A drysuit is an essential piece of gear for any kayaker, canoeist, or paddle boarder who wishes to paddle in cold waters but is looking to stay dry and warm.
We all know how it feels to be wet and cold... Not the greatest feeling, right?
With proper care and maintenance your drysuit will last many years. Allowing you to paddle comfortably in almost any conditions - massively extending the 'British summer' and allowing you to make more use of your paddling toys!
Clean your drysuit
Cleaning your drysuit regularly is about so much more than not stinking! Much damage that occurs to waterproof materials is caused by fine particulates which work there way through the weave in the outer fabric, impeding breathability, but worse acting as sandpaper to create tiny holes in the waterproof layer - regularly rinsing your suit will not only prevent this, but will help with the social aspect too ;-)
- Avoid smelly gear
Ever forgot your gear in a bag after boating? Yup, so have we.
Rinse your kit in fresh water after use (especially if you are boating in silty water or seawater) so that you don't find your suit crumpled and reeking the next time you want to use it.
- Avoid abrasion and fabric damage
Hand wash your suit using your hands or a brush with soft bristles to get rid of dirt, sand and residues of saltwater or sunblock. (skip the washing machine and dry cleaning, to avoid damage to zippers and gaskets).
We recommend using Nikwax Tech Wash - a mild detergent specifically designed for waterproof textiles.
After washing, hang your suit inside out using a suit hanger and avoid sunlight.
Nikwax Tech Wash
Easy to use, safe, high-performance wash-in cleaner for waterproof textiles and outdoor equipment.
Cleans effectively, revives breathability and water repellency.
How to store your drysuit
Storing your drysuit correctly is a must. These techniques will help you prevent damage:
- Dry your suit thoroughly before storage.
- When storing at home, hang your suit on a thick hanger, in a cool, dark place (like your closet). If you do not have closet space, fold the suit loosely without twisting the zippers and store it in a dark plastic blag.
- Keep your kit out of direct sun and avoid leaving it in closed, hot vehicles as sun damages gaskets and can affect seam taping.
- Take special care when transporting your drysuit to avoid damaging the zippers.
- Do not store your gear in rooms with combustion sources.
- Avoid storage places with high heat and humidity
- Regularly clean and lubricate zipper teeth to help them open and close more smoothly and to prevent damage. (try this Gear Aid Zipper stick)
- Avoid bending a dry zipper (replacing a broken zipper can be quite expensive)
- When closing the zipper, line up the two halves and slide the zipper with a smooth, steady motion.
- Never force a zipper (even if tempting...) When having difficulty, check the zipper, clean out any sand, salt or grit and lubricate the zipper teeth.
The drysuit gaskets and seals help prevent water from entering your neck, wrists and ankles.
You might feel that new latex gaskets are not too comfortable initially, but don't worry - they will stretch over time and you can always speed the stretching process by placing something slightly larger than your neck, wrist or ankle in the gasket and leaving it overnight. (Tip: avoid Vaseline!)
Clean gaskets after use, as sunscreen, insect repellent and other chemicals can damage latex. (Apply 303 UV Protectant if you want to go the extra mile. Failing this, a water based lubricant like Ky Jelly).
Even with the best of care, gaskets will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Make sure to do so as soon as you see any signs of tearing.
If you are out on the water and need an emergency repair, we recommend keeping a neoprene-based contact cement that dries up quickly in your repair kit; as this will help you to keep going until you repair or replace the gaskets.
To keep in mind...
A drysuit will help you stay warmer and drier on the water but it is important to maintain your gear to prolong its lifespan and to get the most out of your kit!