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We have since used the suits on 2 more trips: 10 more days on the Yukon. It was warm that trip but the kids still wore the suits and jumped in the water to cool off. And a week sea-kayaking in Desolation Sound. After 5 weeks of mostly daily wear the suits still look like new and don't leak more than they did new.
Dryness: So these are not the same as a kayak dry suit with latex neck. The neoprene neck leaks a bit, but is much more comfortable. If you are not swimming much, it is fine. The kids regularly jump in the water to cool off and as long as they keep the neck out, they stay dry.
One nice feature is that they are much lighter (less weight) than our Goretex suits and much less bulky. For trips were we have to watch our weight because we are on an air taxi, that's a big plus. They don't breathe as well as Goretex so won't be good if you tend to overheat or sweat a lot. As with any dry suit, buy GOOD booties that cover your ankles to wear with them. You need that to protect the drysuit booties.
Breathability is satisfactory for our purposes, and the zippers have remained waterproof. Neck seal leakage when in the water and active is minimal - a few spoonfuls. The suits give us much, much better thermal protection in the water and comfort in the boat than the 3mm Farmer Johns they replace...
Even when the seams were retaped I found both cuffs leaking slightly (hairy wrists), and that the entire interior was pretty sweaty. The rep notes that the cheaper material (Tropos) does NOT transpire as well as GoreTex. NOW they tell me! Kokatat now specs this suit for light, occasional semi-use, somewhat backing away from the stronger claims upon introduction a year ago. Maybe they'll put a better neck and reseal the seams well on mine? Will let you know in February....
The Super Nova Semi Dry suit is "almost" a dry suit. It is made of a breathable fabric, with sewn in socks, and a relief zipper. The socks are super for keeping your feet dry, and the relief zipper is great for RELIEF without needing to take the suit off.
The first time I wore it, I walked out into the water to see if it really was "dry". I found out why it is good to "burp" it, as the upper part ballooned out from the air inside. As I got into chest high water, I just pulled out on my neck seal, and let the air out. I was perfectly dry inside. I did feel how cold the water was, and was glad to have my Kokatat Polartec 100 liner under it for warmth. Note a semi-dry, or dry suit does not insulate you from the cold, it only keeps you dry.
The latex wrist gaskets kept out all water, and so did the zippers. They did what they were supposed to do. I didn't test the neoprene neck gasket this time. My paddling friend has one of these suits, and he told me he went swimming in his one day, and forgot to tighten the neck with the attached velcro strap. He said with it loose he only got a few drops in around the neck. Next time he tightened it, and got no water in at all. So I will take his word on this for now.
I was concerned as to how hot I would be inside. I had the memories of sweating terribly in the wet suit. I must say I was very comfortable as we paddled about 7 miles. The sun was warm, but the air was about 50 degrees. The water was even colder. I was amazed at how comfortable I was while paddling. I would have been sweating a lot if I had been in my wet suit.
If you paddle water that is not freezing cold, and you don't need a full dry suit, this Super Nova Semi-Dry suit beats a wet suit any day.
How much is your life and comfort worth? In my estimation, at least the cost of this suit!
Complaints - about the only one I have is the main zipper placement - it tucks so far back over the shoulder that I have great difficulty reaching it to start closing the suit. I'd prefer it a little further closer to the front and extending further down the front of the suit. The only other question is that of durability - Kokatat doesn't offer their lifetime warranty on the SuperNova - we'll see how it holds up over the years.
Given the price (about $525 Cdn, $425 US), the SN suits are a good alternative for paddlers who need thermal protection but can't/won't pay the price for the full Goretex suits.
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