Top deck

I’ve want to get input on something called a top deck or a dry top attached to a spray skirt. I’ve read safety warnings about entanglement (river snags).

Does anyone have experience with this? I was thinking of a shorty dry top from Kokatat with a spray skirt attached by Snap Dragon.

I’m perfecting a just-learned roll in a long boat so I’m usually planning to be wet when I paddle. I used a 2mm wet suit this summer and fall and I have a one size too large drysuit with a leaky neck gasket. Here in Central California a full drysuit is often too hot so I’m looking for an alternative.

Any thoughts?


don’t see why it would be more hazardous
I can’t see a clear reason why a dry top with attached spray deck would be any more hazardous than wearing a conventional spray skirt with a dry top. Granted, the spray deck needs to be released to exit, but that is true for both.

I do know of people who came out of a kayak fitted with an all neoprene spray skirt, slipping right out of the tunnel leaving the skirt still on the cockpit coaming, and I did it once. That would not be possible wearing a dry top with attached spray deck, but most dry tops have the spray skirt tunnel covered by a gusset on the dry top, so I doubt you could slide out of the skirt anyway.

Spray skirts do present a slight risk of entanglement during a swim and I know about one kayaker who drowned when an underwater limb happened to go right through the grab loop of her skirt during a swim. I suppose in a freakish event like that, a separate spray skirt might allow a slightly higher chance of disentangling yourself, but I think you would have a better chance of releasing yourself by cutting through the grab loop with a knife.

All the time
I paddle most of the winter season with a shorty wetsuit and kokatat drytop using a neoprene sprayskirt – as do many whitewater folks in the southeast. A really big skirt (one that hangs down near your ankles when standing) can be an issue when swimming, but that’s about it.