Rolling with a Dry Top

Beginner kayaker here. Was wondering does anyone else have problems doing a roll (sweep)wearing a drytop and a wetsuit bottom?

I can roll fairly decently with a pfd and swin trucks. But I am finding that is takes much more oomph to roll with a drytop on. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions besides just more practice.

Pfd on both times?
Were you wearing PFD with the dry-top? If not then you do lose some extra lift. If the wet-suit btms are too thick and stiff they might be limiting your knee action so it takes more effort.

Some days you just do not execute as well and it seems to take more effort and to be just on the edge of failing. Maybe it was just one of those days.

I do not remember my dry-top making any difference.


It is possible that your range of motion is affected by the dry top. This is certainly the case for me in my dry suit. I have to tell myself to think hard about my sweep and really reach when I’m in my dry suit.

dry top issues
Make sure that the sleeve length of your dry top is not limiting your arm extension. If it is, you might not be able to extend your paddle up to the surface (or preferably above the surface) before you start your sweep.

You may need to burp your dry top. Air trapped in the dry top should theoretically increase your upper body buoyancy and enhance your rolling ability, but trapped air can also limit your torso rotation and flexion, both of which are critical.

PFD is always on
Yes, PFD was on. I never kayak without it being worn.

Water resistance?
Is the top loose and baggy? In addition to the other issues mentioned above, you might be experiencing extra water resistance from the jacket’s material.

Sleeves Loose
Yes actually the sleeves are loose. Extra resistance might be doing it.

I used to swim a lot…
This time of year, despite having a pretty good roll. Something about adding all the layers, and the change in buoyancy, would throw off my roll for a few weeks. I finally learned just to be patient, focus on a good setup, and wait to pop back up next to the boat before starting the roll. I don’t know if it’s the added buoyancy, or drag from the clothing, but I would find myself completely upside down and kind of stuck there. By not rushing I found my setup improved and my roll got reliable again. Also always good to try for the second roll if your first one doesn’t work.

How tight is the wetsuit?

– Last Updated: Sep-27-16 7:14 PM EST –

I would consider that the wet suit might be restricting your lower body motion a bit before looking at the dry top affecting anything. But I could be wrong

That said, when you gotta wear it you gotta wear it. Agree with the post from JohnnySmoke, sometimes you just have to pay more attention to the setup..

Practice in Real Moving Water
You don’t mention what kind of kayak you are rolling or if you have moved your roll from a pool to the real world?

Once if figure out the dry-top issue, it would be a good idea to practice in moving water that is cold etc, actual conditions you will need to roll.

If your drytop is keeping you from rolling up your rolling technique needs some tuning. Most of the roll is the hip snap and keeping your head down and a powerful hip snap should right a whitewater kayak no matter what you are wearing.

no advice to offer
but a bit of sympathy. Many, including myself, have more trouble rolling when we are dressed in full battle regalia.

your range of motion is OK I bet it’s just a mental thing. I would bet you’re uncomfortable and rushing it. Just slow it down.

what seadart said
PRactice using what you’ll be paddling in.

I always wonder why people strip down to nothing but their swimsuit in pool rolling sessions.

figured it out
Figured out what was happening. The wetsuit dry top combination was causing a loss in flexibility, I was not leaning back during the roll and in not doing that my head was leaving the water first.

Glad you got it fixed.