Dry Suit Zipper Questions

I have a new Kokatat Meridian Goretex dry suit. Last night when I was waxing the zippers I found the pee zipper stuck in the closed position. I pulled on the zipper as much as I dared, squirted 303 on the clasp and then used liquid soap, a tooth brush and warm water. The zipper finally freed up enough to open. Once I got the zipper freed up it worked fine.


How important is it to wash a dry suit after it’s been in salt water? If you use the dry suit in salt water on weekends should you machine wash it before each use?

Should you store the suit with the zippers open or zippers closed?

When you wax the zipper should you also wax the inside zipper teeth as well as the outside?


send question to Kokatat
I would send these exact questions to Kokatat (http://www.kokatat.com/contacts). They are pretty good at responding.

My take:

You don;'t ant to launder the dry suit after every use. When you do launder, you want to use NikWax TechWash or something similar.

Give the dry suit a good rinse after each use.

I only lube the outer metal. You want the zipper to be able to slide over it, and that is where the sliding goes on.

I think they say to either leave the zipper all the way open, or all the way closed. Having it half open (and the possibility of one side crimping at that point) is bad.

care instructions

Machine washing your drysuit after each paddle is an overkill. Rinsing/Spraying with water should be enough.

303 is not a lubricant, don’t put it on zippers.

Rinse every time after salt water
We live in the dry suits when we go to Maine, and while you have some leeway in fresh water we have found that zippers love to seize up in salt water. I usually try to just walk right into the shower with it, run cold water over it and take it off there. After every paddle. It’s usually already pretty wet anyway. In fact I go in wearing everything - skirt, shoes etc. It makes for a much more efficient rinse.

Kokatat’s recommendation is to store them with zippers open, the risk is otherwise the seal can go south. That said, they ship them with all the zippers closed, so go figure.

Two other recommendations - turn at least the legs inside out to dry as soon as you can after taking off the suit. It is more important that the inner membranes dry out than the outer cloth layer. And use the rinse that restored the water-repellent layer early and often, BEFORE you really need it. Once it has really taken a beating you aren’t going to get it back, and the suit is more comfortable with that layer working.

tread, as I just ordered one of these suits… I look forward to seeing all the information about this.


Drysuit care instructions

All the info you need to know is on the link.

Personally, I prefer real beeswax over zip wax. It seems to get into the teeth better.

Never use 303 on the zipper as it can get on the fabric and it can cause problems with the fabric. Basically it can contaminate the membrane.

In the winter when the outside water is off, I bring a gallon of water to a paddle (leaving it in the car) and rinse with it when I am done. When outside water is available, I always rinse the outside of the suit after each use. I rinse the inside with clear water when necessary. When necessary depends on how sweaty you are. I wash in a FRONT LOADER without agitator usually a couple of times a season. I 303 regularly.

Some other people do more maintenance and others do less. Really up to you. The nicer you keep it, the longer it will last.

BTW, I think fresh water is really much worse than salt. Lots of living things in fresh water. Salt though, nothing lives once it dries out. That’s why fresh water paddlers gear stinks more than salt water paddlers gear. (That should get some people riled up!!)


– Last Updated: Jan-24-13 3:57 PM EST –

Lots to be learned from scuba guys ,
their lives are on the line with dry suit zippers.



It's all about a light coating to merely make
the zipper move easier.
Avoid getting a bunch of wax in the sealing edge.
It isn't a sealant , it's a lubricant.

In Michigan doing woody debris removal, I get all
that chain saw sawdust, muddy banks, eddy scum, etc.
I use the garden hose and spray my suit liberally
with clean water until the dirt is off.
A bare minimum to almost no use of a brush or mechanical action.
Hangs outside for major drippage, then goes in
bathroom/basement/garage for true drying out.

That 303 goes on the gaskets only
Not on the suit fabric. Just in case you were wondering…

Lots of good advice…

– Last Updated: Jan-24-13 9:21 PM EST –


If the temps are above freezing I close all zippers and hang my suit on it's hanger from the stern of the boat (which is still on the roof of my car) and rinse it off well with the hose. I hang it to hang outside in the shade (zippers open) to dry.

If it's raining I just open the zippers and hang it inside to dry. I'll rinse it next trip.

If the temps are below freezing and the water in the hose isn't flowing I ignore it and hang it inside to dry with the zippers open.

When water isn't beading and I can feel the difference I take it to the laundromat and for $3.75 I wash it in a front load machine using a product marketed for washing waterproof breathable garments. After that I spray it with Revivex Air Dry Waterproofing Spray. Takes about 3 - 4 cans and I do 3 coats. I have had a better experience with this than the wash in coatings (iron or no iron). I do this maybe once in two years.

The reality is that you may take some trips that last for weeks and you won't be able to care for your suit. Know that it will get dirty and stained and won't fall apart but will perform more comfortably when cared for.

Zippers? Zip Tech works fine but so does ski wax.

Whatever you do.....don't post a question about whether you should stretch or trim your neck gasket.


Dry Suit zippers
According to Kokotat, leave the zippers open for storage (you want them to relax). Lube them with “Zip Wax”, or my personal favorite, Parrafin (a candle works fine, since it’s parrafin).

Never, never, never use silicone.

All the zippers are stiff when new.

Chapstick on zippers
smells nice too and convenient to carry with my gear.

I have mentioned it before but no chapstick on the zippers. It isn’t a wax, it is petroleum based, it is sticky and could attract stuff into the zipper teeth. They make a stick of zip wax, you could keep that in your pocket and use it on both your lips and the zipper. That would be a better option than the other way around!

Goretex and chemicals
Yeah, be super careful about what kinds of materials you use for both lubricant and cleaning with Goretex.

I should know better, since I worked for many years in the outfitter business and had factory training on care of gear materials, but I recently destroyed a much-loved mesh lined Goretex rain parka that had gotten really filthy with bike chain grease. Stupidly sprayed it liberally with stain release (Zout, I think) before throwing it in a cold water and woolite wash with some fleece and other laundry, which I had done countless times before (the washing, not the stain remover). When I went to take the load out of the washer, at first I thought there must have been a clump of Kleenex in the pocket of something because the clothes were covered with shreds of white stuff. To my horror I discovered that almost all the white Goretex film had delaminated from the jacket shell and disintegrated. it could have been old age, I suppose (the 15 year old jacket’s age, not mine) but I suspect the solvents in the stain release spray dissolved the adhesion between the film and shell. The jacket is toast.

After years of hectoring customers about avoiding chemicals and oils with Goretex, I deserve to be flogged with a No. 10 YKK zipper. Destruction of my most useful and irreplaceable rainshell is punishment enough, I guess.

But the incident reminded me to be careful with my other Goretex and maybe saved me from making a similar mistake with my still fairly new GFER drysuit.