Advice on Buying a Used Kokatat Drysuit?

tinytj

New Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
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2
Location
victoria, bc
Hi All!
Newbie here and apologies if this is not the right forum to ask this question.

I'm hoping to buy a used Kokatat Goretex Meridian dry suit for Ocean Kayaking as a new one is not in my budget right now.
Would anyone have advice on what I should check for (besides dry/stretched gaskets and general condition)? Any questions that I should ask? I'm not really sure how to assess the value of a used dry suit.
Is it OK/polite to ask to try a used suit on in this new age of Covid? (I'm pretty sure I'm a Large but I've heard some suits may have been customized to fit differently).
Many thanks for any suggestions!
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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Victoria, BC
Are you prepared to DIY replace the latex gaskets?
Is it OK/polite to ask to try a used suit on in this new age of Covid? (I'm pretty sure I'm a Large but I've heard some suits may have been customized to fit differently).
Each seller is different. Who inspires more confidence in you - a seller who is very casual about COVID precautions, or somebody who is very 'fussy'?
If I had a drysuit to sell, I probably would be waiting until 'later' (whenever that may be....).
 

cougarmeat

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Sep 17, 2012
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Bend OR USA
The point about the gaskets is worth considering. If they are worn, it doesn’t mean the suit was abused. Things wear out. A full gasket replacement - neck and wrists - may cost around $100. So consider if the price saving of the used suit is worth the difference over the long run - like 5+ years.

I bought a NRS suit at the end of the year sale (years ago) and it seemed like a good deal at the time. But NRS sizes run small. To fit in the chest, the suit had extra long (for me) legs. So there’s a lot of extra material in my NRS - fortunately it is decked out with Belt AND Suspenders. Hey! that’s what I advocate about gear on the Hammock forum :)

I didn’t know about Kokatat’s semi-custom plan. That’s where for an extra fee (used to be $50) you could specify different parts from stock sizes. So I would gotten a suit with size S or M arms, size L or XL chest, size S or M legs.

Also, some manufacturers (Stolquist) offer a one time swap for a different neck size and/or material - like switching from latex to neoprene.

I don’t know about rental prices these days, but we are so near the end of the commercial season, you might rent now (assuming it’s just for a day or two) and wait until the fall sales.

Though I use a dry suit if I’m out alone (except on a 90 degree day on a flat lake) and if I’ll be a designated “safety” person, if I’m with others (I trust), I’d be happy in a wet suit - knowing that my paddlng partners would get me out of the water expeditiously.

In other words, because a Dry Suit is THE safety garment for ocean paddling, it is important enough to “get it right”. And that might mean, if you have limited experience with them, not having price be the decision driver. Just the decision between neoprene or latex neck gasket, or latex vs GoreTex booties (or no booties) can make a significant comfort difference in a garment you will have for a long time.

I had neoprene for years, till I talked with a paddler who said he also used neoprene until he started taking his wife and kid along; then he switched to a dry suit. It wasn’t that he would hesitate to jump in the cold water if his wife/child needed help. It was that he understood the temporary debilitating effect of “cold shock” before the wet suit does it’s job.

Neoprene will work if you are paddling with others you know will come to your aid. And when you get your dry suit, the neoprene will give you some clothing options when water temps allow it. For example, I believe scientists set the minimum Kelvin temperature by having the surf at SeaSide (Oregon) run over their feet/ankles. But I’ve seen many a person swimming in shoreline waters in the Gulf Islands. Of course they were Canadians - who are right up there with New Zealanders as being gifted with superhuman abilities.
 
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Peter-CKM

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Dec 1, 2011
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San Francisco, CA
I wouldn't buy without trying on. In age of covid, I wold ask tht the dry suit be untouched for a couple of days prior to me trying on. And presumably they would leave it untouched for a day or two after I try it on, should I not buy it. The corona virus does have a finite lifespan outside of someone's body, so not being touched for a few days should kill off any virus. And wash your hands or hand sanitizer before/after trying, just to be safe.

Gaskets die much earlier than dry suits, so gaskets needing to be replaced would not necessarily be something that would stop me from buying it. You sometimes can get steals on dry suits that need gaskets, and then just go send the $100 or so for new gaskets.

Rips, tears, sun faded material (compare an area exposed to sun, like shoulders, to a material that wouldn't be exposed) would all show age and be something to be concerned about.

