GoreTex socks attached to dry suit

Had a great time paddling while it was snowing today but when I came inside and took off my dry suit, noticed that my wool socks were damp. That’s not happened before. Air temp was 34F, water temp no idea other than very cold. Also wore a base layer Mysterioso sock, which felt dry when removed.

After I took off the pants I rinsed the socks and noticed water did not bead. It still does on the GoreTex fabric of my dry suit.

Should it bead? Should I be treating the socks with DWR?


In my experience, the DWR doesn’t last long at all. Fortunately, the DWR isn’t what makes it waterproof. It’s the inner layer of GoreTex, sandwiched between the outside nylon? layers. It might help to keep you a bit warmer and “breath” better when the suit doesn’t wet out, but I don’t worry about it too much anymore. I’ve typically washed my suit and redone the DWR (wash-in) no more than once or twice per year. The gaskets get treated maybe once every 2-3 uses.

What you were probably finding was condensation from your feet sweating. Even if they aren’t feeling very hot, they’ll still sweat. Yes, the suit is supposed to be breathable but that’s relative. Condensation will still build up in some conditions. You might have been overdressed in some areas and overheated a little. Hot/Cold is a difficult balance in the winter.

As long as you’re wearing fabrics that still insulate when damp, I’d suggest you just accept a bit of dampness.

Look for a hole. Is the suit one piece with gortex socks sewn to the suit on the bottom? Fill legs with water to the ankle of knee and look for leaks. Turn feet of suit inside out and look at taped seams for damage. https://www.gore-tex.com/en-us/support/restoring-water-repellency

@PaddleDog52 It’s a Kokatat Radius two piece suit, purchased in June. Gortex socks sewn to the bottom of the pants. I read the Kokatat FAQ about DWR, but the suit is fine. I recall that water beaded on the socks when I first started wearing the suit. I always rinse the socks as soon as I get my shoes off because we have lots of sand here in the Great Lakes. It doesn’t bead on the socks now. The dry suit is spotless, doesn’t stink, and I have no plans to put it through the washer since it doesn’t need washing right now - but I do 303 the gaskets. Taped seams on the feet are solid.

@Sparky961 I guess it could be condensation, although my feet were more on the cold end of the spectrum. I also wonder if the base layer socks had some effect as I hadn’t worn them before. Maybe I’ll try reversing the layers and see what happens.

I have a nylon stretch Seals sprayskirt and use NikWax TX .Direct or 303’s DWR - both spray-on products, Works great on the sprayskirt, but does need to be reapplied every so often.

DRW coating will wear off faster on the booties than the rest of the suit because of friction. Not a bad idea to renew it.
If one sock was more wet, I would look first for a hole or whatever in the seams. If the socks were equally wet on both feet, probably sweat/condensation.

Shoes wet? Provided there isn’t a pinhole, you should keep in mind that the material will breath but will be hampered by water sitting on the outer surface.

You may notice that you might be more damp in the areas where your sprayskirt and pfd lie, too.

Let me know what you find from water testing the socks.

See you on the water,
The Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY

I assume you had shoes on? Your gore tex socks will not breathe in wet or waterproof shoes. Furthermore, if you wear a skirt goretex won’t even breathe inside a kayak cockpit. Once the humidity inside the closed cockpit reaches a certain level, sweat vapor will not move across the membrane and your legs will get wet from sweat. Gore tex will not breathe under your skirt tunnel. It will not breathe under your pfd. It will not breathe well at all if it is wet on the surface. So, if you have a goretex paddling suit (I do, I am on my second Kokatat Expedition Suit) it basically won’t breathe. However, it also won’t let water in, which is really the point in a paddling suit. If you want to tell if your suit is letting water in (has a hole) do what Paddledog said, fill the legs with water and look. Use a goretex patch to seal any holes you find.

Matching what others said. DWR will wear off faster in spots with friction (which socks definitely have), but in general doesn’t seem to last long anywhere. Not having the water beads reduces the breathabiltiy of the fabric, which could be why you are seeing moisture.

Renewing DWR won’t last long either, unfortunately. The only place I generally renew it is in area exposed to air (shoulders, arms), as I find this reduces evaporative cooling and helps me stay warmer. I do end my paddles often feeling a little damp from sweat. Means I wear clothing that does fine if a little wet under dry suit (so no cotton).

