Drysuit Gaskets - Latex vs. Neoprene

Kokotat, Stohlquist, and perhaps others seem to be offering neo gaskets for some of their drysuits.

My take from the ads is that the neo gaskets are more comfortable, but not necessarily 100% watertight.

Anyone have experience with both that someone considering a drysuit purchase would benefit from?

Also… is a relief zipper worth $150?

(Note & Disclaimer: I figured this would be covered in the archives, but maybe I’m searching wrong 'cause I didn’t find clear feedback on it… so I apologize if I’m covering old ground)

neoprene gaskets typically aren’t dry…

– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 9:48 AM EST –

Currently there is only one dry suit out on the market that advertises a neoprene gasket as truly dry. That's the Stohlquist Body Pod which I have yet to try out. The other companies (Kokatat, etc.) all label their suits with neoprene gaskets as semi-dry. The problem with neoprene is that it tends to stretch after time. Until the b-Pod came out the best neoprene gasket I had tried was the Immersion Research Competition tops which had very tight neoprene gaskets. Those were pretty close to as dry as latex gaskets and comfortable but the feedback from other paddlers who have had them for a while is that the second season is not as dry and it gets worse the longer you use it as the neoprene stretches. Another problem with the neoprene neck gasket is that you HAVE to try it on in person. If it is a nice tight fit, it could be a good solution. If it's loose, you're in trouble. Latex gaskets typically works for a wide range of neck sizes and can easily be trimmed and replaced if necessary which cannot be said about the neoprene as it is actually stitched on to top. Obviously, no one will argue that latex gaskets are drier and also no one will argue that neoprene is more comfortable. If you have latex allergies, the neoprene gasket is probably a godsend or if you have serious claustraphobia issues from the latex gaskets the neoprene might be a good option. Personally I like to be exceptionally dry and latex gaskets typically do not bother me very much so I stick with those for the most part (I do have a couple neoprene gasket tops which are nice for warm water paddling).

Oh and my pea sized bladder swears by the relief zipper. :)

Zipper very Valuable!
When you are wearing a dry, or semi-dry suit, your layers under the suit absorb perspiration. Because of this, it can be very difficult to wiggle out of the suit. A relief zipper can be worth it’s weight in gold for when you really have to go!

The way it usually works is that you find out you “have to go” when you are out in the middle of the lake. So you paddle to the nearest shore, find a place to “go”, and then have to fumble to get yourself out of the suit so you can “go”. I can personally attest to the value of just opening the zipper. Yes, it is worth it! :slight_smile:

I have a Semi-Dry suit. It has Latex at the wrists, and Neoprene at the neck. (Sewn in socks for the feet) The latex wrists are DRY, but the Neoprene neck gasket can let a little water in.

If I were hard core WW paddlers, who may often go swimming in COLD water, I would want all LATEX. For my flat water touring, I am happy with the Kokatat, Super Nova Semi-Dry suit.

Happy Paddling!

Relief zipper and latex gaskets

– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 5:00 PM EST –

I find the relief zippers in both my Kokatat Expedition Dry Suit and Super Nova Semi-dry Suit quite useful and valuable.

I am happy with my Super Nova as back up to my dry suit. It is nearly dry. However, I know of nothing that beats full Gore-Tex dry suit with latex gaskets to keep you absolutely dry. If you are going to be spending any amount of time paddling in waters below 60 degrees, and can afford it, I think a true dry suit is about the best piece of safety equipment you can have. If you cannot afford a true dry suit, the Super Nova works very well for what it is.

Relief Zipper
Priceless! That’s not the place to save money. I get such a kick out of watching the contortions that my zipperless paddling buddy goes through to pee.

I like my socks, too.

YES - booties/socks!
I think I like my booties/socks in my suits even more than the relief zippers.

I paddle with
a dry top / deck one piece that has latex at wrists, and neo around neck with an elastic strap snugging deal. It’s WAY nicer in the surf and I don’t get the rash on my neck. It appears really pretty dry. The odd drop of water may purge through during a pummel, but I’m no less dry after a couple of hours. I’d highly recommend neo at the neck.

that sounds like my dry deck
I’ve not a couple dry decks and my PeakUK deck has the tightening neoprene neck which does work nicely as you can tighten it as far as you are comfortable. I also have a fully gasketed dry deck which I wear in colder water.

tried to get kokatat to mod my Meridian
by removing the latex neck gasket and installing the neoprene punch through type they use on the Tropos…this after testing a ‘paddling suit’ recently, and after realizing that the last time i had an unintentional wet exit was 12 years ago, and after realizing that if wearing a pfd my head is up, going to be up fairly quickly and the small amount of water the neoprene would let in is insignificant, and realizing that i would wear the drysuit (but wouldnt be tech. a drysuit anymore) more frequently with the mod…so Kokatat said no, tried Amigo’s druisuit gasket repair service and they said no too.

Doesnt really matter, spending most of my time now in a Brooks Tuliq…

I double up…
I wear a two piece dry suit with a shorty top and I wear the tuilik over it. I love the tuilik for its warmth and comfort but in the middle of winter on Lake Michigan, I want my dry fleece layers on underneath as well.

You answered my next question
Why can’t a neoprene neck gasket be fitted with a ratcheting strap to tighten it up when needed?

What kind of top do you have?



it can…
and I think it’s a perfect compromise solution that partially addresses the stretch factor associated with neoprene. Unfortunately very few companies offer this. Here’s a PeakUK top which has this tightening system on the nect and arms. From experience, you can make this VERY tight and although it is still not equal to latex gaskets, it’s reasonably dry.


If it’s adjustable…
…it will bunch up when you tighten it, just like neopren collars and cuffs on paddling jackets do. When neoprene bunches, it creates channels for water to flow through.

There is an alternative
Reed Chillcheater products use Aquatherm gaskets for both the neck and wrists of paddlesuits, long and short sleeve dry tops and bibs. The Aquatherm Superstretch material is a coated fabric with exceptional stretch and when fitted properly, provides excellent seal. The gastkets are tear resistant (as in, I have never heard of one ripping), UV resistant and seemingly unaffected by chlorine. A little harder to pull over head and hands than latex, but well worth the extra effort. Available at speciality paddlesports shops or on line at www.secondwindsports.net/products

DISCLAIMER As the North American distributor for Reed Chillcheater I have a vested interest in these products. That said, the proof is in the performance.


relief zippers when it’s cold
are very valuable. If you go on long paddles and have to get out of the suit three of four times over the course of a paddle…