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How to Put on a Drysuit

The drysuit is the ultimate protective apparel for kayakers, rafters, canoeists and others venturing out on cold waters. Properly putting the suit on takes practice. This step-by-step video demonstrates donning, protecting the latex gaskets and zippers, and expelling excess air from the suit. The suit lets you wear dry synthetic and wool insulating layers inside to match the cold temperatures you’ll be boating in.

Top-quality suits have built-in socks. They’re a vulnerable part of the suit, so stand on a mat or other protective surface to prevent damage to the socks. Loosen the waist band or belt, then slide the suit over your legs.

The gaskets on the suit openings at wrists and neck are the key to keeping water out. To protect them from damage, take off sharp jewelry or watches before donning the suit. Put one arm through a sleeve, then the other arm. Long hair can be an issue with the neck gasket; tie it up first. Slide the gasket up over your head and carefully pull it down around the neck.

Now zip the suit closed. Keep zippers clean and lubricated for ease of operation. Be sure to snug the zipper car all the way against the end of the opening for full closure. Check the relief zipper to be sure it’s secure.

You want to evacuate, or “burp,” excess air from the suit. A puffy suit is cumbersome when paddling and can be dangerous if you were to get caught in a hole during a swim. One way to do this is to hold the neck gasket open with your fingers, then squat and scrunch your body, pushing air out. Release the gasket before standing up.

Another method is to get into the water and let the water pressure force out the air. This is really a good idea; it not only most effectively removes all the air, it’s also a safety check to ensure your suit is fully ready to protect you in an emergency swim.