Tough to replace your own Drysuit seals?

-- Last Updated: Sep-22-15 5:02 PM EST --

1: My Kokatat neck gasket ripped at the end of spring and I have been putting off repairing it. They quoted me ~$140+shipping to them to replace all seals, which I'm tempted to take them up on because I hope they just replace the suit.

How tough is it to replace them yourself? Idiot proof? likely to fail my first time? somewhere in between? Anyone have a link to a good tutorial?

2: Does it matter what brand of seal I buy to replace them if I decide to try it?

3: I have a 17" neck and the gasket is extremely tight uncut. What is the best way to trim the gasket without creating a tear point?

Edit: #4: Is it worth considering a neoprene gasket? I dont paddle far off shore in the cold season so I only need my suit to keep me alive for maybe 15 minutes in a worst worst case scenario and a minute or 2 in a normal situation.

5: Has anyone treated the outside of a Neo gasket with hydrophobic water repellent? does that help with the slow leak? or break down the Neo? or wear off right away?


Not too difficult

– Last Updated: Sep-23-15 11:33 AM EST –

You need something cylindrical that is big enough in diameter to stretch the neck gasket out fully without leaving any pleats. A large can usually works. It is much better to have a cylindrical mandrel rather than something tapered as the gaskets will want to slide toward the narrow end of a tapered form.

You need to cut out the old gasket leaving about an inch of free Latex above the seam of the gasket to the suit. I use a very sharp knife to cut the gasket but very sharp shears will work. You need to cut it straight without leaving any notches that may lead to a tear.

There are usually instructions with the new gasket kit. Basically after you cut the old gasket, you stretch the remaining short portion over your mandrel and clean the outside of the Latex with alcohol. You take the new gasket and stretch it over the same form and turn up an inch at the bottom end or however much Latex of the old gasket you left on the suit. Slide that new gasket with the turned up edge right down to the old portion of the gasket so that the two abut all the way around. Clean the turned up part of the new gasket with alcohol.

It is good at this point to locate a few stout rubber bands that will fit tightly around your mandrel. What you are going to do is bond the inside of the turned up edge of the new gasket to the outside of the remaining part of the old gasket using AquaSeal. Apply AquaSeal per the directions with the gasket kit, then smoothly turn down the upturned edge of the new gasket onto the old. Carefully apply your rubber bands over the junction to keep anything from slipping out of place while the AquaSeal cures.

Neoprene gaskets are fine if you don't anticipate doing a lot of rolling. Some water will leak in during a wet exit, but most times you will get your neck out of the water quickly enough that it won't be much. If you have decent pile or fleece underneath, your body will quickly warm any water that does get in. I don't know if it is possible to replace a Latex neck gasket with a neoprene one.

I do wrists, but not necks
I do my own wrist gaskets, but not neck gaskets. I haven’t bought the form for the neck, and wasn’t able to make one myself (tried vases and water pitchers and such), so the one time I tried a neck myself it didn’t come out well. But I use a hard plastic Nalgene-type water bottle as the form for my wrists, and it works great.

The gasket plus some stuff like AquaSeal will run you close to $50 just to buy it.

If you do send to Kokatat, pay the extra $20 to have them leak test and patch the suit. This is when they may find it needs to be replaced. And if not, you will at least get any small holes patched.

If you want to save some money, and also get it a little faster, have Kayak Academy in Washington do the replacement.

You do sound like a good candidate for a neoprene neck (both due to your usage, but also because it sounds like you have a large neck that would seal pretty well in neoprene), but I am not sure who changes latex to neoprene.

a little over $50 for everything
Here is a Kokatat neck gasket replacement kit with AquaSeal:

You might be able to find one slightly cheaper if you shop around.

NRS has a kit that is a little cheaper:

Sending it back to Kokatat is not a bad idea at all, but in addition to the labor and material cost, you will pay shipping both ways. If you are pretty sure of the suit’s integrity and don’t need to have other repairs done you can change a neck gasket for 1/3 the cost or less that Kokatat will charge and you don’t have the turnaround time, if that is an issue.

Local retailer
to the OP:

I am also in SW CT (Danbury area). When my neck gasket ripped, I didn’t want to give up my dry suit for weeks which was the Kokotat estimate. The River Connection (Marshall Seddon) is nearby in Hyde Park NY. His price was very fair and included return shipping. I had my suit back in 48 hours so no missed paddling.

