This is a “female only” question, so you guys out there can “butt out”. I’ve been sea kayaking for about 3 years and have been using a loose-fitting nylon spray skirt. It works fine for paddling around nearby NW Wisconsin lakes in the summer, but when I get up to Lake Superior and have waves washing across the cockpit, I end up with a large puddle in my skirt. So, last summer, I tried on a few neoprene skirts - both on me and my boat. What I found was when I wore the skirt around my waist, I still had a water-collecting “ditch” in front of my belly, unless I hitched the skirt way up on my chest, across my breasts. This was not comfy! The salesman - being a guy - was really no help. I guess men just wear the tops of their spray skirts across their chests - no big deal. So, what do women do? Over, on, under boobs? Any gals out there who can give me some advice? Thanks!
My wife speaking here.
She folds the top of her neoprene skirt down so it sits beneath her breasts. There is no skirt out there that she has found that provides another solution.
How tight is the skirt’s fit over the…
While most skirts are adjustable to some degree, if the deck of the skirt is too large for the cockpit, no amount of tunnel adjustment will truly prevent the pooling of water on the spray skirt’s deck. Getting the right fit here has more to do with the deck size of the skirt and the cockpit size than with the tunnel length alone.
That said, tunnel length and style can be an issue as well; especially if you consider also the depth of the cockpit itself. For instance, if your boat has a deep cockpit, and you have a short torso, getting the right fit of tunnel for you can be a real problem. In general, I don’t see any advantage in having a tunnel that will only “fit” if you have to pull it over your breasts. Dr_Disco’s wife’s solution may work well enough for situations where a tight enough fit (seal) isn’t absolutely essential, but I prefer looking for a more satisfactory solution. Custom sized skirts are something to consider if you can’t find a stock skirt that works well enough for you.
While many sea kayak paddlers will prefer a skirt with a nylon tunnel (perhaps with suspenders) with a neoprene deck (I use this type most of the time), many have found that a “whitewater” style skirt (shorter neoprene tunnel and deck) will be a better fit for them and their boats.
Since most women are generally shorter, with shorter torsos than men, we tend to fit better in lower volume boats, with lower decks both fore and aft of the cockpit. Even if our neoprene decked skirt is a very good fit for the cockpit itself, the cockpit may be too high for us, causing us to feel that the tunnel of our skirts are just too long. Again, try as many different “stock” skirts as you can, but you may still end up wanting a custom fit. Most of the better skirt manufacturers will offer a custom skirt option, taking into consideration the cockpit coaming size, depth, and your own body dimensions.
Not female, but I was raised by…
Check with Mountain surf.
I’d not be surprised if they had something
with a shorter tunnel.
I ran into the same problem. I tried whitewater skirts. Due to my “curvy” body they wouldn’t come off over my hips with a tunnel that fit around my waist. After searching for a while, the snap dragon glacier expedition or sea trek turned out to be a good solution for me (large chest and hips…). The neoprene deck prevents the puddle problem while it has a nylon tunnel with what they call a Dragon collar. The collar is neoprene with a velcro adjustment that allows you to tighten the the top where it fits you best.
Immersion Research J-lo skirt…
IR has a neoprene sprayskirt specifically designed for woman with a shorter tunnel and stretchy hip panels. http://www.immersionresearch.com/products/results.lasso?-search&-database=products&-Table=one&number=67005
Seals Mariner works for me.
I use a Seals Mariner, which is mostly made out of a breathable fabric, but has a neoprene wasteband, which sits low enough on me. But I’m tall for a female, so I have a very long torso.
This skirt uses a tensioned deck design to reduce puddling. Basically, this is done with a flexible plastic thingie (sort of like a long, flexible ruler) that fits into a pocket under the middle of the deck. An adjustable nylon strap provides the tension which keeps the deck bowed, so most of the water runs off.
I’ve only used a couple of different skirts, but I love this one, and it has kept me mostly dry in fairly large waves.
The downside is that the Mariner is rather expensive, but it’s very well made and has other features that I really like. It can also be a bit difficult to get the bow correct at first, and you do have to make sure the ruler is positioned properly before you attach the skirt to your cockpit.
The Mariner is the one at the very bottom of this link:
Even a 6’ 5" big dummy like me
may find that it is useful to cut a few inches off the tunnel! (Rocket science.) Rolling the tunnel down just causes it to constrict breathing. The tunnel should be just long enough to mate properly with one’s drytop tunnel, and no higher.
Second that model of Snapdragon
I love that skirt. The neoprene deck stays good and taut, but the Velcro-adjustable "Dragon collar" lets me pull the skirt on either over the hips or the shoulders (with much cocking of the shoulders to scrunch them narrower).
In addition, in hot weather, I can leave the collar loose for better air circulation.
You can also try the suspender-tubed version (that was my original sprayskirt). It will fit over d@mned near any body, but there is a lot of excess material...not a great choice for rolling as it doesn't seal well at the top of the tube.
Snapdragon makes their skirt tubes in different sizes; make sure you choose the right one.
They also can custom-make a skirt for you, but I bet one of the above would work.
And oh, yeah: UNDER the boobs with the Dragon collar. Mine are small, but I have a V-shaped upper body that allows stuff to slide down too much from the widest point (the armpits). The Dragon collar Velcro tab gets cinched just below the boobs. The nylon part of the tunnel pouches out but that does not pose any kind of trouble. The spraydeck itself stays flat and tight.
What boat, what height?
I have used two Snapdragon Glacier skirts and a Seals Extreme Tour, all of which have a breathable tube and a velcro-closing waist that fits me OK. But I also have boats with fairly low decks, the Explorer LV and the Vela which rakes down decently low on the sides. I don’t get water pooling due mostly to the fit of the neo deck, though with the Explorer LV I had to call Snapdragon about sizing. It takes an extra small deck. I am 5’4".
Are you a shorter person in a much taller boat(before getting to the anatomy part)?
I have this skirt -picked it up at a good price at the end of the season. It is really easy to pull on, very comfortable to wear, seems water proof… haven’t really put it to the test except for some pool sessions. We shall see how it lasts. I have a habit of wearing my gear to death - my last skirt was a seals and that thing lasted for years!!!.. i loved it and it was hard to find a skirt i liked as much. That is how I judge a good product.
Snapdragon made me a skirt with a shorter tunnel at no extra charge. Ask them. I believe they took off 4", which is the maximum they will remove. I was having to roll the tunnel over - wouldn’t go over my D cups . . . I have a short torso and a fairly deep cockpit - the front deck height is 13" in my Eddyline Nighthawk 16.
Thanks to everyone for the good suggestions and advice. I will be referring back to them in a few weeks - when winter finally ends!