dry suits and semi dry suits

I have a latex sensitivity - not full blown allergy at this point but have been warned to avoid latex as much as possible because the more contact I have with it, it can become a full blown allergy.

I have been researching dry suits and semi dry suits for kayaking and from all that I’ve read, it seems that all dry suits are made with latex neck and wrist gaskets. I think probably a semi dry suit would be fine for me and for the type of kayaking that I do presently. Same problem from what I’ve read. I’ve seen some of the semi dry have neoprene neck gaskets but still have the latex wrist gaskets. I can’t be the only person in the world with this problem. Does anyone know of any alternatives for me or if it’s possible to have a dry suit or semi-dry suit made with neoprene or silicone or some other suitable sealers.

Thanks, and to use a quote I learned from fellow paddle enthusiast: “Keep your seat dry and your bottom wet”

Get a wet suit …no latex

– Last Updated: Aug-29-11 1:44 PM EST –

How cold of water will you be padling in? Ocean, lakes river? A nylon rashgaurd underneath will keep the arms from chaffing. You can roll or splash water to stay cool. Suits range in thickness for warmth 3/2 is good down to about 55 F water, 4/3 down to about 45 F water, thicker suits work too. Look for high quality surfing suits not dive suits, also contact paddlers who use them, and not people who have "tried" and did not like. Most the complaints come from people who have tried paddling in thick non stretchy diving suits or did not use a top layer in wind conditions. A decent wet suit that will work in cold water can be had for about $160.

Not ALL seals are the same
OS Systems is often overlooked for drysuits.

They’ve been in the business a long, long time .


LongLife Latex Seals™ undergo a triple leeching

process to minimize the protein content.

Protein content is thought to be a contributing

factor in some allergic reactions to rubber.

LongLife Latex Seals™ are used exclusively

in OS SYSTEMS’ products.

LongLife Latex Seals™ are dipped from

high modulus natural gum latex rubber

to maximize memory and longevity.

silicone seals
You can now get silicone neck and wrist seals for commercial dry suits – don’t see any reason why you could not have them sewn onto any suit you would get to replace the latex seals.


Kokatat has directions on there website for gasket replacement. If you or a friend don’t have the facility or equipment to sew it, there are people who can do it for you.

seems great, any catch?
Even the price seems reasonable compared to the cost of many dry suits. Plus they claim to be superior to latex in a few ways. So I wonder what the downside of silicone is.

You can add barriers to the latex
There are some squishy black bands (silicone? maybe) sold through Kayak Academy and others that you can put between your skin and the latex gaskets.

I bought one, not for allergies but because my neck gets severely chafed by the neck gasket when paddling in salt water (has only happened in salt water). I tried it out once this spring and quickly took it off–to accommodate the extra thickness of the band, I would need to trim off the top of the gasket, making it less snug for the times I paddle in freshwater and do NOT need the band. Will wait till I paddle salt more frequently than fresh before I do that. But maybe it’s an option for you.

There are alternatives to latex
It was interesting looking at the silicone gaskets, that might be a good alternative. If your handy and want to save some money you can make neoprene gaskets yourself. I’ve been using homemade neoprene gasket for quite a while and they work very well. If your interested you can take a look at the link.


I have a Palm semi-drytop with neoprene
gaskets at the wrists as well as at the neck.

Reed ChillCheater Suits…
…have non-latex neck and wrist seals - really comfortable - and the AquaTherm fabric used in the suits is a very nice material. I have had some leakage under the wrist gaskets, and would describe the suits as ‘semi-dry’ - but far and away the most comfortable I’ve worn.

paddling suits
I use a paddling suit (neoprene neck, latex wrist) for everything, including rock gardening and surfing. For the small (very small) amount of water that gets in when I capsize compared to the comfort of the neoprene, I don’t see myself ever switching.

Now, ion to your issue, I seem to remember seeing a brand that had neoprene for wrists also, but can’t remember who it was. But you do have the option of just cutting out the latex ones and replacing with neoprene. Or have a shop do it.

You might be able to order one with neoprene as a special order from Kokatat (kokatat.com).