Received my drysuit today!

Based on a thread I started here a couple of weeks ago, I ended up buying a Kokatat GFER drysuit in the XL size. Received it today, along with some NRS Hydroskin gloves, some NRS booties, a Lotus Designs PFD, and a paddle leash. I think the choice of XL was a good one. Not nearly as bulky as I thought it would be, and plenty of room for layers underneath. Wrist gaskets fit perfectly. Good skin contact as far as I could tell, but was very comfortable and didn’t feel like the circulation to my hands was being cut off. However, the neck gasket was a bit tight (felt like I was not quite being strangled by someone, and my face was getting a bit red), so I’ll try stretching it before I attempt to trim it. What do you suggest using? Glass jar a bit larger than my neck size? I think I saw here that a 2 liter soda bottle works well. The gasket did stretch enough that I was able to slip it over my big head without any lubrication using talcum powder.

The tag said I should wash it gently in cold water before using it to prevent the colors from bleeding. What regular laundry soap works? Right now I use Color Guard Cheer with color safe bleach? Should I look for some soap without bleach in it? Do I really need to bother with prewashing it?

I’ll probably give it the bathtub leak test in the next couple days

I’m sure I’ll have more questions. Can’t wait to get out again. I’m hoping I’ll be able to on Sunday. Maybe I’ll start practicing some self rescues, now that I wont get wet!

powder soap
Never use liquid laundry detergent on a breathable fabric. The emulsifiers will clog the pores. At least that’s what the labels on my stuff say.

Two liter plastic bottle will work to stretch the neck.

I bought the same thing and did the stretch thing as suggested. Wrists, ankles, and neck. Sorry you still have to trim them. I paddled most of the day without doing it and my feet still tingle from the strangle hold around my ankles. I do like the suit, just going to have to trim the gaskets and If I go to far…well…that’s why they make duct tape…lol

I bought the suit with booties, and my wrists seemed perfect. Yes, I may have to trim the neck, but I’m gonna give it a stretch first.

Sorry, forgot to say in my original post. The Cheer I have is the powdered kind.

One Of The “Eternal” P-Net Debate
stretch it, or trim it. I fall in the latter camp. Put a plastic bottom through the neck gasket to stretch it a bit. Then take a sharpe knife, or razor and cut along the lines. Do a quarter inch at a time until you have snug but not strangle-til-you-black- out fit.

I hearing stretching works. May take you weeks though.


Special cleaner made for wet & dry suits
They make a special cleaner for wet and dry suits. it is sold at your local paddle sports shops, or try, or one of the other on-line shops.

It works great! Since it is specially designed for these suits, there is no worry using it.

McNett makes a product for washing Goretex products. Just did my drysuit with it and it looks nearly new. Regular detergents may not rinse out completely.

Being new, I’m not sure I would use any detergent, just water (warm) you are not trying to get it clean, just set the colors.

I’ve been using a product called Tecwash on my goretex gear. No problems, stuff gets clean and has retained its waterproofness.

I’m envious of your drysuit but have been unwilling to invest the bucks in one. Always figured if I needed to get that geared-up, maybe I should find some other activitiy. That and switched to small streams that I could walk out of if I ended up in the water. Last winter, I lost discipline and got out on some bigger water where I really shouldn’t have been w/o a drysuit, so I am rethinking it. It was sooo nice being out on the water in the winter.


When I got my GMER,
I stretched the neck gasket around a glass cider jug. I tried it out after a few hours, days, and eventually 2 weeks around the BIG cider jug and it made no noticeable different.

Finally, I got out the razor blade and trimmed it one ring at a time until it felt ok. Been wearing it regularly now and am glad to have it.

I have the neck around a 2 liter soda bottle, but since the circumference of the bottle really isn’t any bigger than my neck, I can’t see it actually making a difference. So I’ll probably end up trimming it anyway.

The recommended cutting device is a razor blade then? Will scissors be too risky? Should I put the gasket over something that will hold it firmly, but not allow it to stretch too much? I don’t want it tearing the instant I make the first cut!

washing machine
I guess I’ll have to find someone with a front load washer. Mine is just a simple old top load, and there isn’t any sort of gentle/regular cycle selection on it.

Whatever You’re Comfortable With…

– Last Updated: Oct-28-05 5:30 AM EST –

if you use a scissors, make sure it's a real sharp one. Personally, I find I make a surer, less jagged cut, when running a razor along the gasket lines. Yes, if you take this approach, find something bigger than a liter bottle to stretch the gasket over. The razor will go through like a hot knife through butter.

The first cut in a drysuit gasket is the hardest. Take a deep breath, relax and then go to it. Having trimmed my drysuit and several drytops now, it ain't a big deal anymore.


Second the TecWash
If you can find a front-loader to start with - our drysuits get washed in a big tub because we have a top-loader and I ain’t gonna trust a laundromat with the suit. It’s a close call between whether I love the drysuit or my boat(s) more.

EMS has this stuff as well as other sports places - using the stuff specific for GoreTex just removes one concern right off the top.

More stretching
I pulled the suit off the 2-L soda bottle I was using, and tried it on again. It was still too tight, but not quite as tight as before. I’ve not put the gasket around a large tub of creamy peanut butter (Skippy), which is a lot bigger in diameter. Hopefully this does the trick! If not, I might try a jar of Jif peanut butter, or maybe some ultra chunky, and see if that works.


Don’t waste your time
Latex has a very good memory. If you stretch it enough to make it larger permanently, it damages the seal. The only way it can stretch permanently is by tearing on a microscopic level. It’s best to trim it so it’s slightly snug, wear it a time or two to check the fit, then trim it more if necessary.

If you only sort of feel like you are being strangled,-) I’d give it a few uses before doing anything to the neck. It will stretch a little with use, and more importantly you will start to get used to the feeling. Particularly if this is your first dry suit/dry top, take it slow and you always can trim later.

Hit the gasket with 303, and try the talcum thing if you want.

As far as washing goes, I use tecwash. After the cycle I turn the suit inside out and run it through a complete cycle with no soap to rinse it. It is almost impossible to rinse completely otherwise, especially the booties.

Stay dry, have fun.

Good Timing

– Last Updated: Nov-01-05 8:35 PM EST –

Just got my first dry jacket. Thanks sing and Bnystrom for the trimming advice.

The jacket is vastly more comfortable than the Hydroskin but that neck gasket is going to take some getting used to.

Gasket tightness
Agree with the above posts about tightness level - the first latex gasket we got used to was in our Stohlquist drytops, actually a heavier gasket than used in the Kokatat. It felt way too tight at first, but we lived with it for a few days because you can’t put it back once you’ve overcut the things. It was a week of particularly bad weather in Maine that July, so we were in them for a few hours non-stop each day.

By the fourth day I had acclimated and was fine without taking anything off, my husband took off probably half of what he would have if he’d made the judgement earlier on. Wearing them is really the only way to make the final judgement.