Skirt Tunnel on Drysuit - yes or no?

I am about to take the plunge and order my drysuit tomorrow. I’ve made the major decision on relief zipper options - I’m going with the front relief zip lowered instead of the dropseat. I know what pockets and socks I want. But what about sprayskirt tunnels? One of my issues is abdominal pressure and I don’t want any more around my waist than is necessary - but I understand that there will be SOME leakage around a neoprene spray skirt if I don’t get the tunnel on the drysuit. What are the pros and cons? Do you have a tunnel or not? I have one on my drytop, and combined with the pocket on my sprayskirt, and the pfd on top, I can barely breathe. Your ideas are welcome to help me make this important decision.


Tunnel = Drier
However, if you don’t roll/scull alot, or don’t do white water/surf, I’d say you’ll probably not miss the double tunnel a lot. If you do the above, get the double tunnel. It makes a difference in minimizing seepage. It’s not even a matter of getting somewhat damp and cold. I just don’t to have the empty the freakin boat every so often.

If you think the drysuit tunnel over your skirt tunnel is too much and makes you hot, minimize the skirt tunnel by doubling it over rather than wearing it up to your chest.


Skirt tunnel
Get the skirt tunnel, you will appreciate it. As for the relief zipper you made the right choice, my wife has the zipper in front and it is a lot less hassle.

Three in row
Have to agree with everyone on this. The tunnel on my Bomber Gear Radiator drysuit makes a distinct difference when I’m playing in whitewater or surfzone with a longboat. A lot less sponging involved in the day’s play.

See you on the water,


relief zipper
If you don’t mind my asking… how is the front relief zipper a better choice than the dropseat? Or is it used in combination with a FUD?

I don’t roll or scull a lot
And I don’t surf - at least not yet. I don’t really expect to be taking on a lot of water with the kind of kayaking I do. I’m not in it for playing in the rough stuff - I just want to dress for safety. But it is a long-term investment, so I want to make the right choice. Hmmm . . . how about hearing from folks who DON’T have a skirt tunnel on their drysuit?


Use front zip with FUD
Several of my friends really like the front relief zip and use a FUD. You can get the front zip installed a little lower for women which makes it easier to get the FUD in position. The thought of that zipper around the dropseat just seems like a lot of bulk where I wouldn’t want it, and harder to unzip in the back.


May Be Worth Projecting
into the future of what you may want to do. Are you going to learn sculling/rolling, play surf, etc. If so, spring for the double tunnel now. A drysuit can last a long time with a couple of changes in the gasket.


I do not have a tunnel

– Last Updated: Jun-03-04 6:18 AM EST –

and have not really missed it. No doubt it is drier with one. I'd go for it but I got a kokatat dry suit tricked out for 550 a few years ago so I took what was in my size.

The only downsides to a tunnel I've heard stated are initial cost, (valid but small on a per year basis), and mobility, (certainly miinimal loss), and breathability through two layers of goretex or whatever, (with a tunnel in place ain't gonna be that much breathing going on there anyway).

Sing, and other folks around who are dedicated to mastering a variety of rolls and spend a lot of time in balance bracing and in such postures. If you go that way then you'll be really glad of the skirt. Folks like me don't miss it that much, so if the extra $100 or so is oppressive you can skip it, but I say get it if you can.

Agree… Besides…
the most important feature is already in place — the RELIEF zipper. Yessirree… that’s definitely a make or break point.


Money isn’t the problem
I want to make sure I make all, if not most, of the right decisions - so I won’t be sorry later.

I was almost settled on not getting it when I woke up this morning - then I read your posts, and now am leaning more towards at least trying on ones with tunnels to see just how much restriction it adds. After using an almost-too tight wetsuit, neoprene sprayskirt with pocket and flap on the front of the tunnel, and a wide, wide neoprene waistband with cinches on my drytop, the drysuit skirt tunnel might just feel like nothing much at all. Besides, I don’t think I’m going to keep my current sprayskirt. It’s a Brooks with the bungie and it’s not quite as good a fit on the cockpit as the Snapdragon with the rubber rand. I was afraid of the Snapdragon at first because it is tougher to get on and off and I have arthritis in my hands. I have gotten my pain under control though, and am no longer worried about entrapment by my skirt when wet-exiting. I’ll never get a skirt with a pocket on the tunnel again. You can’t get to it anyway, with your PFD over it!

