Now is a good time of year to take care of and repair any of your gear but especially your expensive dry gear. Latex gaskets do not do well without a little love and 303. NRS has published some great guidelines for drywear gear care we wanted to share:
Drysuits, drytops and dry pants provide excellent thermal protection when in cold water. They are some of your more expensive boating attire; taking good care of them protects your investment and ensures they’re in good condition when you need them.
- Replace any damaged or torn gaskets and socks before use.
- With your drysuit, make sure all dry zippers are fully closed before boating. Remove excess air from the suit (“burp”) before paddling and after opening or closing a zipper. To burp the suit, squat while holding the neck gasket open to expel air; then release the gasket. You can also enter the water and let water pressure force out air while holding the gasket open.
- Getting in the water before each boating session is an excellent safety habit to adopt. This will not only help you burp the suit, it can also disclose a problem like—heaven forbid—an improperly closed zipper!
- Excess air in the suit can make it difficult or impossible to escape certain hydraulic features. However, over burping the suit will fully compress your inner layers and impede their insulating value. As with most things in life, balance is a good thing.
- New latex gaskets may not be comfortable initially, but they will stretch over time. You can speed up the stretching process by placing something slightly larger than your neck, wrist or ankle in the gasket and leaving it overnight (or longer, if necessary).
- Trimming the gasket is not recommended and may cause gasket failure.
- Sunscreen, insect repellant and other chemicals can damage latex. Clean gaskets after each use and regularly apply 303 Protectant.
- Be careful of rings, earrings, watches and other sharp objects when donning and removing your dry wear.
- Do not force your body, especially your head, through the gaskets. Gently stretch them open as you put on and take off the garment.
- Even with the best of care, gaskets will eventually break down and need to be replaced. The How to Repair Dry Wear Gaskets video demonstrates do-it-yourself steps. There are also written Gasket Replacement Instructions. Replacing your own gaskets isn’t hard and is a valuable boater skill. Our experienced folks in the NRS Repair Department can also replace gaskets at a reasonable cost.
- Avoid bending or crimping a dry zipper. A broken zipper cannot be repaired, and replacing one is very expensive.
- When closing a zipper, line up the two halves and slide the zipper car with a smooth, steady motion. If you have difficulty, stop and determine the cause. You may need to ask for help.
- Use products like McNett Zip Care and McNett Zip Tech to clean and lubricate zippers. This will help them operate much more smoothly and make them less subject to damage. Placing a bit of Zip Tech in the closing end will help improve the seal.
- Never force a zipper. When having difficulty, inspect the zipper, clean out any obstructions and lubricate the zipper teeth. Closing a zipper over a piece of debris can ruin the zipper.
DRY WEAR TRANSPORTATION
- Keep garments out of direct sun, and avoid leaving them in closed, hot vehicles. Sun damages gaskets and heat can affect seam taping.
- Special care must be taken when transporting your drysuit to avoid damaging the zippers. Fold or roll the suit so the zippers are not bent or kinked. Ensure that no heavy objects are placed on top of the rolled suit. The Drysuit Zipper Care and Maintenance video demonstrates good folding techniques, as well as how to clean and lubricate the zippers.
DRY WEAR CLEANING
- It’s a good idea to rinse your dry wear in fresh water after use, especially if you’re boating in silty water or seawater.
- If more thorough cleaning is needed, use a product that is designed for technical outerwear garments. We recommend products like ReviveX Synthetic Fabric Cleaner or Nikwax Tech Wash. Closely follow cleaner directions.
- Do not use liquid laundry detergents, bleach or harsh chemicals on garments.
- We recommend hand washing and rinsing. Air dry garments; never put them in a clothes dryer.
RESTORING DURABLE WATER REPELLENT (DWR)
- Dry wear fabrics are given a DWR treatment by the manufacturer, so water beads up on the surface rather than soaking into the fibers and interfering with breathability. This treatment is long lasting but eventually abrasion and soiling will overpower it, leading to “wetting out” of the fabric.
- Sometimes just washing away soiling on the garment with cleaners like ReviveX Synthetic Fabric Cleaner or Nikwax Tech Wash will restore the DWR. If this does not work, you have not wasted a step; it’s necessary to clean the garment before using a DWR-restoring treatment.
- There are a number of good DWR replacement treatments available. We recommend 303 High Tech Fabric Guard, ReviveX Spray-On, Nikwax Direct Wash-in and Nikwax Direct Spray-On. Closely follow directions.
DRY WEAR STORAGE
- Dry garments thoroughly before storage.
- Store them out of direct sunlight in cool, dry conditions.
- Store drysuits with plastic TIZIP® zippers fully closed. Store suits with metal zippers with zippers open.
- Do not store them in rooms with combustion sources, such as a furnace room; they can generate ozone, which damages latex.
- Treat gaskets with 303 Protectant before storage.
- Hang or loosely roll garments.
- Avoid high heat and humidity.