Product Use & Care

Product Usage

Our product line allows you the freedom to mix and match products with added versatility for different paddling scenarios and conditions. We offer a multi-layered system of clothing that fits well, doesn’t restrict movement and weighs as little as possible.

Dressing for paddle sports is largely a matter of common sense. What each individual decides to wear on the water is a balancing act involving safety, comfort and the risk one is willing to accept. Feeling comfortable and safe means you will enjoy the experience, and, after all, having fun is one of the best reasons to paddle!

As you look over the different products, try to focus on your intended use - both for now and into the future. Water temperatures, weather patterns and your present skill level should influence your decision. If you are unsure, seek out more information. Your local paddle sports dealer, an outfitter offering instruction or friends who paddle can be excellent resources.

General Tips & How-Tos

LAYERING system for watersports

The art of dressing for watersports is a matter of choosing the right tools for the job and using them properly. Kokatat garments are technologically sophisticated but, more than that, they make a complete system that balances heat loss with heat production and adjusts to deal with conditions that can change by the hour or the season. The best way to do this is with layers.
A layered system of garments finds its strength in versatility. Each layer performs a specific function and can be mixed and matched to adapt to different conditions. Kokatat garments are the ingredients of a multi-layered system that fits well, won’t restrict your movement, and weighs almost nothing. A good layering job goes something like this::

FIRST LAYER: MOISTURE MOVEMENT - a thin garment next to the skin, like our Polartec® Power Dry® BaseCore wicks the body moisture away from the body, keeping the skin dry and decreasing evaporative heat loss.

SECOND LAYER: INSULATION - thicker pieces, like our Polartec® Power Dry® Liner and OuterCore insulate against the cold and move body moisture to the outer shell. The thickness of this layer is determined by conditions and your level of activity.

THIRD LAYER: PROTECTIVE OUTER SHELL - the outer garment protects against incoming water, wind, or sun. Kokatat’s dry suits, dry tops, paddling jackets and pants will do just fine, thanks

Now you are ready for the water! Before you warm up, you may need all layers to maintain your body heat. As you become more active, balance clothing layers to your body temperature to avoid overheating. You can use the ventilating features found on Kokatat apparel, remove a layer or replace it with a thinner one as conditions change.


Rain, sleet, spray, swims in the river and capsizes in the ocean affect everyone who participates in water sports. You’ll be safer, more comfortable and have more fun on the water if you have the right clothing for each paddling scenario. Being comfortable in all conditions comes down to one basic principle: maintaining a balance between the heat our bodies produce and the heat we lose to the environment. We highly recommend that you dress for the water temperature.


Radiation - Heat flows from a warmer object to a cooler one. Since your body is often warmer than the air, you lose heat when your skin is exposed. With the right clothing covering your body and a hat, you’ll probably be more comfortable.

Convection - Heat is lost through air movement. A cold, windy day will steal your heat and energy faster than a calm day. Windproof garments will cut convective heat loss.

Conduction - Heat is lost with contact with something cold and that loss is up to 32 times faster when that something cold is water. Conductive heat loss can be balanced with good insulation.

Evaporation - Heat dissipates when moisture leaves the body as vapor (perspiration). Even though it may be cold outside, if you are exerting yourself, you will sweat. As that sweat evaporates your body will get colder. You can manage that moisture with a good system of moisture wicking, hydrophobic insulation and breathable, waterproof clothing. By the way, cotton holds moisture, so it is not the best clothing to wear if you are trying to stay warm and dry.


Trying on a dry suit for the first time can be awkward. An assistant who knows how a dry suit should fit would be advisable (your local dealer, a friend who paddles, etc.) Find something to sit on- a chair or bench is better than the floor. Remove rings, earrings, watches and other sharp objects that might tear a gasket. Take your shoes & socks off, step into each leg, pull suit up to waist and push feet through ankle gaskets or socks. Cinch the waist draw cord. Slide left hand all the way through the sleeve and gasket; follow with the right hand. With both hands, grab the opening of the neck gasket and stretch the gasket a bit while ducking into the suit and up through the neck gasket (this should be one motion). Do not pull the gasket over your head by pulling on the fabric or the base of the gasket. (Use the same care when removing.)


