Dry suit - trapped air

My dry suit just arrived (shout out to Kayak Academy - not affiliated in any way) and so I had to try it on. The neck gasket is super tight, as expected based on reading other posts about new drysuits, so I’ll stretch it out a bit tonight.

I did find that when it was zipped up and I squatted down, it puffed up due to the air trapped inside which got me to wondering if there is a “best practice” for how much air to leave inside the suit? I can’t imagine that squeezing it all out is good as you would then lose the thermal air layer, but I can’t imagine leaving a bunch in and looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy would be great either.

Trapped air (as in ballooning amount) messes with your rolling and rescues. Best practice is to squat, squeeze, while holding up the neck gasket.

How much air? Enough to keep the drysuit layer lightly against the insulating layer(s). The air spaces between the layers should help trap warmth but not get in the way.

Whether to trim or stretch is a perennial topic of debate here. I was in the “trimming” camp. Now, I favor neo gaskets that are prevalent in semi drytops/suits.


No, you need to ‘burp’ the suit. On land you can squat and pull the neck open. On the other hand, if you blow into the neck you can become the kayak:


That photo definitely belongs in the “Funny Kayaking Pictures” thread if it isn’t already there. Great photo!

I usually leave some air - hard to give you a quantifiable amount but after a few tries you’ll get a sense of how much is too much. It’s hard to get too much air out without a lot of effort, so the quick “squat and burp” technique usually is about right (that sounds completely terrible! Need a better name for the technique!)

I try to burp out as much air as possible. The squat down and open neck usually works pretty well. Or I walk into the water until at least waist deep and then open the neck (or maybe do both together - wade in water and then squat down).

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I’m definitely in the trim the gaskets camp. I figured stretching the upper part until it loses some of its elasticity certainly isn’t going to improve the integrity of the latex over just trimming it to a nice non-choking width. I remember the second one I trimmed, I put it on, and thought “Oh no, I’ve trimmed this too far. It’s barely snug!” It didn’t leak around my neck at all, and was less uncomfortable than I thought a neck gasket could be. Since that one, I don’t leave them overly snug.

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To get even more out, go a little deeper and make sure to point the arm not doing the burping down. Next, repeat with the other arm.

If you have been camping for a while without a shower and the inner layers are getting a little funky, or if you just had too many burritos the night before, burp through a sleeve, not the neck. :grin:


The “squat and burp (neck)” method was exactly what I did to let the air out, so I’m glad I had the right instinct. All good points, thanks for the advice.

I squat and open neck as stated above. Cut the gasket they are made for all size people. One size fits all so unless you’re on the smaller end of neck diameters it needs trimmed. Trim two rings at a time and wear it for 20-30+ minutes even in the house. They all feel tight when you first put them on. So you don’t want to trim out on and trim immediately.

Wading into the water up to my chest worked really well this morning (no leaks!). Left enough air in the last bit of space to spread back out around the suit so it wasn’t “stuck” to me.

I think air is getting in somewhere though (maybe around the latex gaskets) since I went for a longer swim again (to judge comfort) at the end of the paddle and definitely had more air in it than after the pre-paddle “burp”.

Are you sure the extra gaseous volume was “air”?


Of course If you walk into water to burp it you also quickly find out if you failed to fully close a zipper. Useful to know…


Hah! Pretty sure it wasn’t, but my memory isn’t what it used to be.

I also opted to join the “suck it up buttercup” club regarding the gasket tightness, knowing it’ll loosen up a bit over a few paddles. I didn’t notice the tightness while paddling.

The trick now will be to manage layers so that paddling doesn’t overheat, but enough that a long swim won’t be too cold (same as snow skiing, imo, where you don’t want to be just warm enough for the chair ride up and not melt on the way down).

I was professionally trained with New York State Search and Rescue/Fire in their large swift water facility and also through the winter ice on a lake, then finally certified in the motorboat rescue course. We wore dry suits for the lliquid water training, and were taught to burp them as has been mentioned above. The ice water survival/rescue suit is much heavier and is also simililary burped.

If you don’t know, or or it hasn’t been explained to you, there is a very real danger in not sufficiently getting the majority of air out of the suit. If you don’t, you could become an upside down buoy with all the air ballooning in your legs bobbing to the surface while your torso and head are trapped underwater impossibly pointing down with no way to turn around.

Enjoy the training videos:


burp the suit before putting on the pfd and sprayskirt. They hinder the process


One other point re air in a dray suit, on a warm day cold water situation it will actually build up more air as you paddle. You may need to find a way to crunch down in the boat and get some air out while in the boat.

I had this happen at a safety day. I was in my dry suit due to the extremely likely event of an adult accidentally capsizing or a kid doing it on purpose once they were out of their parents’ sight. Latter did happen and lots of curses about rec boats w/o float bags.

I decided to roll to cool off, and the air all went into my legs, in my lowest volume boat. I found myself constrained from getting into a proper roll position but could not figure out why. I had to forcefully push the boat off of myself. It was unnerving.

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That situation never occurred to me and is a really good reason to get most/all the air out.

The warm day/cold water air build up that Celia mentions wasn’t quite the case yesterday (water was 55 F, air was 44 F), unless 44 F is considered “warm”. I had light weight moisture wicking long pants and a medium weight wool top on under the dry suit, and I was quite warm during the paddle.

I haven’t quite had Celia’s experience, but I have noticed air buildup in my drysuit as it warmed. Although the “squat and burp” method is quick, convenient and I’ve used it a lot, I’ve often had to release more air once on the water and warmed up. Wading into the water does a better job of squeezing out excess air and pretty much eliminates this issue. If you squeeze out too much and find out later that your insulation is adversely affected, it’s a simple matter to pull open your neck seal and let more air in.

Yikes! I never heard or thought of this. Not much scares me, but this sounds terrifying. I’m going to be far less slack about burping my suit from now on.

Seems something else is going on …air in the legs …inside a kayak …doesn’t add flotation. Might stiffen the leg, but still should be able to roll.