Women’s Mustang Survival Drysuit Review

As a mama who loves to whitewater raft the snowmelt-fed rivers in my home state of Wyoming and around the the Northwest, a drysuit is by far the best gear investment I’ve made. This Mustang Survival Drysuit: Women’s Helix Latex Gasket Drysuit keeps me warm and dry, and allows for an extended boating season during spring runoff and in the late fall.

Best of all, I can easily drop the seat when nature calls!

I have been a whitewater enthusiast for over 25 years. I used to spend my summers guiding whitewater raft trips all over the West on rivers such as the Colorado, Arkansas, Merced, Kings and the Snake. My husband currently manages a whitewater rafting operation on the Snake River and we are raising our kids to be boaters.

From June to October our family spends nearly every weekend whitewater rafting or inflatable kayaking on the river. This is our family boating time.

The springtime, however, is mama’s boating time. In the spring, during runoff, the water is raging and it’s also frigid (and FUN!). Without a proper fitting, women’s drysuit like the Mustang Survival Helix Drysuit, going boating this time of year would be nearly impossible.

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Woman wearing Mustang Survival drysuit standing in the river.

Mustang Survival is no stranger to frigid waters as they’re a Vancouver, British Columbia, based company. For more than 50 years they have been manufacturing water-safety gear and apparel marketed to the likes of Navy Seals and the Coast Guard.

That same level of dedication to creating bomber products spills over into all of their product lines, including their brand-new-to-the-market women’s drysuits.

Woman rafting with four kids on her boat.
Sure, we all love warm, sunny river days, but with the right gear like the Mustang Survival Drysuit even a cold overcast river day can be enjoyable.

Why Purchase A Women’s Drysuit

For me, wearing a drysuit means that I can focus on guiding the raft, or managing the kids, while feeling 100% comfortable. I can layer up underneath to stay warm, and stay completely dry.

Now that my kids are getting older I have also been taking them on the river solo-parent style, and on these missions safety is utmost priority (I mean – it always is, but even more so when I’m out there alone).

If I end up in the river for whatever reason, I feel better knowing my drysuit will keep me warm and dry and able to resume my responsibilities.

Looking for tips on taking kids on the river? We have two great blogposts for you:

Wait – Mom’s In A Drysuit, What Are The Kids Wearing?

My kids stay warm in thick, neoprene wetsuits layered under waterproof rain bibs (Reima’s are our favorite), waterproof rain jackets, and neoprene booties on their feet. This keeps the kids relatively dry, and when the splashes do come through, the wetsuit goes to work and keeps them warm.

Two children playing on the side of the river wearing full wetsuits.
My kids wear full wetsuits on the Snake River Canyon until late July.

Yes, there are a few youth sized drysuits on the market, but my opinion is that they’re too uncomfortable, too expensive, and kids can stay warm enough in a good wetsuit and splash gear. And my kids never ever complain about wearing a wetsuit.

Which is more than I can say for myself – I despise wearing wetsuits. They’re clammy, soggy, bulky, cold, then hot, then cold again, and my skin always breaks out in some weird rash after wearing one. But with a drysuit I can pull it on over soft fleecies and stay comfortable all day long.

If you are planning some cold-water rafting trips and need help choosing a kids wetsuit, we’ve got a blogpost for that, too. Click here for TMM’s Best Wetsuits for Kids post.

Benefits Of A Women’s Drysuit

If you’ve ever worn a men’s drysuit, you know what I mean when I say “not all drysuits are created equal”.

Photo of the back relief zipper on the Mustang Survival women's drysuit.
The zipper allows for easy bathroom breaks and it is above the buttocks area so you don’t sit on it (which means no chafing).

Men’s drysuits have a relief zipper (pee zipper) in the front groin area. So if you’re a woman wearing a men’s drysuit and nature calls, you have to literally take off the entire drysuit and peel it down.

Pee Zipper

Closeup photo of the relief zipper, unzipped, on the Mustang Survival Women's Drysuit.

The Mustang Survival Women’s Helix Drysuit has a cross-body zipper in the back that unzips smoothly with one hand. To go to the bathroom you just unzip and the whole seat of the drysuit flops down.

Fits Curvy Shapes

I used to occasionally squeeze into my husbands NRS drysuit and it was always so tight on my butt and hips. The Mustang Survival suit really fits my curves well – there’s plenty of room without feeling baggy.

How To Put On A Drysuit

Although the Mustang Survival drysuit is easier to put on that others I have tried, I still feel like I’m squeezing through the birth canal every time I pull the latex gasket over my head. But I’ll take that over being cold and wet any day!

Here’s how I put on the Mustang Survival Drysuit.

Stepping into the drysuit.
First step your shoeless feet into the legs of the suit.
Putting on the drysuit suspender system.
Fit the suspender system over your shoulders.
Putting the arms in the sleeves of the drysuit.
Put your arm in the sleeve opposite the zipper first, then the other arm.
Squeezing my head through the latex neck gasket.
Make sure you aren’t wearing dangly earrings, take a deep breath and squeeeeze your head through the gasket!
Zipping the back relief zipper.
Reach back with your left arm and grab that big rubber zipper pull and zip yourself up – make sure to zip all the way so you don’t spring a leak.

Drysuit vs. Wetsuit In Cold Water Conditions

In cold water conditions a wetsuit is better for activities in the water, while drysuits are better out of the water.

If you are planning to swim and maneuver around in cold water (ie: surfing or diving) a wetsuit is a great option. But if the goal is to keep cold water off your skin a drysuit is the best choice. Drysuits are great for whitewater rafting, kayaking and SUP’ing – and in extremely cold temperatures you can layer up underneath.

