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Drysuit - look them over!


Suz

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Now's the time to take out the dry suits and give them a good looking over. 303 your gaskets and take your suit out for a dip and check to see if they are dry while the water is warm and the consequences are low.

Big favor though, please, please, please do NOT take your suit to your local dive shop for repairs. They are not authorized repair centers for Gore-Tex suits. They do not use approved products for their repairs. The work they do can potentially void your warranty from Kokatat. (They use products that can damage the fabric and cause delamanination.)

If you are in a pinch and Kokatat can not handle getting your drysuit back when you need it, check out the authorized Gore-Tex service centers:

Cascade Wear (Vancouver, BC, Canada) 604.873.2226

Cut'n Sew (Boulder, CO) at 303.499.3634

Stitchlines (Boulder, CO) at 303.781.9044

Thrifty Outfitters (Minneapolis, MN) 800.866.3162

If your drysuit needs repairs, send it in NOW and don't wait until October. For instructions on the process, check out Kokatat's website:

http://www.kokatat.com/customer_service_warranty.asp

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Big favor though, please, please, please do NOT take your suit to your local dive shop for repairs. They are not authorized repair centers for Gore-Tex suits. They do not use approved products for their repairs. The work they do can potentially void your warranty from Kokatat. (They use products that can damage the fabric and cause delamination.)

Suz -- I don't doubt your advice, and I don't know about other places, but United Divers in Somerville has done a terrific job for me a number of times on gaskets. They have more neck sizes than Kokatat and their neck gaskets are of a heavier rubber which feels like it resists damage better.

Also, the woman there who does their dry suit work is really good at it. She will fit you personally and give spot-on advice about trimming. She gave me a new neck gasket last fall and upon checking it out on me, recommended I not trim it at all -- it's worked out perfectly, very nice fit.

I don't think she does anything but the gaskets, so I'm not sure how it could affect the lamination of the fabric. So far, the only problem I've had with lamination has been the a bad batch of gore tex that everybody got from Kokatat a few years back and pretty much delaminated everywhere. Kokatat replaced that suit for $0, which was terrific (that's what makes Kokatat worth the extra money, IMHO.)

--David.

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Also, the woman there who does their dry suit work is really good at it. She will fit you personally and give spot-on advice about trimming. She gave me a new neck gasket last fall and upon checking it out on me, recommended I not trim it at all -- it's worked out perfectly, very nice fit.

Forgot to say -- the dry suit lady at United Divers will actually trim for you, with a very sharp scissors and the skill of someone who does it every day. That way she can trim it just right for you, something that's not always so easy (I lost a neck gasket to overtrimming). And trimming is one thing that can't be done by mail -- don't know if I'd trust having it doing just from a neck measurement.

Even apart from getting the fit right, she does not recommend trimming a neck yourself with ordinary, not-so-sharp scissors, as it leaves small irregularities and nicks that can grow into rips. Also, very few of us -- Suz excepted, perhaps -- trim often enough to be any good at it.

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Suz -- I don't doubt your advice, and I don't know about other places, but United Divers in Somerville has done a terrific job for me a number of times on gaskets. They have more neck sizes than Kokatat and their neck gaskets are of a heavier rubber which feels like it resists damage better.

Also, the woman there who does their dry suit work is really good at it. She will fit you personally and give spot-on advice about trimming. She gave me a new neck gasket last fall and upon checking it out on me, recommended I not trim it at all -- it's worked out perfectly, very nice fit.

I don't think she does anything but the gaskets, so I'm not sure how it could affect the lamination of the fabric. So far, the only problem I've had with lamination has been the a bad batch of gore tex that everybody got from Kokatat a few years back and pretty much delaminated everywhere. Kokatat replaced that suit for $0, which was terrific (that's what makes Kokatat worth the extra money, IMHO.)

--David.

I will say that the shop you are talking about is not the one that caused a voided warranty on a suit. It was not simply a gasket change. The shop "repaired" leaks by applying a rubbery sealant on the inside of the drysuit in many areas and along the seams where some seam tape was worn or leaking. Of course by applying the stuff, you can no longer actually see the inside of the material to see if delamination occured. It was by far one of the worse repairs Kokatat has seen done. They also charged $200 for the service.