Because you are damp in both feet, I lean toward it being sweat and lack of breathability, rather than a leak…

Whenever I need a new neck gasket, I always send it back to Kokatat to have it done. Not as fast nor cheap as other places (or doing yourself), but for an added $20 they will leak test and patch the suit, which I have done. Amazing hoiw many patches I have, so it seems some very small pin hole leaks are not unusual.


Don’t iron gaskets or neoprene or any other plastic/rubber like components!

That said a low setting dry iron does help stand the fibers of the outer layer back up which helps to bead the water.

Here’s a blurb from the Gore-Tex website:
“If unable to tumble dry, iron the dry garment on gentle setting (warm, no steam) by placing a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron. This will help reactivate the DWR treatment on your garment’s outer fabric.”

Quicker, for just socks, than spritzing and hair drying a spray on DWR treatment.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY

Shoes, absolutely: Astral Brewess which do breathe. Didn’t wear a skirt yesterday because I was on a inland lake, winds were only 8 mph, and I used my Werner which doesn’t dump water like my GP. Also, I lose a lot of hand dexterity wearing Glacier Gloves and have never done a wet exit while wearing them. Something to practice in the pool, I guess.

My suit leaked once because I was in a rush and got careless putting it on. I felt that leak as soon as it started so will chalk up the damp socks to condensation in light of the helpful comments here.

Thanks for the ironing tip, Marshall. Think I have an iron somewhere around the house and will try that first. Will also let you know if there’s any difference in switching the order of the base layer socks. Have located an access site where the parking lot is plowed, so I’m good to go until the water gets stiff.

I was working in the outdoor gear biz in the mid 1970’s when Goretex first began to be used in such products so I was among the salespeople who went to a lot of training sessions by manufacturers on how the material works (having also been a polymer chemistry lab tech working with PTFE helped my understanding of the material). The microporous PTFE (teflon) film that “breathes” only does so because vapor pressure causes molecular moisture to be forced through the openings but they are too small to allow liquid water to pass through. So it works best when there is a space between your body and the fabric where there is a vapor pressure space, as in a tent, a bivy sack or a loose-fitting shell garment. Goretex is not that effective in footwear because it has such close contact with the skin and vapor transfer is also blocked by the outer layers of the footwear so moisture will tend to condense anyway and your skin and any material between skin and the Goretex will become and stay damp. Lining boots with Goretex is basically a waste of material. And I suspect Goretex socks on drysuits are a similar exercise in futility. I would choose either neoprene or coated nylon instead. The outer layers of Goretex “sandwich” are treated with DWR to prevent “wet out”, which is saturation of the material (like nylon or polyester) which would block the pass-through of moisture vapor. The DWR makes the moisture bead on the surface instead of soaking it. Again, no point in using it on socks, especially if they are going to be inside some kind of boots or protective shoes…

You’re doing the right thing with the liner sock and wool oversocks. The liners are wicking skin moisture to the wool and wool maintains its loft even when soaked so it will continue to act as insulation. Back in the years before Goretex when I did a lot of winter backpacking I used to wear poly wicking liners under wool ragg socks, then pull plastic bread bags over each foot before sticking them in my waterproofed leather hiking boots. My feet would stay very warm and my skin would be dry, while the wool socks would be damp at the end of the day and I would switch to a dry pair of socks and mukluk shells for camp footwear. I’d place the damp wool sox between my inner and outer sleeping bags and my body heat radiating would usually dry them pretty well overnight.

I’ve always heard the same thing that Willowleaf said, and it makes sense to me, that the only advantage to water beading up on the outside surface is that it creates “bare, dry space” on the fabric through which gaseous water can pass, since complete coverage of the outer surface by water pretty much stops gaseous water from exiting. I think the same thing happens with Goretex jackets and pants in the winter when the fabric gets thickly coated on the inside with frost (that happens to me during winter hikes if the weather is cold, but people say that basic old-style, non-waterproof windshell materials don’t have that problem). Anyway, for any particular surface that is always tightly covered, as is the case with drysuit booties (socks), the surface treatment would be pointless and the lack of water beading is nothing to worry about.

Even if your shoes are breathable, that’s a far cry from being well-ventilated. Even a single layer of breathable fabric doesn’t let gaseous moisture escape very quickly, so two layers of breathable fabric (drysuit booties with shoes over the top) would probably act as if “pretty well sealed”.

