Sprayskirt -- nylon on neoprene?

Me and my gf recently upgraded from rec boats to touring boats (necky chatham 16 and valley avocet) and now we need to upgrade our gear. I’m looking to buy us a couple of sprayskirts and am wondering what features I should be looking for.

What’s the difference in terms of performance between neoprene and nylon? Any brands or specific models that come highly recommended? I’m on a tight budget so price is a major factor.


Especially if you intend to be rolling it.


is fine if you just want to keep weather and paddle drips out of the boat. Neoprene if you have any desire to roll.

You have 2 great play boats. Both support advancing skills and adventuresome paddling. If you want to keep water out as best as possible and not worry about the skirt accidentally coming off you cannot beat neoprene.

Neo deck
I recommend the Immersion Research Excursion as a low-cost, high-quality neoprene decked skirt. The deck and coaming seal are nicely watertight - the waist tube is breathable nylon with velcro closures, so probably isn’t when rolling. It would be ok with a drytop with an inner tunnel.

especially true if you have polyethylene kayaks - neo/neo. If you want to save money now and buy nylon, you’ll probably end up selling them later on and getting neoprene skirts - I did.

I like the Seals Shocker or Surf w/bungee rand: http://www.sealsskirts.com/prod_ww.html

Also good are Snapdragon Ocean Trek or Ocean Tour EXP.

First, go for fit
I had basic nylon (Harmony) and it didn’t hold back much water. I got a neo skirt by outskirts and it was a major improvement. However, water always gathered behind me and eventually would work through the seam. After about 5 years, the neoprene started to get runs and holes.

Last year I went to the shop and ended up with a Seals Tropical Tour skirt. It’s not neoprene, and it wasn’t cheap. I hesitate to call it nylon–some kind of breathable and rugged fabric. This skirt keeps me dryer than any of the several I have used. Perhaps it is just that I got a skirt that properly fits. No water pooling behind the back and no leakage. This skirt may take in more water when rolling because the tube is not as form fitting, but it is not a major impediment.

I was biased toward the neoprene skirt but I am very glad I got talked into the Tropical Tour. I’d suggest you invest in a high quality skirt that properly fits you and the boat. I wouldn’t be totally focused on neoprene, though it may be more economical.

Good luck.


My favorites
Seals ProShocker


Snapdragon Ocean Tour EXP Reinforced


And nothing fits Valley coamings better than: the skirt designed for Valley


neoprene skirts
cost more upfront

wear longer - with proper care - than other materials

can be repaired more easily by you or others

can be customized more easily for fit (to your body or your boat) Snapdragon and Seals both offer that service.

It’s not just about rolling. You can also go thru waves, do sculling braces, third degree (deep) edging, etc. and neoprene will keep more water out of the boat.

OP, you’re up in Cape Cod. If you plan to paddle in cold weather, the neoprene skirt insulates the cockpit far better.

I own three Snapdragons in full neo. They and the company that make them are Awesome w. a capital A LOL.

Look into Snapdragon’s Supratex skirts. Very comfortable w. more stretch than traditional neoprene.

I like mine cuz they stretch enough to fit over my drysuit and layers, yet also fit over a wetsuit or

thinner paddlewear just as well.

Seals and Snapdragon are made in the U.S.A. by American workers if you place value on that. Harmony, Seattle Sports etc are made in China IIRC.

Budget and materials

– Last Updated: Aug-31-10 1:58 PM EST –

Nylon is cheaper than neoprene. But neoprene is better at keeping out water, and it lasts longer.

So your budget question should reflect LONG-TERM cost, not immediate expense. You might end up buying 2 nylon skirts for the same usage that 1 neoprene skirt would last.

The above is about the spraydeck portion. You can choose a combo skirt that has neoprene deck and nylon tube; no real cost savings but if you want something that you can open up in very hot weather, a suspendered nylon tube is good for that.

I have only owned SnapDragon skirts, 5 of them on 5 boats. They last a long time. I am not completely satisfied with their seal around the coaming, though. They let in water while rolling. I know it's coming through the rim area, not just the tube, because it also lets in water while sculling for support without the tube in the water (the kind of sculling where you do a J-lean, not Greenland style lying-on-water sculling). Basically, deep edging (rim side under water) always results in water entering the cockpit. It's not like a flood, but it's definitely not watertight. I've read comments that one or two other brands do a better job of this. May be specific to the fit on your particular coaming.

Try the IR
Pikabike, you should consider trying the IR Excursion I mentioned earlier. It’s extremely stretchy and the coaming seal is really good. I prefer it to my Snapdragon Glacier Trek breathable - it’s watertight, breathable, way less money, and has suspenders too.

Inner tunnel doesn’t insure dry
Just an FYI, most of my neo skirts have the velcro closure top and are just about always worn with a garment with an inner tunnel and outer sealing layer. It doesn’t make the waist seal particularly drier than if I didn’t have the inner tunnel.

Fair enough
Good to know - that means I can stop regretting buying a splash top without an inner tunnel…

nah, keep regretting
I haven’t found anything ‘waterproof’ but there is a matter of degree.

My neo deck, nylon tunnel lets water in from using a GP.

The neo/neo NRS Rawhide keeps out all the water from normal paddling.

A double tunnel top allows about twice as many rolls (say 15-20) before I need to empty out some water, as did the single tunnel top. I don’t think either skirt perfectly seals the cockpit rim on my poly boat.

Nylon skirts pop off from doing a decent brace.

Spray Skirt
If you want water tight go for Reed Chillcheater