So I have an older Stolquist drysuit that only had ankle gaskets. The gaskets need replacing and I was gonna do the latex socks thing, but my local store won’t have em in stock for awhile. However, my local paint store has those yellow latex hazmat boots for a fraction of the price of the drysuit socks. Is that the same kind of latex that aquaseal glue sticks to and would using these hazmat boots be a bad idea? Thanks.
Why risk it?
It’s a drysuit. If it fails, you may find yourself in a cold and wet situation. I suggest not messing around with unknown materials. Your life could depend on it.
Several years ago I replaced latex ankle gaskets with latex socks I bought from NRS – http://www.nrs.com/product/2279/nrs-latex-drysock
It didn’t say so on the NRS site, but I think mine came with some adhesive and adhesive prep stuff. Maybe I separately ordered these and they just all came in the same box. It was a few years ago and I don’t remember. I was very happy with the results.
I don’t know enough about these things to tell you that the hazmat boots won’t work, but if it was me, I wouldn’t fuss around with it. Your results will only be as good as your materials, and if you start with known, quality components, intended for use in a drysuit, I think you will have a better chance of success.
Hazmat stuff is disposable
I agree with Chip. I wouldn't use any product coming from an industry where nearly everything is intended to be used just once, then thrown in the trash. If you are in a huge hurry, find an online source and order them via next-day delivery. There's virtually nothing made nowadays that can't be had in a day's time, if you need it that quickly.
Oh, by the way, WHY would you want to wear latex on your feet in the first place? Dry suit foot coverings are normally loose-fitting fabric with room enough inside for cushy wool socks. At least that's true of the dry suits I've seen. The fabric is reasonably durable. That's definitely not true of any latex material I've seen. Something thin and stretchy that makes good gasket material isn't likely to be good wear-and-tear material for inside your boots.
Some prefer latex socks
Fabric socks seem more common on dry suits than latex socks these days, but some people prefer the latex socks.
The fabric socks do not snug down around your feet so there are always pleats of fabric inside your shoes which some people find uncomfortable. The fabric socks also have seams. The seams get a lot of stress being walked on and it is not uncommon for them to start to leak a bit after a while.
I still have an old Kokatat dry suit with latex socks. I haven’t used it in a while, but when I did I would wear a thin pair of inner socks inside the latex and a thicker pair of insulating socks on the outside to protect the latex.
I’ve had very good luck dealing with Kayak Academy with fast and inexpensive shipping of gaskets.
It’s a matter of availability
Latex socks are readily available as replacements for ankle seals, from companies like OS Systems (www.ossystems.com). Fabric socks (Gore-Tex or similar) are not generally available as a replacement part.
You can install what you can’t get.
They probably won’t fit
Latex seals are made in a specific diameter at the top to fit dry suits. Hazmat boots are not likely to be the correct size, so even if they would work otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to attach them.
There are boots available for diving dry suits that would fit, but most I’ve seen are very bulky and expensive.
I learned something
I would not have guessed that latex socks are an option, but it makes sense that when replacing existing ankle gaskets, installation of latex socks would be a whole lot easier than sewing on fabric booties, if they were even available (and maybe the difficulty of installation is why they haven’t become available, but I bet a company like Kokatat would sell you a pair if you asked for them).
Replacing Latex Gaskets
When I replaced my torn, latex, ankle gaskets, I would have loved to be able to replace them with goretex socks. But I have no idea how that installation would have been accomplished. Replacing a latex gasket with a latex sock is straightforward and the same process for replacing any latex gasket. That’s a process I knew I could do.
I worried about tearing the latex socks on brambles or such while out walking the river bank. For that reason I often wore neoprene socks over the latex. But I’m not sure there’s any more risk of ripping a latex sock than there is of puncturing a goretex sock. Fortunately, I have had no experience ripping either. I think the life of a latex sock will be equal to or better than the life of latex gaskets at wrists and neck, because the socks don’t have to be stretched every time you enter or exit the drysuit.
protect those drysuit socks!
