My wife and I have had our Manitou 14’s for several months and have really enjoyed our paddles on the lakes of Arizona. We are now looking for our first sprayskirts. At this point in time they are to keep the cold dribbles off our laps. Should we invest in recreational type skirts or go ahead and spring for skirts intended for more exciting conditions that we might want to try later on? Thanks!
If you are like the majority
of us, you will sooner or later get the higher end ones that will allow you to paddle through big time water.
If you can afford it take a look at the Snap Dragons.
skill level can be a big determinant in what you select as your first skirt. And if you each are at different levels you would choose accordingly.
edit: you said you've had your Manitous a few months, probably this summer, right? So can we assume you are at the beginners part of the curve and haven't done any cold water paddling yet? If so don't put a skirt on til someone who knows how can spot you as you practice wet exits. It is simple but you need to get the feel in a relaxed environment - pool session or maybe 4-5 feet of water at comfortable temperature.
if you are not used to being upside down and wet exiting, the nylon skirts come off more easily.
Want to learn to roll those Manitous? Nylon skirts generally do not grip the combing as well as neoprene and therefore can be prone to peeling off/blowing off. Even if they stay in place, they let in more water than neo, both at the combing and at your waist, which sloshes around and adds to the instability of your kayak. A gallon of water weighs approx. 8 lbs, for reference.
If you want to go out in waves, a neoprene skirt makes a tighter, tauter deck than nylon.
When you go into a wave or one crashes over the deck, it's a rush! but you want to see the water slide off, not the skirt implode and come off.
Perhaps you already know all this, and if so, I have wasted a little of your time. Just wanted to lay out my thinking.
Overall, if you can wet exit smoothly, skip the nylon and go for the better neoprene skirts made by SnapDragon, Seals or MountainSurf, Wildwasser, NRS. I happen to greatly prize both of my Snapdragon neo skirts and my first rolls were done w. a Snapdragon (recent nostalgia LOL)
On Suspenders: My own preference is to do without suspenders. Seems to be more to snag and get in the way. Someone who is highly skilled and consistently out in the rough stuff may opt for them based on different priorities. Many skirts have removable suspenders.
On packcloth: Nylon packcloth is very plastic-like, UNbreathable. Actually found it worse than neo. Word. I demo'ed a few Racing Touring Rec Kayaks w. the bargain nylon skirts of this material and nothing much was enjoyable about the experience, even on a sunny May day in Michigan.
With plastic boats…
You have more flexibility than with a glass boat. Unless it is really tight, a neo skirt will generally push of a plastic coaming without the paddler having proper form.
But that’s not a substitute for taking these things to a pool and practicing going upside down. IMO, you shouldn’t be out in cold air or water with a skirt that you haven’t practiced with first.
What amount of paddling do you figure on doing from here forward and how cold?
My 2 cents
I have a kayak similar to yours and have a Snap Dragon neoprene skirt that is 2 years old and never seen water. I have a nylon spray skirt thet I use on class II/III+. I’ve never rolled with it in the rough water and have doubts about it holding but for class I/II it does fine keeping water out.
The neoprene is hot, isn’t as flexible for moving around and is a bear to put on.
“Perhaps you already know all this, and if so, I have wasted a little of your time.”
'Don’t know if that helped toyx2, but it was a lot of good information I appreciated. I’ve been starting to look into a skirt too.
I opted for now instead for a seals deck on sale. That’s nothing like a skirt, but I figured I didn’t really want a cheap nylon skirt, but the deck at $25 was hard to pass up for at least keeping my legs dry from paddle drips. I know there’s no comparison, but I was also a little leery about being tied in at my skill level, even w/ nylon. Your description is very informative on the differences.
Seals Sea Sprite
I bought one of these about a year ago, and I’m very happy with it. It’s neoprene, it keeps the water out pretty well, and I find it easy to get on and off (it has elastic cording around the rim for this purpose). I had it custom made with a handle on the grab loop to prevent me from accidentally putting on the skirt with the grab loop inside.
The Adventure is a great product.
I would highly recommend it as a great value for the price. You’ll never regret this skirt.
to most nylon skirts is that you will end up with a sag and a puddle of water constantly. Neoprene skirts stretch on as well as use the bungee to hold it on the lip. The Nylon skirt has to fit like a glove, and it won't. So you are left with a semi-loose fabric and it will collect water in the sag in the middle. No huge deal unless it has a seam and is dripping water on your lap like the one nylon I have. Aquaseal to the rescue!
Get the cheap one and enjoy yourself.
If you start playing in waves etc. You can always tighten up the bungee and have no problems. When you're ready for a neo skirt - you will know.
Thanks to everyone who responded!
And thanks for including the reasoning behind your replies. You all have provided a lot of great food for thought! I think that at this time we’ll look at “dribble protection”–maybe something as simple as wearing rain pants and re-visit the skirt situation when it warms up next spring. Water temps here are about 60 degrees and there is no way my wife is going to go for “wet exit with a skirt” practice :>)
One last suggestion:
Since you mentioned only “dribble protection”, if you have a Dick’s Sporting Goods close by, check to see if they have any splash decks left on clearance.
They’re the same as a skirt, but don’t fit around you, and essentially just partially close off the cockpit. I’m in the same situation as you, and decided to go that route for now. Just picked one up at Dick’s for $24.95, and I think they’re normally closer to $45-60 retail. It was a Seals brand too, so good quality with the bar inside.
BTW, mine is black, not yellow.