kayak Drysuits – Reviews & Recommendations For 2023

How We Tested & Rated Our Top Picks

This kayak drysuit round-up was put together based on three primary criteria – material quality, performance and fit, and value for money

Here’s an explanation of each of those parameters:

  • Material Quality – The score is determined by the overall quality of the drysuit, the fabric used in its construction, and its expected durability.
  • Performance/Fit – This score is based on how well the drysuit fits, the level of mobility it offers to the paddler, the available sizes, and how comfortable it is for prolonged wear.
  • Value for Money – The score is based on the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) and the estimate of how well the price reflects the drysuit’s actual value. 

And now, here’s how I scored each drysuit for kayakers:

I used a 1 to 10 rating system – with “1” being the lowest (indicating poor performance) and “10” being the highest score (meaning it exceeded my expectations).

I took the time to evaluate each pick carefully, examining everything from the construction to the features – and even the brand reputation. I know that buying a drysuit is an investment – which is why I wanted to ensure that you can make an informed decision today.

Best Rear-Zip Drysuit For Kayaking

Level Six Emperor Drysuit

Level Six released the upgraded and revamped version of the Emperor back in 2021, but I didn’t actually get a chance to test it out until recently. I asked a friend to zip me up (I never seemed to be able to twist my body into the yoga-like position required to do it myself), and off I went. 

Now, for my initial impressions: 

For one, it’s one of the toughest drysuits I’ve ever worn. It’s made of nylon – or, more specifically, a proprietary material known as eXhaust 3.0. The “secret ingredient” is the Teflon membrane: 

The membranes’ pores are too small for water to pass through, but large enough to allow sweat to escape.

And durability-wise, this thing was nothing short of mind-blowing, especially with the addition of reinforced CORDURA panels in all high-wear areas – namely, shoulders, knees, elbows, and seat. 

It genuinely feels like a high-quality drysuit that will serve you for years to come.

I was initially worried about the amount of CORDURA fabric on the suit. I was unsure if it would affect my range of motion, but I’m glad to say I was wrong. The articulated stitching on the back and the well-thought-out placement of the reinforced panels ensured freedom of movement and articulation.

The sizing seems to be just right, and even as a bigger guy, I did not have any problems fit-wise, although the relatively tight and uncomfortable neck seal did bug me initially. And, as it turns out, several of my paddling buddies had the same complaint about the Emperor. 

I appreciate the addition of a relief zipper – even more so with a rear-entry suit – and I absolutely loved the fleece-lined, hand-warming pocket. Details like that make the biggest difference; if you ever had your fingers turn into icicles while paddling, you’ll know what I mean. 

Fair warning, though: 

It’s not exactly budget-friendly. The price tag is closer to the NRS Nomad than Kokatat’s Hydrus 3L. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: Three-layer eXhaust 3.0 nylon fabric
  • Gaskets: British latex gaskets with neoprene protectors
  • Entry Points: Rear-entry zipper 


  • The reinforced CORDURA panels in high-wear areas increase durability
  • The fleece-lined pocket is perfect for warming up your hands mid-paddle 
  • Doesn’t restrict the range of motion thanks to articulated spine stitching 
  • The relief zipper makes bathroom breaks more convenient 
  • You can adjust the neoprene protectors on wrist and neck gaskets
  • It comes with integrated three-ply socks
  • The double tunnel waistband system is sprayskirt-ready


  • The neck seal can feel a bit tight initially 
  • The rear-entry design makes it a bit challenging to put on 
  • Not the most budget-friendly drysuit I’ve reviewed

The Level Six Emperor is a fantastic drysuit – warm, durable, well-made, and built to last – if you don’t mind the rear-zip access, that is.

Best Budget-Friendly Drysuit For Kayaking

Level Six Cronos Semi-Dry Suit

Considering the price tag attached to Level Six’s Emperor, I wouldn’t blame you if you are sitting there scratching your head, thinking: 

Dang, that’s a lot of money for a drysuit. I’m not sure I’m ready to shell out that much right now.

I get it; some drysuits do cost an arm and a leg, and for someone still relatively new to kayaking, such an investment may not make a lot of sense. That’s why it was so important for me to find a good entry-level option that is easier on the wallet – but doesn’t necessarily sacrifice quality. 

And Level Six’s Cronos fits that description perfectly. 

The drysuit is made from the proprietary Level Six material known as eXhaust 3.0 – essentially a waterproof-but-breathable type of nylon. Of course, it can’t compete with GORE-TEX in terms of breathability, but at this price point, that’s more than acceptable.

