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Independent Review: Kokatat Meridian LE Drysuit

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 7.17.06 PM An independent Playak review of the Kokatat Meridian Limited Edition Drysuit.

Manufacturer Texts

Official product name: GORE-TEX® Meridian Dry Suit with Relief Zipper and Socks - Limited Edition.

Hype

Influenced by the Rogue dry top, the Limited Edition GORE-TEX® Meridian dry suit has curved lines and contrasting colors on the shoulders, for a look that is popular among whitewater boaters. This limited edition has all the details and function of the in-line Meridian, but in a new look that also features 330 cordura GORE-TEX® from the waist down for superior durability. The Limited Edition GORE-TEX® Meridian will be offered on a limited basis to Kokatat dealers in a special chili and black color combination.

Specs

  • Evolution 3.21oz nylon 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell
  • 330 Cordura Gore-Tex on legs, shoulders & arms
  • Self-draining Cordura seat and knee patches
  • Covered metal tooth waterproof Optiseal chest zipper
  • Relief Zipper (front for Men or drop seat for women)
  • Integrated Gore-Tex socks
  • Latex neck & wrist gaskets with punch-through neoprene over-cuffs
  • Self draining, zippered chest pocket with key lanyard
  • Velcro tab adjustable overskirt
  • Bungee draw cord waist
  • Velcro tab adjustable neoprene over-cuffs at ankle
  • Reflective piping along arms and shoulders
  • Full life of garment warranty to original owner

Introduction

The Kokatat Meridian Drysuit is well known as one of the very best pieces of paddling gear you can buy. This limited edition model takes it another step with aggressive styling and the addition of 330 Cordura Gore-Tex from the waist down, for unmatched durability. The special chili and black color combo, along with the aggressive reflective stripping along the arms and shoulders, create an extremely hi-visibility dry suit that is sure to get you noticed on the river. While built to take care of the needs of the hard-core whitewater paddler, the Meridian drysuit is also very well suited for rafting, stand up paddle boarding, sea kayaking and swift water rescue.

Functionality

Kokatat has really thought about everything a paddler would need in the whitewater environment with the Meridian.

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The Gore-Tex fabric keeps you dry and lets the suit breath, while keeping the wind out. The Cordura fabric creates an extremely durable and abrasion resistant suit, and Kokatat has reinforced the Meridian in all the high wear areas. The waist over-tunnel is just the right size to fit comfortably and help seal water out of your kayak.

The Gore-Tex socks built into the Meridian are thin enough to fit into most paddle sports booties while still keeping your feet, and the suit, completely dry.

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Little things like the bungee draw cord at the waist provide benefits that many don’t think of right off, like allowing you to portage or hang around the take out in comfort with the top half of the suit off your torso and not falling around your ankles.

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Other little features like the self-draining zippered chest pocket with key ring help to make the Meridian the top-shelf drysuit that it is.

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Entry

I know that the debate about chest zip versus shoulder zip on drysuits rages on. While the chest zip on the Meridian offers super easy entry and exit it also creates a bulky right shoulder where the zipper curves. Back entry drysuits, like the Kokatat Icon (http://kokatat.com/gore-texr-icon-dry-suit-with-relief-zipper-and-socks-men.html), are a bit harder to get in and out of, but the zipper area feels much more even and less bulky. This really comes down to personal preference and how flexible you are when trying to reach a rear entry zipper. The across the chest zipper found on the Meridian wins hands down when it comes to ease of use.

Pros

  • Extremely dry
  • Extremely durable
  • Extremely breathable
  • High visibility
  • Great range of motion
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Seam tape on interior of neoprene neck and wrist over-cuffs can delaminate at outer edge
  • Neck over-cuff is a bit short and does not protect upper part of neck gasket from sun and abrasion
  • A bit heavier in weight than many competitors
  • Many four way seams create bulky areas of seam tape
  • Velcro adjustment tabs on overskirt can tear up the top of your spray skirt

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Conclusion

In the end, the Kokatat Meridian Drysuit LE lives up to the hype as one of the very best drysuits you can buy. The durability and breathability provided by the Gore-Tex fabric and manufacturing process make for an exceptional paddle sports garment. If you get out on the water in cold climates, or around cold water, be sure to give the Kokatat Meridian Drysuit LE a try.

For Playak,
Bryon Dorr

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Maintenance and Care Tips
  • Optiseal Metal Waterproof Zippers: store unzipped, keep clean of debris, lubricate with wax, and add a touch of Vaseline at the end point to improve waterproof seal.
  • Keep latex gaskets supple and tear free by regularly treating with 303 protectant.
  • Rinse suit with fresh water after use in salt water to lessen abrasion, keep breathability, reduce odor buildup and generally increase the life of the suit.
  • Store suit dry and loosely folded or hung.
  • Wash suit with powdered detergent by hand or by machine on gentle cycle with cold water in order to maintain breathability and the suit’s DWR coating.

See full product details in the Playak Buyers Guide

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