When I stepped into my first dry suit, it was clearly going to be revolutionary. It was winter in Oregon and I had spent the prior months bound in too many layers, still wet and shivering. After too many days of being cold, I knew something needed to change. I certainly wasn’t going to kayak any less, and I couldn’t go somewhere warm. I was barely able to bundle together enough money to buy myself a Kokatat dry suit. My first day on the water with it, I was dry, warm and more mobile. My kayaking life had changed forever.
When I first stepped into the new two piece Idol dry suit, I had a similar feeling. After years of using various forms of dry suits, always wondering how they could improve but never knowing exactly how it would be, the Idol again changed my perception of how comfortable and functional a piece of gear can be.
For the last two years, the Idol has kept me warm and dry on many expeditions and day trips. But that’s the point of a dry suit, and any Kokatat dry suit is going to do a spectacular job of keeping you dry. For me, it’s off the river that the Idol shines. Hiking, portaging, setting up camp; just remove the top of the Idol to stay cool and comfortable, leaving you with dry pants and nothing bunched and tied around your waist. The first time I wore the Idol on a multiday trip in Alaska, I was immediately so happy to be able to take off the top for the hours of scouting in the sun before getting back in the glacial melt water.
At camp, the top and pants dry quickly and completely as air flows into and through the separated halves. In the cold morning put on a fresh “dry” suit, not a stale, damp one. I find myself keeping the Idol pants and my shoes on longer than I previously did with a one piece dry suit, mainly because it’s easy, warm and comfortable, but also because there’s nothing extra around my waist. The Idol pants and my WoolCore base layer are often the last thing off and usually the first thing back on in the morning.
Of course, on the hottest days, stash the pants in a drybag or leave them in the car. Admittedly, I haven’t used the Idol top on its own much outside of expeditions, but it’s just as comfortable as my Rogue dry top.
Will it be another decade until a piece of gear totally changes the way I look at comfort on the river? For all of our sake, I hope not, but until then I’ll never see dry suits the same.
For the last two years, the Idol dry suit has kept me warm and dry on many expeditions and day trips.