Spray skirt choices.

Looking for some free advice here. We have two boats, a 14.5 OT Cayuga and a 16.0 WS Tempest and we plan on some CALM weather paddling off the Oregon coast (Pacific City, Netarts, Oceanside and others). Both boats are okay for calm ocean conditions. As for spray skirts, there’s an abundance of them from fifty dollar Harmony’s to $150 Seals. There are pull-overs, zip-ups, bungie seals, suspenders and more. We are going out in calm conditions but that doesn’t mean we want or need a cheapie spray skirt. Willing to pay for good protection. So, any experience to share out there? Thank you in advance.

Do you expect to roll?
Many people find a skirt with a neoprene splash deck and a nylon tunnel more comfortable than an all neoprene one. These don’t seal against water entry nearly as well as skirts with neoprene tunnels but might suit your purposes.

All nylon skirts tend to collect water on the inelastic splash deck. Skirts with a rubber rand tend to achieve a better seal around the cockpit coaming than those with a shock cord but they are harder to get on and off. I would think a shock cord skirt would do fine for your intended use.

Many top quality skirts have some type of reinforcement such as Kevlar where the skirt stretches over the cockpit coaming which tends to be a high wear area.

My experience is mainly with all neoprene whitewater spray skirts. I personally have had good luck with skirts made by Snapdragon, Seals, Immersion Research, Bomber Gear, and Mountain Surf. The very best skirts I have used were made by Mountain Surf. I have also used skirts made many years ago by Perception and Harmony and they were fine as well.

Neo decks

– Last Updated: Sep-11-15 11:17 PM EST –

Tend to last longer than coated nylon decks. I use a fabric tunnel with velcro closure unless in whitewater, bit l am not a nut about keeping the boat dry because l use a lot of dry wear layers.

But a neo deck skirt costs a lot when you get to the bigger cockpits. You might decide to start with less investment in the skirt. You are likely to be in different boats after a bit if these are your first. Just seems to happen. Thinking mostly of the Cayuga, Tempest 16 has a decently small cockpit.

Nylon is really for super light duty. Neo from Seals or another good company is well worth the investment and the gains in performance and comfort. Water is unpredictable and there are no returns accepted on the water!

First of all
Good luck finding calm seas on the Oregon coast. However, September might be one of the best months to find a day here and there with fairly calm water.

If you live near, or are able to get to Portland without a long drive, I would suggest that you check at Portland’s Next Adventure kayak shop. They usually have quite a selection of used (barely used) skirts. Be sure you know the exact dimensions of your coaming, or look on the internet for the size to fit your boats. I can’t say you will do as well as I did, but I found a very pricey neoprene Snapdragon for $20. It might have been used once, or twice. As a matter of fact, I’ve only used it once, but what the heck–twenty bucks.

If you go nylon, for the money, Seals is pretty good, but expect the inside coating to come off after not much use. That’s no big deal though, because it still keeps the slop out of the boat anyway. If you do plan to get upside down and want to keep the water out, you’re going to need neoprene.

Alder Creek kayaks (Portland) is also a very good place to find a good deal on used gear–or new.

I’ve had good experience with the Immersion Research Coromell skirt. It has a very stretchy thin neoprene deck with nylon tunnel as recommended by others. The bungee is very grippy, build quality is excellent. Sounds like your paddling is similar to mine, it’s worth a look.