Dry tops freak me out...Help! - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-02-2010   #1
Eugene, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1
Dry tops freak me out...Help!

I need some help! I moved to Oregon a few years ago and, while it's certainly not the only reason, one reason I haven't paddled much is because I'm really uncomfortable in dry tops. They makes me really apprehensive and even a little panicky. Mountain fed rivers are of course cold and I know a dry top would be my best bet for enjoying the rivers more than 3 months a year, but I am really uncomfortable with the tight gasket on my throat. I've worn paddle jackets in North Carolina plenty and I am alright with those, but the tight gasket is what I don't seem to like. I guess I should also mention that I have a solo whitewater canoe, so I may swim, but a lot of my cold concerns relate to being in the air and being splashed. Any suggestions on what I could do to either work past the mental side of dry tops or to wear that will keep my warm enough in the snow melt?

I really appreciate your suggestions.

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Old 06-02-2010   #2
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 145
Immersion Research makes "semi dry" tops that have a neoprene neck gasket with just a little rubber around the edge. I find it to be more comfortable than most dry tops and pretty much just as dry.
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Old 06-03-2010   #3
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Join Date: May 2005
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^ i believe i have one of those. its got gaskets on the wrists and neck, but they are not as serious or as tight as a full drytop. mine isnt waterproof i dont believe, but it does a great job of keeping me warm and the water off. i love mine; i dont like dealing with the fuss of a full dry top so i just said screw it and bought the splash top instead and havent regretted it once in four years.
"Don't f$&@ing eddy out, just run it! Whaddya doin??" -LMyers
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Old 06-03-2010   #4
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,888
Not sure if there's any other way around it other than to get used to it. The constriction around your neck is necessary to keep your core warm in cold rivers; whether it's neoprene or latex. Paddling in a wetsuit, retro 80's style, is very restrictive and not nearly as warm.

the best you can do is to cut back the neck gasket a little bit at a time to give your neck some room.
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Old 06-03-2010   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 834
Try a stohlquist on. Mine has a narrow neoprene neck gasket. It is not nearly as constrictive as a traditional latex neck gasket.

Stohlquist WaterWare

It is not quite as dry as a latex neck gasket but it is dry enough. I've never paddled in a dry top that kept me dry anyways, whether it was latex or neoprene at the neck. I wear layers underneath and I'm warm in Colorado whitewater.
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Old 06-03-2010   #6
Horserump, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 512
Just think of it as a 250 year old guy trying to strangle you. Eventually the gasket streches out and is comfortable and functional. Do not try and cut it or trim it. This will cause it to fail early and at exactly the wrong time. Also you might consider wearing a necktie around for a few weeks to get use to it.
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Old 06-03-2010   #7
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The High Ground, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,328
Originally Posted by Ture View Post
Try a stohlquist on.
What he said. Not the dryest out there but comfy on the neck.
"Let us cross the river to the other side and rest beneath the shade of the trees." ~ Last words of Thomas Jonathan ''Stonewall' Jackson
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Old 06-03-2010   #8
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Mesa, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 266
Don't cut it. I put a coffee can in mine to stretch it out for a couple days prior to use.
Whether U Think U Can, or Think U Can't; U R Right!
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Old 06-03-2010   #9
White Water, Nebraska
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 37
Disagree strongly on the no-cut advice. When I started I was miserable, completely. Tried every trick in the book from stretching to living with it and was close to just never wearing it again or not paddling cold stuff. A buddy of mine trimmed his gasket on a coffee can with an exacto knife and said the difference was night and day. I tried it and couldn't believe what night and day difference it made. Top went from unfreaking bearable to no issue at all with about a 3/8" trim. (about 1-2 "rings" on the rubber)

We have both had our drytops trimmed like this for several years and never a single issue. Just make sure to have a razor blade or ultra sharp knife and cut continiously along the "ring" or bead so the cut is even. Don't stop or pick up the blade, which might cause a split down the road. Using a plastic folgers can is great because the tip of the blade sinks in the can and holds the whole thing steady. (push the plastic can through the neck with the ridges on the rubber facing out for a guide.)

Just my $.02
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Old 06-03-2010   #10
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 682
Here's another thumbs up for the Stohlquist system that Ture mentioned. I've got their drysuit with latex gaskets on the wrists and a rubber coated neoprene neck seal. Waaaaay more comfortable than a latex and almost as dry.

No more kayak neck ring for me, and if my shoulders are a little moist after a day of paddling, that's a trade off I can live with!
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied...learn to swim!
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