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Alpacka Stowaway Dry Suit Review
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Alpacka Stowaway Dry Suit Review on 12/18/2012 12:59:02 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Alpacka Stowaway Dry Suit Review

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Alpacka Stowaway Dry Suit Review on 12/18/2012 16:14:13 MST Print View


Great job on your comprehensive and balanced review!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Separating the top and bottom on 12/18/2012 18:43:39 MST Print View

If the bottom is most at risk of abrasion I wonder if the top and bottom could be separated? Getting your bottom half wet would be bad but not as bad as getting completely wet.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Good job on 12/18/2012 21:41:04 MST Print View

Great review and superb use of the video medium. A glimpse into the future of BPL gear reviews?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
neck gasket on 12/18/2012 22:41:28 MST Print View

I'm impressed the neck gasket shipped so little water during a WW swim. My experiences with such things have been rather different.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
neoprene neck gasket on 12/18/2012 22:54:10 MST Print View

Dave --

It's finicky, and takes some practice to secure properly (as with anything, I suppose, right?).

It's helpful to have a second person crank on it tight so you know what your limits of comfort are. When you find the limit, that's how tight you want it.

When watching others secure the neck gasket, they invariably (instinctively, perhaps?) made it too loose. When I'm helping someone else, I tend to choke them first, then back off. I suppose that's because I come from a whitewater latex tunnel rock-n-roll background rather than a zip-t trail hippie background (ah sorry! couldn't resist!).

Anyway, when I swam (sans PFD), my neck spent a bit of time below the surface and yes, water seeps in. Probably wicks along the inner surface of the neoprene.

But when I swam (even whitewater) with my whitewater PFD (I'm wearing that one in the swim segment in the video) - you can see how high that makes me ride. So when I was in whitewater, I just bobbed up and down and went under the surface intermittently only -- so not a lot of opportunity for water entry there.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Good job on 12/18/2012 22:56:06 MST Print View

Joe -- perhaps. Experimenting. I like doing video reviews in combination with a written summary type review that hits the high points like this. We're looking at refining and standardizing our reviews further so this is one of those experiments.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
UL Drysuit Fabrics on 12/18/2012 23:44:40 MST Print View

I know I mentioned the desire to have a 3L WPB fabric in a UL drysuit, but I also hope Alpacka takes a look at the new 2.5L eVENT.

I have the Westcomb Focus LT Hoody that uses this fabric and it may just be my favorite WPB fabric in terms of feel (and I'm sure I won't be disappointed by its breathability).

It's only a little stiffer, which I think is good for a garment that spends a lot of time wet. Having the garment plastered next to your inner layers, which is what happens with really supple fabrics, doesn't bode well for breathability, or insulating ability.

2.5L eVENT with a stiff-ish taslan face fabric just may be the perfect fabric for this application. It would be worth the extra $100 over the Pertex used currently in the Stowaway...

Edited by ryan on 12/19/2012 00:09:23 MST.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
very cool review on 12/19/2012 07:22:55 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan !

this is sooo cool. a pakboat + dry suit combo opens up all manner of possibilities for northern lunacy.
there's just about nothing a guy couldn't get across with them, and a sense of humor.
it would be nice to fall thru bad ice (which occasionally happens and there's not much to be done about it), and it not be quite so interesting an experience.

it does however sort of have the aroma of "gear bloat" to it though.
i can see the "i need a backpack, and an alpacka, and a pakboat, and a sled, and a new drysuit, and a parka .... looming on the horizon.

nice work Ryan.


ps... RHIP .
one can not help but notice that our Ryan gets the alpha cool drysuit review, while others handle the more prosaic subjects, like "menstrual distress at high altitude", "green phlem, and tarp camping", etc ...
ahh.. it's good to be the king.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Condensation on 12/19/2012 10:11:10 MST Print View

Please forgive me if this was addressed in the video. My computer's sound isn't working so I could only watch the visual portion of the video.

Doesn't condensation build up inside the suit?

I think I would be soaking wet in no time with a fully enclosed suit...even a waterproof/breathable one.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Condensation on 12/19/2012 15:18:56 MST Print View

@Daryl, Yes condensation does buildup in a breathable drysuit. It is still better than any other option. Anything more breathable would be unsafe in cold water paddling.

I often go all day wearing a drysuit in the winter. The condensation does build up, but I'm still dry enough to be warm.

I also tend to take breaks when possible and open it up to air out.

Regarding the price:
I have worn out two drysuits and being that this one is probably less durable than the drysuits I wear, I'd be afraid to pay that much money for one.

The only consideration is that you tend to not wear one for long periods of time when packrafting so wear may not be an issue?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
dry suit wear on 12/19/2012 18:52:48 MST Print View

Stephen brings up a good point regarding wear/durability in the context of packrafting vs. say, kayaking.

