What’s the difference between whitewater and touring sprayskirts?

I’ve noticed some sprayskirts say they’re for whitewater, some say they’re for touring, and some seem to advertise themselves as good for both. Are the whitewater skirts just tighter-fitting, or more heavily reinforced? Are they essentially interchangeable or not really? Thanks.

White water are generally tighter fitting - less chance of imploding if a lot of water splashes on the deck. They also are more likely to have all neoprene materials, where touring may use nylon for the tunnel to make it more comfortable (but nylon would leak more when you have water splashed on the paddler’s body or roll, which is common in white water but more rare in touring).

One of the ways they sometimes do this is if they use a thicker rand (the part that connects around the combing). This is a thick rubber like material (not sure what they actually use) that conencts to the combing, where lighter use uses a bungee to make the connection. One thing to watch is these rubber rand versions should not be used on composite boats (not sure about thermoformed kayaks). The rand could actually embed or otherwise permanently attach to the combing, which would make wet exit (or even end of paddle exit) impossible.

Big diff, I personally would never use a WW skirt for touring. .

As above, the rand versus the bungie. Note that WW boats are plastic with rounded edges to the coaming. Touring boats are often composite with a thin, sharp rim.

Randed skirts will come off a plastic rim, can’t say the same for a thinner sharp rim. Someone like me likely could actually get stuck in a boat upside down with a WW skirt on my fiberglass boats. My hands and wrists are not all that strong.

I favor a looser skirt over a tighter one, don’t want anything more secure than it has to be for the purpose. Because there is always the possibility that you may HAVE to get it off. And a bit of water getting into the cockpit is sloppy conditions has never bothered me. It is a wet sport.

So for touring I am OK with a fabric skirt. For surf or cold weather a neo skirt w a bungie. For WW, should I get around to that again, a randed skirt w neo derck.

Thanks, that’s all very helpful!

I don’t think most paddlers need a really tight skirt. Unless your boating really big whitewater, doing flips playboating, or running something like the stikine canyon where a swim could be fatal you don’t the hassle and struggle involved with using a tight fitting/rand skirt. Skirts are just as likely to leak around the tunnel, or leak due to age and usage. The time for a dry boat is in winter when cold water sloshing around isn’t very pleasant.