I am purchasing my first Dry suit. In the past I have had an allergic reaction to latex gloves. Do you think I will have trouble with latex in drysuit gaskets.
It seems people are either allergic to latex or they aren’t, so if you are, you will probably have problems with neck and wrist seals. There’s a product called a “Neck Saver” that should help with that.
Allergy = NO LATEX SEALS
There are options though. You can call Kokatat customer service and if you have a documented allergy, there are options.
The only other suit I would suggest would be a Reed’s Chillcheater drysuit.
Neither will be as dry as a suit with latex gaskets but if you have a true latex allergy, you will need to go this route.
I wear one under my semi dry suit neck gasket to help seal out water. It’s also supposed to help with allergic reactions to latex. I find it very comfortable too.
Protein Content in Seals
LongLife Latex Seals are not hypoallergenic; however, each does undergo
a triple leeching process to minimize the protein content.
Protein content is thought to be a contributing factor in some allergic reactions to rubber.
Looks interesting. Is it stretch and pulled on over the head or is it wrapped around the neck?
Note from their website:
While the Bio-Seal was originally designed for use for neoprene seals, it will also make a latex type seal more comfortable and less restrictive. This product does contain oils which can cause early wear in latex type seals. Cleaning the neck seal of your suit thoroughly after each use can help delay this effect. Each seal includes a dry storage container.
I wouldn’t want premature failure of the gaskets from it though.
Maybe, maybe not
My daughter is allergic to latex. We considered getting her a dry suit with neoprene gaskets (yes, Kokatat will make this for you if you have an allergy) but instead she borrowed a dry suit (with latex gaskets) and found that it didn’t bother her at all. After trying a conventional drysuit, we ended up getting her one and after a couple of years of use she’s had no problems.
Perhaps you can borrow a suit from someone to try it out? If you find that conventional latex drysuit gaskets bother you, there are alternatives that do work.
Stohlquist makes a drysuit with neoprene gaskets that apparently works quite well (for some people) so long as you don’t have a really skinny neck.
There was a good discussion about this very topic at westcoastpaddler that you might find helpful:
A lot of supposed allergies to latex gloves are simply examples of irritant contact dermatitis resulting from accelerators or other chemicals used in the manufacture of rubber gloves, rather than a hypersensitivity reaction to latex proteins (true latex allergies).
Maybe try applying a little patch of latex to the skin of your neck and see if you react to it or not.
Latex seals are definitely drier than neoprene seals.
latex and allergies
Latex allergies may begin mild and may progress to severe and life threatening due to repeated exposure.
Personally if I had a diagnosed latex allergy I wouldn’t risk exposure.
I believe the Stohlquist suit has the neoprene collar but latex gaskets on the wrist so for a true allergy, it wouldn’t work either.
As for loaners, check with the Kokatat rep in your area, we all have loaners and if not in use, surely they will let you borrow it.
Could someone could send him …
… a gasket that they removed for replacement? That way he could wear it around for a day.
I don’t have any or I would.
If it’s the Neck Saver…
sold by Kayak Academy, you do stretch the ring and pull over your head. It's VERY stretchy, so easy to do so. Feels like jello. Then the ring acts as a buffer between skin and latex.
I don't have latex allergy but the edge of the neck gasket chafes severely enough that it looks like a guillotine job. I bought the Neck Saver last month. Since the water here is still solid, I'll post a review after I've tested it. It'd be a conditional review, though, because my worst chafing has been after paddling in salt water, not fresh.
Instructions with the Neck Saver state that it will slightly degrade the latex--less than silicone grease does.
Also, the Neck Saver comes in sizes S, M, and L. The S size is for wrist gaskets and the M and L are for necks.
I don’t know…
I don’t know about premature wear on the latex because my drysuit has the neoprene neck gasket. It allows some water to seep in after extensive rolling and that’s why I decided too add the Bio-Seal.
I suppose it would be best to read the manufacturers instructions and decide for yourself.
It stretches very easily over the head and is quite comfortable.
I have one
I could actually do that if desired. Send a PM if so.
Not all sealsare equal
Various production techniques from a multitude
of manufacturers result in a hodge podge of results.
Stick with manufacturers like OS Systems Drysuits
who make an effort to reduce protein content in seals.
Thank you all
Thanks for all the great input everyone. The reaction I had years ago was from Latex gloves when I worked at a Nursing Home. It sounds like I may have no trouble at all. I do have a friend sending me an
old gasket to where on neck. Thanks for the idea Brian. I am buying Kokatat so I know I will be fine.