A few weeks ago there was some discussion about dry tops. As a result I ordered one for my wife and for me. I am a new kayaker in South Florida so I dont expect to be very cold. I just thought it would be nice to keep the water out of my boat once I learned to roll as it runs down my body and inside my spray skirt. Once I received the dry top which I order from the site one of the responders listed (Sierre Trading), I tried it on. It was so tight around my neck that I couldnt breath as it was stretch neopreme (sp?)material. I think it was a class iv drytop. The jist of my questions is what is the difference between the classes and where can I find that information so that I wont over engineer my gear. I figure ultimately I will want a top to keep me warm when I paddle in the Atlantic in February, one that will keep most of the water out but will not sufficate me and will breath to some extent as the air temperature will still be above 60 or 70. Any thoughts?
Try a Semi-Dry Top
Semi-Dry tops have latex wrist gaskets and a stretchy neoprene-like neck that can be adjusted for fit and comfort and keeps most water out in case of a roll or swim. A dry-top has a latex neck gasket, and wrist gaskets, that will stretch with a little use.
I have a semi-dry top that allows me to open the neck wide open for ventitlation, but can be cinched tight for paddling. The dry-top has a better seal around your neck and therefore, not very venting.
I have swam with my semi-dry top and it keeps most water out for about 5 minutes in a true swim, but stays pretty dry if you keep the neck line above water. Because it isn’t a tight seal, it will leak when under water. Even a very good fitting dry-top will leak a little around the neck if you don’t have a good seal.
For your needs, Florida Ocean Water in February, you may only need a semi-dry top, if you don’t mind a little wetness, because the water isn’t real cold.
Do you have a large neck?
If it’s a latex neck GASKET, you can trim it to better fit your neck circumference. If it’s neoprene, I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
Latex GASKETS seal better, and those are what make a drytop a drytop rather than a “semi-drytop.” Latex GASKETS do not leak at all.
Maybe you need the next larger size of drytop. Or if the top fits well other than the neoprene neckband, you might consider having the neckband removed and replaced with a larger one.
Sounds like a latex gasket
It needs to be trimmed. Here is link to instructions
Do it right or the gasket will fail.