Spray skirt comparison for homemade boat

I recently completed the build of my Tom Yost Sea Tour 17R skin-on-frame kayak. I need to have a skirt made for it - the cockpit is short-ish (29 3/4" front to back [inner dimensions] but wide (18" side to size [inner dimensions]) AND I’m a bigger dude (size 40"-44" jeans).

I’m thinking, for comfort that I’d like something with a breathable nylon tube; but for water-tight-ness, something with a neoprene deck. I also like the nylon tube because I’ve been dieting and am slowly losing weight and like the flexibility that I’ve imagined in the velcro-closing/nylon top.

My paddling is primarily calm to slow moving water. I would like to take it to rolling lessons/practice this winter in the pool.

I’ve narrowed my options down to 3 very similar skirts:

I/R Excursion


Snap Dragon Sea Trek Breathable


Seals Extreme Tour


Does anyone have any input/ideas on these skirts? Or comments on my choice of skirts for the intended usage?

Right now, I’m leaning towards the I/R skirt because it’s a smaller company and more local to where I live + grew up (live in MD, grew up in southern/central PA).

Thoughts? Opinions? Witty commentary?


Have the IR and SD

– Last Updated: Nov-05-10 5:29 PM EST –

I've been using a Snapdragon Sea Trek breathable on my SOF for 4 seasons. The neoprene deck is pretty stretchy, and the breathable tube does breathe. I often get trickles of water on the inside, not sure if it's actually coming through the deck (doubtful), through the deck/tube seam (maybe) or wicking around under the coaming (probably). Anyway, it's worked well and been reliable.

This season I bought an IR Excursion for a QCC boat. The neo deck is thinner and MUCH more stretchy. In fact, the first time I put it on, I was sure the deck was too small for the cockpit. It fit fine, however, and it has so far been completely dry. The tube is listed as one size, and they state it would go up to size 38. I measured mine and it is larger, and should fit you (we're about the same size). The guys at IR put longer tabs on it for free, which I recommend. It also has suspenders, which I like, and the release loop is well done. All in all, I prefer it.

So I recommend the IR, and you save $$$. But there's nothing wrong with the SD skirt and I still use mine.

PS you need to measure the outside of the cockpit for a proper fit. Also measure the outside circumference. IR has a new fit chart on the page for the Excursion, which should help get the right size - or ask them. The fabric is very stretchy, so may fit your boat without customization.

Just a couple thoughts
My first neo deck skirt was the Seals extreme tour. With a PFD on, there’s no real breathing going on through the tunnel. Later, it began leaking a lot during normal (GP) paddling. All seams look fine, but considerable water gets in from the drips on the deck.

Next skirt has a neo tunnel, too. I wear it in all weather and don’t notice extra heating, but do notice a lot less water from normal paddling. But the neo was very tight on my waist until I lost a few pounds.

The adjustable waist size would be really nice if your waist is likely to change, or if you ever wanted to loan it to someone of a different size. I don’t think the breathing is a reason to buy it, or to pay extra for a breathable fabric, unless you paddle without a PFD in warmer weather.

full neo if you’re gonna roll
a nylon tunnel probably won’t seal around you nearly as well as neoprene for rolling. I had a Delta neoprene/nylon skirt, but the tunnel didn’t really breath with the pfd over it. I use a greenland paddle with lots of water splashing on deck and worse, it easily sagged in front, creating a big puddle at which water easily seeped through the bottom of the tunnel. I recently got an all neo Extrasport brand white water skirt, which fit better on my kit boat, with comparable quality construction as the Seals and Snapdragon skirts, but cheaper, and now I’m completely dry.

BTW Im really obsessed with building my first SOF and I’m in love with the Yostwerks Sea Rider in clear vinyl. Got any pics, thoughts, advise, warnings on the yostworks designs?

Seals Extreme Tour
Question about the leaking - where is it coming from if it is not the seals? I just bought one today (was in sale 1/2 off) locally and it felt like a great fit to my cockpit. You got me worried with this story about the leaking… My current skirt is a cheap all neo one that seals extremely well on plastic cockpit rims due to a layer of rubber like material on the underside while having an overall relaxed fit. With the Seals I was hoping to get some breathability - there is a lot of material that would not be covered by my PFD plus in the summer sometimes I wear no pfd but do wear a skirt -;)…

Can’t say for sure where it leaks from
but I’d have my lap and seat all wet, and 1-2" in the bottom of the cockpit, after a three hour flat water paddle with no rolls. There is no visible damage at all, no cuts, abrasions, all seam tape looks like new. If memory serves, it started after maybe the third or fourth use.

I always wash them in fresh after paddling. I was tempted to treat it with some spray-on DWR stuff, as that really improved the hatch seals on a 10 yr old Necky boat I bought. It seams to leak right through the neo, if you can believe that.

That’s a lot of water just from drips! I guess I’ll have to try it since the shop does not take returns on clearance items… Would be really disappointing if it does that.

One of the reasons I picked that particular skirt was that the tunnel is positioned so that it does not pull me back as my other skirt does. There is a lot of space b/w my seat and the rear of the cockpit rim and the wider bottom of the nylon tunnel allows me to position myself within a wide range relative to the cockpit rim, where the neo skirt tends to pull me to the rear if my seat is forward…

clear vinyl
Clear vinyl is great “if” you live somewhere where there is nothing but water to run into. It is not in the least bit damage resistant. So you can’t just pull it up on the shore or you’ll rub holes in the bottom. Otherwise it’s seriously cool and Tom’s (Yost) boats are very well designed. I’ve built several as well as used them in classes I’ve taught, also have them pictured on his site.

Bill H.