Hm, well I will probably send it in then. I know I have a couple small leaks and I dont want to screw up my suit. I had about a cup of water in my sock after 15 minutes of hanging out in the water, and I’m hoping they find delamination, although I dont think I have any. But Kokatat has a great reputation for replacing suits, so you never know =)

Ill get a hold of Marshall too. He’s a Kokatat certified retailer/repairer I assume

1 more question, can I “oil” my zipper? Or is there a specific lube I can use on it? Its tough to zip the first 4" or so when the suit is on me due to the angle

Pulling angle and zipper lube

– Last Updated: Sep-23-15 9:21 AM EST –

I've heard lots of different advice on zipper lube. Dry, non-oily materials seem to be recommended. I use plain paraffin, which you can get in blocks in the canning department of a grocery store. I just rub it on dry. Lots of flakes get formed in the process and they just fall off, but there must be some material that stays because it makes a huge difference.

When the zipper tag is at a location where pulling it is awkward, you should be able to make it possible to pull at a proper angle and in a way that "works well" for your arms by temporarily adding a length of rope. If you have a small loop already on your zipper tag, adding the right length of rope is as easy as doubling a long piece of rope through that loop and grabbing it at the best location to get the job done. I've used that method on two different dry suits. One of them would have been impossible to get into without help otherwise, but the "rope trick" made it super easy.

DIY Gaskets
DIY gaskets - both neck and wrists are easy. I’ve done a fair number of them in my time and can do a wrist in 7 minutes and a neck in 20. The trick is to have all the right things to do it and all lined up ahead of time.

You can buy the neck and wrist gasket changing kit from Kokatat and it makes the job easier as there are forms and clamps to hold everything in place. It comes with everything you need and directions. Easiest is to google it and you will see tons of different ways to do it.

If you are a member of CONNYAK, you could ask to borrow the club’s kit to do it yourself.

I second the advice to ONLY do the gasket change yourself if your suit is dry. If it isn’t, then you should send it in to Kokatat and have it water tested and gaskets changed. No authorized dealers have the ability to water test. They can simply change the gaskets.

McNett Zip Care
Paraffin will work. I have had good results using this McNett product:

Replacement video
Here’s a video demonstrating how we replace gaskets - - We do carry gaskets and kits. Being able to replace your own gaskets is a great boater skill!



large neck
I had NRS change out my ripped kokatat neck gasket. I had NRS use there Large size which is bigger than the one size kokatat has. NRS has even a extra large too. I had to cut 3 or 4 rings off the kokatat were the large NRS no cutting needed. I did have to stretch it a bit. Kokatat really should have more than one size but as far as I know there is only one size.

I think they have two
Medium and Large, unless things have changed.

That “seals” the deal
Ya, I know I have a couple pinhole leaks, so its back to Kokatat it looks like.

Susan (if I implied your name correctly from your user name), what part of mass are you in? I live on the CT coast but drive to hartford for work. glancing at your profile it looks like you’re a very active paddler. If you’re in the springfield area Im looking for fitness/race training paddling groups

I’m surprised at your quote for $140+. I emailed them earlier this year about doing a neck seal and got quoted closer to $60, and since the DIY kit was $40-$50 I figured I’d just send it to them. I’m waiting until it really fails though.

All 3 seals for $140
$140 was for all 3 gaskets. Its a middle aged suit and I figure if the neck gave out the wrists wont be too far behind. May as well get it all done at once was my thought.

the suit goes to Koko, K will examine the suit for you.

are you packing your parachutes ?

does neo matter in cold water offshore ?

beeswax zippers…Campmore sells that …periodic waterproofing treatment after washing…Aerospace 303 for gaskets every 3-4 months.

suggesting the $$$ suit go into a drum washer is not up to speed. Hand wash in tub.

Glad to hear
I thought Kokatat had raised their price for gasket replacement significantly.

2 sizes - S and L
there are two sizes, small and large. For both wrist and neck. With trimming, it accommodates most.

cutting neck gasket
I use a stainless steel cooking pot. Stretch the neck gasket over it evenly and square to the pot so the gasket lines are straight as they circle the pot. Then take a single edge razor blade and circle the pot on the line slowly. You should be able to cut it perfectly on the line with no nicks or tears. Rinse suit gaskets all the time after use and wipe with 303 every month even when NOT in use. Mine are 6 years old and like the day I got them. As stated above McNetts is great for zippers of all types. Don’t leave suit stored with zippers closed.

Replacing gaskets
isn’t that tough to do. There is a learning curve on your first time though. If you want to go a step further you can make your own gaskets out of neoprene that will be much more comfortable, dependable and just as water tight. There are some poorly designed neoprene gaskets out there that can give them a bad name but if their made properly they are a big upgrade over latex. If your interested you can check out this link.