Snap Dragon skirt options

-- Last Updated: Apr-14-08 11:54 PM EST --

I have been using a Neo deck Glacier Trek skirt with a "breathable" tunnel. The tunnel has velcro to secure it tight. It actually works pretty good be water still gets in.
So I see this other design they have and the bag says it is for whitewater. All neoprene, no velcro no grab bar, no frills but seemingly bomber construction. It was $25 less than the one I had, plus 15% off that day on a sale. It cost me about $80 but fits my cockpit well and more importantly, it fits tight around the chest.

I have another kayak with the same size cockpit and only had a fabric skirt for it so not I have 2 nice skirts. Not quite a a complete wardrobe, but a good start. So, what is the difference between a sea kayak and a WW kayak sprayskirt?

The label

Good question…
When I bought my first touring boat, I bought a touring skirt (with neoprene deck, the nylon tunnel and suspenders)to go with it. I maybe used it maybe twice. I suppose to each his own…but I find the touring skirt concept incredibly cumbersome.

WW skirts fit great, are very simple, keep the water out and are easy to use with a variety of clothing/layers.

Snap Dragon makes a great skirt and they are nice people. I recently ordered and received a custom skirt from SD and I am very pleased with their service and their product. Nice people.

WW boats tend to take larger size skirts. I may be hallucinating this, but when I started paddling it seems that the WW skirts I encountered had a very heavy rand that I really had a severely difficult time getting on. My favorite one now is closer to a good expedition skirt for a sea kayak, just a heavier bungie sewn in and the neo tunnel. I don’t think it’s universal, but if there is one diff that I tend to see it is still in how heavy the rand it.

One more thing…
Becareful when purchasing a WW skirt for your touring boat. A ‘Large’ cockpit WW skirt isn’t always the same fit as the ‘Large’ cockpit for a touring boat. Try before you buy if possible. You could also measure cockpit and check the manufacturers website for fit info.

‘Measure twice and pay once’

The heavier rubber rands are meant to create a better seal in the larger cockpit combing gap (between the deck and the cockpit rim where the rand tucks in when mounted)found in most plastic WW boats. WW skirts do need to be a bit more aggressive.

In general, a standard ‘bungee’ rand works just fine for touring and is easier to get on and off. Bungee rands are actually better for composite boats because the combing edge is sharper and the gap is tighter. A thick rubber rand will sometimes be too thick to actually fully seat into the gap. The bungee rand will actually wrap the skirt deck more tightly around the sharper composite edge providing a very water-tight fit.

I agree with it being in the label
I use ‘WW’ skirts for touring. I also like a rubber rand skirt over bungee. But lots of WW skirts have bungee or rands, so that isn’t a definite difference.

In my mind there are two types of skirts…

Those good for rough water and those that are not. Rough water skirts tend to be more neoprene less fabric and fit tighter. Non-rough water skirts tend to be more fabric and fit looser. Rough water skirts work great in non-rough water, but not the other way around.

Ocean Tour Reinforced?
I just purchased this deck for my boat and I’ve used it several years guiding on the atlantic in a P&H sirius, low boat and in swells and even small waves, the deck is usually awash…ah, i miss that boat…anyway…the deck, the oceantour reinforced is the only deck I will use now. With exception during july and august while the temps are close to 40 celsius here, I use the snapdragon breeze, and roll, alot.

The oceantour has served me well paddling in NL, NS, BC, AB and Ontario. No bar or velcro or any adjustments of any kind and the deck is reinforced around the coaming lip.

Love it.


Snap Dragon options are “leaky”

– Last Updated: Apr-15-08 1:19 PM EST –

and "leakier."


Sorry, that was meant in jest. If I had it to do all over again with my Snap Dragon skirts I would go for the Armor Tex. A buddy has one and it is tough as a ten penny nail and very dry. That is the way I like it.