It also has reinforcements in all the key areas prone to wear – knees, elbows, and seat – which is a definite plus when it comes to durability. I still don’t expect it to last as long as a top-of-the-line drysuit, but it’s more than decent for an entry-level model.

And unlike the previous Level Six model I talked about, this one has a front-entry zipper – which instantly makes it easier to use. Plus, it has a relief zipper, too, so don’t worry about the logistics of bathroom breaks.

Another thing that sets the Cronos apart from the Emperor – besides the price – is that this one is a semi-dry suit. Don’t let that put you off, though: 

While semi-dry suits do let some water in, the Cronos is still substantially drier than a typical wetsuit thanks to the British latex neck and wrist gaskets and integrated three-ply socks. And unless you plan on kayaking in extreme cold weather, I’m confident a semi-dry suit will be more than enough. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: eXhaust 3.0 waterproof nylon 
  • Gaskets: British latex gaskets 
  • Entry Points: Front entry zipper 


  • Great entry-level choice for paddlers on a budget
  • Features a relief zipper, making bathroom breaks convenient 
  • The front-entry zipper makes it easy to put on by yourself
  • The built-in three-ply socks will keep your feet dry 
  • Reinforced in key high-wear areas (knees, elbows, and seat) for improved durability 
  • The zippered pocket on the sleeve is easy to access 
  • Runs true to size, which is great news if you’re buying it online


  • Not recommended for extremely cold temperatures 
  • Longevity and durability could be an issue 
  • The latex gaskets became loose within a matter of months

The Level Six Cronos is worth considering if you’re looking for a low-cost, entry-level drysuit that still provides an adequate level of protection without breaking the bank.

Overall Best Kayaking Drysuit

Kokatat Hydrus 3L

Kokatat Hydrus 3.0 Meridian is one of the most impressive kayaking dry suits I had the pleasure of wearing recently – and here’s why:

This front-zip drysuit is made of Kokatat’s proprietary three-layer Hydrus 3.0 fabric, meaning it’s waterproof – and more importantly, incredibly breathable. It’s as close to Gore-Tex fabric as you can get at a budget-friendly price.

In that sense, the Hydrus 3L drysuit is like a breath of fresh air for kayakers looking for a durable and budget-friendly solution.

Kokatat’s Meridian drysuit features latex wrist gaskets paired with neoprene cuffs and a range of bells and whistles:

You’re getting a relief zipper, a zippered waterproof chest pocket with a key lanyard, and a dual adjustable overskirt for better compatibility with a spray skirt. Furthermore, it features built-in dry socks and reinforced patches in high-wear areas, along with a drawstring waist for a better fit.

If there’s one downside to mention, it’s that the neck gasket tends to feel a bit snug at first – but only while the drysuit’s still brand new.

You might have heard that there’s also a GORE-TEX version of this drysuit. And just in case you were wondering, the differences are minimal in terms of design. However, you can definitely feel the difference when you put the drysuit on: 

The GORE-TEX version of the Meridian is unbeatable in terms of breathability – but considering that it costs almost twice as much as the Hydrus 3.0 version, I wouldn’t expect anything less from it. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: Proprietary three-layer Hydrus 3.0 fabric
  • Gaskets: Latex gaskets
  • Entry Points: Front entry zipper


  • Built-in dry socks and dual adjustable overskirt
  • Reinforced knees and seat
  • It has a relief zipper
  • Convenient zippered chest pocket
  • A drawstring waist for adjusting the fit


  • Cons
  • The neck gasket can be a little snug at first, while the drysuit is still new
  • Your color choices are limited to blue and orange

A highly practical, comfortable, feature-rich, and reasonably-priced drysuit for kayaking – that’s how I’d describe the Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian. It’s hard not to recommend a model like this one!

Best Kayak Drysuit For Kids

Kokatat Youth Hydrus SuperNova

If you know me, then you know that I’ve been excited about introducing my little one to kayaking from day one. 

I took my time picking the right kayak and spent what felt like an eternity researching life jackets specifically designed for kids. And I might be getting ahead of myself with this one – but I’ve also added kids-friendly drysuits to that list. 

That’s how I came across Kokatat’s Youth Hydrus SuperNova. So, I figured: 

There are probably other parents out there who, like me, plan on introducing their children to the exciting world of water sports. And if that’s the case, then maybe they’d appreciate some honest recommendations when it comes to drysuits for kids. 

Construction-wise, it’s in line with what you’ve seen in other Kokatat drysuits so far, featuring the same layered nylon fabric. What’s different is the “Neo Cinch” collar made of neoprene. You can tell that Kokatat really prioritized all-day comfort with this semi-dry suit’s design. 

The collar is adjustable – and so is the drawcord waist – which improves the overall fit and, more importantly, comfort. 

