Non Latex dry tops??? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-27-2010   #1
brenda's Avatar
bc, CA
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Non Latex dry tops???

Has anyone heard of such a thing? I am so allergic to the neck gasket on my dry top, it literally eats away at my skin to the point it is so raw and painful. Anyone else have this probelm. Solutions?? I really need something water tight as the water here is sooooo... cold.

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Old 04-27-2010   #2
kadzukes's Avatar
Gunnison, Colorado
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If you are allergic to latex, then you are probably allergic to neoprene which is what most gasket material is made of. I have tried many remedies for neoprene allergy, but unfortunately, Cortisone shots are the only thing that have worked; bad, bad, bad...I don't recommend that for your health. I no longer need to use a wet suit for dredging and only raft for my river fun, so I have come up with fleece solutions and waterproof soft shells.
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Old 04-27-2010   #3
brenda's Avatar
bc, CA
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You are right...I would never do a cortisone shot. I work in the medical field and even have special "non latex" gloves I have to use. I have tried using just a paddle jacket but after about 1/2 hour I am frozen from being wet inside. With the dry top I am totally dry by the end of the day, but I am not sure if I can stand the pain of my skin "melting" away. Yuk!
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Old 04-27-2010   #4
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Gunnison, Colorado
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Thermocline, made by Fourth Element, is a hypoallergenic substitute for neoprene or latex. Here is the website for the company that sells it in the states.
Thermocline Explorer Womens Long Sleeved Top | Fourth Element Dive Gear
Maybe the Thermocline long sleeved top under a shell would help. Please do post if you find a solution...I would love to wear at least neoprene booties in the raft.
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Old 04-27-2010   #5
Austin/ Santa Fe, Texas/ New Mexico
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I know Nookie makes a non latex dry top, not sure what the material is and if it would react with ya though. Been looking to get one myself.

Nookie Latex Free Zone Shell
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Old 04-27-2010   #6
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Are you allergic, or is it rubbing you raw?

a true latex allergy is one thing, but unless you've been diagnosed, I'm betting it's abrasion. After too many days of boating I look like I survived a hanging, my neck is rubbed raw in a ring where my gasket contacts.

Contributing factors:
1) Gasket's too tight, trim or stretch.
2) Liberally apply 303 to the gasket before use to allow it to slip around your neck
3) Dive shops sell gasket lube for diving drysuits. Kayakers aren't alone when it comes to gasket irritation.

I disagree with the previous poster about neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber, so IMO it's unlikely that you're truly allergic to both, unless you have a significant history of allergies. If it's irritation, then neoprene gaskets aren't likely to be much better. My experience is that they're much less dry, and less comfortable, then a properly sized latex gasket.
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Old 04-27-2010   #7
Casper, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2006
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I'm probably gonna sound like a nerd but there are some swimmers that have allergies to latex swim caps so they have to use a silicone swim cap I'm sure that rubber would work great for this solution. Problem though don't know how to get them. But an option might be trim a silicone swim cap into a neck gasket.
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Old 04-27-2010   #8
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
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if it's not an allergy, just abrasion, you could try using Glide anti-chafing stuff on your neck before paddling. works wonders for me and others. Glide is available at your favorite running store.
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Old 04-28-2010   #9
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I don't recommend risking assuming it's an abrasion. A latex allergy can be very serious, and if you continue exposing yourself it can progress quickly and dramatically. You do NOT want this type of allergy to progress. It is comparable to a peanut or bee allergy, it can be life threatening. Do your wrist gaskets bother you? Does elastic with exposed elastomer strands bother you? How about latex gloves? Can you handle tomatoes with bare hands? How about eating bananas and avocados? Those foods are common synergistic allergies with latex, as they are all related and often an indicator of a true allergy. I have a severe allergy, and have experienced throat swelling and epi shots, it's not fun. It's very difficult to determine what contains "natural rubber" (that is the allergy, latex is a major misnomer) vs synthetic.

Some neoprenes are cheap imitations, but others are true neoprene which is synthetic. I recommend asking if their product is synthetic or not, that usually helps weed out the misunderstanding of latex vs natural rubber (there are other "types" of natural rubber that, if allergic, are best to avoid). If a person has problems with true neoprene or other synthetic rubbers, they are probably sensitive to the chemicals used in the processing. True neoprene is a completely synthetic material developed during WWII when natural rubber wasn't available. I don't know how "fake" neoprenes are made but I've run into quite a few that seem to have Natural Rubber in there, so be careful.

Kokatat will make neoprene gasket tops, but I didn't check their material. I got a drysuit from OS Systems with neoprene gaskets and fabric socks, and it is awesome. I highly recommend their product and their service, and they are made in the USA. My neoprene has kept me completely dry in more than one rough swims.

Shit, I just realized you work in the medical field. You wear non-latex gloves, but are the rest of the people wearing latex? If so, that's a bad situation, as you are continually exposed even if you aren't wearing them. The allergen is the plant protein, which is water soluble, and is absorbed by the powder when the gloves are manufactured. When the gloves are used, the powder becomes airborne and you are breathing the protein. Even powder free gloves are not powder free, they are just washed, and still a source of exposure. It's not easy getting medical facilities to change, that are hanging on in this day and age. Most have swapped over, especially hospitals, but since it is most commonly a nurse's or techs allergy eliminating them can lag. Good luck if this is your case, if you want any educational info, let me know and I'll pass it on. NIOSH issued an alert about 15 years ago recommending eliminating them from work places, now it's considered to be more of an allergy for food service workers, mechanics, and janitorial staff. The dishwashing gloves are the WORST.
Living in Montana, boating in Idaho
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Old 04-28-2010   #10
Golden, Colorado
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Stohlquist has dry tops with neoprene gaskets. I have one with long sleeves. The neck gasket is a 1" wide neoprene gasket and the wrists are the regular latex rubber gaskets.

I can't find a dry top on their website that doesn't have latex in the wrists but I didn't look very hard.

I like the neoprene gasket. It is MUCH more comfortable than a regular latex gasket because it is only choking about 1" of your neck instead of 3" or 4". Much easier to get on and off. Maybe not quite as dry as regular neck gasket but I've never had a dry top in my life that was dry anyways. I playboat and creek in mine and it is fine. The only drawback I see is that the dry top will be toast when the neck gasket wears out... I don't see a way to replace it.

I'm no expert on allergies but it seems to me that 100% avoidance is not good in the long run. I hate the peanut people that scream at everyone for having peanuts in public. I have heard of people with severe peanut allergies being treated by slow exposure to increasing amounts of... peanuts. Bubble boys grow up with allergies.
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