Reinforced skirts
I did not get the reinforced one. Man was that one tough skirt. The rand and the neo for a couple of inches was very stiff. In fact, so stiff it hurt trying to stretch it! While I like the idea of bomber, I do believe that a serious WW paddler needs reinforced more that a serious sea kayaker. I would like to see the outer edges of skirts protected from abrasion better than just the nylon covering the neoprene. When sliding keels up your deck as in a T-rescue, or periodic swipes with your paddle and such. The edges of the skirt do take the most amount of punishment. Maybe that is all the “reinforced” feature was. Guess I will have to look at their web page. Their packaging is lackaging of much usefull information. But hey, they are local and have good products and service so do not think I am complaining. Just lazy.

Leaky? Really?
I’ve had a variety of skirts over the years from many different skirt manufacturers and I find the Snap Dragon skirts to be amongst the best. I’ve also got a couple of Immersion Research skirts that I really like.

As any skirt manufacturer will tell you… boats, cockpits, rims, people, seat positions, etc. come in all different shapes, sizes and combinations. Despite the stretchy material, Small Medium and Large does not cover every scenario.

Mine are, when they retire I’ll buy a
rubber rand design for the boat. I prefer my Mountain Surf to anything. I would also consider Snap’s Armor Tex as it looks very solid and my buddy’s skirt doesn’t take in much water at all. YMMV.


Mountain Surf…
Talk about leaky skirts!

Hey did you know that Mountain Surf closed shop. Not sure what exactly went down, but apparently John’s staff walked out and started a new company called “Skirtworks” (

John has moved to Ontario and has recently reopened Mountain Surf.

Mine is bomber dry, and yes, I was aware
of his return to Ontario. I believe he had visa difficulties. When he gets up and running again I will buy another skirt. He has some great stuff. I was unaware of skirt works. Thanks for the heads up.


I think the skirt you mention at the top is the one I’ve been using with my glass sea kayak for the last year or two. Excellent skirt, best I’ve owned yet! I prefer a neo tube since most of the time I’m wearing a wetsuit anyway - so breathability really means nothing to me.

skirtwerks BS
i’ll agree that mtn surf is probably overkill for most sea kayaking, but for whitewater, mtn surf is considered by almost all as the best, and john has a rep for about the best customer service of any whitewater company, not just skirts. the issue with getting sent back to canada due to visa probs after 9/11 has been discussed on boatertalk, as has the BS that “skirtwerks” has tried to pull by stealing John’s work.

mtn surf = quality product and service from a paddler for paddlers.

skirtwerks = ripoff of a good guy, quality product by nonpaddlers

i also like snapdragon as a cheaper option, but when i get into big, heavy water where implosion can be a risk, i’d much rather have a mtn surf snapped around my cockpit.

I completely agree with your post
I’m gonna use what I got until Mtn Surf gets back in biz. The value of his bar setting products and real life customer service have a really loyal customer. For the record, if you like Snap Dragon, their customer service is right up there with anyone’s. I just like the Mtn Surf designs.


John is a good man
when I was unsure about skirt adjustments and working things out w. Snapdragon I emailed Mountain Surf w. my question. John took the time to call me & assure me I was on the right track, even tho it was a competitor’s skirt (being the class guy he is, John praised Snapdragon)

The Snapdragon people are topshelf in quality & customer service. They went above and beyond for me, including giving me a high quality, custom fitted all neo skirt from the Ocean Tour series skirt in addition to the Ocean Tour EXP they adjusted from a Medium to fit me.

I wish John only good things with the revival of Mountain Skirt. I will pass the word along.

when do think mtn surf
will be up again. I’ve got a custom east greenland style kayak with a carbon fiber rim that won’t seal well enough for rolling or playing in surf and was thinking about asking John to do a custom skirt. I’ve got a made-to-fit Reed and it doesn’t do it, so need something really aggressive. John is a really nice guy and makes a great product (I have a WW skirt) so I was hoping to give him a call.

His web site says he will be taking
orders after May 5, or something like that. Not too long to wait.