I bought a Kokatat dry suit almost two years ago and have used it about 30 times and have been very careful with the latex gaskets and kept them coated with 303 as recommended. Last weekend the neck gasket blew open while taking off the drysuit. After paying $900 for this piece of safety gear I was very disappointed that it could fail when I most need it. I was wondering if I might have other options besides latex for a neck seal or what other’s experiences are. The comfort of the drysuit is great but my confidence in it’s seals is really lacking now.
two years is normal
just replace it. If it lasted longer you could experience it melting and leaving bits around your neck instead of splitting.
Not bad, actually
I’ve had neck gaskets last ONE wearing before they blew. And I have one that outlasted the drytop’s waterproofing (It’s 8 years old, and still intact, but getting gooey). No accounting for how long one will last, no matter how well you care for it. I take better than average care of mine, 303 it every other use, and hang the suit in my basement where it’s cool and dry when not in use.
Gaskets are cheap, and relatively easy to replace yourself with a waxed plywood jig and some spring clamps. I’ve had very good luck with NRS replacement gaskets – more supple, and easier to glue on. My most recent one is 2 years old and counting. Longest lasting one I’ve had on my current drysuit.
Two years is good.
Gskets often blow either when you are putting them on or taking them off. It is when there is the most stress.
I’m happy when I get two years out of my gaskets.
Maybe you need to rethink drysuits
Since January 2003 I’ve owned a Stohlquist Gore-tex drysuit that has very thick gaskets. (The Kokatat gaskets I’ve seen/touched are thinner and stretchier.) The wrist and ankle gaskets are still in good shape, surprisingly.
The neck gasket developed a small wear spot in it that I patched with a bicycle tube patch kit either last year or the winter before that. Then, late last year the neck gasket looked “dry” in some areas with hairline cracks appearing (not leaking). This summer I bought a Kokatat neck gasket repair kit for about $40. Just haven’t done it yet–haven’t needed a drysuit in this furnace of a summer.
I have never treated the gaskets with 303 or anything else. I simply hand-wash the drysuit after each use and keep it stored in the dark after it has dried.
If having to deal with the gaskets really, really bugs you, maybe a full wetsuit would be a good option for you. I recently bought one for day paddles in late spring and early fall. It is a PITA to put on–much worse than donning/doffing a drysuit–and takes longer to dry but it’s a nice complement to the drysuit I am reserving for cold-water use. Wetsuits are much cheaper, esp. if you buy from an outlet store such as Sierra Trading Post. I like that they are very streamlined, too; actually makes me want to take a swim.
I have tried replacing neck gaskets, made a mess, finally sent the drytop back to Kokatat to do the work for what I considered a very reasonable price. You may be handier. I have been told by those who should know, that drysuit gasket life can be extended by storing your (clean and dry) suit in a garbage bag tied off air tight after expelling as much air from the bag as possible. This supposedly protects the latex from environmental ozone, which is its major natural predator. I agree that 2 years is about average, not any indication of faulty latex or faulty care. You might consider a “semi-dry” top with neoprene seals. These will leak some water when you roll, but the water circulation is minimal, so you stay warm, if a bit wet.
your’s was made out of latex?
you got jipped
They have a very good reputation and will tell you what your options are.
What kind of dumb response is that?
BTW, it’s actually “gyped”, which is a derogatory reference to gypsies.
Just replace it
It’s no big deal. If you want to do it yourself, I have pics and instructions in my Drysuit Repair album on Webshots at:
BTW, don’t let this failure worry you. As you’ve seen, seals inevitably fail when donning or removing the suit and I have never heard of one spontaneously failing while paddling; it simply doesn’t happen.
Gaskets are cheap? You mean compared to the original expense…
I’ve found that the folks at Kokatat don’t respond much to email, but are great on the phone.
I sent in my suit for gaskets at the end of July and had it back in two weeks. They also did a wet test and patched it under the Gore-Tex warranty.
Two years ago I sent in my dry suit for gaskets, Kokatat decided the Gore-Tex was delaminating and sent me a new dry suit for the price of replacing the gaskets.
Should be 303’d every 4-6 weeks, throughout the year, not just throughout your “season” of use. Both inside and out on the gasket with the 303.
Take a look at the inside of the gasket, you will find a date - that is the date the gasket was produced. Years ago I bought a Kokatat Dry Top from an online vendor on sale - turned out the gasket/top was five years old. I used it for two years before replacing it - it didn’t blow, just started to get soft and so I was being proactive. The wrists lasted another year after that.
Dry suits should not be stored near a furnace or motor - so basement storage isn’t ideal. Of course attic storage isn’t so hot either.
Recently doing a 303 run on my demo suits and found that some of the gaskets were from 01 and were still going strong.
Gaskets are never covered under warranty, especially not ones that are 2 years old and used 30+ times. That is considered normal wear/tear. Mine usually last considerably longer but I am very careful getting in/out and don’t just pull them on over my head/wrists.
You sound like a DIY fellow, what are viable choices for latex gaskets?
I know that some drysuits/tops get good seal from neoprene, have you ever experimented with that?
they are horrible at email IME-xperience
Amigos dry suit repair is supposed to be
great to deal with!!!i hear about them all the time from WW paddlers…
Thanks for the information
I’m curious if you made the wood forms for the neck gasket replacement or if you bought a kit from the manufacturer.