Drysuit Experiences

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acrosome

b-pod

Post by acrosome »

Ok, next question,

Does anyone have a Stohlquist B-pod with the new hybrid neck gasket? (It is apparently neoprene with some king of hydrophobic skin on it.) How well does it work? How durable is it?

Thanks

kidkanektok
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by kidkanektok »

This is a great topic, which answers a lot of the questions that arose for me yesterday during an extended self-rescue practice session.

I'm using Kokatat gore tex FJ pants and a gore tex Kokatat Tour Tec (or something like that) anorak, both of which were pricey and appear to be top of the pile from a few years ago.

However, even with the neck tightened down, I got alarming amounts of water inside.

Like the guy who posted a long question in this thread, I am concerned whether this suit combo can really give me the time I need to recover, should I get dumped into Naknek Lake next month.

I spent about 700 on this stuff anyway; suppose I should have gone with a quality dry suit . . .

Does anyone have similar experiences, or any opinions? Thanks! :)

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krudave
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by krudave »

If the seals are not latex or equivalent, water will enter when you immerse. Likely the neck seal is the issue. Like many others, I use a Kokatat paddle jacket which has latex seals at the wrists and a neoprene closure at the neck, which closes using velcro. If I swim a lot (such as during a surf session), it leaks at the neck. It is the price I pay for allowing improved ventilation when I'm not surfing, when the closure is open at the neck.

When practicing self-rescue, some water enters at the neck but never enough to seriously impair the insulating value of the fleece under the PJ. This is within the envelope of safety that is OK with me. If I dump, the rig gives me enough time to re-enter before my hands go. If your arrangement does the same for you, then the wetness is more a comfort issue than a safety issue.

If you want better protection at the neck, adding a seal (if feasible) is about your only choice.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

gregn

Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by gregn »

kidkanektok wrote:
.....I'm using Kokatat gore tex FJ pants and a gore tex Kokatat Tour Tec (or something like that) anorak, both of which were pricey and appear to be top of the pile from a few years ago.

However, even with the neck tightened down, I got alarming amounts of water inside.....

Of course you did get lots of water inside! Tec Tour anorak has not been designed to keep the water out while dumped. It is an excellent wind and rain breaker. It packs so small!! When the weather changes, I put it on the top of life jacket and all and keep paddling. Very good for biking and hiking as well. As a dry jacket - no way.

Alm

Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by Alm »

gregn wrote: Of course you did get lots of water inside! Tec Tour anorak has not been designed to keep the water out while dumped. It is an excellent wind and rain breaker.
Correct. Tec Tour is a paddling jacket - not a drytop. It looks like a drytop and costs like a drytop, but it's not an immersion gear - not a good one, anyway. Wrist gaskets are lycra (not neoprene), and there is no neck gasket - instead it has wide gusset that you tighten with Velcro and zipper when you feel like. Kind of rain jacket with 1/2 zipper - can't be open all the way down (and when undone, there is still a gusset in the opening), and can't be closed water-tight at the neck and wrists. Breathable, though.

kidkanektok
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by kidkanektok »

I'm pretty sure that gregn and alm are talking about a different jacket -- the one I have is similar to

http://www.kokatat.com/product_detail.asp?code=XTT

if a bit older and slightly different design. It definitely has latex rubber wrist gaskets that are watertight (and just plain tight); I have had one of them repaired and re-rubbered, and now I try to keep them moist with 303.

This jacket is definitely NOT small and packable -- it is thick and bulky -- so I'm sure gregn must be referring to some smaller anorak. This anorak has a tighten-able sleeve for a neoprene spray skirt to slide into (which I use in AK for sure), and as long as the neck does not leak, immersing it is a pretty dry experience.

Problem is, that is a big "as long as" . . . I need to figure out if, as krudave mentions, the amount of water coming in at the top will send me to hypothermiaville or not, and whether the risk is manageable. I know for sure now that water will come in if I dump in any kind of waves (and when else are you going to dump?), and I strongly suspect that a dry suit with a neck gasket would be far better in emergencies, and a near torture to wear on a sunny day when a minor capsize risk still does exist . . .

Alm

Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by Alm »

kidkanektok wrote:I'm pretty sure that gregn and alm are talking about a different jacket -- the one I have is similar to

http://www.kokatat.com/product_detail.asp?code=XTT

if a bit older and slightly different design. It definitely has latex rubber wrist gaskets that are watertight (and just plain tight);
Yep. This is the one I meant. Former XCR. My bad, sorry - it does have wrist gaskets, but no neck gasket. This is probably where water gets in - around the neck. May be through the waist band too (when you swim).
a dry suit with a neck gasket would be far better in emergencies, and a near torture to wear on a sunny day when a minor capsize risk still does exist .
If your current TecTour/XCR isn't a torture in hot weather with gusseted neck tightened and zipper closed, full drysuit with neck gasket won't be a torture too, though neck gasket is uncomfortable thing in itself.

