The Kokatat Idol Dry Suit & Passage Anorak

From whitewater to mellow float, always spectacular!

Dry = Warm

If you are a paddler in northern climates and you want to be out in shoulder seasons or in cold water conditions (which in parts of Canada is all the time) sooner or later you are going to want the advantages of a drysuit.

One of the things I have never liked about drysuits is is the big bulky zippers combined with the necessary skills of a contortionist required to get into them - and back out! And those zippers are uncomfortable under a life jacket, difficult to do up, and well … just plain ugly. So when Kokatat came out with the two piece Idol drysuit I jumped at the chance to try it out!

Drysuits are expensive and the Idol coming in at around $1200 Canadian is near the top of the price pile. But I figured if I'm going to invest I might as well get something that I'm really happy with and that I'll actually wear instead of trying to avoid.

What makes it so great?

One of the great things about Kokatat suits is that you can order some or all of the suit in custom fittings. For me I chose to fit the nylon socks to my size to avoid the bunching and crunching of oversized, loose fitting nylon socks into my river shoes. Well worth it and I'd do it agin in a heartbeat! So much more comfortable and I don't need oversized shoes to actually stuff my feet, wool socks and dry socks into. This is good - very good!

The lauded feature of the Idol suit is the “switchzip” technology. Nothing too fancy really - just a dry pant bottom that zippers around the waist and connects to a dry top. For the most part this design gives you a nice clean and trim fit on top. No more bulky zippers under the life jacket. No weird bunching up of materials. Nice and clean and easy to slip into or out of a life jacket. The cut of the design is very well done - its trim but I have full unrestricted range of motion without having a bunch of extra material in the way. Very good!

 

Zipper technology can be challenging. The system is difficult and awkward to thread - especially at first. I totally recommend you practice getting this thing zipped up a few times before you head out to the river and spend 10 minutes trying to manipulate the system just to get zipped up while all your friends laugh at you. Once you have it down, the technique is still moderately challenging. The zipper ends seal with a threaded knob that must be tightened all the way in order to ensure a full seal at the waste. This is not an issue - you just have to know that. And make sure you tighten it all the way. The biggest drawback to the zipped up Idol suit is that the zipper knob and seal creates a noticeable bulge on the left side of the front waist underneath the waist collar. However once you get used to it you realize that it really doesn't get in the way - your life jacket sits above it and you pretty much forget about it. At least I do. All in all pretty good but it would be great to come up with an easier threading system and less bulky seal.

 


"If you are a paddler in northern climates sooner or later you are going to want a drysuit“

If there was one thing I'd like to see with the MVP it would be lighter overall weight. It's not a monster or anything but you know it's there! But in exchange for that weight you sure get some toughness! The innegra construction in my experience is all it's made out to be. A couple seasons back I was carrying down to the Kananaskis after the flood and a big last step on an eroded staircase resulted in me banging the tail of the board off of a big nasty boulder. It was like a gunshot bang literally echoeing down the river! And I immediately thought ‘Oh man!..damn!

 

I guess it's back up to the car to find some repair stuff’. I gingerly set the board down on the river rocks to inspect the damage - and could not find a single thing! Nothing. Just the lightest scratch which could have been there before. So… for a mountain board, she’s tough enough for our rocky shorelines and rivers no doubt!
So is the two piece worth it? I say so! The seal and waterproofing have been perfect. The Goretex material actually breathes pretty well. I love the trim fit. It is very easy to strip off the top for lunchtime or rest break. And I can use the pants or the top as standalone paddle pants or dry top. Very very versatile!
"Once you have discovered SUP on the river, it will be hard to go back to the lake!"