Construction & Durability
I have used a number of dry garments from other manufacturers that have sloppy, leaky seam taping in areas where multiple panels of material meet (in the crotch, for example), but the seam taping on the Meridian has performed almost perfectly. After over 200 days, a notable amount of water has only entered the suit through its worn out gaskets, which I have neglected to replace.
The only other leaks in the fabric that I have found are in the Meridian’s booties. I do a good amount of hiking in my dry suit, and after about 100 days of testing my feet started slowly pulling small sections of seam tape off the seams in the booties. This leak has since been getting more pronounced recently, but it is still negligible. I can still paddle for a full day, not taking particular care to avoid standing in water, and my socks are still dry enough at the end of the day that’s I’m comfortable putting on my street shoes on over them.
If I spend a significant amount of time with my feet submersed, my socks will get wet enough that I have to change them at the end of the day. I’m considering taking action to fix this leaking problem before next fall, but in general it hasn’t proved to be much of a problem.
This small seam issue aside, even with all of the abuse I have thrown its way, including grueling portages through northern Canadian black spruce forests, sliding down wet jungle slopes in the Pacific Northwest, and scraping down rock infested steep creeks in New England, the Meridian has held up very well.
Does the Kokatat Gore-Tex Meridian dry suit deserve its solid-gold reputation? I’d say Yes—unless you’re looking to do a lot of playboating in your dry suit. After over 200 days of heavy use with almost no maintenance, my Meridian is still performing well. If you are looking for one of the best dry suits you can buy, it should be at the top of your list.
And if you’re not prepared to shell out for a new Meridian, there are a number of good, less expensive dry suits out there (like the NRS Crux) that are worth taking a look at. However, I would also try looking for used Meridians. Kokatat has been making the suit for a number of years, so used ones aren’t too hard to come by, and their durability is such that a used Meridian may well be a better investment than a new, less expensive dry suit in the first place.