This has bugged me for a while; I have a very nice neophrene skirt (Immersion Research) that I use every paddle. But, neophrene lets water in. Why can’t a reliable skirt be made that doesn’t let water in and keeps me dry?

sure it’s the skirt?
two other ways I get water in include down the tunnel if I’m not wearing a jacket over the skirt and sometimes through little leaks where my combing is joined to the rest of the kayak (fiberglass). If not much more than a cup or so during an outing I think it’s just the way life is. I’ll get even more if doing a lot of rolling without a jacket over the skirt tunnel.

I’m sure
It’s definitely the skirt. Neo lets water in (that’s why it’s used in “wet” suits). Is there a reason why manufacturers don’t add a layer of waterproofing to the neo? Or do they and I just haven’t seen it?

I had neoprene hatch covers on a previous boat and the hatches were always bone dry even with surf and rolling. They had a plastic cover over but just resting on top for impact and not for waterproofness.

When water drips on my skirt, it disappears. That’s how I know it’s the neo (unless I’ve uncovered an amazing new teleportation device!).

– Last Updated: Aug-23-12 1:18 PM EST –

on my skirt drops "disappear" but only because my skirt has cloth that somewhat wicks the water spreading it across the surface. I guess you could have someone hold your skirt in the air drooping to form a bowl of sorts then pour a small bit of water and see what drips down from the other side. I never seen one leak like that unless there was damage.

If it really leaks then maybe spray some waterproofer on it.

Well, I’ll be . . . I just went (huffily) to the car, pulled out my skirt in an “I’ll show him!” mood and did the water test. And, you are correct, no water is getting through. So . . . I apologize and now I have to work out what is up. I know I have a tight fit (well, just as I “knew” the neo was pourous). Time to do some checking. Thanks for the correction!

Aside: I might be wrong,
but neoprene is water proof and has the neat physical property of keeping most of its insulation properties when immersed in water. It’s used in wet suits for just this reason. Water enter wet suits by the suit’s openings, and through stitches and seams. This water should act to cool you down, but because the neoprene is such a good insulator, even when wet, it is rapidly heated to, and maintained at a comfortable temperature by your body. Provided there is no rapid exchange of water from the thin layer beneath the suit and the cooler surrounding environment, you will stay reasonably warm.

I expect the leak is around the combing or through the tunnel. Not much will leak through the stiches of a spray skirt. Why not try attaching the skirt to the cockpit and pouring water around the combing?

anecdotal evidence
In my experience, water gets in the boat in two ways: (1) through the interface between the skirt and the cockpit coaming; and (2) down the tunnel.

The second should only really be an issue if you’re doing a lot of rolling, or otherwise have your body in the water. If not, then I would guess that it’s the coaming/skirt connection.

Even a short-sleeved paddle jacket,
snug at the neck, sleeves, and bottom, will considerably reduce water getting down the skirt tunnel. A drytop virtually eliminates it.

A carefully selected skirt should not leak through the coming interface. A skirt can be so tight that it takes a committee to put on, and so loose that water gets in at the sides. The buyer and user has to control those things when shopping.

If the OP is suggesting that
water is literally leaking through the neoprene material I have to say that is something I have never seen happen. All the neoprene material I have ever used has been absolutely waterproof. Leaks do occur at the stitching, that sort of thing, once in a while.

like I said
in the post, “Sorry,” I retract my claim that water is seeping through the neo. I can only figure it’s coming through the tunnel (I don’t wear a garmet over the tunnel).

Fit of the skirt on coaming
Unless you have an absolutely custom skirt, it is possible that the skirt is not a dead match for your cockpit shape. So even if it feels tight, it may be an imperceptibly slightly looser fit along some portions of the coaming than others. If you tend to paddle very dry, water won’t tend to find these opportunities. But if you are paddling awash in waves, it is surprising how opportune the stuff can be.

I find that any paddle where I have a lot of water washing over my deck is wetter than one on flat water (unless practicing edging and rolling).

That said, a couple of cups of water is no big deal. I don’t even notice it unless it is so much that I can feel it washing back and forth under my legs.

Paddling Dry
Even without waves washing over your deck it is easy to get water in the channel of the cockpit rim directly from paddle drips. Also paddle drips onto the skirt build up and flow into the channel.

Skirt leaking?
Also: If paddling in summer, make sure the tunnel is against the skin, not against a shirt you may be wearing. Even a thin t-shirt will allow a lot of water to flow into the tunnel when rolling.