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Old 03-07-2010   #11
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1492
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 283
Originally Posted by DragonUSMC View Post
I really have never had a neck...

Seriously, tho, the highway cone works great. You just have to "appropriate" one from the right construction zone in the middle of the night. I lost the one I had, and a volleyball just happened to be available and it worked ok, too. I have a 17 1/2" neck and have never cut a neck gasket in 20+ years of owning drysuits and drytops.

So many rivers, so little time..........
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Old 03-07-2010   #12
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 10
Give it time, it's like wearing a new pair of Hiking shoes. It all needs breakin time. But also take care of the latex gaskets, it's not fun to replace them....$$$ if you can't do it yourself. So save the trimming for later. If you start to see it splitting or small dry cracking at the ends. It time to trim little as possible to clear the cracking/splitting.

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Old 03-07-2010   #13
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 10
I've always lightly stretched over a bowl for a few days to get it broken in, then cut it.
One ring at a time, cut a ring then try it, it doesn't take much.
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Old 03-08-2010   #14
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 377
Originally Posted by okieboater View Post
I wear a size XL dry top.

I am a over the hill boater who has purchased many dry tops and several dry suits over the several decades I have been boating.

The only dry or semi dry top I have ever had that did not require cutting was a IR semi dry shorty dry top I just purchased a month ago. It had the neoprene neck and arm gaskets and I was able to stretch both out over a period of several weeks.

I just purchased a Kokotat Rogue Dry top. This is the second one I have purchased over the years. I stretched the latex for a week over various sized cans hoping it would stretch out so I could get it over my head and hands. I ended up having to cut the wrist gaskets quite a bit and the neck gasket quite a bit.

Over the years I have used a lot of Stolquist dry tops and one dry suit and had to do the cut routine on all of them.

I weigh in around 215 lbs, 17 1/2 inch neck and wear a regular size XL shirt.

What I have done lately is after doing the stretch latex routine (hoping it would stretch out) then carefully cut the neck and wrist gaskets with a pair of sharp scissors, being very careful to not cut a nick.

I have attempted to do the razor blade routine and at least for me the scissors work better for a smooth cut.

Since I have to cut latex anyway after the test put on, it seems to me that it is best to cut latex right out of the box so you do not over stress the stretch factor of the latex. But, like I said above lately I have been doing the stretch first hoping to get a reasonable fit, but have always had to end up cutting latex.
I second this. All gaskets will stretch out, but an overly stretched gasket is a strained gasket which will be thinner and more prone to splitting. If you think the factory gasket is too tight, do not hesitate to trim some off. I am sure the manufacturers do not expect the same gasket opening to work on a small kid and a large adult. The trim lines are there for a reason. Just allow for a snug fit.
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Old 03-08-2010   #15
Land of Lovin, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,449
Keep in mind when cutting gaskets - if you cut it and if feels REALLY comfortable it will leak on the river. It needs to be a little uncomfortable to keep water out.
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Old 03-08-2010   #16
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
Standard sized football worked for me.

I leave it in for at least a week. Agree with the thought that if it is comfortable, your going to be getting wet.
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Old 03-08-2010   #17
Ottawa, Ontario
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 4
I'm a hulk of a paddler (>6' and >200lbs) so I've stretched quite a few gaskets in my day. This last time I sprayed some 303 on mine while stretching - seemed to help make the process go quicker (?).

Also, no downside to cutting if it's just too tight. Most quality dry tops have extra material in the gasket for this reason, and some, like the Level 6 tops, have concentric rings stamped into the gasket to guide you while cutting. The trick is always cut in small increments and try it out. Less is more.

I agree that you should stretch/try it out for several days before committing to cutting though. If my face doesn't turn red when I put it on - I know it's too loose!
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Old 03-08-2010   #18
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 481
Crazy talk!

Tight is good. I would say to not even stretch it, just tough it out. When it feels tight and weird, you'll just get a little high from the hypoxia. The feeling of a tight neck gasket is one of the best feelings out there. It's the exact opposite of the feeling of icy water leaking down your neck. Savor that feeling while you can.

Don't stretch it, don't cut it. Be tough; try and enjoy it.
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Old 03-09-2010   #19
odessa, Texas
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 8
Thanks to everybody for all the great suggestions. I really appreciate your responses; you provided me with some very helpful advice.
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Old 03-10-2010   #20
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
Its a dilemma that i have yet to tackle this spring. I have a new NRS drytop from last season, and was getting choked out the several times I used it. (It is otherwise pretty cherry.) The custy service guy at NRS advised stretching with their products, but maybe i didnt up the circumference enough.
I dont know if i will cut my new top , because my old stohlquist top, I didnt cut it precisely enough, even though i thought I was very careful, and there is minuscule serrations or unevenness to the edge, and it has rubbed my neck raw for a couple years now. It looked like someone tried to strangle me, with a 'ligature' line on my neck :] I just plain avoid wearing it when possible, but it sure aint the time of year for that type of thinking!
so my .2 is be careful cutting !!!

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