Whitewater sprayskirt - stretch out?

Question for you experienced Kayakers. I recently bought a Dagger Dynamo for my son, along with a Riot 1.2 sprayskirt. The skirt seems to be really tough to stretch into place as compared to my Dagger Approach skirt. More important, we were doing wet exit pool training with him yesterday and on top of all the fear and anxiety, he was having trouble getting the skirt loose to exit. I’m failry well convinced that it is too tight and I should be going back to the store to look at other options. My questions: How should the fit be? Should it easily pop in around the seam and easily come loose with a medium tug? Will it stretch out in a short time and become easier to use? Clearly, this is a danger item because once we are on the river, he is on his own. I won’t be able to get to him quickly.

ww skirt fit

– Last Updated: Sep-03-07 11:13 AM EST –

WW skirts can come in a variety of fits, but generally speaking, most Riot skirts are probably the incorrect size for other boats. Most Riot cockpits are much smaller than other ww cockpits. If your son feels he is having trouble getting the skirt off, I would definitely look to get one more appropriately sized.

For a beginner, I would want a bungee style skirt that would be more easy to get on and off. An appropriate sized skirt should not be that hard to pop off. A good habit to get into with the wet exit is to grab the handle and actually push FORWARD first (so that you clear the cockpit rim), and then pull up/back. However, a properly sized bungee skirt should come off with a healthy yank back without the forward first push.

Good luck getting a better fitting skirt, and I hope you and your son have a lot of fun kayaking!!!

Edited to add: yes, a neoprene skirt will stretch some when wet and after use, but if after the end of a single session the skirt was still so tight, it's definitely not the right size. If you don't use your skirt for awhile, it's always easier to put the skirt on the boat if you wet it first, but in this case it sounds like it is just way too small for the boat in the first place.

My skirt experience

– Last Updated: Sep-03-07 12:03 PM EST –

We have found it necessary to put some of the WW skirts on the boat for 24 hours or so before each use to get them re-stretched. However, if your son had trouble pulling it off once it was good and wet this may be a problem. And maybe it is a hand strength or arm reach thing too, either way he may need a skirt that has a little wetter ride.

I tend to err on the side of a looser skirt for anxiety reasons, so I was extremely careful about that when we started the WW stuff this season.

For my first WW skirt, I got the Snapdragon Flirt that has a strap across the front of the deck with a bungie edging. It'll tend to pull up the edges of the skirt if you knee into it, or if things have gotten quite tight you can slip a hand under the strap to get out faster than digging for the loop. The strap isn't an entaglement hazard - it tightens up to sit hard against the deck but I can still slip my hand up to depress the deck and get under it.

The one problem I found with that skirt is that the looser bungie Snapdragon sent it with was actually too giving to stay attached when I twisted around for a roll in my older displacement hull boat. I sent it back to them with a tracing to figure out how to tighten it up and they sent it back with a heavier bungie. Aside from usually needing help to get the darned thing on, it works fine on both the Piedra and the Inazone. Releases easily and stays pretty dry the rest of the time. I think IR has skirts with the strap and a bungie edge as well.

The other skirt is a Bomber Gear skirt with a quite heavy rubber rand but actually sized for a slightly larger boat than either of mine. So it stays tight just fine, but once it is wet is pretty easy to get on. It does let in a bit more water than the other skirt. And you have to get to the loop tho' it pulls easily once there. It's a good option for easier runs where I am extremely comfortable and would rather not seek help every time I need to get back into the boat.

Overall we have found that skirt fit issues for the WW boats take a few more tries to get it right than with the sea kayaks. We have a lovely assortment of neoprene skirts though.

WW skirts
Most ww skirts don’t stretch much if at all in a permanent sense. So putting the skirt on the boat for a period of time will not do much. All neoprene skirts stretch some after they are wet. I routinely toss mine in the water before I put it on. But after they dry they go back to original state. One rule of thumb is that if a person can get the skirt on without help and not much of a struggle then it fits and can be removed for a wet exit. Putting on the skirt generally requires more effort than taking it off. Riot cockpits had a unique sizing. They were narrower than typical. This means that most skirts sized for riot boats will be too small for, say, a Dagger cockpit. Take the skirt back and get one designed for the boat. As mentioned earlier, bungee skirts are usually easier to put on/take off than those with rubber rands (bands of solid rubber). I would take the boat to the store and have the user sit in the boat and try to get the skirt on. If it is hard, try another and another until you get one that works.

I agree. Sounds like you need a…
…new skirt.

Sometimes grabbing the loop with your elbows on

the rim will get it off, but for a new person to

have to remember an extra step under what might be

an already stressful circumstance, might be a bit

much to ask.

If he gets nervous he might be scared and then not

enjoy it or be so unnerved that he’s tight and

anticipating a bad flip–which is almost certain

to cause a flip.

It’s supposed to be fun,a d if he’s not having

fun, he won’t do it.

rroberts likes his kilts loose too.

– Last Updated: Sep-03-07 3:16 PM EST –

He gets soaked and warm before pulling them on.

Look at sizing

Go look at sizing of skirts for your boat at snapdragon.

Look at what Riot boats the skirt you have is supposed to fit.

Compare the two results to see if the skirt you have is suppoed to fit the boat you have.

tight skirts
If returning the skirt is not an option, I have found that leaving the skirt on the boat cockpit for a prolonged period of time will result in it stretching a little. Don’t expect a lot of stretch.

Thanks all for the good advice and perspective. I’m going to see the dealer tomorrow. Bottom line is that they sold me a skirt that is too small and if they are worth a pound of salt they’ll make it right.

I found a SnapDragon skirt that is specced to fit the Dynamo, so thanks for that tip also. However, I’d hate to order it and find that they also have fit issues. Hopefully my local dealer will have a correct one.

Snapdragon Service
You never have to worry about a Snapdragon skirt not being made right to fit as long as you get into the recommended size to start with. If it needs adjustment, send it back with a tracing of the cockpit. They’ll fix it up as needed for free.

Don’t you…
…have a vacation to go on?

Snapdragon vs Mtn Surf
I had a Mountain Surf skirt with kevlar thread around the edge. While this is an EXTREMELY tight and durable skirt, it was a bear to get on - never had a problem with a wet exit, but I actually sprained my thumb trying to get it on.

I finally relented and bought a Snapdragon Basic this summer and found that it’s just as dry and WAY easier to get on and off. No longer must I embarass myself by asking for help getting my skirt on and my thumb is finally healing.

Hope the dealer does right by you!