Dry Tops

I’m new to the sport of whitewater kayaking and am purchasing all my gear. I live in Northern Alabama. I’m trying to decide between a long sleeve dry top, or a short sleeve dry top with attachable sleeves.

Any comments, questions, or thoughts?

Dry or semi-dry?
Anything short-sleeved can’t be a true dry top unless you want to have dangerously limited blood flow to your lower arms and hands. By definition, that’s a semi-dry top. For what it’s worth a lot of people up here like that in the summer with a long sleeved warmer top under it for warmer weather.

How long into the cooler weather would you be paddling? It might help answer the question if people knew that.

short , long, or combination?
Thanks for the reply.

I’d like to paddle all year, which is the reason for considering the short-long sleeve combination dry top (short in the summer, attach sleeves for winter).

Why do you automatically consider a short sleeve a semi-dry top. It has gaskets on the biceps? Doesn’t that make it a dry top?

Alabama weather = brutual summers, mild winters.

Hey neighbor
Here is the Alabama whitewater forums:


Try the General forum.


Short sleeve (usually) not fully dry
The only kind of gasket that is reliably really dry if you take a swim is latex, which is too tight to wear that high on your arm. If you have beefy arms and a top with a well-fitting neoprene and thick gasket, like on the IR Sessions short sleeve tops, it’ll be fairly dry if the immersion amounts to a bunch of rolls. If you can’t roll and capsize, the latter being pretty inevitable in WW, the swim you take will challenge the sleeves. It would in flat water, let alone moving stuff.

If the short sleeves are one of those types that have a tab that you close over a neoprene rim, it tends to be less dry.

I’d wager that a more careful look at the description of those short sleeve tops would get you a description of semi-dry rather than dry.

Check out peak uk not sure of the website just google it. They have a sale going on now. I have had a freeryde top from them for about a year. It is the first top I’ve owned with a semi-dry neck gasket but so far I really like it. I think it would serve you well to start out.

Short or Long Dryness
You aren’t limited to latex seals for dryness. There are a number of drytops that use a smooth skin neoprene cuff that are very dry and quite comfortable.

Your original post mentioned attachable sleeves. What is this drytop? I’ve not heard of a convertible drytop that goes from LS to SS versions. I have had a LS drytop that I made into a SS but that was due to my blowing out the seam on the right shoulder due to the age of the poor thing, not a design feature.

Welcome to the addiction.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


peakuk combi shorty

this is the one I was referring to. it has latex gaskets on the neck and arms. what is the difference between latex and neoprene gaskets?


– Last Updated: Feb-20-09 9:44 AM EST –

I've never seen a shorty jacket with latex arm gaskets - this is new to me.

That said, I wonder if there is troublesome wear on that arm gasket 'cause it is likely to get more stretched than a wrist gasket would be getting it on and off? I'd like to see one of these up close. Peak is good stuff.

(Re neoprene versus latex for dryness, with scrawnier body parts than guys and lots of twisting I tend to open up a slight gap in anything that isn't latex, including neo closures that work for many. So I hesitate to make anything universal there.)

Just to clarify one thing. The combi has a neoprene neck gasket, we call the AO (aqua out) gasket. As the neoprene stretch’s over time there is a strap that you can pull to keep it tight.

The arm gaskets, have worked very well for us for many years, and for some reason we see very few failures on these compared to neck or wrist. Our working theory is that the gasket is quite a bit shorter than a wrist or neck, so there is not as much material to be stressed.

Anyways sorry to jump in here, but just wanted to clarify the neck gasket.



Wasup Ken!
Hey Ken,

I spoke to you by email yesterday. I went ahead and placed my order for the long sleeve. My reason was b/c I’m slightly cold natured. I usually burn my wife up with the heater in the winter time. I’d rather have the long sleeve and be a little warm in the spring/summer, than have the short sleeve and risk being cold in the fall/winter.

I think I understand now. Gaskets with latex are “dry” and those without latex are “semi-dry.” Neoprene can be present on both “dry” and “semi-dry” but it’s the presence of latex that makes the difference.

Thank you all for your responses and help.


Bham, AL

Good choice!

I think you will be very happy in long sleeves while you are still learning. If you get to warm you can always roll over and cool off.

Yep you have it correct, in a easy way to remember it latex on all seals, is a “dry top”. I put that in quotes because, well no matter what, there will be a certain position you get in that will allow a bit of water to sip past a latex gasket.

Over the years there has been a lot of innovation in dry tops, and lots of new materials have come out and made a neoprene gasket much more feasible. And in my opinion much more comfy! There is still a trade off though, neoprene is just not as dry as latex. I would say that if a latex neck is 100% dry, then a neoprene neck is 90% dry. We are based in SLC, UT here in the US and that 10% can be a bit chilly when the water was snow a few minutes ago!

If you ever have any question on gear (not just ours) I would be more than happy to chat with you. I have been in this industry a long time, and love to talk shop.

Take care,



Ah, neo sleeves…
Now I get it. Cool looking drytop.

See you on the water,

The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


Not true, Celia
I use a short-sleeve dry top in the summer and it’s great. You trim the biceps seals the same way you do neck and wrist seals. Mine is completely dry at the seals, but like most dry tops, it will seep slightly around the waist.

Again, I beg to differ
All you have to do is trim the latex seals for a comfortable fit. They will be completely comfortable and completely dry.

There’s no problems with the arm seals
They are a different size (larger) than wrist seals (they’re probably just ankle seals) and they fit fine when properly trimmed. Mine actually seem to be more durable than wrist and neck seals, which stands to reason since one’s hands fit through them easily and the upper arm skin is smoother and softer, so less likely to do any damage.

One strong recommendation…
…for dry tops is to get one with an expandable, Velcro-closed waist. It dramatically reduces the “whine-factor” when donning and removing it. One reason that many people hate dry tops is that the traditional tight waist makes them a real bear to get into and out of.

Me bad - Lotus too
S’alright - either I have been in front of these things and not realized what I was looking at, or I’ve spent too long looking at stuff for Maine temps water.

I already said sorry to the OPer…

good choice

– Last Updated: Feb-22-09 10:08 AM EST –

The long sleeve for whitewater. You can always use a good dry top, and Peak UK looks like a good product.

I'm on the South Carolina coast sea kayaking in and around the ocean. the water temp gets down to 55 so it's difficult to find the right level of protection from submersion and not be too hot.

I have a good dry top, but think the short sleeve top with neo shirt and pants will be used most of the time. I like my lower arms to be exposed and my head, body, hands, feet protected.

I ordered the Peak UK Tourlite short sleeve and their neo short and long sleeve shirt and pants. I'll be putting my new gear to the test in a few weeks.

My plans are to mix and match short and long sleeve tops and pants, which should be enough protection for my skill level and this area.

In a month water temps will be above 65 so I don't need a dry suit for day paddling this year.

Edit: I also ordered the Kokatat Tropos boaters pants for over the neo pants for cold days but so far have not been impressed with the Tropos material. I sent a short sleeve Tropos jacket back because it felt like rubber. I don't see how it could breath at all. I may be sending the pants back as well if it is rubber like a rain slicker on the inside.

Breathable coatings vs. laminates
The fact that the Tropos fabric looks like coated nylon on the inside does not mean that it cannot breathe. The coating is full of microscopic pores, much like the membrane in laminated fabrics. If you’ve ever seen Gore-Tex without the inner laminate or liner, it actually looks and feels quite similar.