The one thing I didn’t like is that Kokatat failed to include a relief zipper – and I know that’s going to be a deal-breaker for many parents. If your child is young, keep in mind that bathroom breaks could be a bit of a hassle with this drysuit. 

The good news is that it is designed to be easy to put on and features a front-entry zipper, which simplifies things a bit. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: Hydrus 2.5 fabric
  • Gaskets: Neoprene (neck) and latex (wrists) gaskets
  • Entry Points: Front-entry zipper


  • The drawcord waist allows you to adjust the fit 
  • Reinforced seat and knee areas improve resistance to wear and tear 
  • The built-in socks will keep your child’s feet dry  
  • Easy to put on thanks to the front-entry zipper 
  • The “hook and loop” wrist cuffs allow for added adjustments 
  • The neoprene collar can be tightened (or loosened) as needed


  • Doesn’t have a relief zipper, which complicates bathroom breaks
  • The neck gasket will let some water in case of complete immersion

Kokatat’s Youth Hydrus Supernova might be a kids-sized drysuit – but it offers the same level of protection that you’d see in any of the models made for grown-ups. And that’s what matters the most.

Best Drysuit For Men

Stohlquist AMP Drysuit

At a glance, Stohlquist’s Amp drysuit looks like your average drysuit for kayaking. But unlike the majority of non-Gore-Tex drysuits I’ve tested, it kicks things up a notch with the four-layer Twin Sensor fabric. 

If you’re searching for a drysuit that could withstand the harshest of conditions, Stohlquist’s Amp is an option to keep in mind – especially when you consider the fact that it won’t cost an arm and a leg. It’s actually one of the more affordable drysuits on this list.

A completely waterproof yet breathable fabric sandwich, made of 4 distinct layers; a durable water repellent nylon-shell outer layer, microporous midlayer, a hydrophilic laminated membrane and a soft breathable lining made of nylon tricot.    

Coupled with the slightly relaxed fit, there is plenty of space to layer clothing underneath – for excellent thermal protection – a must-have in an extreme kayaking environment.

The gaskets are made of DuraSeal latex coupled with adjustable cuff covers on the wrists and ankles.

Other features include a waterproof cross chest entry zipper for ease of access, built-in spray skirt tunnel, easy-to-reach zippered arm pocket, built-in fabric dry socks, Cordura-reinforced high-wear areas – and a relief zipper. That last one is a real lifesaver on longer paddling trips – although it’s a shame that the women’s model of the AMP doesn’t feature a drop seat zipper. 

Oh, and it also has reflective strips, which adds to the visibility – easy to see it was designed with whitewater kayaking in mind.

As rigged out as it is, it can’t compete with Gore-Tex in terms of ruggedness and breathability, though. Then again, at this price point, I’m not really sure there’s room for complaints. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: Four-layer Twin Sensor nylon fabric
  • Gaskets: DuraSeal latex gaskets
  • Entry Points: Front entry zipper


  • Built-in dry socks, spray skirt tunnel, and zippered pocket
  • Cordura seat and knee reinforcements with mesh drainers
  • A relief zipper
  • Reflective panels for visibility
  • Adjustable neoprene cuffs over ankle gaskets


  • The fabric doesn’t offer as much breathability as a Gore-Tex drysuit
  • It has to be hand-washed
  • The women’s model doesn’t have a drop seat

If there’s a drysuit that proves that you can have the bells and whistles – from a relief zipper and tunnel to pockets and dry socks – on a budget, it’s the Stohlquist Amp.

Best Gore-Tex Drysuit For Kayaking

Kokatat Men’s Gore-Tex Meridian Drysuit

Unlike the Hydrus 3L Meridian drysuit made of Kokatat’s proprietary fabric, this model boasts an actual three-layer Gore-Tex construction.

So, you can expect two things from Kokatat’s Meridian drysuit for kayaking:

It’s going to be a lot more rugged and breathable – Gore-Tex is hard to beat in that sense – and a bit more expensive, too. But given all the additional features, I’d say the price tag is more than justified.

It has a user-friendly front-entry zipper, latex gaskets paired with neoprene cuffs, Cordura knee and seat reinforcement panels, and a pair of integrated Gore-Tex Pro dry socks. 

The overall feel of the drysuit is exceptionally durable, especially compared to its budget-friendly alternatives – like the AMP and Hydrus 3.0. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will last for years to come, which makes it a good investment. 

What’s more, it features a handy zippered chest pocket, an adjustable drawstring waist, and a dual adjustable overskirt. And yes, it also comes with a relief zipper.

