Palm Semi-Dry Suit

REI has a good price on the Palm Sidewinder Silver Semi-Dry Paddling Suit. Looking t the specs, it sounds like a dry suit with built in booties, except for the neck gasket being neoprene (wrist are latex).

My biggest concern with a dry suit (well, beyond cost) is neck comfort - I always have some stubble going, which is annoying with even a paddle jacket. Figured a neoprene neck gasket may be more comfortable.

Anyone have one that could say how well they work? If I roll, how much water would come in the neck?

Neoprene is only comfortable…
…if it fits. Unlike latex, neoprene neck seals are not meant to be trimmed to fit, so either it fits you off the rack or it doesn’t.

We’ve Used Several Semi-Drys…
…and generally found them good.

Our Kokatat Super-Novas - used them for three seasons, holding up well. Neck gasket, a thin neoprene, is easy to don and very comfortable - but it does leak a little - teaspoons, not cupfuls. Mine had to be replaced under warranty due to flaking. We don’t roll, but do self-rescue practice and the odd swim.

Stohlquist B-Pod - my wife’s - neck seal is a heavier glide-skin type of fabric - very comfortable and less leakage if any. Stohlquist replaced the neck gasket, which my wife found to be too tight, when the suit was brand new - no charge,and excellent service.

Reed ChillCheater - have two of them, with the glide-skin type seals at the neck and wrist - very comfortable and the seals don’t leak.

I have an NRS Stampede shorty semi-dry
top with neoprene neck and short sleeve arms cuffs. I mate it up with NRS Blackrock dry pants, which have latex cuffs and neoprene waste to mate up with the double tunnel of the shorty top. I swam a Class IV+ rapid last April for a good five minutes, being held down several times. My shirt and shorts underneath were moist, but I didn’t have but a teaspoonful of water in each ankle when I got out and loosened the gasket. OTOH, it was 75°F out, so being a little wet underneath wasn’t a big deal.

The neoprene neck gasket can be very comfortable compared to latex, and more durable, imo. But it’s not completely dry, so take that into consideration. I wouldn’t think it would be appropriate for really cold water or air temps, as even a little moisture getting in could be very uncomfortable.


neo neck
I have an MTI semi dry jacket. It has an adjustable neo neck seal and latex wrists. I find that i have to snug down pretty tight on the neo neck to get a decent seal, but i still get some leakage when rolling. With a decent layer underneath it’s no big deal.

I have the Palm Apex
dry top for one year, that has the neo neck and latex wrist…

So far, I don’t have any problem with water getting in the neck with rolling and submersion… the only water I’ve ever noticed gets in at the waist because it’s a two piece…

When I get a full dry suit I’m still undecided between latex or neo neck, but leaning towards the latex

Palm Question?
I own this semi dry suit and two others from Palm.

I would ask you one question - What are you going to be using it for? Rec. paddling? Rolling?

coastal paddling
Mostly for my general paddling, which would include coastal paddling. NorCal, so the temps when I paddle would likely always be above 50, with water temps also at 50 or above. Likely to get splashed (breaking through waves and such), but not likely to roll or swim in these conditions. Things that I would normally wear a 3 mm farmer john for, but was hoping a semi-dry would keep me more comfortable in.

Definitely more comfortable
I don’t bother with wet suit any more. I’m either going with fuzzy rubber, or dry top mated with dry pants. The 2-peice setup isn’t as secure as a full dry suit. But with a reliable roll, it’s hardly an issue.

I would hate to go back to wet suit.

first paddle results
My girlfriend bought it for me, and I used it for the first time this morning.

Did a roll at the end of the paddle. Only when I moved my head afterward did any water come in (which tells me the top may catch a little water and hold it there until it spills out, or is allowed in), and it was maybe a tablespoon total. Very nice.

No water came in the wrist gaskets at all.

Neck is very tight. But I found after a short while I didn’t really notice it.

My feet were a bit cold. I used the integrated socks covered with cheapy water socks. Guess I need to wear some socks inside on colder days.

Was basically dry at the end of the paddle, which was nice. Didn’t need to sit on a towel for the drive home.

Foot Warmth
We use merino wool socks inside the suit’s socks - they keep your feet warm, even if they do get wet.