Drysuit care

I see many articles saying to machine wash your drysuit in a front-loading washer, using cold water and a gentle cycle.

Stohlquist says to wash theirs by hand in warm water.

Needless to say, doing it in a machine would be much easier, so will I harm my Stohlquist AMP if I toss it in a machine and wash in cold water?


If you have a front-loading machine, it shouldn’t be a problem. I wouldn’t use a top-loading machine with a typical agitator. The absolute safest option is to wash it in the bathtub. I installed a towel bar on the ceiling above my tub so I can hang dry suits and other paddling gear after washing or rinsing them.

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I have a nice big plastic bucket I got from a farm supply store. I fill it with warm to hot water and then soak and knead my farmer john. Afterward I hang in shower inside out to dry. I don’t use a detergent, but I suppose in time I’ll need to.

Farmer John wetsuits are easy to clean. They’re neoprene.

It’s recommended that drysuits get a second rinse and be washed in cold water, delicate cycle, and a high water level if using a front loader machine.

I’d follow the washing instructions given by the manufacturer, just to be on the safe side.

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Oops. Sorry.

Turn the suit inside out and let it dry speadout in a dark or semidark room, shake and gently brush off loose debri when you turn it back the right way- Store it loosely in a dark dresser, must be dark, do not hang up on a hanger.
Every couple of years, hand wash in warm soapy water.
Personally, I don’t 303 unless I know going to be wearing it several days in a row, I do keep some zipper lube in the pocket of my pfd.

There is no reason that you can’t hang a dry suit for storage.

yep, there’s reasons why I don’t hang drysuits- you ain’t gonna agree with 'em but that’s okay, it’s a free country and I’ll still paddle with ya. Just know at heart I’m a true dirt bag.

Unless you keep the closet door closed it’s not gonna be dark as a drawer that you only open when you need one of your drysuits. Chances are you got other stuff in your closet, maybe even leave the door open sometimes. Most of my drysuits are economy minded- meaning they don’t necessarily have anything covering the gaskets- I’m a firm believer that light kills gaskets. You can agree or disagree, I’m not a chemist. I do know that the suit fabric wears out (starts to leak) before the gaskets rip since I started this routine.

I used to hang my paddling jackets on whatever hanger was in the closet, I think it sped up the delaminating, ain’t takin’ no chances.

Of course the one thing you can’t do when it is tucked away in a drawer is to admire your drysuit. I was just thinkin’ how pretty my last purchase was, bein’ mango orange and all.

If it makes you happier, I do hang pfds, sprayskirts. I can go in and admire them whenever I want, assuming I can get past the smell of my booties dryin’ out.

Or maybe I’m just lazy. I used to stuff sleep bags and tents (not fold and roll), just cause it was easier. Maybe it’s just easer to dry, shake off the dirt, and fold the drysuit and put it into a drawer. Oh yeah, and I’m so lazy I never bothered to replace the bifold in the boating room, see my closet ain’t so dark without a door.

I can see where hosing might be a good idea after paddlin’ a s##t creek or salt water which is corrosive but typically don’t bother after the typical river funk day.

Drysuits are the only thing I do try to take of (my exwives would agree). Anytime I take off a paddlin’ jacket it looks like I got a bad case of dandruff (delamination). I do lots of horrible things- buy my wicking and fleece layers at walmart, drag boats, paddle them with holes, fix skirts with shoe goo, scratch up carbon fiber paddles, and even transport smelly boats inside vehicles. Lately I’ve been in high cotton. The boat goes on the outside of the rv/camper van instead of on the bed where I sleep. I don’t think you should sleep in your drysuit unless you got a relief zipper- how’s that for wisdom.

Perhaps you should just leave your dry suit in the drawer and never use it. The fabric will last forever and it won’t matter what happens to the latex seals. Wearing it is the worst thing you can do to a dry suit. :wink:

UV light damages latex seals and sunlight contains a lot of it. Most artificial light sources produce very little, if any, UV. Unless you hang your suit outside, it’s not likely to suffer light damage.

Hanging has no effect on delamination. There’s no point in making up problems that don’t exist.

If your suit starts to delaminate before your seals wear out, you should buy a suit made with a better fabric, such as Gore-Tex, which has a lifetime warranty. If it delaminates, they replace it at no charge. Cheap dry suits are false economy, as you ultimately end up spending more to replace them than you would have if you bought a good suit in the first place. On top of that, you end up with poorly performing fabric that doesn’t breathe well and develops leaks. Being frugal in other areas is fine, but dry suits are not a good place to skimp.

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While we’re on the topic of drysuits, when wiping down the gaskets on my Kokatat Radius I noticed a tiny split (maybe .25 mm) in my neck gasket. It’s located low on the gasket, a good two inches below the last ring. I’ve put some Aquaseal over it on the outside and will do the inside tomorrow.

