Gore-tex for extended saltwater use

I have a Gore-tex drysuit and love its breathable waterproof nature. I automatically assumed I’d use it (live in it) on an upcoming long trip in AK.

However, I am very concerned about its suitability (no pun intended) for what amounts to no-maintenance use for 5 to 6 weeks of daily paddling. I have always rinsed and hung up my drysuit after wearing it. This will not be possible on the AK trip. No doubt body oils (even though wearing insulating underlayers) will contaminate the membrane. Also, I have heard that saltwater can eventually clog the pores.

Has anybody here used a Gore-tex drysuit in saltwater expedition-type conditions (i.e., no showers, no washing of clothing)?

Right now, I am leaning towards wearing the most breathable fuzzy rubber Farmer Jane I can get my hands on, and adding on an NRS Mystery long-sleeved top and/or semi-drytop (with openable neck band for ventilation) as conditions change. If it turns cold and rainy, I’ll wear the Mystery top; if it’s warm and rainy the semi-drytop. If cold, rainy, and windy I’ll put on both.

I do not like neoprene.

It breaks down in salt water…
over a period of time.

Believe it or not the people in Juneau,Ak call it cute!

We learned from experience.



JackL - do you know if the same happens with the material in Ravenspring, Palm, etc - RS seems to appeal to the British hostile environment paddlers

Rinse you suit in the ocean
every night! You have salt on the surface at a much greater concentrations that sea water. As this stuff crystallizes you get it gripping the fabric and sharp edged crystals (small) Not good! Rinse the suit and shake out as much water as possible. I have never taken an extented trip, this is what I have been told!

I’m curious about others experience! Does this work. Have you tried it. Did you remember to shake it out to minimize evaporation and crystallization.

Found a page with some interesting info

Sounds like rinsing the suit in saltwater will prevent large salt deposits from reducing breathability, but that still doesn’t solve the body oils problem.

BTW why no bathing!
you really ought to get some camp suds or something like that from campmor. Is works in sea water! For luxury boil one quart of watter and add it to a gallon in a collapsable shower. two or three drops of soap in one pint of your now warm water to wash, the rest to carefully rinse. Hygene is necessary for fungus prevention, and to keep your companions sane. Fungus invaded toenails or itchy bottom fron heck is no fun when it’s three weeks to get home. You should change out of your drysuit and moist garments at the end of a paddling day on a trip that long. I have serious land long solo hiking experience and bathed most days unless the temp was below 10 F. Of course if water is a problem, campmor sells other things as well.

Saltwater baths, hmmm
Doesn’t the salt water leave you really sticky? Stickier than leaving the sweat residue on?

I definitely will change garments once I’m in camp, be they fuzzy rubber or wicking long underlayers. Was not planning to stay in paddling clothes all day/night, though I’ve heard of people “living” in their underlayers.

If there is fresh water around (which we will try to locate our campsites at), I will wash off using my quick-drying, compact synthetic hand towel and some biodegradable soap. I’ll also carry a small stash of wet wipes if I have room for them–that’s a big if, though. Food is more important than wet wipes!

i have a kokatat dry suit that is about ten years old. Last year I finally had the zipper replaced. But after having used it only a few times this winter, I went to put it on and the zipper failed again. The problem with a drysuit is: failure is catastrophic. wetsuits, allbeit not as comfortable, have less of a chance of failing. This winter, my best cold water combo, was the wesuit bottoms locked into a drysuit top. Here there is no zipper failure possible and the arms were free from chafing.

If I were going on an extended
trip relying on a drysuit, I think I’d take not only a repair kit but also a spare drysuit, for just the reason Seawave mentions–failure is catastrophic.

Kokatat says clearly that the idea that salt can clog the new Gore-Tex pores is a myth.

I’m not sure why body oils would be a problem for the drysuit, since it wouldn’t be next to your skin–it seems underlayers would absorb them. No reason not to bathe, though, as PeterK suggests.


Gore Tex and clogging
I have been on extended bicycling trips with Gore Tex rain gear and it has not clogged at all. This is far more rigorous than kayaking.

It is better to keep both clothing and yourself clean. Saltwater showers were a way of life during my Navy days when the evaps failed. Since the evaps were mine, their failure was a double pleasure. Anyway, you should bring some saltwater friendly soap, a sponge and a camp towel (sort of like an artificial chamois). Wash yourself daily. Rinse the dry suit in the ocean daily. Doing so will help keep you and your gear clean. The salt will not hurt at all. It is not as nice as fresh water, but it is a lot better than the alternative.



Salt Water
I don’t know about going for weeks but spending several days surfing in salt water with no fresh water to clean up does not seem to be a big deal. It does make your skin feel drier than normal. Bathing in ocean water certainly beats not bathing. My wife thinks salt water makes you feel “ikky”, my sons could care less. Maybe there is a gender difference.