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Old 12-11-2012   #1
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 61
Re-waterproof an older drysuit?

I bought my first drysuit this year; I got a screaming deal at my local shop on a used rental just a couple days before my Grand Canyon trip in October. It's an older NRS, I'm guessing around 5 years old. Grey and yellow with relief zipper and dry socks, Triton fabric.

While on the trip, it was cold and rainy through the roaring 20's and I was very happy to have it (though the neck gasket blew out at the end of the day, but I successfully replaced it on the next layover day!). I wore it through most of the major rapids, and on warmer days I would jump in the water to cool off.

I didn't notice any major leaks when I jumped in, but a few hours into it, I was soggy around my waist and butt (sitting on a paco pad on a dory). I've looked for leaks but I think it might just be the old fabric. Anyone have experience with this fabric?

Is it similar to Gore-tex in that when the outside of the fabric becomes saturated, the inside does not leak, but condenses? Is there a way to prevent this? It could also be the zippers I guess... there is a little tab that seems to hold the entry zipper close together to keep it from separating too much that is broken off. Doesn't seem like a big deal but maybe that's where it's coming in.

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Old 12-11-2012   #2
Vancouver, B.C.
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 4
I have the same or atleast similar dry suit, when I got it I was told the relief zipper always leaked a little. I always have the same wetness at the end of the day.

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Old 12-12-2012   #3
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 61
Hmmm... I don't use the relief zipper-- I find those funnels more of a pain in the ass than just taking it partway off. I wonder if I could find someone to replace it.
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Old 12-12-2012   #4
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
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Check your seams. Turn it inside out and pool some water at those rear butt seams (or other). Water may slowly seep in just wetting the interior. Repairs are easy, contact nrs for fabric and glue recommendation. Finding those leaks makes a world of difference.
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 12-12-2012   #5
bobbuilds's Avatar
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pollyurithane spray in a pressure can, like spray paint will work. Be careful if you use a home treatment spray, use it in a well ventalated area, my friend nearly died treating his drytop at home.
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Old 12-12-2012   #6
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 61
Yikes... I guess I'll use a respirator. What kind of polyurethane spray and where can I buy it?
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Old 12-12-2012   #7
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portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by Cookie
Yikes... I guess I'll use a respirator. What kind of polyurethane spray and where can I buy it?
Sounds like a good way to destroy the breathability of the fabric. Which means you will get even more sweaty and uncomfortable. May as well coat it in vinyl
Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it "guaranteed", I will. I got spare time.
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Old 12-12-2012   #8
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Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
You mentioned it was your first drysuit ....

Maybe folks will disagree with me, but I've noticed a lot of folks who have maybe unrealistic expectations of how dry a drysuit really is. I've never ever ever, including last week in a brand new kokatat GFER suit taken out from a day on the river and been bone dry.

It just doesn't happen. even if all your seams and zippers are good, there's no delamination, and you don't have any pinholes, you still sweat. even if you aren't sweating profusely, locking your body in a sealed environment for hours is gonna produce moisture.

It's hard to tell from your description if there's a problem with the suit or if your expectations are maybe unrealistic.

I boat in the summer in my drysuit because my skin can't be in the sun. I'll often wear minimal layers under my suit, and they get soaked. You didn't mention your layering system -- so, there's a big difference between soggy in a midweight base layer, and soggy in a baselayer and 300 wt fleece pants.

Ideally, you'd send it in to be tested and serviced, but NRS doesn't offer that do they? You might have a shop near you that can do it. IT is worth looking into but can be very expensive to do 3rd party.

I would absolutely NOT spray urethane anything, unless it was an ancient beater urethane coated nylon suit. Use iron-on goretex patches, aquaseal, or tear aid to repair your suit.
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Old 12-12-2012   #9
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Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
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Sounds to me like you've lost the DWR (durable water repellent) coating on the outer material of the dry suit. That's the chemical treatment that makes water bead up and not soak into new technical wear. Gore Tex and other similar membranes (like eVent) work by essentially allowing a higher humidity zone on the inside to pass to a lower humidity zone on the outside. This is why a good and functioning Gore Tex system allows you to not feel clammy inside the garment.
So... that DRW finish has a life. When it wears off, the outer shell material will become quickly saturated. This does not mean that water is leaking through the garment. It is a common misconception that is means the material now "leaks." Now, with the outer shell fully saturated, the moisture transferring properties of the Gore Tex can't work, because the immediate environment outside (the shell fabric) has a higher humidity value than you inside the dry suite. So now your natural perspiration can't escape and accumulates to produce that soggy layer. This is all assuming of course that there isn't an actual leak.
This can be remedied! McNett makes several DWR applications, some that can be just sprayed on. There's an application method out there that will be best for a dry suit. Then, with the DWR coating restored, the Gore Tex or eVent or whatever should be able to work as it was designed.
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Old 12-12-2012   #10
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Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
Rivervibe -- is drysuite a thing? maybe just a typo but I have some friends who always write drysuite and I wondered if it was regional or something ....

re DWR restoration, avoid wash-in treatments because they will equally effect the inside (bad) and the outside (good). Go for a spray on treatment. Then, throw it in the dryer on medium heat for 5 min to set the treatment, tucking in all the gaskets.

most folks do not launder their drysuit often enough to keep it working well. wash it with g-wash or tech wash or even just sans soap but DO NOT use detergent.

Ive used some pretty beater drysuits and they all beat the heck out of a wetsuit here in WA where air and water temps are commonly in the 40s.

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