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Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Dry Suit

Nick Gottlieb reviews the Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Dry Suit for Blister Gear Review.

Kokatat Idol Dry Suit

Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Dry Suit

Size Tested: Medium

Stated Features:

  • Evolution 3.21 oz. nylon 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro body
  • SwitchZip waterproof fully separating entry/relief zipper system
  • Latex gaskets with neoprene punch through collar and cuffs
  • Evolution 3.21 oz. nylon 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro socks
  • Strategic zipper placement sits between backband and seat
  • No entry zipper on torso
  • One zipper for entry and relief
  • Self-draining, zippered sleeve pocket with key lanyard
  • Dual adjustable over skirt with “hook & loop” compatible neoprene
  • Zipper flap to protect top half of zipper in dry top configuration
  • Every suit 100% fill tested; guaranteed to be dry

MSRP: $1175

Reviewer:

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 160 lbs.
  • Waist: 31”
  • Inseam: 30”
  • Chest: 44”
  • Feet: 10.5 US
  • Wingspan: 75.25”

Days Tested: 25

Test Locations: Grand Canyon, UT, ID, CO

Intro

Kokatat’s drysuits have long been considered the gold standard for paddlers. Their quality construction and excellent warranty have set them apart from the competition, and the price reflects that. For an introduction to the quality of their products, check out our review of their flagship Gore-Tex Meridian drysuit.

Nick Gottlieb reviews the Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Dry Suit for Blister Gear Review.

Justin Beckwith in the Kokatat Idol Dry Suit, the Grand Canyon. (photo by Nick Gottlieb)

In 2015, Kokatat introduced the Idol — a drysuit that splits into pants and jacket at the waist — billing it as a game-changer that would revolutionize the way we see and use drysuits.

A year later, the Idol hasn’t actually replaced the conventional drysuit, and you don’t see very many of them around the US paddling scene. So what’s holding the Idol back from taking over the drysuit market, and why aren’t other companies chomping at the bit to design a two-piece drysuit?

(Note: the Idol shares many characteristics with the standard Meridian drysuit. I don’t want to reiterate too much of what Tom said in his review, so I’ll point readers there for information that spans both.)

Sizing

At my size (5’10” 160 lbs), the Medium Idol fits fairly well, but has a couple issues. First, the legs are shorter than most drysuits I’ve had in the past, including a standard Kokatat GMER (Gore-Tex Meridian) in the same size.

It’s also a bit more “form-fitting” than I’m used to, and is tight enough to restrict movement during drysuit yoga sessions, but that’s usually not an issue in the boat.

The upper half of the drysuit feels about on par with previous drysuits I’ve owned for sizing. In general, I think Kokatat’s sizing guide is pretty on-point, but if you’re at all concerned about being too big for a size, you should probably go for the next size up.

Features, Material, Durability

In many ways, this drysuit is similar to Kokatat’s flagship GMER. It’s got the standard over-tunnel with velcro closure, Cordura reinforcement on high wear areas, and a nice little zippered pocket on the arm. For more info for these features of Kokatat suits, check out our review of the GMER.

This suit is as well made as other Kokatat products, which means that the materials, construction, and durability are top notch. The zipper itself is the same plastic T-Zip that Kokatat uses on most of their suits now, and the combination of pliability and durability is great.

The zipper opening and closing mechanism, though, is much more complex. So far, I haven’t had any issues with durability, but I am seeing wear in the start-area, and would not be surprised if I encounter issues with the “pin-box” that seals the suit before any other part of the suit starts to experience problems.

The Zipper

The “revolutionary” feature of Kokatat’s Idol drysuit is it’s “SwitchZip Technology.” Catchy trademarks aside, this is an entry zipper that wraps fully around the waist, making it possible (and mandatory) to separate the drysuit into pants and top. It’s a T-Zip plastic zipper (the standard these days) with a unique start and finish point that’s sealed by a screw-on cover.

Nick Gottlieb reviews the Kokatat Gore-Tex Idol Dry Suit for Blister Gear Review.

Kokatat Idol Dry Suit zipper

In theory, this is an awesome idea. Easier in-and-out, the ability to use it just as a drytop — save $449 by not having to buy a Kokatat Rogue to go with your GMER! — the list of reasons this could be great goes on and on.

So, should everybody ditch their standard drysuit and buy one of these? Not so fast…

NEXT: Ease of Use, Comfort, Etc.

1 Comment

  1. Bob June 18, 2017 Reply

    Thank you! I’m about to buy a drysuit, and I had doubts about the new zipper system. I’ll stay with a traditional front entry suit until Kokatat refines the switchzip system.

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