Mustang Survival Suit Features

Latex Gaskets vs. Comfort Closure System (CCS)

The Women’s Helix Drysuit is available in two options: Latex neck gasket (this is the version I tested) and the Comfort Closure System (CCS).

The latex neck gasket is a trimmable, 100% watertight seal at the neck and wrists.

The CCS is drawstring-adjustable neck seal that, when cinched very tight, can still let in a few drops of water. The attraction of the CCS system is being able to loosen it. However for a 100% waterproof experience, the latex gasket is the way to go.

  • Latex neck and wrist gaskets for a 100% waterproof seal (this is the version I tested). Gaskets can be trimmed to fit.
  • Exoskin Comfort Closure adjustable neck closure and neoprene wrist gasket (95% waterproof seal)

Fabric and Waterproofing

  • 3L MarineSpec fabric is durable, waterproof and breathable
  • Cordura fabric on the butt and knees for reinforced durability
  • Latex neck and wrist gaskets are trimmable for a custom fit
  • Drainholes in the fabric around the neck
  • Waterproof zipper pocket

Internal Suspender System

The top of the drysuit can be suspended by the internal suspender system.
Internal suspenders keep the top of the suit from dragging and help distribute the weight of the suit.

I really like the internal suspender system for two reasons. First, this suit feels a little heavy so the suspenders take some of the bulk and weight off my shoulders when i’m wearing it and gives it a more lightweight feel.

Second, when i’m eddied out on the beach, or rigging on the ramp, i’ll most likely need to peel the top down so I don’t overheat. The suspender system keeps the top from dragging on the ground. The sleeves aren’t quite long enough to tie around my torso, so the suspenders keep them from touching the ground.

Zipper

  • The YKK Aquaseal zipper is extremely smooth and easy to zip with just one hand (important because in a drysuit only one arm can reach the zipper). The zipper doesn’t leak.

Booties

Closeup photo of the fabric on the foot part of the drysuit.
  • The part of the drysuit where your foot goes is made of the same fabric as the rest of the suit (a durable 3L fabric).
  • The fabric has no sole so you must wear sneakers or water shoes.

Sizing and Fit

  • Comes in size S-XL; I tested the size medium
  • Runs slightly big in my opinion (foot area seems especially big)
  • Generous fit in the shoulders, arms and chest area, a little snug in the legs
  • The knee pads are removable, and removing them makes the legs slightly roomier. Velco straps behind the knees allow you to adjust the fit of the knee-area.
Velcro strap on the. back of the knee area to cinch in or loosen the leg fabric.
Velcro straps behind the knee allow you to cinch up or loosen the knee/leg area which is helpful if you have the knee pads installed.

Price

Great gear is an investment but you’re worth it, mama! We’ve done our research and this is one of the best priced women’s drysuits available.

  • $999 for the Helix Latex Gasket Drysuit / $1099 for the Helix Comfort Closure Drysuit

Conditions A Drysuit Is Best For

  • Spring snowmelt runoff and high water
  • Fall boating when the water is cold and the sun goes down early
  • Big volume whitewater rivers
  • Whitewater SUP’ing or inflatable kayaking where you’re likely to end up in the water

What I Love About The Mustang Survival Women’s Drysuit

Pee Zipper

Woman bent over demonstrating how you would use the relief zipper to go to the bathroom in the drysuit.
To go potty all you have to do is unzip and peel down the pants.

By far my favorite feature is the easy access zipper. Not only is the suit relatively easy to put on, but it’s super convenient to unzip to go to the bathroom.

Fits My Curves

I am curvy in the hips and butt and the suit fits surprisingly well in that area, without being baggy. When I layered up with thick fleece pants underneath, the legs did feel a little snug.

Removable Knee Pads

I love that the knee pads are removable. These come in super handy when SUP’ing because in big whitewater you frequently drop to your knees. But removing the pads makes the leg area fit roomier and I find that I don’t need the knee pads for most whitewater rafting adventures.

Comes In Two Fun Colors

Stock photo showing the coral and blue colors of the Mustang Survival Drysuit.
The Mustang Survival Women’s Drysuit comes in two fun colors – coral and blue.

My suit is blue, but it’s also available in a fun coral color. And I love when companies go further than just selling a product in pink and calling it “women’s specific”; this is actually a real, women’s specific product.

What I Don’t Love About the Mustang Survival Women’s Drysuit

The only thing I would change is the fit in the leg area, which fits a little tight, especially when wearing pants or leggings underneath. While the legs fit snug, the crotch area is almost baggy.

Bottom Line

I have worn a few different drysuits in my life. All of them men’s, and all of them a giant pain in the booty to put on, and go potty in. The Mustang Survival Women’s Drysuit is a game changer for me.

This suit was designed and vetted by female whitewater enthusiasts and you can really tell in the details. The design and fit are truly well thought out.

Photo of a man and woman wearing both wearing men's drysuits next to the river.
The author wearing a Kokotat drysuit – notice where the pee zipper is! How inconvenient!

If you’re a woman who spends time on cold whitewater sections, investing in the Mustang Survival Women’s Drysuit will be money well spent.

Where To Purchase

MustangSurvival.com

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  • Sarah Toal is a Colorado native who now calls Jackson, Wyoming, home. Sarah, her husband Evan, and two kids August, age 7, and Harper, age 5, spend their (long!) winters snowboarding, and (short!) summers riding bikes, floating on the Snake River, and hiking. Follow our adventures and general family chaos on Instagram: @sartoal

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