So, here I go! I’m going to spend close to a grand today - whew! It would be nice if I can get a deal, but I’m not expecting one. The outfitter, George Gronseth, lets you take a rental drysuit to use until your special order arrives. That’s a great service in itself! I have trips planned for this weekend and the next, so that will be nice.


Dry suit
Have a look at Their drysuits are reasonable, and if you are an ACA member you get a 15% discount.

If you can try on the drysuit…
with the tunnel, that should answer your question on fit. Personally, from your posts, I think you will be just as happy without the tunnel, but if you’re not uncomfortable it is nice to have if you advance into paddling in conditions. On the Snapdragon spray skirt, get the one in Supratex neoprene as opposed to the regular neoprene. It’s not as bombproof but it is easier to get on and off and still gives you a good seal.—Rich

Gronseths offer to rent a drysuit
and value added to the community makes dealing with him worthwhile. It is always wise to consider alternatives and assign value though.

I agree
I prefer to purchase locally, but when the difference becomes significant I usually go with the cheaper price for the same item, even if I have to order it.

Some other options to consider…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-04 4:20 PM EST –

The obvious advantage of a relief zipper has been mentioned here several times, but also consider GTX booties rather that gaskets at the ankles. Not only will your feet stay far more comfortable, but the suit will be a lot easier to get into and out of. I attended a week long sea kayak school last year. Out of a class of 10 including two instructors, four had dry suits, but one attendee did not have booties on her suit. At the end of the class the student without booties commented that the first thing she was going to do when she got home was send her suit back to Kokatat and have them retrofit booties. She indicated that her feet were miserably wet and cold every day and she noted how quickly the other three donned and doffed their suits.

I have a spray skirt tunnel on mine and I prefer it. The only options I did not get were the hood, reflective tape and waterproof shoulder pocket. If I did it over again I would add the tape and pocket. I have never been too terribly fond of hoods on any jacket, so it is not missed.
Safe Paddling,

I agree
no to hood, yes to goretex booties, (comfortable and durable) tape and pocket Ok if you want them. Did not post this earlier cause Paula said she had it all worked out.

What I ended up with . . .
Well, it’s a done deal. I decided to forego the sprayskirt tunnel. I didn’t like the feel of the extra bulk around the waist and the velcro’d zipper cover.

I did get the front relief zip (lowered) left sleeve pocket, right thigh pocket (for FUD) reflective tape, goretex booties, and had the sleeves and inseam shortened 2". Picked up one of those fuzzy rubber hoods while I was there too. Those are really nice!

Most of my kayaking friends are moving away from the spray tunnel in favor of more mobility. They say they get more leakage from the coaming/sprayskirt seal than they do from the sprayskirt waist area anyway.

I’m comfortable with my decision, and can’t wait until it gets here. It’s going to take 2 months, but I have the rental suit, so waiting won’t be too hard.

It was a good experience going to George for the fitting. He knew exactly what to do in terms of sleeve and inseam length, and that experience alone is worth a lot.

He also showed me a really neat trick with a neck ring to use when in benign conditions to relax the constriction around the neck and let a little air exchange. (With caution, of course, because if you swim you WILL get about a cup of water inside your suit, but that’s all. It’s easily disengaged if you DO swim, so you won’t keep taking on water.

Does everyone know about this, and I’m just finding out? I’ve never heard of it before in all my reading.


Heard of it in expedition writeups
Might have been fron Mr. Gronseth’s writings. Hard to say.

Want to post or e-mail ms specifics on the neck ring? I do not know if I would ever chose to go that route but the option is always good to have. I go over a lot more than some kayakers do, (even if I usually roll up now).

Good choices as long as the thigh pocket will not interfere with you.

If I have to pay retail, I hope to have the budget to, like you, go a bit custom. My drysuit has too much fabric and as I lose weight that will just get worse.

Drysuit Tryout
Just got back from a 2-hour paddle in the rental drysuit my outfitter let me use until my drysuit gets here. Wow! What a difference over the wetsuit! I had so much more mobility! The wetsuit was really putting pressure on my spine, and it feels so great to be without that! I’ll never put that wetsuit on again.