Drysuit considerations

Thread starter #1
I have been looking at and trying on drysuits for a while now.
The fact that I have very slender wrists limits the choice somewhat. The Gul and Gill with neoprene sleeves are barely up against my skin so it is hard to believe these will not leak. Another brand from Germany uses latex sleeves on all their suits (from budget to top range) and these actually seem to seal.
Now I still have to decide on
1) Latex socks versus 'cloth' socks. The more expensive models have feet made of the same material as the suit instead of latex. Is this worth the extra cost?
2) XXL vs extra length XL. Chest and waist size I fit very well in an XL, but I can only squat to full depth in an XXL.
The company offers a custom extra length XL as well. Again is getting the custom worth the extra cost over the slightly more bulky XXL?
3) The more expensive suits have a breathable upper AND lower part, whereas the more basic ones have only breathable upper part. Again, would you 20% more for the more expensive option?

Difficulty is you can not try out a drysuit. Maybe I hate sailing in a drysuit and then I am stuck with a very expensive one....



Upside down?
Staff member
Maybe this will help a bit:
I frostbite and I couldn't do that without a dry suit.
By now my Musto MPX dry suit (made with GoreTex materials) is ten years old, but it has held up well. In other words, a good investment.
About two years ago it was time to replace the latex seals. Although this is not very hard, I decided to send my suit to a person who does this routinely. When the suit came back, it had neoprene booties which are actually more expensive than the latex ones. But I discovered that the neoprene lets water seep in whereas the latex didn't. Not sure if this is always true. Because I have to stand in water for a few minutes when I launch the boat, my feet do get wet (and cold after a while). Not nice!
In other words, I do prefer latex over neoprene. My wrists are small as well and the latex seals work well. The seal around the neck can be cut so that it makes a good fit; not too tight and certainly not too loose.
To insure longevity, I recommend oiling the latex gaskets after the season is over and greasing the zipper. I also routinely rinse the suit with water (in the shower) and I hang it in a dry and dark closet over the summer to preserve the latex.

Fortunately, I was able to try my suit on prior to buying it. You should ask for that.
Thread starter #3
Thank you for your extensive answer.
What I meant to say was that although I did try on the suit, I find it hard to imagine how it will be to actually sail my boat in a drysuit or, to climb inside the boat after a capsize, when I am used to always wear hiking pants and a separate top.

This is the design I am looking at:

I had never seen a suit with 'cloth' booties before, they are nearly always made of latex.


Upside down?
Staff member
I am not familiar with that particular suit, but it does look nice and has all the features that I would want. Price seems reasonable (to me).

To see if the suit would work for you, at home, put on the clothing that you would wear underneath. Then put on the dry suit. Walk around and sit down on a chair and hike (like you do on the Laser). Then stand up and drop low enough as if you are tacking; repeat. This should tell you if the suit would be OK for your sailing. And remember, once I start racing, the adrenaline takes over and I forget about what I am wearing...

And if you capsize, your instincts (and practice) will guide you and the suit won't matter much, UNLESS IT LEAKS!
I bought my drysuit last season; my first season in a laser. I was also suspicious about how a fitting room trial would translate to sailing... And they are just awful to put on; the first time I tried one on I got all snarled up in the dressing room and left the store in embarrassment. I went home and watched a YouTube video of how to put one on, returning a week later to try on several types and brands with more success.
They are dreadful - until you are in the water! I am very practiced at hopping over the gunwale and onto the centerboard and the suit never slows me down! I opted for a Neil Pryde because it was longer for the size; I'm tall and slim. The booties are goretex fabric material and do not leak. I took mine into the bathtub to check...no water inside!
I have tried several layers/types of socks and the best are Sealskinz waterproof on the inside and Gill bootie socks or something thin, stretchy and slippery over the drysuit feet. They compress everything, protect the drysuit, and allow the boots to slip on easier. I wear Zhik 460 boots in one size larger than normal street shoes. They are soft and supple, but I am not a hectic mad hiker, either, so others may prefer something more stiff.
The wrists and neck are latex and very very tight; be sure to 'burp' your suit when it's all zipped up, that takes some of the bulk away. I wear several layers under the drysuit; merino wool longs on the bottom, and Gill or Underarmor as a first layer, then a merino wool sweater, and also a fleece vest if it's very windy. I count on being in the water at least 3 times before I have to quit due to cold fatigue. When it's not so windy, I'm less likely to go swimming.
Now, after you put on the hiking pants, life jacket, balaclava, helmet (I wear one from my kiteboarding days) you will look and feel so elegant, you will be reminded why sailing is considered such a glamorous sport...!
Thread starter #6
Thanks for sharing your experiences, much appreciated! I ordered it yesterday and opted for the larger size without modification.
Do I understand correctly you wear your hiking pants over your drysuit?
Are these full hikers with straps and the such?
Yes, these are very old fashioned hiking pants. I'm fortunate to live in a place where there are many resources for second hand sailing gear - Annapolis - and I found these fantastic 'pants' that are adjustable enough to allow me to put them on outside the drysuit and place the panels exactly where they need to be. They go on like chaps, if you are familiar with horse riding gear. The older sailors at my club use them; they work, what can I say?!
Thread starter #8
I think I now what chaps are and I think I know what kind of hikers you are talking about. Those would also definitely protect the drysuit against any abrasion. I will keep an eye out for a pair.


Upside down?
Staff member
Most people who sail with me don't use hikers on top of their dry suits (too bulky). But if you want to protect your suit, an old pair of cut-offs will do.