Hydrus 3L Dry Suits vs Gore-Tex® Dry Suits
Hydrus 3L dry suits are Kokatat's answer for those who want a waterproof/breathable dry suit but can't afford or can't justify the cost of a GoreTex® dry suit. Hydrus 3L dry suits are nearly half the price of a similar featured GoreTex® dry suit, and generally lower priced than other brands of waterproof breathable dry suits yet they are built in the US by Kokatat. Hydrus 3L dry suits are good enough for some people for certain water-sports (i.e. kayaking, canoeing, and rafting). However, most commercial work activities (dock installers, pool cleaners, swiftwater rescue workers, fish biologists doing stream studies, etc.) and water-sports such as kite boarding require the greater strength and extra waterproofness (to withstand greater pressure or extended time in the water) that only a Kokatat GoreTex® dry suit can provide (unless you want to go back to a non-breathable dry suit, but then you'll be wearing a sweat bag).
Hydrus 3L fabric is waterproof and breathable, but the GoreTex® dry suits are still the most breathable of all. There's no good way to measure "breathability", but field tests always favor the GoreTex® drysuits. So if you sweat heavily, either because your sport is requires a high activity level or just because you sweat more than most people, then you may not be happy with anything less than a GoreTex® dry suit. This is one reason why we only recommend GoreTex® dry suits for certain sports such as sail-boarding and kite boarding. Even for lower activity levels, the better breathability of GoreTex® is often a decisive factor for people with lots of natural insulation or those with a high metabolism who are always warmer than most other people.
Another concern for certain sports is that no-one designs dry suits for high speed water impacts, and it is possible that the fabric or seams could fail from the stress of a crash. The seams on the Kokatat GoreTex® dry suits are the strongest that we know of for any waterproof/breathable dry suit, and the fabric on the GoreTex® dry suits is among the strongest too (it is a heavier weight of fabric than is used for GoreTex® rain gear). So if high speed crashes into water are a possibility, then a GoreTex® drysuit is going to protect you better than any other breathable dry suit we know of.
Like GoreTex®, Hydrus 3L fabric is totally waterproof. You can swim in a Hydrus 3L dry suit and not get a drop of water leaking in through the fabric. Hydrus 3L fabric is also breathable so your perspiration will go out through the Hydrus 3L breathable coating even though liquid water won't come in. Gore-Tex® was the first such waterproof/breathable fabric, and it is still the best, but Hydrus 3L fabric is the second best waterproof breathable fabric for dry suits that we have found. There are a lot of other fabrics that claim to be waterproof and breathable, but if it's not a Kokatat dry suit, you need to ask, how waterproof is "waterproof" and how breathable is "breathable"? Another factor is how durable is the suit, or how long will it be waterproof assuming it ever was? Dry suits are the ultimate test of a fabric's claim to be waterproof and breathable. We've tested a lot of new "waterproof/breathable" dry suits at our own expense. The Event suit we tested was pretty good when it was new, but it didn't take long before it wore out and leaked due to break down of the membrane, and that was in spite of the fact we were being gentle on it. Most other brands of "drysuits" leaked right from the start, and the others breathed so poorly that we got soaked in sweat before we even had time to get into the water. Of non-GoreTex breathable dry suits, Hydrus 3L has worked as well or better than any other in our testing. Hydrus 3L suits don't breathe quit as well or last nearly as long as a Gore-Tex® dry suit, but all in all, Hydrus 3L dry suits are the next best thing to a Gore-Tex® dry suit. Yet there is more to a good dry suit than just the fabric. Kokatat has the best seam sealing and overall quality of any surface water-sport dry suit manufacturer. If you cut corners on seam taping a drysuit, it won't be very dry. Kokatat was the first manufacturer to build a waterproof/breathable dry suit; so Kokatat has many more years of experience designing, testing, and manufacturing waterproof breathable dry suits than any other brand. We're confident you'll be happy with the quality of a Kokatat brand suit whether it's Hydrus 3L or GoreTex®.
If you can't decide between a Hydrus 3L and a GoreTex® drysuit, then we recommend renting one of our Kokatat Hydrus 3L dry suits to try it out for yourself. You can apply your rental (up to $150.00) toward the purchase of a new dry suit (either Hydrus 3L or GoreTex) from us until the end of the year (Dec. 31).