How tight should the neck gasket be on my dry top?

I got my Kokatat drysuit top today (Hydrus 3), and as expected, the neck gasket is very tight. That’s expected. I’m following the instructions on how to stretch it (don’t worry, I won’t go too far).

Can you tell me what I’m aiming for? Should it be a little uncomfortable?


A little uncomfortable is fine. Getting light headed, face turning red, can;t breathe, etc. is not. You should be able to put it on and wear it around the house for a while without any adverse affects.

I end up trimming 1 or 2 rings off of gaskets to make it work for me.

When I received my suit new, I was too paranoid to trim the gasket. I suffered through choking and loss of blood flow to my head for a few months before it finally stretched out. A number of years later when it had deteriorated and stretched too far, I replaced it with a new one from Kokatat. I trimmed one ring and it made all the difference.

It is often suggested that stretching it is not as good as trimming it. Google it for more info.

What size is your neck?

I have 18" neck and trimmed two rings off. It feels tight when I put it on. After I get kayak in water I forget it’s on. You should not feel choked. I agree with above wear it around house during some physical activity.
Friend ran around for few years choking because he was afraid to cut it. I offer to do it if he came over but never did. Collar is now shot anyway. LOL.

What size is your neck?

15.25 inch circumference.

I would where it a couple of hours before cutting it if not choked. If still tight I would do one ring. Try two liter bottle over night in neck.

I was afraid to cut the neck gasket on my Radius so I took the easy way out. I gave Marshall my neck measurement and he trimmed it before shipping. Perfect fit. One of the benefits of having an excellent outfitter. I stretched the wrist gaskets over a couple cans of black beans. They’re a good fit as well.

Took me a while to adjust to the idea of taking a pair of scissors to my new, $250 top, but I finally did it.

I took off one ring and then two. I’m wearing it now. Still feels pretty tight, but I’ll try it out on the water today.

Good job. That’s the best way to get the most out of your gear.

Give it some time and you’ll probably find it will feel great.

An interesting factoid. Kokatat advises overnight stretching possibly followed by trimming.
Stohlquist advises against stretching and says trim right away.

After many years experience with dry tops and dry suits and the regular replacement of the seals I have removed the latex neck seal from my Kokatat dry suit and had a neoprene neck seal fitted. This is immediately comfortable, leaves no marks or redness on my skin, and has been totally waterproof through much total inversion and immersion. Most importantly, it is not liable to tear in the middle of a multi-day trip. A friend who is a diver uses a neoprene neck seal, and fitted one for me.
Of course, the various different materials for seals all have their pros and cons, but neoprene works for me.

Even with neoprene, sizing is important. My Stohlquist B-Pod neo neck was too tight for me as it came. Sent it back for a roomier gasket (they changed it for free) and it’s still snug, but not choking or uncomfortable.

@nickcrowhurst do you know what neo neck seal you used?

Peter, I’ll email my pal back in the UK to find out.

Peter, I’ve just received this reply:
The seller is Gybe Sports, based in the UK, and here’s one they’re selling now:

Thanks. On westcoastpaddler, there was talk about this company that talks about similar products - At some point I will order one and swap out the neck gasket on my dry suit. I do have a light weight paddling suit and a semi-dry top and have liked the neo neck on them, so have considered swapping on my dry suit at some point.

I find it interesting that the UK has a whole industry around this, yet we don’t seem to have any in North America.

I’m going fishing/paddling today and not looking forward to being strangled for several hours.

I live very close to Kokatat, so I may go there and ask them to guide me on adjustment/cutting.

My necks 18-18.5" took two rings off. Yea feels tight for first minute then I don’t notice it.

Since there seem to be a good number of folks in this string with experience replacing neck seals, I could use some advice.

I got a great deal ($400) on a used Kokatat GFER in my exact size a few years ago. It came with the neck gasket cut out (no doubt the reason for the bargain), due apparently to a deep tear in the front of the neck gasket that reached within a half inch of the bonded seam. But I am concerned that the tear is so close to the seam and that there is not even an inch of rubber there. Bear in mind the photo below is of the INSIDE so there is substantially more of it on the outer surface. I’m concerned that the remaining nick in the old gasket will remain a weak point. Should I glue a scrap over it on the inside as well to reinforce or do you think the split will stop at that old adhesive line once it has new material glued to it? I’ve also seen videos where they heated the old gasket and completely peeled it off the drysuit fabric before applying the new one but that seems like a pain in the butt.

Also, after reading the in depth explanations about gaskets on the Kayak Academy page I opted for their aftermarket “universal” latex neck gasket and booties rather than the Kokatat because (besides being cheaper) they came in a more specific range of sizes. I have a small windpipe and easily feel strangled by a too-tight neck gasket. I’m on the cusp between the two sizes of Kokatat so the other option seemed a better choice. Anybody have experience with one versus the other? This suit is not going to get heavy use. I like going out year round but have few friends that do so a dozen times annually or less may be all it gets used.

I notice that the instructions NRS and other repairers have posted differ from the instructions from Kokatat. I fail to see why the complicated rigid mounting board and clamps that Kokatat shows are necessary. I’ve mended folding kayak sponsons and inflatable flotation bags for years using Aquaseal or vinyl cement and never had to clamp them to get an airtight pressure seal. Also puzzled that some instructions show gluing the old surface and then laying on the new gasket while the glue is wet. Others show putting a strip of glue on BOTH the old latex and the edge of the new one and letting it dry to do a glue-to-glue bond (which is what I’ve done with vinyl construction and repairs.)

Since there seems to be more than one way to do this, which method is “best” may be moot. Unless somebody has a better recommendation I am thinking I will do the coffee can stretch with glue on both the new and old latex, then taped snugly to dry overnight. Or maybe use long cable tie wraps to put pressure on the seam??

I kind of wish I had seen Nick’s post on the neoprene gasket – I think I would have preferred that but had not been able to find one. Oh well, next time. Or if this one proves horrid.