A packrafting dry suit may be subject to more wear than a regular dry suit because it will be used more for:

1. Non-paddling activities (rain gear, bushwhacking, etc.).

2. More packrafters exit their boat in flips, so swimming involves more banging/scraping on rocks, desperate lunges in tamaracks, scrambling to the shore, and other epic panics. Kayakers tend to eskimo roll back into leisure. (this doesn't apply to the select few who've mod'd their boats with thigh straps and have mastered the eskimo roll in a packraft).

For "hard" whitewater (this is whitewater where I know I'm going to be swimming a bit), even on a wilderness trip, I may opt for a more durable dry suit. Then again, I may not be doing that type of water on a wilderness trip due to risk of something bad going wrong in a remote environment.

The scenario where I think the Stowaway will shine are long packrafting treks with moderate whitewater in foul climates or shoulder seasons. For me, this is springtime in the Northern Rockies when the rivers open up through the end of "cold water (runoff) season" -- late March through mid-July -- Bob Marshall Wilderness and Teton Wilderness ski-rafting and trek-rafting come to mind.

Also - for travel. I'd happily toss the Stowaway into my checked airline bag with my packraft to run the occasional roadside whitewater on a business trip. It's half the bulk of my regular drysuit.

James Brady
(superpenguino) - M
Re: UL Drysuit Fabrics on 12/19/2012 20:00:13 MST Print View

Thanks for the superb review, Ryan. Probably one of the finer gear reviews on the site, if not the entire web, right now.

Any chance that the Focus LT will be considered for a review? I hear Westcomb puts out some quality gear, but finding unbiased evaluations of their newest jackets surprisingly has been next to impossible



Edited by superpenguino on 12/19/2012 20:24:06 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: UL Drysuit Fabrics on 12/19/2012 20:42:34 MST Print View

Yes, Focus LT Hoody review in the queue. Here's the short version: superb breathability; excellent fit, styling, detail finishing; decent hood; great wrist cuffs; good articulation; but - 9.2 oz...size M. Definitely not the ultralight jacket we were all hoping for.

Sparky Millikin
(smillikin) - MLife

Locale: Vermont
Use for Nordic Skating??? on 12/20/2012 15:15:32 MST Print View

In Vermont we're doing a lot of Nordic Skating on lakes when conditions are good i.e. no snow and smooth ice. Do you think this suit would stand up to sudden falls through the ice without getting punctured?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Use for Nordic Skating??? on 12/22/2012 00:25:27 MST Print View


Yes, absolutely.

However, even if it did get punctured, you are going to slow water entry enough so that you have time to crawl out.

Good application of this dry suit.

My concern would be the breathability. I think cardio nordic skating in this thing would be miserable.


Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Sizing on 12/24/2012 04:02:10 MST Print View


What size drysuit were you testing? If it is not to personal a question, what is you hight and weight? It would help with sizing perspective. Alpacka told me that for someone 6'1" and 200 lbs to go with a large, but I'm curious if that would be a tight fit.

Yours looks like it is a very loose fit.

Edited by Sparticus on 01/09/2013 02:01:08 MST.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
replacing raingear? on 01/02/2013 00:09:29 MST Print View

I'm surprised you'd really use it to replace rain gear on a trip. I find almost all raingear gets trashed so quickly (granted, this is generally with lots of off-trail use in cold and wet parts of Alaska where raingear is needed much of the time) that I can't imagine risking the drysuit that way. I guess you could put it under cheaper raingear when walking, though, and probably reduce the weight of insulation you otherwise need to be comfortable rafting in cold conditions?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: replacing raingear? on 01/02/2013 08:02:32 MST Print View

I think it would be fine for occasional trail or in camp use. If your trek involves a lot of hiking or some bushwhacking you'd better think twice.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
system on 01/16/2013 19:16:04 MST Print View

Nice review, Ryan.

Having had to bushwack in even the beefy Kokatat dry suit for days in devils club mixed with alder and bark-beetle kill, I found even the heavy duty drysuit gets hurt. But it is a nice, warm set up when walking through the car-wash brush of rainy coastal Alaska.

What I would like to experiment with is a superlight drysuit like Alpacka's but with a burly wind garment worn on the outside for protection. Maybe somebody here could suggest a material (Kevlar?). The burly wind garment (two piece/top and bottom) could also be used as simple wind gear for non-rain situations as it can get chilly walking around in adrysuit in simple wind, even the "breathable ones" because of the high humidity in the suit convects heat faster -- unless a vapor barrier suit is worn first.

This latter point suggest that it might be possible to go a step further and use the comfy Stephenson vapor barrier top and bottoms inside a superlight and maybe not so breathable (but cheaper) one-piece dry suit, again with a burly wind cover.

The vapor barrier keeps insulation dry from sweat, the drysuit from rain and river water, and the wind jacket keeps abrasion to the light suit at a minimum.

The scenario described above is a new take on the problem of how to dress for everything, land and water, while keeping insulation dry and not having to use waterproof gear for windy conditions.