First real paddling jacket...neoprene neck gasket is quite tight

So I just received my first “serious” paddling jacket, a semi-dry NRS Stratos. It has latex wrist gaskets and a neoprene neck gasket. The jacket fits great and feels great everywhere but the neck. I’m quite certain my neck is not disproportionately large, so I find it unlikely I’m the only person who’s had this issue. Really like the jacket overall, but I won’t have the opportunity to use for a few months yet so the return window will have closed by the time I actually get out with it.

I’ve searched the forum and the NRS website and there are numerous posts about stretching latex neck gaskets and trimming drysuit neck gaskets. But I didn’t see any posts about dealing with a tight neoprene neck gasket.

Is it possible to stretch neoprene? Will it stretch on its own over time? It doesn’t seem like neoprene can be trimmed like latex without destroying the overall integrity, correct?



Take a look al around the neoprene and see if there is a size stamp on it. See if that size matches what you would expect based on the jacket size. f thy buy assembled neoprene neck gaskets which they then attach to the jacket, there might be a size stamp on it. Perhaps they used the wrong size?

I don’t know of a way to stretch neoprene. Never heard of this issue before. More common is a too loose neo neck gasket.

The neck gasket has to be at least snug. A bit more than a turtleneck. Wear it awhile and see if it is usable or send it back. I’m not familiar with that particular jacket. Neoprene is not usually trimmed.

For other than extreme weather, or rolling, it is nice to have a vent-able neck. You might be happier to change models if all you wish is to paddle. The neoprene neck was made to be a more comfortable / less restricting / last longer option vs a latex gasket. No trim vs trim to fit.

You might also want to check the specs for that particular jacket and see if the neck sizing is listed different for the next size up and how it compares to your neck. You might have bought the wrong size and need to exchange it. Paddling jackets are generally not form fitting. They tend to have slightly baggie fits so you can add layers depending on the weather / temperature.

I have a Kokatat dry top that I’ve never used due to the tightness of the neck. Tried stretching it and even trimmed it a bit, but it was just too much trouble to wear. Felt like I was going to rip my ears off while trying get out of it. I thought about my paddling routine and finally decided that I really wasn’t going to paddle in the winter any more, so I’m stuck with it. I may try to sell it, but I doubt that I’d get any takers. Layering up for a cold paddle is just too damn much work at this point in my life. At 72, I don’t have any illusions about paddling in rough weather conditions that may knock me over. I just stay home and plan to paddle another day. Think about whether or not cold water paddling is important to you. Nothing wrong with being a fair weather paddler.


@Peter-CA I checked, and there is no label for the collar, only for the jacket.

@roym The collar is beyond snug and is definitely cutting off a bit of blood supply. That said, I am certainly willing to see if it loosens up at all by wearing it a bit. The jacket itself is a good fit with room for layers underneath and sleeves that are plenty long. I definitely wouldn’t want to go to the next size up.

@GeoP I’m not planning to roll or paddle in rough water, but I will be paddling in very cold water for quite a few weeks of the year. Capsizing is not at all likely, but it’s not impossible, either. I’m planning some trips on several of the Great Lakes, including some overnights.



Very cold water in semi dry jacket? Not me.
Accidents are not likely till they happen.

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You can stretch neoprene. I stretched an NRS vest by leaving it stretched around a garbage can. I don’t think you can un-stretch. And you’d want to be sure that the fabric surrounding the neoprene is willing to move.

Just FYI I have a Kokotat semi-drysuit for super cold weather and I sometimes wear a thin NRS neck gaitor to add a little comfort. I’m on rivers and don’t go offshore in winter.

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You don’t mention if your Kokatat dry top is latex or neoprene at the neck gasket, but I am presuming latex. You have little to lose by trimming it more drastically. You can cut it down in stages and keep testing it until there is at least an inch or two left of gasket above the seam. See if that makes it comfortable enough to pull over your head. If that works but the neck is then not tight enough to prevent significant water entry you can buy a more stretchy replacement neoprene gasket and glue that over the remaining strip of latex.

Alternatively, an unused Kokatat goretex dry top still has value on the used market. You can sell through sites like Geartrade or post on Ebay.

Size of you neck is?

Size or length of gasket flat?

Try some talc powder to see if it helps getting it on and off. As for loosening, probably not much. Take it to a dive shop - they should be able to give you better advise or even come up with a solution.

Don’t give up on the neoprene. I have a Kokatat Hydrus drysuit with a neoprene neck. The neck, thankfully, went from mild stranglehold to loose after a half dozen uses.

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The neoprene will stretch the same way as the latex. I have an NRS Triton and I cut the latex seal out of the neck :smile: Even the neoprene was a little too tight, so I just stretch it a day before I know I’m going to use it.

I wouldn’t trim it.


I use a lot of neoprene hooded vests and they stretch out with time. I have stretched them over basketballs overnight just to make them easier to put on and off.

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This week I wore two wetsuits, my Lavacore and a 3 mil back zip and the neck was too tight to paddle until I stuffed a cashmere scarf around the neck. If I end up in the water, I can always remove it. I might try the same with a neck seal someday. I thought it worked pretty well because my blood flow was not impaired and I paddled four hours.