Long lasting water repellent?

Any recommendations for a spray-on water repellent that lasts more than just a few outings on the water?

My Seals nylon skirt keeps me dry when I’m using my Werner, but not when I use my Lumpy Greenland.

I have used 303 Fabric Guard on both sides of the skirt, but it seems to get washed out after a couple trips using the stick.

As always, thanks.

my experience
my experience with 303 is that it doesn’t work long with anything that gets soaked regularly. I’ll use it to keep my porch furniture cushions from fading and getting damp and mildewed, but I had found that using it with backpacking and paddling gear it was a weak product. Both NikWax spray and Thompson Water Seal for Fabric have proven better for me. But, honestly, I have never found a spray that really makes fabric completely waterproof – more “water repellent”. I think you really need to paint a sealant on thickly with a brush.

Coincidentally, I recently picked up a Seals nylon skirt (great closeout sale at an outfitter in Lake Tahoe that was dumping all their kayak stuff for SUPs) that may be the same as yours. I’ve noticed the same thing you have – when using it with a GP the deck fills with water, sags and eventually leaks, despite being a good snug fit on the cockpit. I find I have to pause and bring my knee up under it to get the pooling to shed out of it. It’s weird because I’ve had other Seals skirts and they were really excellent. On the other hand, my very similar Feathercraft skirt that has had heavy usage for 8 years (but that is made of coated Cordura nylon canvas rather than the packcloth of the Seals skirt) keeps me dry as a bone in the same boats with GP use. In fact, with the Canadian to US exchange rate so favorable right now, I am considering buying another Feathercraft skirt. They are down below $60 now.


They also make a double-coated version for $88, but this standard one I have has proven very durable.

As you have probably already noted, any skirt with pockets or zippers across the deck leaks when you are using a GP. I picked up a beautiful Kokatat skirt at that same Lake Tahoe shop, but it has a zipper that leaks like a sieve with the nefarious stick drip.

I have yet to try this, but I’ve noted that all the authentic Greenland and Aleut paddles on display in the Carnegie Museum’s Polar World exhibit have strips of fabric rags wrapped around the shafts just past the loom on both sides. The only reason I can imagine for this is to deflect the paddle drip. You can see this in the third image from the bottom on this link:


If you are ever in the Pittsburgh area, I highly recommend this exhibit. There are a number of native skin boats in the collection.

Thanks, Willow.
I have the Seals stretch nylon skirt: http://www.sealsskirts.com/prod_detect.php?i=10

No issues with pooling water. I think I just dump so much water on it with my stick that it saturates the material and then me. Don’t get that much water in my cockpit, probably because my pants absorb it - and my seat. Will give your recommended sprays a try.

Don’t think I could do the rag thing with my stick. It’s carved so that when I hold it, three of my fingers are curled over the top of the shoulder. Only place to attach a rag would be in the center of the loom and that would just direct the water in one stream. My hands are in the water with each stroke, so I guess I’m part of the problem.

That museum looks like a cool place. If I ever take a road trip in that direction, will definitely stop by.

Appreciate the help.

post tomorrow what I have used need to see the name. Got it in boat supply and use on my canvas on my Boston Whaler. I use it on my deck nylon bags and it works great.

Checked Amazon and the Thompson’s didn’t have very good reviews, but the NikWax did.


stretch nylon
The stretch nylon could be the problem. Think about it: if a material stretches, any waterproofing has to be similarly stretchable or there will be cracks in the surface. Neoprene doesn’t leak because it is thick and closed cell – the “bubbles” in the material stretch along with the rubber matrix so that water doesn’t have a path to get through (though as we all discover, eventually as it ages it too will leak.) But a woven fabric is made of fibers that stretch, enlarging the gaps between the warp and weft of the weave. Such material would have to have a very thick and stretchy coating to maintain its integrity when the matrix supporting it expands. I admit I have never actually owned any gear made of stretch woven nylon that was supposed to be waterproof, but I would tend to be skeptical of the claims that it was truly WP without putting it to the test. Your experience tends to suggest it really is not.

But I admit it’s weird that one of their skirts should perform as poorly as you describe, since Seals makes such good stuff. How old is it? I would be tempted to contact them about it. They could have gotten a bad batch of fabric. It happens – I remember some recalls of gear for problems like that when I worked in the outfitter biz. I had a Snow LIon sleeping bag myself that was one of thousand recalled for bad down (they had been sold “couchet” down recycled from old duvets instead of virgin high-loft down) and Camp 7 had a whole seasonal run one year of a certain color of down vests made of nylon that had not been calendared so it leaked feathers like a sieve. Both companies offered replacements to every affected customer.

