Dry Suit Advice

Thread starter #1
Hi all,

I'm looking forward to frostbiting my old Laser with the sailing club this winter. I decided that why wait until Spring to learn the ins-and-outs of racing. Better to jump in with both feet into ice cold water! With that in mind...

I have this real aversion to hypothermia and drowning. Can't explain why. So I need some help in selecting a dry suit and it really boils down to cost. APS is local to me and they know me now on a first-name basis (upgrading a Laser to the post-2001 rig with all new hardware will do that).

I have bought Gill dinghy boots and frostbiting gloves. The boots are year-round and I have other 3-season gloves I use on my keelboat. So now I need a dry suit since I know nothing about wet suits for winter sailing and I think a dry suit would be a better option since I expect to capsize my Laser at some point.

The three suits I am looking at are:

Henri Lloyd TP1 Pace Dry Suit - $449
Gill Frontside Drysuit - $547
Musto MPX Gore-Tex Dry Suit - $799

All are listed as breathable and waterproof. Given this gear is only going to be used for (hopefully) sheltered inshore weekend frostbiting, what is the advantage of one suit over another? I know Musto gear by reputation so I would have no problem buying it but is the $250-$350 price differential between the other two worth it? At the same time, I don't want to cheap out since this is my life we're talking about. I want to make sure if I go swimming in near-freezing water that the suit will protect me properly and allow me to get my boat upright.

Can anyone provide guidance? I can certainly try on all three. My preference of the two cheaper ones is the Gill since they likewise have a decent reputation but if I can save $100, I'm willing if the Henri LLoyd suit will work.

Sorry, this is a novice question. My club requires a dry suit or wet suit for frostbiting so I need this gear. Three season gear I have covered.

I have a gill suit which works great. January 1st last year i went for a nice little swim and didnt have any problem. Ive heard some great things about Henry Lloyd equipment and my brother has one hes been using for years with no problems. I felt that my Gill one needed a "break in period" since it was pretty stiff when i first got it but its starting to get better. Not sure if other suits experience a break in period as well but for $500 or $800 the three seem to be doing the same thing, just comes down to what your willing to spend or what the warranty may be on each. Since they do tend to snag and the gaskets do wear down, its just something to consider.


Upside down?
Staff member
These suits are all safe, as long as you zipper up!

You should really try them on and see which one fits you best. Remember that you may want to layer underneath once it gets (really) cold. So the fit should be loose. Most people prefer the ones with the zipper up front.

The other variable is latex versus neoprene for the gaskets. Again, that's a personal choice.

The ones that use Gore-Tex tend to be more expensive, but your list shows that other waterproof and breathable fabrics have been developed. You can find discussions about the pros and cons of these alternative fabrics elsewhere on the web.

My daughter's school has 12 Gill "student suits" and they have held up quite well. The three oldest ones are over six years old and are used late fall and spring. These are very basic, non-breathable suits w/ TZIP zippers. Latex gasket failures are to be expected and that was the only thing that has ever failed. All have been replaced w/ neoprene. I myself have a Gill breathable suit and like it a lot. IMHO, I think Gill makes a good product.


Just sailing
I recently went on a white-water rafting trip, and the rafting company provided us with drysuits. They obvoiusly aren't going to spend the $$$ on top-of-the line gear.

Unlike other drysuits I have seen, it was relatively thin. I had on several layers of street clothes underneath, and I was quite toasty. They even let us get in the water for a bit during a calm section (water was probably in the upper 30s).

One thing I liked about the drysuit was being thin, and allowed unconstricted motion. I figure one downside is it would be more likely to tear or get a leak.

Would a drysuit like this be a bad idea for frostbite sailing?
The henry llyod and gill differ slightly in size, the zipper on the gill is better quality but both are great suits. Get the one that fits best (feels good and restricts your movement the least),

I have a wetsuit and gill frontzip drysuit, I usually wear the gill since it doesn't restrict movement hardly at all and keeps me comfortable when its cold. The layers you wear underneath make a difference, the new suits are breathable so in the fall I wear underamour and when it really gets cold (when you see icebergs forming in salt water) I wear wool socks, underarmour and a few extra thermal layers.
Thread starter #7
Thanks for all the responses! I think I am agonizing more than I should be. I'm going to go to APS this week with my thermal underlayers and dinghy boots and try on the dry suits and see which fits best. With frostbiting starting in a month, I'd like to get some time on the water in the gear I am going to sail in for the next several months to get used to it.

I think it will be a choice between the Henri Lloyd and Gill suits. I like the Musto but I think the price differential doesn't just the extra expense at this time. Since I have never sailed a Laser before this, I don't have any base of experience with regard to mobility to work from. I wouldn't know if a suit was restricting my mobility versus another and I honestly think I would adapt no matter what.

