What’s that in the Tub?

20 04 2011

I got to hold him down!

A dry suit is an important component of any cold water paddler’s portfolio. A dry suit makes a cold water day downright pleasant.

Further, when it comes to safety, a dry suit can save your life! As wonderful as they are, many paddlers balk at stepping up to a drysuit because of the cost. How much? A top Gore-Tex dry suit from Kokatat starts at $900.

Less expensive suits will still set you back several hundred dollars. But the materials won’t stand up like Gore-tex. I took my chances and bought a lightly used NRS Extreme Relief dry suit three years ago for $400.

All dry suits have latex gaskets, which need replacement from time to time. I just replaced my latex neck gasket and latex booties. But this past weekend I was teaching a rescues class, and was disappointed to find my butt wet by the end of class!

When I took the dry suit off, my chest was dry. My fleece pants were dry. But my right foot had a little moisture. Underwear was definitely wet. Where did that water come from?

Thus begins the “find the leak” project. One way to detect dry suit leaks is to plug up the head and wrist gaskets and inflate! Then dunk and check for air bubbles.

But I wasn’t quite prepared for the amusement! Almost right away I felt sinister like I was trying to drown someone in my bathtub! I was pushing that suit around like I was trying to strangle somebody! Positively evil!

So, did I find the leak? No, not really. I pushed air into the legs and submerged. No bubbles. Butt/torso – well, there was one little tiny hiss, which then went away. I never saw any bubbles. I think it came from the end of the relief zipper? I do know I can use petroleum jelly on that end…and stop any water there…I learned how to do that.

But truly I think there is a leak somewhere else, and I just didn’t find it! Grrrrrr. Maybe I need to drown my suit in a pool, which is bigger!