Hi, I am new to the whole whitewater kayaking thing and I am so excited to get started. I just finished buying my gear today and I am having alot of trouble with my skirt. I have a Wavesport X and I bought a standard neoprene Harmony skirt. It’s really really tight to put on ME and once that’s done, it’s REALLY hard to get on my boat. I just can’t do it without lots of help! How do I know if my skirt is too small on both accounts? Am i just not strong enough to work the thing? Any suggestions? Thanks!

Can you pull it off?
If you can’t pull it off… I should think even in WW, which emphasizes learning a roll right off the rip, you’d still need to be able to pull it forward and get it off. Yes?

yes, i can pull it off ok, its the getting on thats impossible!

not too uncommon
As an old waterwater guide, I can still see pictures in my head of guides helping guides get tight fitting spray skirts on their boats. Eventually though, you should develope a technique that will allow you to get in on the boat solo. Often getting it wet before putting it on can help.

As for it being too tight for your body, well, I reckon it depends on how uncomfortable it is. They do stretch a little. But whether to find a larger one is a personal matter.

Some Thoughts…

– Last Updated: Apr-11-05 5:58 AM EST –

If you can't breath properly with the skirt on, then it's too tight. Right now, I assume you have more clothes on under your drysuit (or drytop and drybottom), this also takes up more room and will decrease as the weather warms up. If you using neo farmer Jane, well... I not sure how much more room when you reduce to a lighter neo gear later.

If the skirt comes off for you, then it's not too tight that it's a danger. Some suggestions. The suggestion of getting it wet first is a good one. The neo seems to stretch better when wet. The other things I would recommend. First, get the skirt over the back coaming and around the side as much as possible, then scrooch (is that a word?) foward to keep the skirt on tension. Second, the rand (bungee or rubber) of the skirt bends downward to conform to the coaming. Flip the rand up and get your hands on either side of the front middle. The flipped up rand will give you a better grip with your thumbs. Now, with straight tightened arms, lean forward to stretch the skirt to the front of the coaming. (You want to use the weight of your body to stretch the skirt rather than try to muscle the skirt with your arms.) When you do this, make sure you get the skirt down and around the coaming on one side (won't be able to get both sides). Once the skirt is slightly past the front of the coaming, use the thumb on the side where the skirt is engaged to flip the rand down to lock into the front of the coaming. The other hand is still holding to make sure the skirt doesn't slip off. Once, the rand is engaged onto the front of the coaming, you can then work to engage skirt over the coaming on the other side.

If you find this still doesn't work for you, get the SnapDragon base model skirt. It's pretty easy to get on compared to most and still gives a decent seal.


Wrist Strength
Sing’s approach should overcome what is likely your worst problem (and was mine as well the first time I was put into a WW combo in a class). That is that the hand and wrist strength req’d to complete that last inch or so of getting it forward isn’t there. You’ll have to practice deploying arm strength as much as possible.

Also - put the skirt on the boat and leave it there for a week or so, if you are deciding to keep it and try to work things out. A lot of skirts need time on the boat to stretch at the beginning of each season.

thanks for the advice…
i will try that out on my boat and see if it works. Are there any skirts made just for females? Are these any easier to manage? Thanks for the help!

New skirt-tough to get on
I have a Snapdragon on my sea kayak. Easier to put on when a little wet. Also told to leave it on my deck for a few days to build some memory in it. Good luck!

My Mountain Surf Bombproof skirt is
tighter than a bulls a$$. I pull all the rand behind me down over the coaming, work it around the sides, then grab the front part with my thumbs and grip the front of the coaming with the rest of my fingers and use my “hand-grip” squeeze strength to close the gap. It’s difficult to say the least, but I KNOW it will not come off, even if I’m getting Maytagged.

It is also important that you can remove the skirt with one hand. If you can’t, it’s too tight.

I had a little trouble with a new
Snapdragon. It helps if you think of using your body to pull the skirt forward rather than your arms. Get the skirt lipped properly over the back of the rim, and then grasp the front of the skirt near the front end with both hands. Get your arms straightened out and your wrists in a strong position, and then lean forward with your trunk to force the skirt forward. Try to drop the front lip of the skirt over the front of the cockpit rim. It should stay there, even though the sides are not yet over the rim. Now work the sides down over the rim.

It may help to pre-dampen the skirt, because neoprene facing is usually nylon, and nylon relaxes when wet. Also, carry the skirt in your warm car and, if possible, put it on the rim while it is still kind of warm. Warm neoprene expands a little and is stretchier.

I am a fan of a rather loose tunnel. Most of us wear drytops or similar, and so the tunnel does not need to be so tight to keep out water. Also, you can relieve pressure by cutting away a band of material so that there is just enough to fill the internal space in your drytop. Any extra is useless, and just exerts more pressure.

If you can’t spring for a new skirt, it is possible to ease the tunnel on a skirt by splicing in a vertical sliver of neoprene.

so what about skirts with the bungee
instead of the regular rand? I am hearing things about the snapdragon skirt, but how does it hold up when it comes to keep water out? thanks for the help!

bungee/shock cord is fine
I have several Snapdragon skirts with the bungee cord. If sized correctly, it does a good job keeping water out and it is for the most part (depending on the fit) easier to get on the combing than a rubber rand sprayskirt. However a rubber rand skirt (ala Mountain Surf Dur-O-Ring) will tend to be dryer, grip better, and be more implosion resistant. I have both skirts and for my Snapdragon whitewater skirt, I have an implosion bar on it and for my Mountain Surf skirt I don’t as it isn’t necessary.

Bungee Sewn In vs.
I don’t do WW - I figure that I am too old to pick fights with rocks - but I am guessing that a bungie that is sewn in as the edge of a neo skirt may fit a little more securely in WW mess than the design where the bungee runs thru a tunnel that is sewn around the edge.

In case it makes a diff - SnapDragon makes both designs depending on the skirt. If you are looking that way, you may also want o consider Kokotat if they make a skirt that’ll fit a WW boat. Their skirts are edged in a way to increase their grip and have a really neat release arrngemnt - no need to pull forward because of how the grab strap is set up. I don’t know anything about either of these manufacturers’ sizing for WWW boats unless you go custom though. Probably worth a call.

I bought one of these this winter
and it is a pain to put on, Sings description above about using your body to stretch it forward works.

Not fun when you are trying to get off the beach in a hurry.