I'm a taller, heavier sailor anyway 6'1", 200lbs) so I think that isn't a big concern compared to a lighter, smaller collegiate sailor where a bulky suit might impair their movement more relative to some my size who would be naturally impaired from their viewpoint, dry suit or not. My concerns are a little more basic like keeping the boat upright in the first place!

When you get to APS say hello to John Malony from the relatively few Laserites here in Maine. He is also a dinghy sailor and has never steered me wrong. :D

The suspense is killing me - please post your decision and the factors that swayed you toward the drysuit you bought!

Also, I wondered if you considered the Trident TR40 suit - at $303 (due to a favorable pound-dollar exchange rate) plus shipping from the UK it's significantly less than the other options, but a pain if you try it on and it doesn't fit.

Anyone else have any experience with Trident drysuit?

Don in Ohio
Thread starter #10
Not meaning to keep anyone in suspense.

I'm going to APS this weekend to try on and select a suit. Cost is the primary driver. As much as I like the Musto I'm not sure I can justify the price tag. So I am going to be comparing the Gill and Henri Lloyd. Whichever I feel more comfortable in will be the one I buy.

And then immediately test since when I pick up the suit, my Laser will be on top of my car for delivery to its new storage space at my sailing club literally up the street from the store. So I'll put on the new gear and take it out and see how all this works.

I'm a believer in the adage "Train how you'll fight." or in sailing terms "Practice in the gear you'll race in.". That way I'll won't having to be adapt as much as the weather gets colder. I'll already be used to sailing in the dry suit from day one.

Which suit I get I'll write a review for for those interested. As long as a novice viewpoint is acceptable. I'm not coming into this with years of collegiate and junior sailing under my belt.

PS: I have no issue with ordering from overseas but I wouldn't get the suit in time for frostbiting season and fitting it is an issue. I prefer to have the suit in hand to try on before I buy it. It's a big reason why I like APS. Smart and deliberate siting of their business, by the way right in the middle of Race Country in Annapolis.



One thing about buying and wearing your dry suit right away--the neck may need pre-stretching or trimming. I have a Kokatat, and the instructions were to put something a little bigger in the neck hole to stretch it for 24 hours before wearing. I believe I used a small coffee can. It needed it, too. Maybe the APS people will help you with any necessary gasket trimming.
One thing about buying and wearing your dry suit right away--the neck may need pre-stretching or trimming. I have a Kokatat, and the instructions were to put something a little bigger in the neck hole to stretch it for 24 hours before wearing. I believe I used a small coffee can. It needed it, too. Maybe the APS people will help you with any necessary gasket trimming.
This is especially true with latex neck seals, try the suit on and wear it for a while at home, if its choking you then cut down the seal along the guide one line at a time (they all have guide lines of where to cut; both latex and neoprene); if it isn't choking you but feels uncomfortable put the seal over something larger than your neck and leave it for a few days - a week. Repeat until the neck feels comfortable, it should feel kinda like wearing a turtle neck shirt.
Thread starter #13
I bought the Henri Lloyd TP1. The Gill wasn't offering anything different in terms of fit or feel that the TP1 didn't. I consider them about equal based on material and feel.

Initial impressions:

Fit is good. I'm 6'1" and 200lbs. I found the suit comfortable and it didn't bunch up. The suspenders inside the suit are standard but they fit fine out of the box without adjustment. The suspenders also have a velco sealed pocket. Nice touch for keep your wallet/keys/cell phone dry inside. Or, as I quipped the sales folks, a convenient place for my ID to make it easier to identify the body. :)

Neck and wrist seals are neoprene and I didn't not find them tight at all. Booties are (or appear to be) rubber and were easy to slip into. Lycra socks were a little tough to get on over them but my Gill dinghy boots slipped on without issue after that.

Getting into the suit requires a little yoga. You need to ease your left arm into the sleeve at the same time you find the neck seal. Neck seal stretched fine over my head and didn't choke me. The crosswise zipper was stiff and required work to close. The suit shoulder needed to be held taught to get it started. I expect it will loosen up a little in time. Fully on, the suit held air fine and I was able to squeeze out the excess holding the neck open.

Suit was certainly toasty once sealed. But overall given I was walking around the store in the suit and dinghy boats, I didn't come out that hot or sweaty. The suit didn't feel excessive bulky and I was able to sit and stretch without feeling tightness or having it ride up at all.

Call this a "walk around" impression. The test, of course, is on the water. That comes this weekend. I'll let everyone know if interested in how the suit performs on the water.

i have a gull shadow i know its not in your list for looking at but its really really good its durable totaly waterproof and breathable ive had mine for two years now and its still like new although i must have worn it at least 100 times i even wear it in the summer get called a jesse like but you dont sweat in it in the summer either.