Kokatat has always been known as an innovative company especially when it comes to dry suits. While they didn't invent them back in 1971 when they first started stitching, there is little doubt that they should get the credit for making them appealing to the masses.
Starting next year Kokatat will be taking a giant leap forward with the roll-out of the Idol drysuit with what they are calling SwitchZip technology. Gone will be the giant brass zipper across the chest in favour of a 360 degree waterproof zipper located around the waist.
To me this is going to be a huge game changer. The new zipper will still be a 100% waterproof but will allow you to completely separate the pants from the top allowing you to mix and match depending on the conditions and/or water temperature. If you only need a paddling jacket than leave the pants behind or zip them together as a regular drysuit. I will file this whole thing under the why-didn't-this-come-out-10-years-ago-idea.
I haven't tried it on yet but I suspect that this is also going to make the fit and comfort of the suit a whole lot better as it should be considerably less bulky upstairs without that stiff brass zipper jammed under your lifejacket. Also ladies, you won't need to order the drop zipper any longer. You know that drop zipper that makes butts look twice as wide? I kid! I kid.
As far as the placement of the new zipper, I've been told that when seated, it will sit inside the kayak cockpit between the backband and the seat. Designed into the suit is a simple Cordura cover so it won't get hung up in kayak rigging or PFD's.
So when will it be showing up at paddling shops? Kokatat says to watch for the new Idol sometime in January, 2015.