spray skirt questions

Need spray skirt advice for Current Designs Vision 120 transitional design kayak. I’ll be paddling mostly smooth, slow, flat river, class 1 and a wee bit of 2, and local creeks, mostly class 1 maybe a little 2. Hope to paddle during winter when ice isn’t present. But mostly spring/summer. Current Designs sells both neoprene and lightweight nylon spray skirts. Basic model gathers around waist. Expedition model has shoulder suspenders. What to buy? Which type? Same applies to non-factory models. What style for my paddling conditions? I really hope never to roll, since the water I paddle is so shallow I’d conk my head on the bottom in a roll. So, style suggestion and is there any advantage to buying from the manufacturer versus non-manufacturer?

no expert, but
from what little I’ve seen of the nylon skirts, they’re not really going to keep solid water from imploding the skirt or at the very least, keeping the water trapped in your lap. That’s why they have the suspenders, to hold the skirt up. For anything above flatwater, I’d recommend neoprene. I’m a ww open boater, keep that in mind, but have about 70 kayaking friends, and when they see anybody on any class ww in a nylon skirt, it’s cause for concern or amusement.

I went thru Snapdragon (Davey Hearn) for my C1/squirtboat skirts, and am real happy with them. There are other good aftermarket companies.

Manufacturer versus not

– Last Updated: Feb-12-11 4:25 PM EST –

There are outfits that focus on skirts, like Seals, Snapdragon and Wildwasser. The older CD skirts I've seen are not as tough (ie long wearing) as the ones from these companies, but that could have changed.

But first - can you reach the front of the cockpit from sitting, and/or from upside down? From what I can see online the Vision 120 is a composite boat, so has a fairly sharp rim on the coaming. With a cockpit length of 35 inches, the forward loop of a skirt could beyond the arm reach of the size paddler the boat is marketed towards. While a neo skirt would do best for dryness and not imploding, between the cockpit size and the coaming it is very unlikely you'd be able to just push it off the coaming in a capsize. You'd have to be a able to reach for the grab loop and pull it forward to get it off.

If you can't do this, you'd be better off with a nylon skirt that is more likely to push off, and staying off of even class 2 water.

IR Excursion

– Last Updated: Feb-13-11 1:07 AM EST –

I recommend the Excursion by Immersion Research. It should be the right amount of protection for your stated conditions, has detachable suspenders and the deck is really stretchy and thin enough to reduce overheating. Nylon skirts are annoying, in my opinion, and full-neoprene is probably overkill for what you're doing. The Excursion has quite a substantial grab loop in the front - it is quite easy to find and use - plus a knee strap for panic exits.

PS - I see the Excursion has jumped in price by 1/3 since last year!
Austin Canoe & Kayak has them at last years prices still:

PPS - I have the SD Glacier Trek skirt (for a different boat) that JackL mentions below, and it is also a really nice piece of gear that would work well.

Sounds like your paddling and style is
about like mine.

I have and like my Snapdragon Glacier trek and it has served me well through lots of big time breaking water coming over me.

It has a neoprene base which becomes flat when installed, and it has a waterproof coated fabric(?) tunnel that has a velcro closure for adjustment around the upper torso.

Jack L

For most people the suspenders are the first thing to go with a skirt, just not needed. If the tunnel is loose enough to slide down it’s way too loose to keep any water out, should be snug. On most decent skirts the tunnel is adjustable, usually with velcro unless it’s an all neo skirt which most find too hot.

Bill H.

Seal Sneak Skirt

– Last Updated: Feb-14-11 1:22 PM EST –

When I first started paddling I purchased a Seal Sneak with a zipper for my Tsunami125. If the size of your cockpit is bigger than 1.7, you're options are limited to big nylon skirts similar to what is available for a Pungo120. The sneak is a "light conditions" nylon skirt, with an adjustable waist and a rigid brace across that is adjustable and forward of the zipper. The area that stretches over the coaming is coated and provides a good seal. I've been out in some stiff wind and rain on the Long Island Sound and the CT River, and been pounded by wakes from large boat traffic. The sneak has performed well in all conditions. The zipper well sealed and water resistant(not waterproof) and is a great feature, especially in the warm weather months. I lucked out when I bought my P&H Capella173 as the sneak makes a tighter seal than it did with my Tsunami. As for the suspenders, like a previous poster said, I've never needed to use them. It also has two mesh pockets outside perfect for small items. I used to keep the suspenders in one, but I don;t even bother bringing them with me anymore. Matt is right about whitewater, no nylon there, and the sneak is not for rolling, although if you are skilled and quick is can be done with the sneak on and a tight fit around the coaming. I bring a neoprene skirt with me for safety on big water, but I keep finding myself using the sneak. I plan to get another one so I don't have to swap from boat to boat anymore. Besides, I'm trying to get my wife out of the Pungo120 and into the Tsunami125, which I will entice her with the sneak as part of the deal. For your conditions, I think the Sneak is a great option.

Options not limited

– Last Updated: Feb-14-11 6:12 PM EST –

The IR Excursion (with very stretchy thin neo deck) goes up to XXL for a 39 by 22 cockpit which is very big - it would fit my CD Pachena which takes a size 2.5 skirt in the Seals sizing system.

Having said that, the Sneak sounds like a good option.

PS I like suspenders on a spray skirt - then again, my paddling hat is a straw fedora, so go figure.

now that’s funny
the last guy I saw in a nylon skirt was paddling my local 2+ run at flood stage, with the suspenders and a straw hat. He came from like a mile behind us, passed us out, and headed out of sight. Never stopped paddling, never turned, never played in a hole or surfed, but remained upright and stayed out of the paper.

Sounds stylish, but it wasn’t me.

Someday I’ll get myself a bespoke Goretex seersucker suit for paddling to Sunday dinner of a summer’s eve…