Sneak Peek: Kokatat Idol Drysuit

Kokatat watersports wear, the Arcata, CA-based kayaking drysuits and technical paddling apparel, seeks to revolutionize the drysuit market with the Gore-Tex Idol, a two-piece drysuit that can also be worn in its component parts. “We believe this new concept will fundamentally change the way we think about dry suits,” says Kokatat’s Karl Kohagen.

The New Zip
To date, every drysuit has sported either a zipper across the back (which requires a friend to zip you up) or a bulky diagonal zipper across the chest. The Idol has a new zipper that joins the pants with top, with a built-in seal that’s placed to not interfere with paddling. The promise of the system is that either part can be worn separately. The top is a fully functioning double-tunnel Kokatat Rogue drytop. The pants can be worn as rain pants, with built-in waterproof socks.

Free to Move
The one zipper around the waist eliminates two bulky items: the big diagonal chest zipper and the relief zipper. The zip-off top will also allow more comfort: take it off for portages, lunch breaks, and to carry your boat to the water.

Future Pairings
Kokatat’s new design raises all kinds of possibilities for a mix-and-match approach: matching the pants with a zip-in short-sleeve drytop, lightweight paddle jacket, or an expedition-grade touring-style Tec Tour Anorak. Kokatat is mum about future plans, other than that other pairings will be coming out in future years.

Design & Aesthetics
The Idol follows the pattern of Kokatat’s longstanding Meridian drysuits: bright colors for visibility in the water, reflective tape, and the ability to customize colors for a few extra bucks.

Durability
While the Idol is new to the market, one tester who’s been paddling it for the past year reports no leakage through the new zipper system. The separating zipper is plastic rather than metal, and may have a shorter life as a result—but the Idol has one zipper rather than two to maintain. The Idol is backed by both Kokatat’s lifetime warranty and legendary reputation for customer service, as well as the Gore-Tex warranty on the fabric. The plastic box that houses the closed zipper could potentially break if stepped on abused.

Value
There’s no secret that Kokatat drysuits are some of the most expensive kayaking kit on the market—they’re aimed at heavy users, stand up over time, and are made in the US. At $1,100, the Idol is priced at the same price as the older style Meridian Drysuit: not cheap, but since you also get a fully functioning drytop, you’re saving $400 if you needed one of those too.

Kokatat dealers are taking orders for the Idol now. It will hit the stores in April.

By Neil Schulman

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