- Get one with a front entry zip
- A relief zip is a must
- Neoprene neck seals are more comfortable
- Get built in dry socks
Kokatat Super Nova Paddle Suit
I had it imported from KFS in the United States which resulted in me being stung for some VAT and import duties, though it still worked out at a reasonable £250. Having spoken to the helpful folk at KFS I ordered the next size up in order to accommodate various layers of clothing as required, and to ensure it didn't end up a little too tight in general use.
The suit duly arrived and it was given a test run. I'd purchased some thermal gear including a pair of snowboarding pants. Once fully layered up the suit was donned and it proved very easy slip into. The front zipper making it especially simple, and pushing through the neoprene neck seal was straightforward. There's a Velcro tab so the neck seal can be tightened to suit once on.
The wrist seals are latex and have proved comfortable, requiring no trimming prior to fit, a year down the line they've not loosened at all. Again, there's Velcro on the wrists so all can be tightened up once the suit is on. A drawing is fitted around the waist allowing the suit to be pulled in once you've expelled the air making is far less baggy than one without.
A relief zip is fitted which in my eyes is an absolute must, fitting one as an aftermarket conversion will cost a drysuit owner upwards of £60, not cheap!!
Here in England the summers are short and the winters seem never ending. I've spoken to people who've purchased dry suit with latex ankle seals (no socks) and they all tend to agree that they do not suit a cold climate!. The Kokatat has sewn in dry socks and they are extremely effective!!, I've worn anything up to 3 pairs of thick socks on at any one time under the suit, with wetsuit boots being over the dry socks. Quite simply it's brilliant and my feet rarely begin to cool off even when the temperature drops below freezing, they're certainly never cold and for me that's a big thing!.
How does it perform in the water?, well as my kayak is a Prowler Big Game its stability means I've yet to capsize whilst actually fishing or paddling, though it has been tested for a few hours whilst doing capsize/recovery drills in my local swimming pool. No leaks whatsoever and it's comfortable, even submerging in the suit (only achievable without my PFD) resulted in a tablespoon or two of water penetrating the neck seal. When wearing a PFD my shoulders are well above the water so water penetration into the neck seal is rather unlikely.
The material is proving to be very hard wearing and it has additional layering around the elbows, seat and knees where the most abuse is to be expected. After a year consisting of 70+ trips it still looks like new.
The manufacturers state that the Tropos fabric is also breathable so your perspiration will go out through the membrane even though liquid water won't come in. I don't sweat inside the suit, though I generally have a couple of layers on at any time which will tend to wick any sweat away from the body. It doesn't soak with condensation internally so it seems to live up to the hype.
So, after a year how do I rate it?.. Well is extremely comfortable being easy to slip into or remove. The front zip makes life a pleasure, I’ve tried rear entry zips and they are difficult at the best of times. The neoprene neck seal is preferable to a latex item, especially when spending several hours afloat. It’s sufficiently watertight to keep water intake to a bare minimum when capsizing. The high risk area for water ingress are the wrist seals, though being latex these are very effective. It'll eventually be replaced with another or something very similar when I do eventually manage to wear it out, and that wont be for a long time.
Please feel free to comment.