Drysuit Repairs

Are there any new technologies that might be tried to replace the latex gaskets on goretex drysuits? I paddle often in cold waters, properly care for my Kokatat drysuit, but am left with failed latex gaskets at least once a year. So, are there viable options to latex gaskets that fail too often at way too high a cost to repair?

I feel for you. I have 2 dry suits and my partner has 1, and another couple of dry or semi-dry tops between us. Lots of latex gaskets. Am replacing a few each year.

For me, I generally switch my neck gaskets to neoprene when the latex lets go, but stick with latex for wrists. I use these neck gaskets - https://seaskin.co.uk/product/neck-seal-neoprene-2mm-for-surface-suits/ . Neoprene can let more water in than (a working) latex gasket, but I have a pretty big neck, so even with neo I stay dry when swimming. YMMV.

I change the wrist gaskets myself. That same company as above is whrre I buy my replacement wrist gaskets from. I think these - https://seaskin.co.uk/product/wrist-seals-cone-standard-pair-spare-part/. I use an old Nalgene bottle as the form to hold mt drysuit/top’s arm and the gasket I am putting on. That same Nalgene also is where I store the parts needed between repairs.

Note on the UK company I buy from. They are a SCUBA shop focusing on their dry suits, so much of what they have is for them. The items listed as surface suits is what they call our use. The items marked as spare parts are the ones they sell as parts for people t do repairs - much of the others are parts used for having them build a custom dive dry sit for you. I may not have made a purchase from them in last few years, so things may have changed with Brexit and all - but it used to be the price with slowish (few week) shipping was actually less than what they listed there, as we don’t pay the Euro/UK VAT which as in the listed price, so had to be backed out), which was more than the cost of shipping. I usually pick up a small stock of the wrist gasket ever time I order - enough to last a few years.


Peter, Thanks much especially for the neck gasket info.

Rinse at least the gaskets after each use, especially if used in salt water. Kokatat recommends treating latex gaskets with 303® protectant every 4-6 weeks to preserve the latex.

Picture of failures?

What’s or how is it failing?

What do you mean by paddling often?

When I was talking to the people at NRS about this (longevity of gaskets in the desert) they recommended using silicone grease. They said that it has been more effective than 303 in keep gaskets good for longer.
I haven’t tried it and have been thinking of going w/ neo instead.

I kayak 3-5 times a week as long as weather permits. This passion of mine finds me in the cold, chaotic, waves of Lake Michigan or alongside the whales of the north Atlantic. My drysuits have saved me a number of times. So, my drysuits are regularly cleaned and 303 is applied to the latex gaskets. Nonetheless, the latex gaskets on my Kokatat goretex drysuits have routinely failed once or twice a year since 2003 or so. The first sign of degradation is seen when fissures that resemble stretch marks appear. Then, the stinkin’ gasket tears and is ruined.

To much 303 can soften gaskets also. I don’t have time to go out as much as you but mine lasts years 3-4 or more.

Never used silicone but I would use food grade quality silicone grease.

This site link below contains some interesting info on maintenance of latex material. It’s directed to those who prefer more, umm, extensive latex garb for rather different reasons and usage than do we paddling geeks who are seeking to stay warm and dry (rather than hot and steamy).

They mention the silicone oil to keep latex supple and easier to put on, but also caution what sort of soaps to use to clean them and point out that the plasticizers in plastics can damage latex if left in prolonged contact. I’ve always washed my wet and dry wear with wet-suit wash, so not worried about that. But I’d not heard the bit about plasticizer contact before, so I checked my gasketed drywear in the gear closet after reading that and was relieved to find that I had used wood and metal heavy duty coat hangers rather than my molded plastic ones to hang all of them.

Excessive heat (and UV, of course) as well as any sort of solvent fumes can break down and prematurely age latex and rubber materials too.

Friend left his suit in hot car and gaskets were ruin in short order. Rinse my suit exterior after every use. Rinse the gaskets inside and out after every use and air dry it. I use Nixwax products and occasionally 303 monthly.

Gaskets could be damaged if they are to tight when putting the suit in. I know few people who won’t cut their gaskets and it’s like a cat birthing a cow.

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Never would have guessed . Wear any latex for summertime paddles or should I say paddlings?


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Some gasket manufacturers put a date on their gaskets. If there is no date, you might be best off buying them from the drysuit manufacturer or a major reseller. They are more likely to properly store and rotate their gaskets. Heat, age, and UV can quickly kill latex.

