Moments of sheer terror interspersed with confusion...(Goretex vs pool chlorine???)

Received my new Kokatat drysuit this week and decided to wear it in a swimming pool yesterday while working on rescue techniques with the wife. Had a question about something afterwards, so I called Kokatat this morning and first thing out of the guy’s mouth: “Oh, don’t wear it in a swimming pool, chlorine destroys Goretex.”

While he did say he doesn’t think a single immersion would cause harm, I’m currently, how you say…shitting myself? So I googled and found this, which seems to indicate that chlorine, in the compounds normally used for swimming pools, is a non-issue:…/GoreTexChemicalTable.pdf

I’ve also called W.L.Gore themselves and left a rather frantic message, along with a request for further enlightenment. Any experience and/or admonishments would be appreciated at this stage.

Swimming pool does not always mean chlorine. Salt water treatment is gaining popularity.

It does in this case.

Gore called me back and said I should wash it ASAP. Chlorine does a variety of damage to stuff like this…screws with the membrane properties, eats the tape glue, etc. I’m thinking of just donning the suit and jumping into Lake Erie tonight after work. With this kind of luck, maybe I’ll carry my blacksmith anvil when I do so…

No sense fretting - we’re all just human. And if you choose not to put it in the washer and instead go swimming in Lake Erie after work, stand under the shower afterwards while wearing the suit and give it a nice long cold water rinse. Fun way to test your layering. Then apply 303 to the gaskets (inside and out).

Kayaks need rising after pool sessions as well, as chlorine will weaken your deck rigging.

Apparently pools are the devil. Who knew…

@“David R”
I had no idea about the deck rigging issue until I asked a guy at the pool why his sea kayak had no rigging. He said the pool water ate it because he never rinsed his boat. On the other hand, the pool water does remove the grubby marks on my yellow PFD. Rinse, rinse, rinse everything. Boat, paddle, wetsuit, PFD, hair, body, etc.

Another bit of advice on Goretex or any other breathable laminate fabric… NEVER use pre-wash spray on it before washing. I, of all people, should have known better than to do this because I used to sell high-end outdoor gear back when Goretex was first coming onto the market in the 1970’s and had received manufacturer training on the care of it from companies like North Face and Sierra Designs to pass on to customers. I had an international orange hooded Goretex shell jacket that I loved – it had an oversized hood and long tail so it was great for biking or paddling but I would also wear it to my construction job sites later in my working career and it got some dark scuffs and oily spots on it. Like a dummy, I saturated it with Spray-n-Wash and dumped it in the washer. When I went to take it out, the solvent in the pre-wash had seperated the Goretex membrane from the nylon and the washer was full of white shreds of it and all I had left was a thin nylon hoodie with no waterproofing.

My first question was where was this pool located that you would have worn a dry suit into it to start with… But for pools, pick up some basic neoprene hydroskin separates, top and shorts. Or a full wet suit if the pool is not heated like for lap swimming. This stuff is relatively cheap and you can just walk into the shower after wearing them to handle any chlorine issues. I tend to find even the heated ones chilly when you are in and out of the water for wet work a lot.

The pool’s in Cleveland and the water was in the low 70’s. Fine for doing rescue practice, but too chilly for me to just be standing in the water for an hour, working with the paddler. Besides, I’d just received my fancy new drysuit, so I wanted to test it. Seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I filled up the bathtub last night and soaked the suit inside and out, draining and refilling twice. Do you guys feel like this will be enough or does it need to go through a full washer cycle with soap?

Okay, just heard from the pool owner…it appears his maintenance acumen was suffering this late in the season; he did his chemical test and found very little actual chlorine in the water. So with any luck, this was a low-cost learning experience. Thanks to everyone for their tips.

Humm I knew a guy who wore his dry suit many times over in the pool. He moved away BUT I never heard anything about his drysuit having problems. but maybe it did and he never mentioned it. And yes it was a chlorine pool not salt water. The chlorine was really strong in this pool and I never rinsed off the boat as it was winter time. No way top bring boat into the locker room were the shower was, did rinse off pfd and spray skirt. My deck rigging seems fine and its several years old. Rinse it off you will be fine.

My understanding is that many pools use bromine now rather than chlorine, but I have no idea if that’s more or less of a problem for Goretex.

@Overstreet said:
Swimming pool does not always mean chlorine. Salt water treatment is gaining popularity.

“Salt water pool” is just chlorine by another means. Only difference is that people don’t over-chlorinate so the stinky byproducts are reduced. But it’s still full of oxidizing chlorine. (