Btw, I’ve had excellent service from Seals, quick to get custom skirts and relatively inexpensive too.

Bill H.

Snap Dragon did the one for me
on the oddball sized Artic tern cockpit.

I’ve had the skirt 5 years now and it’s performed beautifully…good seal,ease of put on and removal,materials have stayed waterproof and it’s relatively cool on those hotter paddling days when a spray skirt is required.

They (Snap Dragon) worked with me on which design and answered each uestion I had.

Patient and competent folks

Price wasn’t bad neither!

Thanks everyone.
I definitely like the I/R skirt. I spoke with them and they think a stock skirt will fit (only concern we have is the tunnel size + they were willing to make one with a larger tunnel for a small fee). I’m going to try and track one down and just order a stock one to see how it works - hopefully try before I buy somewhere.

If rolling gets too much water in, I’ll pickup a second skirt. I found an outfit out in western MD that custom makes stuff -or- I’ll try my hand at making one. I’ve seen a handful of instructions online.

Yost boats
Simply put - I’m pretty infatuated with Tom’s boats. This is my second build - the first was a kayak for my daughter (pics - http://tinyurl.com/2ctbx4r ).

Here’s pics of my boat - on water + during skinning:

On water #1 - http://tinyurl.com/2bt5r56

On water #2 - http://tinyurl.com/275eqvw

Skinned vanity shots - http://tinyurl.com/2abtacb

Skinning - http://tinyurl.com/2e6pck6

I’m generally known as a mechanical idiot. My family literally laughed at me (not figuratively - they actually laughed heartily) when I said I was going to build a kayak.

I like the boats. I tend to baby them a bit, though I had mine out on the Patapsco a couple of weeks ago with a little bit of moving water. Nicked up the skin a bit, but no holes + no water inside of the boat.

I find the Sea Tour a little tender. But, I’m coming from a Dirigo and Tsunami as my more recent boats.

One concern I have is …

– Last Updated: Nov-08-10 10:28 AM EST –

... that your cockpit rim is flat at the rear and that might create a spot for leaks. Any time you got some long flat side on the rim - that is a candidate for water to come through as the skirt would not be able to adhere well there no matter what. Just be prepared for that if it happens. You could replace the cockpit rim down the road if that causes too much leakage, but with a cockpit that tall and your intended use (flat water, mostly) it seems you should not have much of a problem.

The problem I have with my custom build SOF is that the cockpit rim, while on the small side overall, has a pretty deep area behind my seat. One of my smaller skirts kind of fits the rim, but the tunnel is placed too far back and pulls my torso to the rear. Not a big deal for an hour or two of paddling, but anything longer and the constant added pull to the rear adds-up and tires me notably.

If the rear of your cockpit rim is too close to your back, you may have the opposite - the tunnel will be pulling your torso forward. That's not too bad though, since the neoprene tunnel will serve as a soft back support -;)

As for the vinil being fragile, from the few outings I had with my sof I found the areas where it seems to need reinforcements are the bow and stern upper and lower edges - when approaching the beach or just dragging one end or other accidentally over concrete while carying. My SOF is covered with heavy 12oz fabric and 2-part urethane so already fairly resilient. But I also added a splat or two of some leftover epoxy there and that seems to make a nice shield that can be easily renewed down the road. When washing the boat or just emptying water on the beach I tend to flip it over supported by the bow or stern, hence the need for protecting the upper edges in these areas too. I don't have any protection on the bottom but I hope I won't be hitting too many submerged rocks with that boat either...

Seat position not defined.
My “seat” is long board/slats. I plan on padding out behind of me with foam at some point, but will most likely wait until I find a skirt and pad it out based on that. I also need to add some padding beneath of my legs.

I hear you about the flat area of the coaming. We’ll see, I know it has some slant to it, but we’ll see.

Thanks for the input, though.

You’re a brave man

– Last Updated: Nov-08-10 11:41 AM EST –

sitting on the boards! I tried that (with a pad or without a pad) but could not do that for long. I seem to prefer a contoured seat (at least for the rear and sides).

As for the fore/aft seating position, I did not want to go too far back for two reasons: first, I was getting close to the rear deck and it being a little higher than anticipated, interferes with laybacks if I get too close to it. Second, my boat turned out rather trim sensitive - my "best" weight distribution turned out to be near where I intended it to be relative to the masik/rear of the deck, but when designing the cockpit coaming I did not think of the position of the spray deck's tunnel and gave the coaming a too generous arch to the rear (partially to get it out of the way in laybacks, partially to make the coaming larger to fit my existing skirt but without thinking about the tunnel, doh!). As my coaming is now, I think I need to do a custom skirt to best suit it but that will wait since my current one kind-of/sort-of fits...

No kidding.
I’m good up to about an hour. After that- it bothers me.

My last try was a 1/2" stadium seat pad. Gave me a little more comfort, but not wholly fixed it. But, I was surprised at how more unsteady I felt with the 1/2" raise. (And, I have crap for actual built-in balance.)

My next try is going to be this:


(Sadly, I bought a kid’s sleeping pad but didn’t pay attention that it was a foam pad instead of a freaking air inflation. So… now I get to resell this thing.)

Just ordered I/R Excursion
I talked to folks at I/R about the Excursion, my needs, kayak and waist.

If it works - great. If not, they’re open to me returning it and having a custom Shockwave skirt made for my boat.

What size deck?
I imagine it will work out, it’s a nice product. What size deck did they recommend?

I don’t think I mentioned it before, but the thin deck makes it cooler in the summer than other decks I’ve used.

XL deck
Started with a recommendation for a L deck, but ultimately they talked about it internally and called me back like 15 minutes later and suggested the XL.

Pretty cool company so far.