To Silicone or Not To Silicone ...

… that is the question.

I recently bought a nice closeout drytop from the evidently now-defunct Bomber Gear. It seems well made so far and I’m anxious to start using it, but I was disappointed in the utter lack of instructions for usage and care of a $225 product. Heck, even your average kitchen toaster comes with a little tiny booklet of directions …

Having never owned anything with latex wrist and neck gaskets, I of course want to take proper care of them, so assumed regular treatment with 303 was the prescribed method. Not surprisingly, the 303 website states: “303 Aerospace Protectant is the most effective UV screening and anti-ozonant protection for latex rubber.”

They go on to cite Kokatat’s recommendation of 303 for their brand of drysuits: “Latex gaskets need to be treated every 4–6 weeks to prevent drying and cracking. Kokatat recommends 303 Protectant …”

One of 303’s points of pride is the fact that it “does not contain silicone oils or petroleum distillates, or other agents unsafe for rubber, vinyl and other plastics.” Yet a visit to Palm’s website has this to say about caring for their drysuit gaskets: “To keep your latex seals in good condition, regularly apply a silicone-based rubber conditioner.”

So what to use: silicon-free or silicone-based? Since 303 is primarily a UV-protectant (“Sunscreen … For Your Stuff”), and being that latex gaskets are typically well hidden beneath the neoprene protector cuffs, is sun-screening really needed? Or is it the dreaded and invisible ozone I really need to fear? Besides these, does 303 do anything else to ‘condition’ the latex?

I’m aware of silicone-based Armor-All’s reputed danger of actually drying-out rubber and vinyl stuff unless continually re-applied, and I don’t relish the thought of slurpin’ my noggin through a tight and greasy neck gasket. But might it do more to actually preserve the latex?

it’s 303 dude or seal saver
or something from Mcnet. But really just grab the 303 and use it!

Armor all is for ripping people off. the solvents turn your plastics/rubber to junk faster!

303 outside, talc inside
The former protects from UV, which IS necessary and the latter make it slide over your head so easily that you won’t believe it.

seconding 303 outside, talc inside
I keep a container of baby powder with my dry suit. It also eases the rub on your neck if your have stubble.

I now shave daily on vacation and when camping to avoid irritation to my neck and damage to my gaskets :wink:

I use nothing
My dry tops wear out faster than the gaskets go bad. Usually under the arms wears out. My PEAK top has a big neoprene neck that I much prefer to latex. So, I represent the extreme abuse end of the spectrum here, and I’ve had only one seal tear about ten years ago.

Being as you want to care for your expensive top, 303 would be the product of choice.

Here’s the way I understand it.

303 is indeed a silicone product, but in a water- or at least non-oil-based vehicle. There’s nothing in it that attacks latex.

Products like Armorall use petro-based vehicles that do attack and degrade latex.

I use 303.


Thanks …
… for all the advice!

Looks, like 303 outside and talc on the inside is the ticket!

All of 303’s publications say no silicone.