"The neck gasket on my new drysuit strangles me and I get dizzy."

Dizzy is not good. You have three options to relieve a tight neck gasket:

1 The gasket will loosen up a bit after you wear the dry suit or top 5-10 times.

2 Stretch the gasket around a jug overnight and keep it stretched until you put the suit on. It will revert to its unstretched fit after an hour or so, but this will help by making it less tight long enough for you to get out on the water and start having fun -- at which point you'll forget about the gasket.

3 Trim a little off the end of the gasket which will make it permanently wider and looser. This is what we do with our personal suits and for the larger size suits in our fleet of rental dry suits. There are trim lines molded into the rubber on the inside of the gasket for this purpose. Each line is about 1/4" apart. Trim one line at a time and put the gasket on to see if that is enough. Keep in mind that a new gasket will loosen some with use so leave it as snug as you can live with – you can also stretch it as per “2” above until you’ve worn the suit enough for the gasket to relax on its own. Use sharp "sewing" scissors and avoid making any nicks (or smooth them out if you do make a nick). See the next question below for more details.

Note: For people with really large necks (i.e. 18.5" or more), you may have to trim so much off the top of the gasket that it doesn't have much of a flat surface to seal against your skin. If this is uncomfortable or causes excessive leakage, another option is to replace the gasket with a larger size. K.A. sells aftermarket gaskets (Universal gaskets) in bigger sizes than what Kokatat dry suits or dry tops come with.

Question: When trimming the latex neck gasket on a dry suit, how much do you take off at a time, and when done how tight should they be? 

Dry suit gaskets need to fit snugly against your skin in order to seal water out. If you've never worn a dry suit before and you try a suit on at home or in a kayak shop the first impression you'll get is the neck gasket is uncomfortably tight. And if the gasket is new it probably is too tight. Part of owning a dry suit is learning to trim the gaskets to fit you properly. The gaskets are tapered like a traffic cone, and the more you trim off the open end the wider and looser it will be. On land, even a properly fitted gasket will still feel uncomfortable, but once you get in your kayak and start paddling you'll forget all about it.

Some people who've never worn a dry suit before (or even a neck tie or turtle neck) feel that even a properly fitted neck gasket is choking them when in fact they can breathe fine. On the other hand, you don't want the gasket to cut off the blood supply to your brain. So if your face immediately turns a bright red color or you feel faint, the gasket is probably too tight; use your hands to hold the gasket off your neck while you recover and decide what to do about it.

A new Kokatat Large latex neck gasket has 9 trim rings molded on the inside. I have a 16" - 16.5" neck, and I trim off 3 rings (leaving 6). Until you are confident about your trimming technique, just trim one ring at a time so you get practice before making your final cut. Customers that are surgeons tell us they put the gasket on a bottle that is just slightly bigger than the gasket and use a scalpel to trim it. I'm not that good with a knife so I just hold the gasket on my lap and use the best sewing scissors I have to trim around it. With either technique, have the suit and gasket inside out while trimming so you can see the trim rings clearly and stay between the lines. Jagged cuts may start a rip when pulling the gasket on and off. So try to make long, smooth cuts. If you create a nick, smooth it out by trimming a bit more off.

With a new gasket, after trimming it should still feel a bit uncomfortably tight because it will permanently loosen up some after wearing it for 5 -10 days. After ten days of use, if you still feel the gasket is too tight and you're staying dry while inverted in your kayak, trim off one more ring. During the first few days of use, try stretching the gasket over a big jar the night before and wait until you put the suit on to take the gasket off the jar. The gasket will spring back most of the way when you take it off the jar, but stretching it will relax the gasket a bit for a while. With a new gasket, the goal for trimming the gasket should not be to make it comfortable; you just want to make it tolerable while you get ready to launch. After that the joys of kayaking should take your mind off the gasket.


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