303, gaskets & hatch questions

I had the 303 out last night and wiped down the gaskets of the drysuit. While wiping, I wondered if 303 is bad for goretex. I generally wipe one side and let it sit overnight, then turn the suit inside out and wipe the other side. Does 303 need drying time? Is it bad for goretex?

On a roll with the 303, I proceeded to wipe the hatch covers on my kayak. Then I read the instructions: spray it on, let it sit 5 minutes, wipe it off. Really? I’ve never done it that way. Is that how you do it?

Speaking of hatches, I replaced my Valley hatches last summer. The replacement hatches are not Valley and don’t have a brand name on them, just a logo that looks like two, inverted wave icons. The 9” round cover on the day hatch is very tight and difficult to get on and off. In the cold, I can’t get it off while sitting in the kayak, more or less defeating the purpose of the day hatch. Anybody else have this issue and is there any way to improve the situation?

silicon spray
on the lip of the hatch cover will make it slide on and off easy (repeat as needed), Walmart has a heavy duty silicon spray for $3 a can. I leave the 303 on for 5 min. or so to allow it to soak in, which is what you want it to do (more protection).

Apply 303 sparingly, and carefully
wipe any excess almost to the point of dryness.

There seems to be general agreement that some 303, occasionally, is good, but slathering it on too heavily and too often may cause gaskets to soften and tear.

Dive shop recommended unscented talc on drysuit gaskets, not 303., and they gave me a package with the replacement gasket. I now powder the gaskets after wearing. This was after gaskets only lasted 9 months, with 303.

Sea-Lect Hatches
I have those hatch covers and replaced VCPs on one boat with them.


They are stiff and after you use them a while they loosen up. Mine came with pull cords on that tab the sticks out on the side. Thin cord that runs through some plastic tubing and ties back again. That helps removal a lot. I lub them with silicone spray (Amorall or anything) too. I like them but I agree they can be a bit stubborn once in a while.

Put pull cords on them.

Different purposes
Not going to argue about what caused the gasket failure - I am lucky to go that long but it is my own chemistry. Even when I skip any daytime skin cream and avoid sunscreen as much as possible, neck gaskets have a fairly short life with me.

But to be clear - the 303 and talcum powder are about two different things. Talcum powder is to suck up any excess oils from your skin, so they end up in the talcum powder rather than integrating into the latex of the gasket. It also makes for a smoother slide in and out, I assume it is easier on the gasket if you can avoid it getting stuck on your nose.

303 is about protecting the gasket from the effects of oxidation that can dry it out, especially if stored near a heat source. I keep my dry suits mostly in a spare bathroom, with lights out and no heat source in it, so I only need to do a light coat of 303 twice or maybe three times a year. I also treat the plastic material of the zipper.

If there is a test for whether I am full of it, it is the diff in lifespan between my wrist and neck gaskets. The wrist gaskets go for years, longer than for most paddlers I know. I’ve had wrist gaskets replaced just once in several years of dry suits. The neck gaskets go a season for me, usually not much more. I treat them both exactly the same way in terms of when they get a 303 treatment. But the neck seems to be a much more reactive skin area.

I keep it away from the Gore-tex
I put the 303 on a rag, then wipe the latex with the rag, and wipe again with a dry rag to remove excess. The latex looks shiny, not drooly.

Hatch covers are a little unpredictable. With the plastic Tempest 165, wiping the hatch covers as above made them seal water out BETTER even though they felt too easy to remove from the boat. They never did come off unintentionally.

But when I did the same to my Explorer LV that had tighter covers in the first place, the 303 made them so much more slippery that during roll and rescue practice, the lip of a hatch cover would start lifting up from casual contact. After that, I washed the hatch covers and then 303’ed ONLY the outside of the hatch covers. It was UV protection I wanted anyway, not lubrication.

Skin lotion

I bet you something in your skin care regimen is affecting the neck gasket. Look at things you put on your neck/face and DON’T put on your arms.

I had a situation with a face lotion that I had used for years that must have changed formulation. My issue with it was that the face lotion caused my skin to get super sensitive to the latex of the gasket and I would get a rash whenever I put it on. I had to wear a buff on the inside of the gasket to prevent. (I was so sensitive, that I had to go on cortisone to make the rash go away.) The wrists were fine. When I finally thought that through and changed my face lotion, the neck rash went away and no longer have a problem.

