Sprayskirt - Neo or Nylon Tube?

-- Last Updated: Aug-18-07 10:02 AM EST --

I've narrowed my search down to neoprene deck snapdragon sprayskirts but I'm not sure if I should go with a nylon or neoprene tube. The nylon is supposedly waterproof and has a neo band with velcro along its top edge. I mainly paddle large lakes but I like to push my boat (Nighthawk 16) to its edge for turns and I am also trying to learn to roll (not much luck there though). I'm sure the nylon is more breatheable than the neo tube but if it is going to allow water in, then I'm going with neo. Any first hand experience out there on this?

‘breathing’ is irrelevant
besides nylon doesn’t ‘breathe’, goretex or it’s equivalents do. For hot weather the extra neoprene around the waist is a bit warmer but is irrlevant to whether a neo or goretex deck will keep you cooler,if it’s hot it’s hot. A goretex or nylon tube won’t breathe with all the water and pfd on it. The only time I found a nylon tube worthwhile was an old skirt before I got fat and it pinched at the waist. I find the more important issue than the type of tube is how well the skirt seals on the coaming,I’ve had some neo skirts with nylon/gore tubes that sealed better around the coaming compared to others,and others less… It’s the water coming in around the edges that starts to get noticable.

Unfortunately this is one of those things you don’t find out until you buy it, get in the kayak and lean the edge over to the water stretching your torso. Usually a non-stretchable tube will pull up on the edge of the skirt more when your torso is leaning away resulting in leaking.

That said I just got an IR skirt with neoprene deck and goretex tube that actually seals as good or better than most of the all neoprene skirts I’ve had. I got it for free and never would have bought it because I gave up on the whole fabric skirt permutations as they puddled water and didn’t seal well. Surprisingly this one is great matched with the Chatham 16 coaming so go figure.

The problem is that not only are there many possible combos of skirt/coaming that change with every new model of skirt and coaming that come out but that the size,shape and flexibility/use of the paddlers can vary. Basically screwing up any useful feedback you can seek out from the folks that sell it or here.

All that said if you’re planning on having a skirt for rolling get an all neoprene one. You should probably have two skirts anyway as yours will not always fit every boat you run into and you’re just as likely to make a purchase and not discover it’s shortcomings until you change paddling environments.

Neo rim and tunnel … breathable deck
Made by IR … can’ remember the specific model. The tube is neo but not tight … has velcro to close it tight. The deck is supposed to be breathable with some Gortex-like material. Before that I had a snap dragon neo.

The IR fits the cockpit as tight as the snapdragon, and the deck material seems to work … not as nearly as hot inside. Trade off is the the tunnel is not nearly as tight a fit … it came with suspenders … so in heavy seas\surf it dosen’t seem like it would be able to stay up like the snapdragon would. And because it bunches up a little at the velcro encloures it would let some water in there if you were rolling.

If\when I learn to roll, I’ll get another snapdragon, and keep the IR for hot days.

Some things to ponder
We have the snap dragon with the nylon tunnel and the velcro closure.

If I did a roll which I don’t and have no desire to, I would have the all neoprene one.

In my case though, I can put the one with the nylon tunnel with velcro closure on over my head out at sea and have done so many times when and if I get into rough water, where as with the all neoprene one it has to be put on and taken off by stepping into it on shore.

My take;

If you will be doing a roll get the all neoprene one.

If you will never be rolling, get the one with the nylon tunnel.



thanks for the tips. Mainly, I want to be able to keep most water from entering in while I’m edging the boat. Rolling is just something I’m trying to learn and once learned dont see needing it very often. Since acquiring my NH16 earlier this summer, I had only one unplanned capsize while I was playing around seeing how far on edge I could take the boat (found out). In that case, I just executed a wet exit and paddlefloat reentry. Hmm, you have given me many things to consider. The NH16 has a 90 degree lip on the coaming that I think may be difficult to seal for edging. Researching this stuff is half the fun.

Did you
take off your PFD to slip the skirt on over your head at sea?

I use the combo skirt for rolling
I think it’s the one you are describing. It has a neoprene deck, a nylon tube bottom, and a neoprene-and-Velcro-band on top of the tube.

The adjustable band is great for allowing ventilation in the cockpit while still keeping splashes from entering. I have not noticed this design to be leakier (when rolling or sculling) than all-neoprene tubes.

I suspect the coated nylon won’t last as long as neoprene. OTOH, my first skirt (neoprene deck with all-nylon tube and suspenders) stayed in great condition for more than 3 yrs of frequent use, which I think is pretty good. All are SnapDragon skirts.

Many times.

In Ak, in the Florida Keys, and out in the middle of some lakes a few miles from shore.

That is why I like the one with the nylon tunnel.

The only time I wear a PFD or the skirt is when I deem it necessary. Usually they are under a bungee on the front or rear deck.

I assume you are trying to get something going about wearing a PFD, so be my guest!



neo skirts generally stay on better
Neo skirt with neo tunnel made learning to roll easier for me. Had a bear of a time finding one to fit cause I’m short and a woman but I found a Seals that I’ve had for three years and it’s been doing a superb job for keeping water out. But in hot weather I go without all together if in flat, calm waters since all skirts can make it steamy in the boat when it’s hot.I have a symaptex? tunnel skirt too for touring but even though it’s the right size for my boats it will pop off sometimes if I’m active in the cockpit.

tangent,Zyflex sprayskirts
it’s too bad these never took off. The problem with fabric skirts is the lack of stretch and when worn normally under the pfd they puddle water and leak. Also the cheap coated ones leaked after a years use. The zyflex skirts weren’t too durable at the stitching but they were great for some applications. Almost a one-size-fits-all skirt they worked well OVER the pfd. That eliminated the puddling and in white actually provided a high visibility feature.

They provided an ok seal at the coaming,a hell of a lot better seal than the old Snapdragons with nylon covered bungie.

I was using one for a couple years on the Chesapeake when it was stinking hot, having it over the pfd allowed for some circulation of air. Too bad they didn’t sell well.

If you needed a spare skirt it was great.

that bridge
has already been crossed. Personally I think you are foolish to paddle without wearing both, but then I’m sure you are an expert.