For what it’s worth, my underclothes get quite damp inside a drysuit, especially my feet (covered by boots) and the area covered by my PFD.

Agree with above two posters. There is no way for moisture to escape if you are wearing booties or shoes. When the temp dips below freezing for hiking we switch to a parka made with tightly woven Egyptian cotton, with a felted wool sweater underneath… That allows for good ventilation yet stays warm. Of course we have Gore Tex too but at about 15 degrees the jacket just ices up and the pores stop working
If you are concerned about warmth. there are felted socks or boot liners that due to the felting are very warm and water repellent. Feet still sweat though.

@Willowleaf. A steel-trap mind you have. You remember that stuff from the 1970s and when I grocery shop on my lunch hour, I have to stick my car keys in the grocery bag stashed in the office refrigerator so I won’t forget to take the groceries home.

Chalking it up to condensation. Thanks for the always super mentorship here. Still plan to play with switching the base layer to merino wool sock and the Mysterioso sock on top of that just to satisfy my own curiosity. Whether that happens this weekend depends on wind and snow forecast, which looks rather nasty right now.

I have a question about dry suits that is along the lines of this discussion. I currently have a Kokatat wet suit. About 5-6 years ago I bought a Kokatat Super Nova semi-dry suit for whitewater rafting, but sold it because I wasn’t using it. I sure wish I had kept it now that I’m paddling. At some point I might want to get a semi-dry suit again. The Kokatat Super Nova vs the Gortex paddling suit. The Super Nova is Kokatat’s Tropos breathable fabric and costs about $200-300 less. I don’t recall the Super Nova being super sweaty, but I didn’t wear it a ton of times. After reading the posts above about the limitations on breathability, even with Gortex, I wonder if the Gortex suit would be worth the extra cost?

As for semi-dry vs dry…I’m ok with the neo neck instead of a latex neck. I did wear the Super Nova semi-dry suit during a rescue class, and swam a rapid in it. The small amount of water leakage at the neck was minimal and worth the comfort over latex.


Check out the video that Marshall of The River Connection posted on the Kokatat GoreTex Surge at TRC’s FB site: https://www.facebook.com/theriverconnection/

I had tried on the Surge two-piece suit and liked it (especially that wonderful neo neck). Also love the SwitchZip and ability to use the top as a separate. After doing a lot of thinking, ultimately decided to go with the Kokatat Radius. It’s certainly earning its keep so far and the only “breathability” issue I’ve had is damp outer layer socks when I started paddling in 32F air temps and under my PFD, which happens even in warm weather without a dry suit. What I especially like about GoreTex is that it cuts the wind and that you’re not wet and clammy all over as with a wet suit. I think what really sold me on a dry suit was having dry feet at the end of the day.

Having owned Kokatat paddle clothing in both Goretex and Tropos I think the major differences are durability and breathability (the GT is superior in both, you get what you pay for). The Goretex laminates they use in the costlier suits are a heavier gauge of nylon and the membrane transpires a bit better. Though they did claim that Tropos T3 was an improvement over the original and I think my Tropos semi dry top was the original type, and it was noticeably less breathable so products made more recently may be a bit better. Anyway, they are phasing out Tropos now for Hydrus 3L fabric that they use in the Meridian suits. From what I have heard Hydrus 3L is basically the same as Tropos. But that might mean some pending discounts on existing stock of the Tropos stuff – just sayin’. …

Thanks folks. I was going to ask about the Switch Zip suits also. The biggest negative about my old suit was the butt zipper. Zipping & unzipping that thing to pee was not super fun. I see they have the Idol Switch Zip semi-dry paddle suit in Gortex with the Neo collar. Still kind of pricey at $800. I will probably get more & more into spring & fall paddling at Lake Powell, and down to Mohave & Havasu, and summer paddling at Yellowstone & Glacier, so the wet suit + paddling pants & jacket vs semi-dry paddling suit will probably need to be re-visited in the coming year.

The SwitchZip is wonderful. I had also tried an Expedition suit with the rear zipper. Hated it. Had that been my only choice, I would have stuck with a wet suit. Neat thing with the two-piece is that you can wear the top as a separate paddling jacket, which I did on a cold windy day in July. Also have used the pants as separate waders. I like things that multi-task.