If the material doesn't "wet out", that would show newer and less use. Dry suits with breathable materials come with a "durable water repellent" on them. This makes any water that splashes on them bead up. This DWR seems to last less than the life of a gasket (which we already said was less than the life of the suit). As the DWR wears off, the water will stop beading and start spreading over the surface making the dry suit look like it is wet. This wetting out doesn't mean the dry suit isn;t dry inside, just the outer surface is wet. There may be some imapct to breathabilityin material when this happens, but that hasn't impacted me. I do find the wetted out suit gives a little more evaporative cooling than one that still beads, so I need to dress appropriately under suit for this.

I am sure some will mention that there are DWR coatings you can add to a dry suit that has lost its DWR - I find they really don;t add much time, maybe a couple of wears before it goes away again. I usually justs ettle for wearing more layers below to offset the evaporative cooling if I know I likely will be getting wet (surfing, rock play, etc.).
 

benson

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Aug 28, 2011
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Sequim, Wa
All good suggestions. All I would add...take a good look at the zippers. Make sure they zip cleanly together and don't show any spots that show a "crack" that allows the zipper to "fold" when separated. May not be an issue with the newer plastic zippers, but my older Kokatat Meridian has a metal zipper which is broken in a couple of spots. It will still zip together and doesn't appear to leak, but may go any time and I'm not sure Kokatat will even replace them anymore. It will be $200+ fix if they do.
 

mick_allen

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May 15, 2005
Messages
3,299
I'm not sure Kokatat will even replace them anymore
A dumb question benson . . . but do you think if the zip fails that you could fabricate and mould on a carbon fibre zip and let it set up in place? Carbon is quite stiff and might be a plastic substitute if Kokatat can't repair it.

idea anyway.
 

The GCW

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Oct 4, 2009
Messages
126
Expect to try on a suit. Take precautions but also make precautions for those who come in contact with the suit after You, too.

Meridian is quality. For Me in Colorado, when needed, I send suit back to Kokatat for replacement gaskets. They replace them and the result is like new. In Canada, that may not be as simple.

(I don't believe) Neck and wrist replacement will not be around $100 but rather at least a little more. -Canadians additionally... -add UPS & insurance?...

Some people may add onto a torn gasket to fix it: I've never done that, it may be more affordable.

In purchasing a used suit, consider the seller's different scenarios. One may rent them for a short while and upgrade when they are like new or heavily used. Kayak Academy in Washington has a good policy offering comfort and security in doing business with them (I'm saying this but have only read their web info but they have good customer feed back for one example), while also protecting themselves.

When I've had problems with latex gaskets tearing it's usually My own fault which is usually attributed to not lubricating the latex often enough: so ask how often they maintain the lubrication of gaskets: 303 etc... -for a used suit You're interested in...

I also take the extra measure of putting on and removing those gaskets with great care since I'm paying a lot for the suit. Someone renting them may not be as thoughtful. Keep that in mind.

Depending on how much You save, it may be worth over extending / budgeting for a new suit.

I want to add, My experiences with Kokatat are good or better. I have 2 Meridians and would not consider another suit because I like them so much.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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2,754
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Victoria, BC
I want to add, My experiences with Kokatat are good or better.
I've not had the same experience with Kokatat 'service'. But the suits are good, even if more expensive than those from other brands.

Gaskets deteriorate over time, even if the suit is not used. So a torn gasket doesn't mean that you haven't maintained the suit properly, or taken enough care putting on and taking off the suit. A good gasket can be stretched a lot without damage - there's a video showing a new gasket being stretched over a 5 gallon (?) pail.
drysuit gasket stretch.JPG

I asked the OP (tinytj) if DIY gasket replacement was a possibility but got no answer. It's not an extremely difficult job. A set of excellent quality gaskets (neck+2 wrists) can be gotten from seaskin.co.uk for a reasonable price. Many gaskets have been replaced on trips, so it's a good skill to have. George Gronseth (Kayak Academy) told me that he always takes the basic 'tools' for gasket replacement, and gaskets, on trips.

It's pretty rare in Victoria to find a used Kokatat drysuit in perfect condition at a decent price. People are asking $7-800 for used Kokatat suits that probably need gaskets. If you watch for their sales (July1/4, Labour Day, etc.) you can get a new suit from Level Six for similar money.
 
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