No matter what your drysuit socks are made of, there is no reason to ever wear them without paddle boots over them. You want to protect the material from wear, since this is the most likely spot to develop a leak.
And Kokatat says that even they can’t retrofit goretex socks onto a suit with latex seals. So adding latex socks is your only option. I’ve done it on one suit, and it works great. Really no different than goretex socks. They are loose, not tight, with plenty of room for wool socks inside. And your feet can’t breath inside a paddling boot anyways, so latex is just about as good as goretex.
I have had Kokatat do it …
I have had a suit with ankle gaskets changed to GoreTex socks by Kokatat. May depend on age and type of suit? Mine is a 1994 vintage GoreTex suit and it worked fine.
I have a Kokatat Hydrus 3L Whirlpool Bib which comes standard with latex ankle seals. I bought it used but the original buyer had Kokatat add socks and a relief zipper to it.
I know Kokatat did the work because the seller sent me the invoice for the work that Kokatat returned with the Bib.
Kokatat will only do this kind of work on Kokatat products, however.
prefer the fabric socks
I own both types, seen the latex sock blow out twice in the ww environment. I’m okay with wearing either one, the fabric sock is not as warm or as dry but much easier to slip into a booty and more comfortable to walk around in. I am extra careful putting on and taking off the suit with the rubber socks. I try to stand on a mat when I’m slipping on either suit. I consider the feet to be the most vulnerable part of the drysuit. I wear booties over either type. Using knee high stockings to help the socks slip into a booties that have an inner liner. Footwear is very important in rocky terrain where you are getting in and out of your boat to scout or carry and swims tend to be short.
Thick soled booties help as well.
Wow, so many replies. Well I’d love to have gortex booties, but cost of custom installation can’t be justified on an older base model suit.
Earlier I did buy the only local XL NRS latex socks, but the pricey pkg only came with one sock even though the label says socks. One would assume it’s talking about a pair if there’s an “S” at the end. Apparently that’s how they’re all packaged. Yeah, I could pay for rush shipment of another “sock”, but that the overall price was really adding up for 2 measly pieces of latex - hence my idea with the latex hazmat boots.
Though I know there’s some risk in using unknown latex material, I would at least test it extensively before using it in cold water. I hadn’t considered the larger diameter of the hazmat boot top.
Thanks for all the advice.
Try unscented talc…
…to help your latex seals and booties slip on and off. The difference is absolutely night and day.
As I said above…
…the boots probably will not fit, as they are likely to be too large in diameter at the top.
thanks for the tip
I’ll try it.
Yellow makes your feet look big.
Latex Hazmat might be perfect
The Hazmat boots might be perfect.
However you are dealing with mental security and the thought of them ripping when you have to wet exit would not be worth it unless you did a series of tests and trials. I have no doubt you could make your own booties from any waterproof fabric. Sew them and seal them with Aquaseal and save a lot but would it be worth it?
I agree, that the openings on latex gaskets and socks are made to a specific diameter, and the fabric of the leg cuffs are sewn to match. However, IF the latex boot/sock opening diameter is smaller than the fabric cuff opening diameter, and IF the latex of these hazmat boots is stretchy enough, one could: shove a cone-shaped mandrel down into the leg so that the cuff is fully expanded and tight around it; and then stretch the sock over the cuff and glue it there.
I don’t know, however, if these hazmat socks have sufficient durability and puncture/tear resistance to to worth the effort. If they last 1/2 as long as a latex sock that’s built for drysuits, and they cost 1/2 as much, then it’s not worth it, because you have to invest your time (and some Aquaseal) in swapping them out. But if they last 3/4 as long, or cost 1/4 as much, then maybe it’s getting close to worthwhile. I don’t think it’s a huge life-or-death issue, since you’d probably notice damage to the sock when putting the suit on, and as long as you’re wearing booties or sandals over the socks, they’re unlikely to suffer catastrophic damage in actual use.