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How to Care for a Drysuit or Dry Top

In this video, Ken Whiting of PaddleTV is talking about how to care for the latex gaskets on your dry wear. Drysuits, dry tops, dry pants, and any dry wear are big investments. They do an incredible job of keeping you dry in cold conditions, but if one of your gaskets fails, your dry wear is wet wear. And so there are some simple things you can do to protect your gaskets from failing, and that's what we're gonna look at.

Latex vs. Neoprene Gaskets

There are two types of gaskets - latex and neoprene. Latex gaskets are basically rubber gaskets around your neck, your wrists and your ankles. Now, these latex gaskets are by far the driest gaskets, but they're also quite tight and some people find them a little uncomfortable. Neoprene gaskets on the other hand, are much stretchier. They're much more comfortable, but they definitely don't do the same job of keeping the water out. In fact, dry wear that has neoprene gaskets is typically called semi dry wear. Whether you have neoprene or latex gaskets, the same rules apply for keeping those gaskets protected and long living.

Protecting the Gaskets

Accessories

Accessories, such as watches, rings, and even ponytail holders, can cause tears in your gasket. Take any accessory off before you put on and take off the gasket.

Sunscreen and Other Chemicals

Chemicals that you put on your body, such as sunscreen and bug repellant, can get on your gasket and cause damage. If you use sunscreen or bug repellent, make sure you wash it off your gear thoroughly with soap and water. Follow up with 303 Protectant.

Sun Damage

Sun exposure will dry up the gasket, causing cracks and tears. Do not store your dry wear out in the sun, and do not dry it out for extended periods of time. Using 303 Protectant will help reduce the impact of UV light.

Stretching Out Latex Gaskets

Now when you get a new dry top or a dry suit, something that's very common is for the latex gaskets to feel very tight, especially around the neck. But that's normal. At least it's normal for the first little bit because latex gaskets do stretch over time. After using it for a full couple of days, it should relax and feel better, but that's not always the case. There are ways to avoid putting yourself through a couple of days of misery with this thing trying to strangle you, and that's by pre-stretching the gasket.

  • You can put the gasket over something that is wider than your neck, such as a coffee can, for 24 hours.
  • You can trim the gasket down. Remember to trim in small amounts, and then test it before you trim again. Also remember, that the gasket will stretch out, so you want to trim it until it is still a little too snug, and eventually it will stretch and fit perfectly.

Replacing Gaskets

Now if you do try cutting the gasket and you totally screw up and ruin the gasket. Or if your gasket is just old and it fails, you can get a gasket replaced or you can replace a gasket yourself. In order to replace it yourself, buy a replacement gasket, some AquaSeal, and watch a video on how to do it. If you’re not comfortable with doing it yourself, most manufacturers will replace the gasket for you.

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