If you use a dry top the majority of the time but need protection for colder weather and water, try the Whirlpool bib. This versatile two-piece system is as dry as you make it. Practice makes perfect - take the time to fold correctly, and immerse yourself to check for leaks before you paddle in moving or cold water. See our Bib Fold Instructions PDF below for more information.


The neck gasket on your Kokatat dry suit is designed to be trimmed (Kokatat wrist gaskets are not designed this way). The neck gasket should fit tightly without being too constricting. If stretching the gasket over a form does not increase the comfort, trim the gasket one ring at a time until it is comfortable but does not allow water in when you are swimming (see gasket trimming instructions, trimming instructions start at 2:50). Consult your dealer or Kokatat customer service if you have any questions, and remember, cut once and test before cutting again!

Product Care


When washing, always follow sewn-in care instructions. With dry suits and dry tops Kokatat recommends using cold water, delicate cycle, gentle liquid soap, with no bleach or harsh chemicals, and high water volume, in a front loading machine. Rinse well (which may mean running it through a second time, inside out with no soap OR use a cold shower). Line dry.


Latex gaskets need to be treated every 4–6 weeks to prevent drying and cracking. Kokatat recommends 303 Protectant. Small tears or holes in the gasket may be repaired with Aquaseal. Replacement gaskets and kits are available from your dealer or directly from Kokatat. Kokatat (and some dealers) will replace gaskets for a reasonable charge. Kokatat will replace gaskets and socks on Kokatat garments only. Please contact Customer Service at 800.225.9749 to obtain a Return Authorization Number (RA#).

For gasket replacement information go here.


The zipper is one of the most sensitive components of your drysuit. Treat it carefully. The most common causes of zipper leakage are failure to close the zipper firmly, or dirt in the zipper teeth or closing end.

1. Pull the zipper in a straight line, in a smooth and even motion. Avoid yanking or pulling to the side. Have another person help you if you cannot easily reach any part of the zipper. Be especially gentle in colder air and water temperatures.

2. Never force a jammed zipper. Unzip, examine the jammed point for obstruction or damage, then carefully try again. Zipping over a piece of dirt or underclothes can derail the teeth and ruin the zipper.

3. The zipper is most vulnerable to damage when you are getting in and out of your suit. Be sure the zipper is open completely, and try not to put force on the ends that could tear the zipper apart.

4. Keep sand and dirt out of the teeth and the closing end of the zipper. Clean the zipper occasionally with mild soap, water and a toothbrush. Lubricate occasionally with a light coat of paraffin, beeswax for metal tooth zippers. For plastic water tight zippers, a dab of McNett Zip Tech Semi-Solid Zipper Lubricant in the closing end improves sealing.

5. Dry suits should be stored in a clean, dry environment. Metal tooth zippers should be partially closed with the zipper slide left about 2 inches open. This will help alleviate pressure on the sealing elements. Plastic water tight zippers should be stored in the entirely closed position. Store either hanging or loosely rolled.

Broken zippers cannot be repaired but can be replaced. This work may be performed only by Kokatat at our factory; if you feel your zipper has been damaged, please go to our Warranty and Repairs page or contact Customer Service at 800.225.9749 to obtain an Return Authorization Number (RA#).


Durable Water Repellent (DWR) prevents liquid from building up on your garment’s outer layer which can make you feel damp and clammy (“wetting out”). Regular wear and tear, exposure to dirt, detergents and other impurities causes DWR to wear off over time, but the good news is that it can be restored. The effective life of the DWR depends upon how the garment is cared for, and how rigorously it is used. The most effective way to maintain the garment’s water and stain repellency is to rinse it and let it drip dry (washing helps, and if it’s not a gasketed or a coated fabric, then it can be put in the dryer). DWR is not what makes a garment waterproof - it’s a treatment applied to the face fabric that keeps water beading on the outer surface rather than soaking into it. Eventually the DWR will wear out. There are many aftermarket DWR renewal treatments available from your local dealer.


If you feel as though your GORE-TEX® garment is leaking, please go to our Warranty and Repairs page or contact Customer Service at 800.225.9749 to obtain an Return Authorization Number (RA#). We can water test and patch your garment.

Product Care Downloads