You would think that if something cost half as much it would at least last half the time. Weel, not true for Kokatat dry suits. I paid about $475 for my Tropos Supernova suit in September of 2007. It came with a 1 year guarantee. I figured, pooh, guarantee, sshmarantee. It's got to last at least a three or four years. Nope.
I felt a bit of dampness this spring after taking a 5 minute swim, more like a float, in the Hudson after a day long paddle. I told myself it was sudden perspiration, but my gut feeling was that the material was no longer waterproof.
So, I conducted a test since drysuit season is approaching. I used clothes pin to secure a synthetic camping towel inside my drysuit. Then placed the torso of my drysuit in a few inches of water for 25 minutes. Kept the legs out, and clothespinned the neck opening and sleeves to the shower curtain. well above the water.
Very shallow so minimal water pressure to push water through. No movement as a person would if they got dumped in and had to climb out.
When I removed it from the tub I dried the outside with another towel to ensure any little drips of water would be from soaking through. Well, the inside towel was pretty damp, back & front, top to bottom. In the pics only the very light pale areas were dry. The darker the area the more wet. There were even puddles inside the suit. I turned it inside out to show Robert and the water ran all over the floor.
So my "dry" suit is now a "wet" suit. The salesman did tell me the supernova was only guaranteed for 1 year and recommended I not use it more than a few times. Very strongly suggested I spend the extra on the gortex if I planned on using it more than 4 or 5 times.
I bought mine Sept 23, 2007. Used it in Maine last summer for about 5 days straight. Probably used it less than 30 times altogether. I'm surmising the material itself is not waterproof anymore, not the seams. Guessing from abrasion - waist twisting while paddling, maybe spray skirt rubbing, etc.
Had my suspisions when it was pretty damp spring. Can't imagine how wet it would be after 20 minutes or more of struggling to get back in a kayak in the East River.
It did work great the first year or so. But, seems the salesman Randy knew what he was talking about. That in the long run it would have been cheaper to get the gortex suit and use if endlessly for the 10 years of the guarantee.
On the other hand Kokatat has a new improved tropos suit which is guaranteed for 2 years. But, personally when I get another suit, I will get the gortex this time around.