I put sunblock on my neck but not my wrists. Sometimes a little gets on the neck gasket.

Also, diameters of heads are bigger in relation to necks than hands are in relation to wrists.

Is 303 bad for me?
I rinse stuff in fresh water, drytops and such, and that’s it. Pretty good luck it seems with longevity.

I’m more worried about the limited chronic 303 exposure to my neck and wrists. Would there be anything to that?

I agree but…
As it is I don’t put on any face cream before going out on the water - like none the morning of a paddle. I put a little petroleum jelly type stuff on my eyelids after the suit is on that is not optional - they get itchy and red if I don’t use the stuff. The sunblock goes on minimally after the suit is fully up, taking advantage of a floppy hat on a small head to reduce how much I have to use.

In Maine that means nothing is on my face until late afternoon/overnight for most days of a four week block. I have been through a few different manufacturers so it is cream at all, not particularly whose. The rash thing comes up a bit on warmer days in Maine, but more powder seems to be the best protection.

I am not a hugely vain person - but at my age I have to put something on my face at least overnight. And because of the ostomy I am in a dry suit a lot more days than most. So going thru neck gaskets faster seems to be the price of my paddling. It’s not way convenient but it is better than not paddling, or limiting what I can do when we are doing the offshore trips in Maine because I hesitate to get wet.

Our gaskets don’t dry out as much as “melt” onto itself. That was with use of 303 wiped on with a soft cloth. So far so good with the talc. Also, if you haven’t tried it, you can patch a bad spot with some old gasket material and aquaseal. I had one neck gasket last another year plus that way. My wrists tend to last longer too. Dive shop guy said any lotion etc. with any fragrance will damage the gasket. He said this includes soap. Got a new dry suit from Kokatat in the late fall (old one delaminated, thank you Kokatat) I haven’t used yet and probably won’t til spring, so I’ll see how that goes. I just talced it.

Like 303 for the slickness
Well, I hope 303 does not degrade the gaskets, because I 303 them several times during the season. I find they are so much easier to get on and off when the 303-ing is current. I have used baby powder, which, I’d have to check, may have been corn starch rather than talc, to help get the gaskets over my large hands. But, I find that if my 303 is current I don’t need the powder.

It is hard to believe talc is doing anything but keeping the gaskets from sticking to themselves. I’m not a chemist, but it doesn’t seem to me like talc would interact with the gasket in any beneficial way.

It sounds like other folks apply it in similar fashion to me–wiping it on rather than soaking it and then wiping off the excess. Wiping it also lets me control the application and not get it on the gore tex. I do get it all over my hands, so I hope there is nothing bad going on there. I don’t get a reaction but that doesn’t mean it might not be penetrating the skin and giving me liver cancer or some other malady.

Thanks for the tip about silicone on the hatch rims, I will have to give that a try.


The talcum powder…
(or corn starch) is used to take up skin oils so they get into that rather than the latex of the gasket, at least according to what I’ve been told by the divers who recommended it. Interacting with the gasket is not really on the table.

Some wetsuits have front zippers
My 3mm fullsuit has a full frontal zipper plus ankle and wrist zippers. It’s way easier to put on and take off than most! Maybe a full front zipper would accommodate the ostomy needs? So you can use something other than a drysuit in less-cold waters.

No - have to be dry

– Last Updated: Jan-13-12 7:12 PM EST –

Ostomy means a bag is held on my belly with a plate. Wet plate means loose plate means no bag means well, a fast end to the paddle at least.

It's not about the access - it's about being dry. I can get by for enough time to make a pool session, especially if the roll is going OK. But not for all day paddles.

I actually have not one but two wet suits I got on the silly theory I could make them work, when we started. They are good to have to loan out to others and sometimes I carry one as really emergency backup.

I am sure someone else out there is paddling as seriously with the same things to work around as me, somewhere. Haven't met one yet though, so it sure isn't common.

Plastic hangers destroy rubber
One reason neck gaskets may not last as long is if drysuits are stored on plastic hangers. The plastic outgasses and the fumes eat latex.

I think this is the 20th time I’ve posted this info on P.net :slight_smile:

plastic outgasses?
Link please :slight_smile:

303 for fabric only
l think my bottle says it is for fabric only and to keep it away from rubber and plastic.

Are you sure it is 303?
I can’t think of any worse place to put 303 than on fabric. It’s a lightweight, better researched version of Armorall in some respects.