Our suits have just finished their third season, and we're still 8 out of 10 happy with them. Mine has had two issues - the neck seal, which had shed several large flakes of neoprene, was replaced under warranty by Kokatat after the first full season. The right bootie has now developed leaks, which a dive tech friend says are almost certain to be around the stitching - not a huge issue, since I use merino wool socks that stay warm when wet and usually wear waterproof boots anyway. My wife's suit has has no problems to date.
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...I too bought the SuperNova as a cheaper alternative to the GFER, attracted to the integral relief, booties, and especially a more comfy neck seal. After trying only twice I noticed that the very thin neo neck seal has torn, but still works well. More importantly a seam's tape wasn't secured, so it leaked immediately. After two more uses I notice lifting seam tape in 1/2 dozen areas, so Kokatat will take this one back to reseal...and investigate the early ripping of the neck seal. An alternative, comfy non-latex slippery neoprene seal exists in the Immersion Research Comp drytop. Wish Kokatat would copy this one.
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....I bought the Kokatat Super Nova Semi-Dry Suit on sale, under $400.00. This 1/2 the price of a Full Dry Suit. I was tired of sweating my butt off in my wet suit. I was always concerned about my upper body while wearing the farmer john wet suit, so I broke down and bought this. Great Move!
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!
Happy Paddling!This paddling semidry suit has met all our expectations. The neoprene neck seal is far more comfortable than the usual latex gasket, and we have experienced no more than a few spoonfuls of water entering during swims. The relief zipper/dropseat and the booties are excellent features. The breathable fabric works - I've paddled on 25 degree C days with no sweating (did have to have a cool-off dip).
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.