There is no perfect solution for hot days on cold water. In Southern AK - can't say, but in Northern AK I'd probably use a full drysuit at all times. With water temps almost at freezing point, if have to swim, even in a drysuit you'll have very short time before your legs lock, - 20 minutes may be, there were some articles, I don't remember now. One guy who paddled in Arctic in a very stabile AEII (though with some small sail), tried keeping within 100 meters from shoreline, so that he would be able to walk/wade/swim ashore before he loses control of his muscles.

kidkanektok
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by kidkanektok »

I think you put your finger on it alm -- the only thing that keeps the anorak from also being torture is that you can unzip the hood and open up the gusseted neck. That's worth a lot on a nice sunny day, especially when there's not much wind.

In the end, I think I'm going to stick with the anorak and just be more conservative about when I stay on/retreat to land in tough conditions. No long crossings unless things are looking REAL good!

Appreciate your help and input!! :D

kidkanektok
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by kidkanektok »

Not for the first time, my mind changed on me. Over the past week I did a good deal of paddling in really intense pouring rain out east, and ended those days somewhat displeased with the the dampness which was apparently let in by my dry top. I've washed it in gore tex treatment stuff recently, too. May end up contacting Kokatat to see if they have any ideas for me. Granted it's six-seven years old, but the top of the line jacket ought to hold up longer than that, right?

So in a couple days REI -- who, importantly, will take the thing back if it doesn't fit -- will be shipping me the top of the line Kokatat drysuit. What krudave has said about pleasant v. misery and drying out in camp makes a whole lot of sense based on my rainy AK experiences, so I feel pretty good about the change of mind. After 24 days out on the water starting in two weeks, I'll report back with results!

:)

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krudave
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by krudave »

kidkanektok wrote:Over the past week I did a good deal of paddling in really intense pouring rain out east, and ended those days somewhat displeased with the the dampness which was apparently let in by my dry top. I've washed it in gore tex treatment stuff recently, too. May end up contacting Kokatat to see if they have any ideas for me. Granted it's six-seven years old, but the top of the line jacket ought to hold up longer than that, right?
Depends on the use and how you treated it. Storing dry tops crammed into a bag is hard on them. Ditto failing to rinse every day on salt water. Kokatat will tell you that if you ask. MIght be on their web site, also.

If it is Kokatat's, send it to them for an evaluation. I had a couple dry tops, purchased circa 1994, which failed at the outer edges of the seam tape after 2-3 years of use, which they replaced. free of charge. Later, after 5-6 years of hard use, they said nada, but cut me a killer deal on a replacement, essentially for the cost of the seals. Seemed very fair to me.

Kokatat stands behind their stuff like no one else.

If you have not ordered that dry suit yet, get Goretex booties. Latex at the ankles sucks.

Geoge Gronseth's Kayak Academy is another good source for ordering out of Kokatat, and George will make sure you get a good fit the first shot. Worth it.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

kidkanektok
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by kidkanektok »

Got the gore tex booties and they're identical to the booties on my bibs :) But man, that neck gasket is tight! I assume you guys have been referring to cutting off several rings of it with something like a utility knife . . . I'm going to try it, and I really hope it doesn't void my REI return program.

(after posting originally, I went to the Kokatat site and read all about how the trimming is de rigeur. First I'm going to some stretching on a pitcher about the size of my neck though).

That's good to hear about Kokatat. I'll try sending in the dry top and see what they say. I definitely take care of my gear and rinse whenever possible; but I also have taken that jacket on 13-day tours through Prince William Sound, where I didn't rinse except in rain. We'll see what they say.

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krudave
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by krudave »

kkt,

If you cut that gasket, you own it! I had to take of a couple rings, for my size 16 or 17 neck. Stretching did not do a thing for me.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Leo Hazlerigg

Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by Leo Hazlerigg »

I’ve recently started paddling with a pal who is an ex-royal navy diver. Talking about drysuits he mentioned the phenomena of inversion – anyone else come across this?

Sounds kind of scary –unvented air in the drysuit can collect in the legs and hey presto – you’re dangling upside down in the water.

Now - I’ve always pushed excess air out of my suit by crouching down before zipping up – mainly because I didn’t want to paddle around like Bibendum! – it never crossed my mind that there could be more serious consequences than looking like a gallic logo.

Slightly off the topic of ‘which drysuits are best?’ – but maybe worth mentioning.

Christov_Tenn

Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by Christov_Tenn »

I always sort of "burp" mine when I sit in the boat by pulling a space between the neck gasket and my neck. Seems to get rid of most of the extra air.

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krudave
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Re: Drysuit Experiences

Post by krudave »

Burping mine and wearing a good PFD will eliminate this concern. Divers have a different problem, inasmuch as they do not use PFD's. Mismanangement/failure of their buoyancy compensator could cause inversion. Not an issue for paddlers.
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

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