I know eventually the neck gasket will have to be replaced but am curious if it’s possible to replace it with a neoprene neck gasket and if so, who does such work. Don’t think Kokatat would, but I haven’t asked yet.


Bnystrom spend some time hanging up paddling jackets at a commercial rafting company, you’d learn they delaminate first in the armpits, around the neckline and where hanger hits them, You’re right about not hanging up your drysuit outside to dry- worst thing you can do, and you’re also right that I’m cheap. That’s what motivates me to take care of my drysuits, that and the fact that I absolutely suck at replacing gaskets. As far as not usin’ the drysuit to extend the life of the suit- let’s be clear- that’s your suggestion not mine. I’m all about gettin’ out on the water and encouraging others to do the same.

My first drysuit- a Helly-Hanson, that’s a suit that would never delaminate, a true vapor barrier sweat bath…boy wasn’t that pleasant…you got wring out the sweat in the underlayers . Its pictured below, Also below are my delaminated paddling jackets- first is so bad you can’t tell where it started, another starting around the neckline and the third where the hanger hit it- , They’re cheap and replaceable. I just apply what I know about paddling jackets to something else- drysuits…maybe that’s logical/scientific/or just nuts. I’m also sure there are lots of “good reasons” to hang drysuits- having closet space and not an extra dresser (or dark tote) is probably the most obvious, or maybe the closet is only place you can dry it out without ticking off your nonpaddling significant other, or like I said before maybe you get joy from looking at it. That ain’t bad, just real different from me. I could care less what the boat/gear look like, I’m all about lookin’ at the pretties outside.

This whole experience is new for me, I don’t think anybody has ever suggested I’m excessive with the care of my paddling gear. Usually people just cringe,. but hey, bnystrom and I mean this quite sincerely, thank you for the compliment. It is probably the only time in my life it will happen… I did actually sell one of my drysuits recently to a buddy who needed one, kind of a testament for me that I can take care of gear. Usually my paddling gear is headed to the landfill when I’m finished with it.

My experience with goretex is that it doesn’t usually delaminate, once it wears out it just leaks like a sieve. When it would get like that we used to call it “sucktex”. For many years I believed it was a better product at breathing than actually being waterproof . I don’t know anything about the latest goretex (last 20 years) in high end products, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone that knows me… maybe it works great…maybe not…the high end suits may be worth the money…I’m always slow to come around. It is only in the last ten years that I grew to love pogies, new fangled super grippy boatin’ shoes, nrs camstraps, and aluminum carabiners…the real question is will I look as good in one of those fancy suits as I did in the Helly Hanson. Maybe then I can hang it up in my closet and stare at it for a while.

Boy I’m with you on that. I don’t care if it’s Kayaking, fishing rods, sleeping bags or pickup trucks. Always something better but what was great in the past and has served you well is hard to turn your back on.
I generally hedge my bet to a life of experience unless I’m convinced otherwise.
In the case of drysuit care, lots here with way more experience so I’m all ears.

I don’t hang my drysuit - just lay it out flat on one of my boats with the zippers open. My old drysuit had metal zippers, and they recommended storing that one zippers closed. My current drysuit has plastic zippers, and they recommend storing it zippers open. I’d never put my drysuit in a washing machine - I’d be scared that it would damage the zippers. I’m not an ocean paddler, so I don’t need to worry about it anyway - next swim in the river will wash it off. :wink:

Did it every occur to you that the shoulder delamination is in the area where your PFD rubs and puts pressure on the fabric and that the wear in the armpits is due to the fact that they’re the area where the fabric flexes and rubs against itself the most when paddling? It has nothing to do with hanging the suit; you’re attributing the problem to the wrong causes.This should be a real forehead-slapper moment for you. :wink:

Gore-Tex has evolved and improved pretty dramatically over the years. It’s lighter, more breathable, rugged and just as waterproof as ever. Two things haven’t changed, the Gore warranty, which is the best in the business, and the fact that Gore-Tex is still considered the gold-standard for waterproof/breathable fabrics. And no, I don’t work for them; I’ve just had great experiences with their products and with the company. Over the years, I’ve had three Gore-Tex garments start to delaminate (two rain shells and a dry suit) and all three were replaced at no charge. They even replaced a Stohlquist dry suit with a Kokatat, because Stohlquist doesn’t make Gore-Tex garments anymore.

I’m certainly not going to tell you how to spend your money and trust me, I’m pretty darn frugal when it comes to buying gear, but some premium products are worth it.

Actually, the bigger issue is that water can get trapped in them during the spin cycle, especially if your suit has booties. This has the potential to damage the fabric. I paddle salt water almost exclusively and just rinse off the outside of the suit after each use and the inside once in a while. That does the trick.