Cheap, abundant, organic


My Strategy
I have found kayaking to be a wet sport. Paddling in wind and waves and rolling and bracing inevitably allows some water in the cockpit. In warm weather I wear swim trunks and get wet. In cool weather I do the wetsuit bottoms and dry top. In cold weather I wear the drysuit.

Seals coats their nylon skirts with polyurethane on the under side. I guess that is supposed to help keep the water from penetrating, but not really. Before long, the coating comes off anyway. I’ve had skirts replaced for free, but they really should find a coating that will stay on. I’ve got other nylon skirts that somehow stay coated.

Anyway, who goes paddling and expects to stay perfectly dry? My hope is that the skirt keeps big dumper waves out of my cockpit; drips don’t matter much.

Why not use heavy rubber bands
as drip rings for your GP. You could even space two or more slightly apart to catch any water that gets past the first one.

perhaps cut up a bicycle innertube
for your rubber band drip rings.

I’ve read that even Gore-Tex needs
water repellency restored, so I don’t think the fabric is a bad batch as when I use my Euro, I don’t get soaked. My weekend outings with my Lumpy GP are usually 10+ miles so lots of water is landing on the skirt. Midweek I paddle a couple hours most days after work just to practice stuff.

The skirt had little use until this year. This is the skirt sent back to Seals earlier this summer because the bungee was so tight I wasn’t sure I could pop it off while upside down. The skirt Seals sent back is perfect but I have no idea if they actually remove the existing bungee and replace it, or just send one with a different bungee.

If the NikWax spray works longer than the 303, I’ll be quite content. Again, thanks for the recommendation.

Will try that tonight
as I save the fat rubber bands that hold stalks of broccoli together. Too bad they’re not reflective silver.

Don’t mind being wet during these warm summer days, although I wish my kayak seat would dry quicker.

Dawned on me last night that the pants from my dry suit would do a great job and not be too warm. They have booties attached. If I took an unexpected swim, would the pants fill with water?

However, a belt around your waist Like fishermen do with waders would help to slow down water entry. Where the belt crosses the small of your back is where the most leakage with a belt will happen.

At times I wear Kokatat dry pants with booties while canoeing, and even with the neoprene waist and ability to tighten the waist I get some water in them when I have tested them. It mostly comes in at the small of the back. I have considered a shaped closed cell foam plug to fit my back at that spot, but never did so.

Leaky skirt
I’ve used brand new nylon skirts that leak, drives me a little crazy after awhile. Neoprene is warmer and drier, although this time of year you may not want overly warm.

The spray on waterproofing I have found only lasts a few outings before it wears out.

You could try using seam seal to seal up any seams that may be leaking.

I’ve also heard of surf kayakers using liquid latex to waterproof skirts, but I’ve never tried it myself. I do have a skirt that looks like it’s been painted around the rim with something similar to latex, probably to ensure it gets a good grip on the coaming.

another product

– Last Updated: Jul-30-16 1:30 PM EST –

I've been doing some research on restoring the PU waterproofing on a couple of old backpacking tents I'm hoping to fix up and pass along and I came upon recommendations for this product, McNett's GearAid TentSure.


A forum post from last year by a guy who has a business doing gear restorations and warranty work for some of the outdoor manufacturers suggested the stuff. Seems to come in a "dab-on" applicator and is reasonably cheap. I'm ordering some to use on worn areas of the old tent floors.

Another thing that occurred to me that might work for absorbing/deflecting GP drip is hair scrunchies (those fat fabric covered elastics for pony-tails). Since my hairstylist scalped me pretty good last week, my hair won't be long enough to pull back for a long time maybe I will try a couple of the dozens I have on my next paddle and report back.

Greenland paddles are wet, no real way around that. Might think about getting a neoprene skirt, yeah they are a bit hot but with all the water on them from the paddle they aren’t too bad and they are dry.

Bill H.

Paid attention to drip
yesterday, during a 14-mile outing where I used both paddles.

My Lumpy has a 20-inch loom, so my hands are closer together for the most part than on my Euro. I wear Buff gloves and my hands are in the water with the stick on each stroke, so the water isn’t coming off the loom, but dribbling directly off my gloved hands into the front of the skirt. I use a high angle stroke with both paddles (except in headwinds).

The center and lower portions of the skirt were still beading splash, but I think I’m just saturating the top section and the water seeps into the rest of the skirt. My seat didn’t get wet yesterday, so that was a good thing.

Neoprene might be a drier solution, but I’m leery about another skirt having already gone through the dance of two bungee changes before I could pop my stretch nylon skirt off with one hand.

I can live with it given our water temps are warm. When they cool off and the air temps drop, I’ll wear a dry suit. But will definitely keep using a water repellent on both sides of my skirt as it does seem to help. Ordered the NikWax spray and will see if it protects longer than the 303.

Thanks for all the feedback!