how much water gets in neoprene neck dry suit - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-15-2019   #1
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1
how much water gets in neoprene neck dry suit

Does anyone have experience swimming in a kokotat "semi-dry" suit, i.e., neoprene neck. This is for rafting, not kayaking. They're saying very little water gets in, but I'd love to hear from someone with on the ground (well, in the water)experience.

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Old 03-15-2019   #2
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 3,093
Not with the Kokatat, but with an older neoprene neck top.

If it's the kind with a velcro closure ("splash top"), it will be semi-wet
If it's fitted and smooth with no overlaps/wrinkles, it could be very dry. For splashes, probably great. If you swim, you might get more wet.

Planning to chop the old torn latex gasket out of my daughter's old Stohlquist top and replace it with neoprene..similar rationale.

My bigger concern is the wrists. If her wrists go, they'll get latex again. Your hands/wrists seem to get a lot more wet blasts than your neck.
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Old 03-15-2019   #3
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
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I have a Kokotat Angler "Paddling suit" with the Hydrus material (they make it with Gore Tex too). It has fabric booties, latex wrist and Neoprene neck gaskets. The Neoprene neck gasket has a cinch cord to tighten when you might swim or want to be dryer but you can loosen it for comfort.

I was wearing iti in this video...

and have late last year I had a bad line in Westwater and ended up flipping and swimming in the meat of Skull. While I can't say I stayed dry, I wasn't uncomfortable and only had some dampness on the clothes underneath.

I have a Immersion Research semi-dry short sleeve dry top with neoprene gaskets as well..and while it was pretty water tight when I got it, a decade later the neoprene lets water through now. I might try to re-waterproof it, but I only really use it in Summer anyways so its not a big deal.

I'd say for rafting use, a solid, non velcro, neck gasket is more then sufficient unless you are going into some really extreme conditions. For kayaking where the chance of frequent immersion is possible, perhaps going with the more water tight latex neck gasket is more warranted. I know I have no regrets going with the Neoprene 90% of the time I'm wearing it comfort is more important than being water tight. It has kept me warm in multiple swims, multiple snow storms, and a lot in between.
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Old 03-15-2019   #4
St. George, Utah
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: May 2011
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I have a Kokatat Angler Gore Tex semi dry suit. Just got off a Salt trip and wore it for all five days.
I also wore it on several big water days last year on a Grand Canyon trip. I was in the water twice helping right overturned rafts swimming around and under the boats.
For rapids I didn't get any water in the neck, when in the water swimming around maybe a few teaspoons at the most, not enough to even notice. In my opinion an improvement over my prior suits with a neck gasket in terms of comfort.
On the Salt trip I found that the neck gasket held air well enough to require me to burp the suit. If I was kayaking big water or rolling a lot I would go with a conventional gasket but for rafting I really like this suit.
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Old 03-16-2019   #5
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 81
I have a palm neoprene seal dry top I kayaked in for years. The skin on my neck hated the rubber gaskets and was always chapped. It was not a good look for my day job. Even playboating I found the neoprene seal dry. The palm ones have a special coating on them. I have no idea about to kokatat ones - but it is possible to make a good one based on my experience. A few drips do get in but not enough to be a bother.

Here is a blog on it
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Old 03-16-2019   #6
NE, Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 190
After a couple mild swims and being re-cirulated in a hole for as long as I could hold my breath, I was damp to my collar bone/shoulders. I think the semi dry make excellent rafting suits.
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Old 03-16-2019   #7
Fort Collins
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 253
I have had similar experiences to others. I had a Stohlquist semi dry top for kayaking. It does have a nice long neck neoprene gasket, as opposed to the smaller bead style I have seen on the immersion research tops. I've had it for 9 years, and it was completely dry the 1st few years, and gradually got wetter each year, until last season, I was getting off the river pretty well soaked. But, this was kayaking, and rolling a dozen or so times on each trip. I think with some thread and aqua seal, I can restore some of the water proofing. I plan on fixing it up, and loaning it too a rafting buddy, I think it should be better than a splash top for his needs, and buy him some time before he needs to get his own.

In the end, I think semi dry is nice, but I am not sure how well you can replace gaskets when they wear out. Latex gaskets are nice because you can replace them, and hopeful get more use put of your gear.
Just my $.02
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Old 03-16-2019   #8
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buckeye, Arizona
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i have an nrs paddling suit with the neoprene neck gasket, both times I've swam in it (skull on westwater2500cfs, and overboard on the salt 3200cfs) I've come out completely dry, but i have a thick neck!!
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Old 03-17-2019   #9
My name isn't Will
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Willamette Valley, Oregon
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Posts: 215
Many SCUBA divers opt for neoprene neck gaskets for diving drysuits. That's a pretty wet environment. Water stays out. It might be a little bit different technology.

The neoprene in a diving suit has a skin side to make a seal. But you need to be careful how you don the suit. You have to put a roll at the end of the gasket where it touches your skin. You roll it UNDER not over. You need your buddy to double-check you have it rolled right, or it won't seal as well.

I think there's different forces, though. In a diving suit, you add air through a valve to prevent squeeze. That makes the pressure in the suit the same as the pressure outside. Well, plus a little; you control your buoyancy by adding or dumping air from the suit. This pressure might keep the rolled neoprene tight and help seal out water. Without the roll, I bet air would dump out the neck, and that might let water in.

One time I had a latex gasket installed on a diving suit. It was comfortable in the store, so I should have known better. After a half dozen dives or so, it stretched out. If I turned my head while underwater, I'd hear bubbles and know the cold feeling was coming next as water came in.

It might be worth talking to a local dive shop to see if they think using a diving seal on a paddling/rowing suit would work.

The neoprene seals are less prone to tear in addition to being more comfortable. I think they are more resistant to chemicals like sunscreen.

There's another technology some folks use WITH their seals. It's called a bio seal. It helps your gaskets make a better seal. I know that the tendons in my wrist can bulge up and let water in. A bio seal would help this. I think it would be overkill for rivers.

Good luck!
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Old 03-22-2019   #10
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 15
I have an NRS semi-dry suit with the neoprene neck. I've swam/rolled in kayaks, flipped/swam in rafts (Lochsa!) and it Does let water in. After a good swim I am usually damp to the collarbone or even to the chest/bottom of rib cage. Damp is the keyword, enough water gets in to wet your clothes but if you're dressed appropriately for the water/weather (Lochsa in May = merino wool base layers with fleece midlayer), your clothing will keep you warm enough to be fairly comfortable. Hopefully it's warm enough out to dry your clothing for the next day! If it's raining and humid you may have damp layers the next day, but that's what so-called 'technical fabric' is for.

The neoprene neck is not ideal for kayaking as you're rolling (or swimming!) more. For rafting I think it's great. Especially if you don't expect to swim (early season class III etc.).
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