For kayak anglers, a dry suit is like four-wheel drive on a truck. You don’t need it all the time, but when you do need it, you probably really, really need it.
The only time you might need a dry suit is when you dump your ’yak in cold water. Even though dry suits (starting at around $600 to more than $1,000) cost more than some kayaks, when your suit prevents hypothermia, it will be money well spent.
Unlike nonporous scuba diver dry suits made of neoprene, those designed for kayakers are made of a lightweight, waterproof fabric that keeps water out yet allows vapor to escape from the inside, keeping the kayaker dry.
Wearing clothing underneath maintains warmth, and kayakers can dress for the expected temperature, choosing thick garments or more than one layer under the suit in cold weather, less thickness if the weather is expected to be warm. “The rule of thumb is to wear a dry suit whenever the air and the water temperature add up to less than 120 degrees,” says Richard Ofner, a veteran kayak angler from Windsor, Ontario, and part of the Kokatat pro staff. Kokatat is one of several companies that specialize in clothing for paddlers, with several designs specifically for fishermen. A design feature kayak anglers find important: a “relief zipper” for men and a drop seat for women.