Donning a semi-dry top

Received my IR Session 2.5 semi-dry top (size large) yesterday that I bought off eBay. Tried it on and HOLY CARP is that thing tight in places, especially the wrist seals. Can anyone tell me if there is a trick to putting one of these on without accidentally tearing out the latex wrist gaskets or having to amputate your hands due to loss of blood flow? Also, I’m going to need to seriously reconsider the layers I wear under this thing. I was hoping there’d be more room than there really is!

Seqeunce, and layers

– Last Updated: Nov-13-14 9:43 AM EST –

First, manufacturers often design the outer wear so that there is room for one thicker or two thinner layers. They are assuming well fitting base layers like polypro or CoolMax, on top 100 to 200 wt polartec or a wool blend.

It does work. But think the layers you would wear for cross country skiing, not the big fuzzy fleece that you wear over other layers at home on a chilly evening. The better fitting layers will breathe better.

As to sequence - it goes on over your head and slip your arms down the sleeves as you do that. Poke your fingers out from one arm to help with the wrist gasket thru the first arm. Then get the other hand through.

And OOPS! Just tried on a dry top and realized I take it off the way pblanc says. I am in a semi-dry or dry suit if I am wearing that stuff to start with, the good dry top doesn't come out to play as much so I forget until I actually put it on.

If the top is tighter fitting you may need to wiggle more precisely to get it over your shoulders. Mine are broader than the manufacturer's idea for my size so I usually take a few seconds more there. But it all works.

The wrist gaskets should be pretty hardy, it just feels like you are pushing your luck because they have to be opened up from so tight. You get used to it.

tight dry top
If the body of the dry top feels tight against your torso while wearing a fairly thick fleece shirt or several thin layers of Capilene or polypro, I would try to return it for a larger size. Otherwise it might restrict your torso movement while paddling, or especially when trying to set up to roll.

The wrist seals are supposed to be pretty tight. They will loosen up a little over time. When putting on either a dry top, or dry suit, I get both my hands through the seals before putting anything over my head. Make your fingers and thumb as “pointy” as possible. As Celia said, you can generally get the fingers of your opposite hand through the open end of the seal enough to gently open the opposite seal while you work your first hand through.

After both hands are through I put the body of the dry top or suit over my head and generally use both hands to help spread the neck gasket open as I slide my head through.

I take a dry top off the opposite way by pulling open the neck gasket a bit and sliding my head out, then pulling the body of the top off my head. I can then see and breath comfortably as I pull my hands out. Sometimes it is easier to let the wrist gaskets evert as your hands come out.

Thanks for the tips
So, this is normal then? I’ve never worn anything like this before and didn’t know what to expect. Also, Celia, I’ve never been cross-country skiing. So, I have no clue how to dress for that either!

pblanc, the torso of the top definitely feels snug once I actually have it on, but not restrictively tight. I can still move my arms freely. The tight spots are the wrist and neck gaskets, but as you and Celia pointed out, that should be expected.

The snugness in the torso area is probably due to all the layers I’m trying to cram in under the top. I’ll have to work on sorting out what I really need to wear under it to stay warm. Of course, that’s going to have to be by trial and error. Here’s what I tried putting on last night when I was testing everything out. I think it’s pretty obvious why it was so snug!

  1. C9 by Champion Polypro Thermal Base layer (top and bottom)
  2. O’Neill Farmer John wetsuit
  3. O’Neill hooded vest (just got this, as well.
  4. Thin fleece pullover top with thin fleece pants
  5. Hooded fleece onesie (I plan to cut the hood off of this onesie since I never use the hood, and it only gets in the way)
  6. IR Session 2.5 long-sleeve semi-dry top
  7. I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to wear as my outer layer for pants yet. I have three different options; none of which are paddling specific clothing. I’ll just have to try them each out and decide what works best.

    After trying all this on last night, I don’t think I have to worry about staying warm out on the water. In fact, I may have the opposite problem now! I was already feeling kind of damp from sweat after trying everything on. And that was with no physical exertion. Well, except for the effort of trying to put on and take off the snug-fitting semi-dry top! Whew! I’m definitely going to need to reconsider my layers.