There are many reasons to love this Kokatat drysuit – but there’s also one drawback to consider:

A few of my paddling buddies have commented about the neck gasket being tight and leading to irritation and chafing – and I’m inclined to agree with them. It’s not a deal-breaking issue, though, since the gaskets loosen up a bit with time, but it’s something to keep in mind. 

You can always try applying some 303 Rubber Seal Protectant to the gaskets; it essentially acts as a conditioner and will soften them up a bit. 

Oh, and there is the fact that it will cost you almost twice as much as a non-GORE-TEX drysuit – but I’m guessing you’re aware of that by now. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: Three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric
  • Gaskets: Latex gaskets
  • Entry Points: Front entry zipper


  • Cordura reinforcement panels in the seat and knee areas
  • Features a relief zipper
  • Includes built-in dry socks and dual adjustable overskirt
  • Adjustable drawstring waist for a better fit
  • A zippered chest pocket


  • It costs almost twice as much as non-Gore-Tex drysuits for kayaking
  • The latex gaskets might feel a bit tight while they’re still brand new

If you want to upgrade to a drysuit for kayaking made of Gore-Tex fabric and would appreciate the added level of breathability, consider going with Kokatat’s Gore-Tex Meridian drysuit. 

Best Drysuit For Women

Kokatat Women’s Hydrus Swift Entry Drysuit

Here’s another Kokatat drysuit worth considering – if you’re a lady, that is.

Kokatat’s Hydrus Swift Entry kayak drysuit is designed for the ladies, featuring women’s specific patterning – and, to make things even better, a built-in drop seat.

Female kayakers, rejoice: 

The Swift Entry drysuit eliminates the need for unnecessarily complicated – and sometimes even embarrassing – restroom breaks along your paddling route. 

I would add that Stohlquist could learn a thing or two from Kokatat when it comes to designing a drysuit for women. Does that make me sound a bit mean? I hope not. 

In any case, I’m sure my wife would agree with me on that. 

Construction-wise, it’s made of the same proprietary three-layer fabric – Hydrus 3.0 – known for being waterproof and offering a decent level of breathability. As for the gaskets, they’re made of latex; wrist gaskets even feature hook-and-loop cuffs for an adjustable fit.

Much like my previous pick, this front-entry suit comes with a customizable drawstring waist, reinforced patches on the knees and seat, and built-in dry socks.

The main complaint is that it doesn’t have a zippered pocket that I’ve found on Kokatat’s men’s dry suits. Is it just me, or is this lack of pockets a common theme when it comes to women’s clothes in general? 

Another potential downside is the lack of color choices – although that seems to be the case with many other Kokatat drysuits, as well. 

Technical Specs

  • Material: Proprietary three-layer Hydrus fabric
  • Gaskets: Latex gaskets
  • Entry Points: Front entry zipper


  • Adjustable hook-and-loop closure cuffs and a drawstring waist
  • Reinforced knee and seat patches for added durability
  • A built-in drop seat makes bathroom breaks a breeze
  • Features integrated dry socks


  • Your color choices with this model are limited to bright blue only
  • A waterproof pocket somewhere on the drysuit would’ve been a great addition

My wife swears by her Kokatat Hydrus Swift Entry kayak drysuit and considers it one of the best women’s drysuits for paddlers on a budget. Ladies, be sure to check it out!

Best Kayak Drysuit For Comfort

NRS Nomad Comfort-Neck Drysuit

When it comes to comfort, this drysuit is the real deal: 

The “Comfort-Neck” volcano-style neoprene gaskets boast a contoured fit – which takes comfort to a whole new level, especially compared to the traditional latex gaskets you’d find on Kokatat’s drysuits, for example. 

The front-entry-style zipper that runs across the chest, and the inclusion of the relief zipper, only add to the convenience. 

Another thing NRS got right with this drysuit’s design is the freedom of movement: 

The relaxed fit made me feel like I was wearing pajamas rather than a drysuit. I could move and bend freely – without feeling constrained in any way. But at the same time, the adjustable buckle closure on the waist belt allowed me to fine-tune it and make sure it fits just right. 

Oh, and did I mention that it also comes with built-in GORE-TEX Pro socks? I’m sure your feet will appreciate that. 

Granted, it’s a drysuit designed for non-kayaking paddling – so I’m guessing not all kayakers will be impressed by it. But if you’re all about comfort and don’t like the borderline suffocating feel of a latex gasket, the Nomad is worth considering. 

If there’s one thing I didn’t like about it, though, it’s the price tag. 

Don’t get me wrong; it’s worth the money. Besides, you can’t really expect to get a drysuit that is constructed out of three-layer GORE-TEX Pro material at a budget-friendly price; that’s just how things are. If you want something more affordable, you’ll have to settle for nylon.