Pee valves? I’m a diver / DM and they have never gotten me into a drysuit because I can’t handle any pressure on my neck (triggers my vagal) and I’m always nervous about being on a deep wreck penetration and having that response when I turn my head and neck.
I would love to dive some world class cold water sites (God’s Pocket, BC for one)
This past year, I tried on a drysuit and had it happen again so still seeking an ideal solution.
When wearing my wetsuit kayaking this winter, I tucked a scarf around the neck and wore it unzipped. I’ve had full cardiac, echo work ups, nothing found.
Because I’ve had freediving experience with shallow water blackouts, I have a heightened sensitivity about the whole issue.
I do wonder how many other people have this problem because we are alway taught carotid massage for certain arrhythmias.—so there is definitely a connection with carotid pressure.

I wonder if you could wear a bibbed neoprene dive hood like a dickey under a drysuit with a more flexible neoprene neck band? i have considered that myself, since I have problems with tight latex too. No blackouts but I do have a very narrow windpipe (they have had to use a child-sized ventilation tube when I had surgery) and quickly got uncomfortable with all my latex neck rings and trimmed them down to where they might not provide secure protection against flushing when immersed. Seems logical that a dry suit hood could make cold water leakage less of an issue even with a neoprene gasket on the drysuit itself.

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I seem to only get a season out of my latex gaskets too. I rinse them and feel like I’m carefully storing my drysuit. At the beginning of '22 - '23 coldwater season I was sure my gaskets would be good as I took extra care and even took a step to put clean bunched up towels gently into the gaskets to keep them from folding over on themselves before storing it in a dark closet. I thought I had succeeded when I put it on for the first use, but the next weekend when I grabbed it again, the neck gasket had already gooed together in a spot. That’s what happens to mine. The latex turns to goo, it sticks to itself, and pulls apart when you try to separate it to put it on again. I used a wetsuit all last winter, and that’s mostly what I’ve used this winter, although I do have new gaskets on my drysuit again as of a couple months ago. I really enjoy paddling, and I’m ok with quick rinses and storing stuff up in a good place. But if maintenance gets too finicky, I’ll find something that I don’t have to be so finicky with given routine use. I’m going to have to look into Peter’s suggestions - Thank you!

My latex gaskets have never stuck together or degraded, just tore from getting caught on something or being slightly nicked when I trimmed them. But one thing I often do is use baby powder on my ankles, wrists and neck to ease putting the suit on (the little 200 gram travel sized shakers are handy for this and I keep one in a zip lock baggie in my paddling gear bag – also handy to have for preventing butt rot after you change out of damp paddling clothes at the take out). Apparently leaving a skim of plain talcum or corn starch powder on the rubber protects it from gumminess.

Creamy or oily lotions (including the bases for sunscreens and some insect repellents) will break down the polymer bonds in latex. I know I’ve trashed the latex elastic in a lot of bathing suits due to sweating sunscreen and/or bug dope into the fabrics.

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:+1:t3:I have that exact same Henderson hood and it’s the best piece of dive gear ever because you can condition your hair under there. That same hood also comes in the hooded vest in Hyperstretch.
I recently picked up two more on eBay for way less than I paid new.
You know a lot about gear, girrrl.

Paddling, I like to be able to hear :ear:

So you are suggesting the hood under the paddling neoprene top you mean?

Thats a good idea

I confess I’m a long time gear geek and freak. Worked in my 20’s for several wilderness sports outfitters shops and was a guide/instructor and officer in my outdoor club for many years in multiple outdoor activities. Still obsessively interested in the latest gear innovations (while sentimentally clinging to some vintage gear, like waxable wooden Nordic skis, wool sweaters and waxed cotton bush hats.)

my idea for the hood was to have a drysuit with a more tolerable neoprene neck gasket but wear the hood with its bib UNDER that gasket. The theory being that two overlaying layers of neoprene would allow less potential immersion seepage into the dry suit torso than just the neoprene to skin contact. Perhaps a wrong presumption. Maybe I’ll buy one of the Hendersons and try it out. If it works, I’d like to be able to swap out my Kokatat latex gaskets for neoprene on at least one of the suits. And even if it didn’t work out for that, the hood (or the vest you mentioned) would be handy for balance bracing and rolling practice.

Question: does the Henderson hood have enough stretch to easily roll the head portion down to free your scalp and ears while wearing it? The only wetsuit hood I ever used while diving was an old school 5 mm neoprene I borrowed for one of my open water classes and when I tried to pull it down around my neck to cool off on shore it felt like I was being choked from behind.

Yes it does and if you want me mail you one to try (I have four) I will send in a flat rate envelope.

They are like butter (almost) and when I realized they stopped making them, I bought up some used ones on EBay.

I looked yesterday because I’m still obsessing and they seem to be expensive right now even used.

Maybe I paid 40? For some that were used a couple times? Retail is about 130 I think.

They keep my hair from being ravaged by the salt water and they keep it out of the hoses and valves.

We be back to America this time next year :muscle:t2:

It’s an indispensable piece of gear IMO and I have tried other hoods and never found one that I love like the Hyperstretch Henderson.