I had that thought
I mentioned Xcountry skiing because those layers seem to be the most apt for paddling. Paddling is not necessarily as intensive as aggressive Xcountry skiing, but it is still constant motion and you will find that you generate heat.

Honestly, I think you are more at risk of being too hot than cold.

One thing that matters - especially where you live - if your underlayers get too soaked and a good wind comes up on a clear 15 degree day, the soaked under layers can cause you to get chilled. So until you figure out what works for you, make sure you always have a dry bag with alternate dry layers. Even at very cold temps, it is better to risk standing in the cold to put on fresh dry layers than to spend time being chilled out by wet ones.

IR runs small
Sounds like you need the next size up. I had the same experience with an IR top - their clothing seems to run a full size (or two) smaller than equivalent gear from Kokatat, for example.

My impression is that Kokatat designs for an older, more mature (OK, bigger and fatter) crowd. IR markets to young, skinny white water dudes and surf shredders - just look at the difference in the marketing photos on the web sites.

Great point.

Think you’re probably right.
I’ll have to try out my layering again with either fewer or thinner layers and see how it works. But it does seem like I would have been fine with the next size up. I wear a size medium in shirts. So, I thought the large would have enough room for some layers under it, especially since the manufacturers make these tops with the intent that layers would be worn under them.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of stuck with the large size top as there’s no way I’m going to get approval to buy another larger one. Especially after the hoops I had to jump through to get this one!

I’ll just make do and adjust my layers. As Celia noted in her most recent reply, it sounds like I’m at risk of being too warm with all the layers I’m trying wear under the top. I need to figure out what combination is going to work best to keep me comfortably warm using the thinnest/fewest layers.

Thanks, Celia!
I’ll play around with my layering combinations to come up with something that will keep me comfortably warm using the thinnest/fewest layers possible. And I hear ya about keeping a change of clothes/layers in a dry bag. I picked up an extra dry bag the last time I was at LL Bean specifically to keep a change of clothes in my kayak.

Here’s the main problem I’m going to have with experimenting with my layers. And it’s going to be a learning experience for me. I had always been taught, and always practiced, that layering with loose-fitting clothing was better than tight-fitting clothing. The loose-fitting clothing allows for layers of air between the layers of clothing, and that’s supposed to provide better insulation. It also creates a larger buffer between your skin and the cold outside air. At least, that’s what I’ve always been told. Wouldn’t layering thinner, more form-fitting clothes put the cold outside air closer to your skin making it easier/quicker to transfer the cold to your skin?

Maybe I’m just confused about all this layering stuff because I don’t have much experience with it during aerobic activities. Maybe the thinner/tighter layers will be just fine because my body will be generating plenty of heat from the paddling? But what if I don’t paddle hard enough to generate lots of heat? What if I just want to relax, take it easy, and enjoy the time on the water? If I’m doing a lot of sitting still and relaxing, will the thin, tight layers still provide enough warmth?

Sorry, I’m still so new and inexperienced and have lots of questions. I’m trying to learn as much as possible from others’ experiences beforehand in order to “get it right” before I head out into the cold again. My opportunities to experiment with my layering system are limited. So, I’d rather spend my time on the water comfortably enjoying my surroundings rather than cursing my layering choices.

I have a Palm semi-dry. The neoprene
wrist gaskets have refused to stretch, but I just realized they can be trimmed, even though they are two layer and seamed. Just trim carefully and when they get comfortable, use neoprene cement to seal the cut end and reinforce the end of the seam.

Ayone have similar 2 layer neoprene wrist gaskets?

If my approach does not work, I’ll just install latex gaskets.

neoprene with silicone used by divers. All types of silicone lubes but keep lube off the Goretex or polycoated nylon.

The wetsuit can be silicone lubed.

Size is a biggie. Large sizes pump air thru the skin and moisture so you are warmer with a larger size than a tighter size. Or cooler. More closer to 98.6 if this is your temp.

Attaching latex sleeves is Technical Fabrication.

Avoid Technical Fabrication.

Making a neoprene gasket slip on and
off easily by lubricating it does not solve the problem of excessive pressure while the gasket is being worn. The gasket may still need to be stretched or trimmed.