Technical Specs

  • Material: Three-layer GORE-TEX Pro and nylon
  • Gaskets: Neoprene gaskets
  • Entry Points: Front entry zipper


  • The volcano-style neoprene gaskets improve overall comfort 
  • Relaxed fit with an adjustable buckle-closure waistband 
  • The GORE-TEX fabric is breathable and won’t lead to overheating 
  • The front-entry zipper makes it easier to put on 
  • Features a waterproof relief zipper for bathroom breaks 
  • Has a zippered chest pocket for easy access to your valuables


  • One of the more expensive drysuits on this list 
  • The sizing can run small; be sure to double-check the measurements
  • The gaskets technically aren’t 100% water-tight 
  • Not designed for kayaking and can’t be paired with a sprayskirt 

Sure, it’s not 100% water-tight – but if comfort is what you’re after, and you can’t stand the feel of the latex against your skin, the NRS Nomad Comfort-Neck could be the drysuit for you.

A Quick Side-by-Side Comparison

Before you go and buy a drysuit, it would be a good idea to compare them side-by-side – just to see which one would be the right fit for you. Drysuits don’t come cheap – and it’s important that you make an informed decision. 

And that’s why I’ve compiled a quick comparison table of all the drysuits I’ve been gushing about in this round-up. You’ll get to see each drysuit’s essential features and specs one more time, but this time around, you’ll see them in a direct comparison. 

Hopefully, this will help you decide which drysuit will be your new best friend on all the upcoming kayaking expeditions!

Check out the comparison chart below: 

Kokatat Men's Hydrus Meridian Drysuit
Premium Pick
Kokatat Men's Meridian Gore-TEX Pro Dry Suit
Level Six Cronos Dry Suit
Top Men's
Stohlquist Men's Amp Drysuit
Top Women's
Kokatat Women's Hydrus Swift Entry Drysuit
Top Kid's
Kokatat Youth Hydrus Supernova Semi-Dry Paddling Suit
Best Rear Zip
Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit
Best For Comfort
NRS Men's Nomad Gore-TEX Pro Semi-Dry Suit
Kokatat Men's Hydrus Meridian Drysuit
Kokatat Men's Meridian Gore-TEX Pro Dry Suit
Level Six Cronos Dry Suit
Stohlquist Men's Amp Drysuit
Kokatat Women's Hydrus Swift Entry Drysuit
Kokatat Youth Hydrus Supernova Semi-Dry Paddling Suit
Level Six Emperor 3.0 Ply Drysuit
NRS Men's Nomad Gore-TEX Pro Semi-Dry Suit
Our Rating
Our Rating
Material Quality
Material Quality
Value for Money
Value for Money
Proprietary three-layer Hydrus 3.0 fabric
Three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric
eXhaust 3.0 waterproof nylon
Four-layer Twin Sensor nylon fabric
Proprietary three-layer Hydrus fabric
Hydrus 2.5 fabric
Three-layer eXhaust 3.0 nylon fabric
Three-layer GORE-TEX Pro and nylon
Latex gaskets
Latex gaskets
British latex gaskets
DuraSeal latex gaskets
Latex gaskets
Neoprene (neck) and latex (wrists) gaskets
British latex gaskets with neoprene protectors
Neoprene gaskets
Entry Points
Entry Points
Front entry zipper
Front entry zipper 
Front entry zipper
Front entry zipper
Front entry zipper
Front entry zipper
Rear-entry zipper
Front entry zipper

Best Drysuits For Kayaking: Conclusion

Man paddle orange whitewater kayak in drysuit

If you have the budget for it, by all means, get a drysuit for kayaking made from Gore-Tex. You won’t regret it.

But if not, I want you to know that there are some excellent alternatives available on the market – Kokatat’s proprietary Hydrus 3.0 fabric being one of them.

That’s one of the reasons why I consider the Kokatat Hydrus 3L one of the best kayaking drysuits out there:

It offers the convenience of a front-zip entry and a relief zipper, features integrated dry socks, a dual adjustable overskirt, and an easy-to-reach pocket – and yet it doesn’t cost a fortune.

If that’s not a sweet value-for-money deal, I don’t know what is!

Now, if you’re serious about stepping up your kayaking game and are ready to invest in a proper GORE-TEX drysuit, I recommend the Kokatat Men’s Gore-Tex Meridian – a worthy contender for the kayaking drysuit throne. 

Kokatat’s Hydrus 3L might be the clear victor today – but the GORE-TEX Meridian should not be underestimated.

Photo of author

Sam OBrien

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

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