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Inspecting Canoe and Kayak Outerwear

Be Sure to Check Your Paddling Clothes

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Dry Top: NRS Paddling Dry Top

Dry Top: NRS Paddling Dry Top

Photo © nrsweb.com, used by permission
Inspecting paddling clothes such as dry tops, wet suits, gloves and booties is probably the last thing on canoe and kayak paddlers' minds. We usually just wear things until they fall apart and even then we hang on to them just in case. It might be alright to wear things just up to the end of their useful lives when paddling regularly as we're more aware that we may need to replace them. After a long hiatus like after winter storage, however, it would behoove us to check our gear before our first trip out on the water. Here's a checklist of kayaking and canoeing outerwear items to go over so that you don't end up on a wilderness trip only to find out your gear is shot.

Inspecting Wetsuits, Paddle Jackets, Dry Suits, and Dry Tops

Wetsuits, paddling jackets, dry suits, and dry tops are all worn for one purpose, that is to keep the paddler warm. Be sure to check the following:
  • Material
    First, check for the obvious such as tears, abrasions, and holes. Wetsuits, drysuits, and paddling jackets that are made of non-breathable material usually have a coating on the inside of the material. When this coating gets old it can flake and peal thereby shedding the waterproof characteristics of the material. Turn the clothing inside out and check the integrity of this coating.
  • Rubber Gaskets
    The rubber gaskets are easily ripped and torn when putting on dry suits and dry tops. Furthermore, with age they begin to dry rot and crack. Visually check that none of these conditions exist on each gasket. Flip the article inside out and check the inside of the gaskets also. With the material still inside-out, check that the gaskets are still securely glued to the connecting material. Lastly, gently stretch them just a little to see if cracks exist that are only visible when elongated.

Booties and Gloves

Booties and gloves are usually made of neoprene, straps and Velcro, and rubber. Almost all issues with booties and gloves can be repaired with Aquaseal.
  • Neoprene
    Check for holes, tears, and separating seams.
  • Rubber
    The main thing with the soles of booties or the rubber on gloves is how it attaches to the neoprene. Check that it isn’t separating and if it is glue it back together as soon as you notice it. Also check for spots of the rubber that are worn through and repair those.
  • Straps and Velcro
    Once straps and Velcro wear out there’s not much you can do about it. Feel free to cut the straps off of your booties and gloves if they get too stretched and worn out.

Other Inspection Checklists

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