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How to Stretch and Trim Sailing Dry Suit Seals to Size

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Types of Seals

 

Latex sailing Dry Suit Seal

Latex Dry Suit Seal

Neoprene sailing Dry Suit seal

Neoprene Dry Suit seal

Sailing dry suit seals are either natural latex rubber or neoprene.  Latex seals are thin, light, flexible and comfortable against the skin, but can be torn if used incorrectly.  Neoprene seals are made from the same material used to make wetsuits; and are generally 1/8” – 3/16” (3 – 5mm) thick, making them bulkier than latex seals.  They are smooth neoprene on the inside for sealing to the skin and faced with nylon on the outside for durability, and are not prone to tearing.

Proper Seal Fit

Sailing dry suits are surface suits and so do not encounter significant water pressure against the seals.  Both latex rubber and neoprene neck and the wrist seals require only moderate pressure against your body to keep water out.  If when in your dry suit your face starts to turn red, you know your seal is too tight.  Wrist seals should be worn just above the wrist bone.  They should be snug but not tight and should not restrict blood flow to the hands – tight seals lead to cold hands.  Also, if you experience tingling in your hands, trim the seals further.

Latex Seal Sizes

Neck seals generally come in only two sizes: XS/SM and MD/LG/XL.  They are matched to their corresponding dry suit size.  What this means is that if you buy an XL dry suit, it will come with a neck seal that fits a person who wears a medium size dry suit.  This scenario generally requires cutting the seals on an XL dry suit to size.  Whereas on a medium dry suit they may fit well off the rack or require only mild stretching.

Most wrist seals are generally the smooth type and do not have ‘trim lines’.  These are available in XS, SM, MD, LG and XL and are matched to the corresponding dry suit size.  Thus a LG dry suit will have size LG wrist seals.  These should only be stretched for fit if required, and not cut.  There is a less used wrist seal with ‘trim lines’.  These are available in only one size and would require you to trim them to the proper size in most cases as they are a size XS off the rack.  Thus a LG dry suit will come with seals sized XS off the rack and will need to be trimmed to size.

Stretching Seals for Proper Fit

When seals are more than moderately tight, and uncomfortable, this is your first sizing option.  If your seals are very tight, move on to the cutting process for either latex or neoprene seals (two different methods).

  1. sailing dry suit seal stretchingMeasure your neck with a piece of string and mark the string. The same can be done with your wrists.
  2. Using the measured length of string, find a smooth cylinder of a slightly larger circumference.
  3. Stretch the seal over the cylinder and leave it for 12 hours
  4. Try it on for comfort
  5. If it is still too tight, you can stretch the seal a second time.

NOTE: Do not ooverstretchyour seals by leaving them on the cylinder for more than 12 hours or stretching them more than once or twice.  Stretching latex seals too much can weaken them and lead to premature failure.

NOTE: Keep in mind that a neoprene seal will stretch and become slightly larger with use.  Latex will do this also, but not to the extent relatively thin neoprene can.  Don’t over stretch your neoprene seals.

Cutting Seals for Proper Fit (LATEX)

 

Ridges indicate ‘cut lines.’ Cut above the ridge- this will become the new seal edge.

Latex neck and some wrist seals may be trimmed to fit to provide a comfortable water-tight seal.  Latex neck seals may be trimmed and are tapered with a series of ‘trim lines’ (small raised lines running around the inside surface of the seal).  The trim lines start at the seal opening and with each line gets progressively bigger. These lines can be used as a guide when trimming the seals to keep the line even.  Some (few) types of latex wrist seals will have ‘trim lines’ and can be resized by cutting.  Those seals that do not have ‘trim lines’ should only be stretched to the proper size.

 

  1. Find a smooth cylinder (as described in the stretching process above) and slide it into either the neck or wrist seal(s).
  2. Using a brand new, never before used razor blade, you will in one smooth motion cut completely around the first ring. Your cut line should be right up to and along the ridge of the ‘cut line’.  This leaves the thicker ridge as the new edge of the seal which will help prevent tears.  You do not want any jaggedness in the line you cut, as this can initiate a tear when you stretch the seal to put it on.
  3. Try the seal on for size.
  4. Repeat cutting rings away until a proper fit is achieved.

Note: After cutting a ring away try on the seal (it isn’t necessary to put the entire dry suit on to try the neck seal).  Leave it on for a minute or more before deciding to cut more rings.

Cutting Seals for Proper Fit (NEOPRENE)

Neoprene seals have a nylon outside facing (fabric) bonded to the neoprene that makes them much more tear resistant.  Then neoprene seals can stretch out permanently more so than latex seals do, so don’t cut them too big initially.

  1. Using sharp, heavy duty zippers, cut completely around the first printed cut ring.
  2. Try the seal on for size.
  3. Repeat cutting rings away until a proper fit is achieved.

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