Roll with nylon spray skirt?

Is this a possibility and one would just not stay as dry or is neoprene a must? Thinking about a rolling class but only have two nylon skirts.

Neo is better

– Last Updated: Jan-18-05 8:47 AM EST –

for keeping water out. Having said that, I learned to roll using a nylon skirt. It just got to be a pain having to pump the boat out after every 3 or 4 tries. A lot of seepage came through the tunnel and the coaming because only the bungee provided the fit.

I think if you're just learning, you don't have to make a major investment yet. Just have a pump ready. :) In the long run, you'll want a neo skirt. Not only is a neo skirt better fitting, thus less seepage, but it's more suited to rougher conditions. Part of learning to roll is to be able to go a little safer in rougher conditions. If there were any chance of waves crashing onto the deck, I would not want to be out there with a nylon skirt, having a roll or otherwise. A nylon skirt is likely to blow out under a breaking wave whereas a neo skirt won't (unless you're in the break zone and real doozy of a dumping wave hits you).


Agree, I also learned with a nylon skirt
You may be able to re-knot the bungee to tighten the fit on the rim. Also, the problems you have will be proportional to the size of your cockpit, that is, the total circumference through which water can be forced. Also, nylon skirts usually do not seal as well against the body. Wearing a shorty top cinched down tight over the skirt tunnel may help.

On the positive side, nylon skirts drape more gracefully when sauntering around the pool, and many color combinations, even some darling prints, are possible with Nylon.

From what I’ve seen, most sea kayaks can be rolled without a skirt. For a fun exercise I’ve done multiple rolls without a skirt. The boat is much more unstable when half-filled with water, but it’s very possible.

Point being the better fitting the skirt the less water in the boat. For a controlled class any skirt should work.

roger i copy
you can roll without a skirt

that is if you have bulkheads. ddduh.

Skirts are just an added bonus.

Rolling WIthout Skirt…

– Last Updated: Jan-18-05 10:25 AM EST –

is much easier, so much so that you can go right back over with a window shade. But if one is going to learn to roll as would be doing on the water on a trip, it's better to do it with skirt. It's a different feel.


3-4 tries?
I’ve been trying to teach myself to roll by using a paddle float and removing some air on each attempt. I can roll with just a small amount of air in one chamber. If I didn’t have to dump and pump after each failed attempt (so far all) without the float I think I could get it in the spring.

I assume that you had an assistant to allow you 3-4 attempts before pumping. If not, I would love to hear how you got back up to try again.



I would roll up 3 or 4 times and then have to pump the boat because the nylon skirt allowed so much water in.

But, currently, I am go for 3 or 4 roll attempts (in weird conditions, specifically, white water and surf) before I decide to bail. Usually, if you blow a roll because of opposing current or a crashing wave, you get a chance to grab at least half breath of air before going under again. If you’re mentally and physically relaxed, that also extends your oxygen consumption, allowing for more attempts. Also helps to have a variety of rolls on both sides.


Thankyou all…
for the input. I guess I’ll begin with what I have and start looking for deals on neoprene. Thanks agin!

Bottom bracing
Dave ,

Typicaly it is easier to learn to roll with help, both in getting back up when you blow it, and to help you figure out what you are doing wrong.

If you do need to go it alone you might try something that worked for me when I was working on my first roll.

I would practice in a relatively shallow area of my local pond where I could plant my paddle on the bottom to get back up if I needed to. It’s certainly easier than dumping and pumping after every failed attempt.

If you do this keep in mind that while on quiet water this is safe, on moving water or in surf a bottom brace can get you hurt.

A Non-expert opinion
I’ve been paddling for a few years and have rolled a few times in class, but nothing that I would reply upon yet. Here’s my opinion. My Voyageur nylon skirt fits pretty well and alhough it does allow some water in during practice, I go ashore an empty the boat out once when I’m done.

I’ve decided that I’ll get a neoprene skirt if and when I feel that I have a reliable roll. Here’s my rational. I have found from experience that the nylon skirt is easier to deal with in a wet exit. Since a capsize generally means a wet exit for me right now, I think the nylon is a better choice.

I actually had a bad experience once when I had neglected to pull out the grab loop out when fastening a neoprene skirt. I was working on a roll by myself at class and had to wet exit and had trouble doing it. It wasn’t fun.


Try "orca breathing"
Then you can try as many times as you like.

Good Article
there are other exercises too beyond the ones written in that article which develop extended physical and mental capacity for roll attempts.

“Crash and roll” (i.e. sprinting and then capsizing any ole way and then rolling) is one that I like a lot these days because it approximates the “break zone.” Often the hardest thing is trying to sprint out through the breaks and then getting caught right by a dumping wave just when you think you have made it out. Not only are you close to anaerobic state but it’s a psychologically a downer to get capsized just when you thing you made it to safely outside the break zone. Here, I think it’s more mental than anything else to complete a roll, to say to oneself, “Okay, take it easy, just roll up and you have only a little more way to paddle to get beyond the breaks…”


Learned w/Nylon, Switched to Neo
I learned to roll in my third class using a nylon skirt (Voyageur Gripper). I ended up with 6 or 7 successful rolls toward the end of class, but a fair amount of water seeped in around the cockpit on each attempt. After that class I bought a relatively inexpensive Brooks neoprene skirt with a nylon tunnel. This seals around the cockpit better than nylon, but not quite as good as some neoprene models. It made a big difference in that I didn’t have to pump out or otherwise emply the boat after 4 or 5 rolls. Im my first class with the new skirt I ended up rolling succesfully 20 to 25 times. I accidently popped the skirt off with my knee once or twice and was able to do wet re-entries and rolled the boat up half full of water as well. Actually, I was doing so well in class I started roling the boat a few times without attaching the skirt. So, it can be done with or without a skirt, but IMO you will be able to get more practice in if you don’t have to stop to empty out the boat.

Two weeks until my fifth class - haven’t tried since late November - hope I can remember how!

Good luck!


Thanks for the idea but,
my play area is an old road which went steep over the bank. It’s nice because it has about 50 years of gravel on the bottom and for the better part it is all mine.

The difference between hitting bottom and not able to touch bottom is probably 3-4 feet.

The link below on breathing looks really interesting since I’m already holding my breath for spring.

I have family with a pool about 100mi away. I included a note with their Christmas gift claiming it was for prepaid pool time.