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Guide To Kayaking Dry Tops

Mark Armstrong
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Dry tops can be useful for keeping you dry and comfortable while you’re kayaking. But there are many options out there, which can make it difficult to know which one to choose.

To help you find out a little more about dry tops and what you might want to look out for, we’ve put a short guide together.

3 Best Dry Tops For Kayaking

1: Kokatat Men’s Hydrus Stoke Dry Top (best overall)

Kokatat Men’s Hydrus Stoke Dry TopPin
  • Sizes: S to XXL
  • Pockets: 1
  • Breathable: Yes

This Kokatat Hydrus Stoke dry top is designed to offer quality and performance. It features waterproof and breathable Hydrus 3.0 fabric which benefits from a durable coated nylon outer layer, a micro-porous polyurethane mid layer and a polyester inner layer for comfort.

The top features sealed seams to keep water out, as well as latex wrist gaskets and a latex neck gasket to prevent water from getting inside the top. The cuffs and neck also benefit from having neoprene fabric for added comfort.

Another feature you’ll find on this top is the adjustable neoprene outer skirt which is designed to be compatible with hook and loop neoprene skirts. There is also a handy zippered pocket which has a key lanyard inside.


  • Sealed seams
  • Latex cuffs and neck
  • 3 layer fabric
  • Adjustable neoprene skirt

2: NRS Stampede Semi Dry Jacket (best semi-dry)

NRS Stampede Semi Dry JacketPin
  • Sizes: S to XXL
  • Pockets: 1
  • Breathable: Yes

This NRS Stampede jacket is a lightweight, breathable paddling jacket that features 4-layer Eclipse fabric with a Nanosphere DWR finish to help keep water out. It also features taped seams for added waterproof protection.

The jacket has a neoprene GlideSkin neck, which can be more comfortable to wear than latex but it may not be able to keep all water from getting in.

The outer shell of the jacket is made from durable, lightweight polyester microfiber and is designed to be abrasion resistant while allowing you to move freely while paddling.

The top also benefits from latex wrist gaskets with neoprene covers to help prevent water from entering your sleeves. Another handy feature is the nylon inner skirt that can be attached to your spray skirt.


  • Neoprene neck seal
  • Lightweight microfiber
  • Spray skirt compatible

3: WindRider Racing Spray Top (best budget choice)

WindRider Racing Spray TopPin
  • Sizes: XS to XXL
  • Pockets: 3
  • Breathable: Yes

The WindRider Racing Spray Top can be an ideal budget option for kayaking. It is lightweight and has a mesh lining for increased breathability. It features a coated fabric that is made to be waterproof and comfortable.

The neck and wrists are made from PU fabric and are designed to keep water out. The cuffs also feature velcro closures so that you can adjust them to fit.

There is a neoprene waist band that is designed to keep the top in place, preventing it from riding up. The waistband has velcro at the sides for easy adjusting.

Another handy feature of this top is the pockets. There are two side pockets and one shoulder pocket, making it more convenient to store some of your smaller items that you want to keep within easy reach. It also benefits from having reflective strips for improved visibility.


  • Budget friendly
  • Pockets
  • Adjustable cuffs and waistband

How To Choose A Dry Top


One of the most important factors when choosing your dry top will probably be that it fits comfortably.

Remember that you will likely need to consider the clothing you will have on underneath the top. Think about extra layers that you might want to wear in colder conditions. This may require you to order a size up if you think you might need the extra room for comfort.

Breathable, lightweight fabric can also improve your comfort levels and can make it easier to move your arms while paddling.


Basically, the whole point in a dry top is to keep you dry, so making sure that it’s waterproof can be important. It can be a good idea to look for fabrics that have sealed or taped seams and a waterproof outer shell. Many fabrics will often have more than one layer to let inner moisture escape.

Differences Between Dry Tops, Semi-Dry Tops And Splash Tops

A dry top is designed to keep you dry and prevent water from getting inside the top. Dry tops usually feature latex gaskets at the neck and wrists which are crafted to lock out water.

They work in a similar way to a dry suit and can be ideal for paddling in a sit-inside kayak where you have a spray skirt to prevent water entering the cockpit. Water will likely enter the top from the waist if you were to go swimming, for example.

semi-dry top is designed to keep most water out. These tops are generally waterproof and made from similar materials as a dry top but they usually don’t have latex gaskets at the neck and wrists, so water could potentially enter the top through these points.

The neck and wrists will often have neoprene seals, which can offer limited waterproof protection.

splash top can offer some protection against splashes while you’re paddling but it may not be able to keep you as dry as a semi-dry or dry top, as it will tend not to have sealed wrists or neck gaskets.

It may have tighter cuffs to stop water from going up your sleeves but it is generally to help keep your clothes dry from light splashes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between Paddle Jackets And Dry Tops?

Dry tops tend to keep you drier as they generally have seals around the neck and cuffs to prevent water from getting in, similar to a dry suit. A paddling jacket will generally not have wrist and neck gaskets.

How Should A Dry Top Fit?

The neck and cuffs should be tight enough so that water cannot get in, but the top should be comfortable for paddling, allowing you to move your arms freely.

Video: How To Put On A Drytop

Wrapping Up

The Kokatat Men’s Hydrus Stoke can be the best dry top for kayaking, as it offers durability and breathability with its three layer fabric. It is also lightweight for added comfort.

However, a good runner-up choice is the NRS Stampede semi-dry top. This can be ideal if you’d prefer a top with a neoprene neck and where you don’t need the increased waterproof protection that comes with having latex neck and wrist gaskets.

Remember to think about the conditions where you plan to paddle and the level of waterproof protection and insulation that you might need, as this can help you decide on the right top for you.

Guide To Kayaking Dry Tops - PinterestPin

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