Can dive shops do a gasket change? YES. Would I let them repair a leak? NO, NO, NO.

Suz

PS - Anyone can learn to cut a latex gasket, it is just like tin - cut in a continuous line rather than snipping with many blunt ends. Sharp scissors are my preferred method also. When replacing a gasket, Kokatat will trim your gasket to the size of your old one if you request. If you have lost weight or something since the last one, best you don't do. Osprey Sea Kayak in Westport will also do gasket changes.

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I will say that the shop you are talking about is not the one that caused a voided warranty on a suit. It was not simply a gasket change. The shop "repaired" leaks by applying a rubbery sealant on the inside of the drysuit in many areas and along the seams where some seam tape was worn or leaking. Of course by applying the stuff, you can no longer actually see the inside of the material to see if delamination occured. It was by far one of the worse repairs Kokatat has seen done. They also charged $200 for the service.

Can dive shops do a gasket change? YES. Would I let them repair a leak? NO, NO, NO.

Suz

PS - Anyone can learn to cut a latex gasket, it is just like tin - cut in a continuous line rather than snipping with many blunt ends. Sharp scissors are my preferred method also. When replacing a gasket, Kokatat will trim your gasket to the size of your old one if you request. If you have lost weight or something since the last one, best you don't do. Osprey Sea Kayak in Westport will also do gasket changes.

I just received my dry suit back from Kokatat. They repaired where my dry suit foot had a hole when it got stuck in the latch of my friends car (it moved before I shut the trunk). They also pressure tested the suit and repaired a few other places where it was having some micro leaks (where it's between me and the seat etc). I thought that the foot was going to be an expensive mistake. In the end they charged me less for the repairs and shipping then what I paid the Post Office to ship it to them.

With the excellent service I can't see bringing my dry suit to anybody else for repair.

If I had a blow gasket and I needed it asap I might look to a local source to get it done quicker. That said Kokatat has done a great job with my gaskets in the past, including trimming them.

Even with my large size Kokatat has gaskets that fit me just fine, for the wrist gaskets they installed the Coast Guard version of the wrist gaskets for me. The advantage of the Coast Guard wrist gaskets is that they can be trimmed to accommodate larger wrists where you can not trim the non conical gaskets. The CG version aren't as good as the normal wrist gaskets if you have normal wrists but for people with larger wrists the CG version is the way to go!

-Jason
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I will say that the shop you are talking about is not the one that caused a voided warranty on a suit. It was not simply a gasket change. The shop "repaired" leaks by applying a rubbery sealant on the inside of the drysuit in many areas and along the seams where some seam tape was worn or leaking. Of course by applying the stuff, you can no longer actually see the inside of the material to see if delamination occured. It was by far one of the worse repairs Kokatat has seen done. They also charged $200 for the service.

Point well taken. Frankly, I'd say it's almost common sense not to let anyone but Kokatat repair the fabric itself. That warranty, and the possibility that Kokatat will replace a suit that's too far gone, are among the best "features" of Kokatat suits, and are a lot of what you pay for versus more economical suits.

But, I do believe that United Divers is a better way to get a new gasket installed professionally than Kokatat. Of course, you can always DIY. But my DIY trimming cost me a neck gasket -- I trimmed too much and the gasket ultimately became too loose to make a seal. I know I'm probably inept at it (by definition), but that's why I'm willing to pay someone who does hundreds of them a year, and whom I can meet with in person, etc.

--David.

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Point well taken. Frankly, I'd say it's almost common sense not to let anyone but Kokatat repair the fabric itself. That warranty, and the possibility that Kokatat will replace a suit that's too far gone, are among the best "features" of Kokatat suits, and are a lot of what you pay for versus more economical suits.

But, I do believe that United Divers is a better way to get a new gasket installed professionally than Kokatat. Of course, you can always DIY. But my DIY trimming cost me a neck gasket -- I trimmed too much and the gasket ultimately became too loose to make a seal. I know I'm probably inept at it (by definition), but that's why I'm willing to pay someone who does hundreds of them a year, and whom I can meet with in person, etc.

--David.

I should have noticed that Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures (Westport, MA) 401.635.2173 should have been listed as an authorized repair center. They were missing from Kokatat's link and have been added today. So keep them in mind as a repair center also.

Suz

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