Shopping for a new dry suit? Did you buy a new suit and are wondering, ‘now what?’ Here are some insider tips on how to happily and safely don and doff it (in other words, to put it on and take it off.)
First things first, trying on a dry suit is not fun. It’s a lot of work (see all 22 steps below or scroll right to the bottom for the videos) and will be a hot and sweaty activity, so try to do it on a cool day if you can. And also, remember that if you are trying on a suit that uses latex seals, it will be very tight - or too tight - around the wrists and neck before you customize it with trimming.
PART I: Getting Into Your Dry Suit
Hudson Dry Suit (Men's):
Helix Dry Suit (Women's):
Here are some tips on how to put on your dry suit. If you are new to dry suits or are having difficulty, it’s a good idea to read these steps through and follow them step-by-step until you find what works best for you.
1. Start with a clean surface. Layout a towel or tarp to protect your dry suit socks and avoid getting uncomfortable and damaging debris inside your suit.
2. Remove anything from your body that may snag the dry suit - jewelry, glasses, and shoes especially!
3. Ensure you’re wearing appropriate undergarments (ie. the Kazan Dry Suit Liner or other technical or wool baselayers.)
4. Loosen the knee tabs and front waist adjusters, unfasten the wrist covers, unzip the entry zipper, and pull the suspenders out of the suit legs. Loosen the Cordloc on the CCS (Closed Comfort System) neck seal if applicable.
5. Step into the suit, reaching your toes to the end of the socks.
6. Don the suspenders, untwist if necessary, and adjust for a comfortable fit.
Hot Tip: to make pulling on the wrist seals easier, apply talc-free powder inside the seals or wrap a plastic bag around your hand as you guide it through.
7. Place the right arm into the right sleeve. Point your fingers and tuck your thumb as you carefully insert your hand through the seal.
Important: Do not make a fist when donning the wrist seal, and if you need to gently pull on the suit to get your hand through, pull on the cuff and not the seal. Pulling on the seal can damage it.
8. Roll the Velcro on the wrist covers back and refasten to a snug fit.
9. Now do the same for the left arm/sleeve.
10. Latex Neck Seal: Bring the upper portion of the suit over your head, aligning the neck opening with the top of the head. Reach inside the neck seal and gently pull it outward and down as you push your head through. Flatten any folds or rolls of the seal against the skin.
CCS Neck Seal: Bring the upper portion of the suit over your head, aligning the neck opening with the top of the head. The CCS neck seal can be worn loose for comfort, but whenever there is a risk of accidental immersion the neck seal should be closed enough so that there aren’t any gaps between the seal and the neck. Close it for immersion by pinching the toggle while pulling the elastic drawstring away from the neck. For maximum effectiveness the neck seal should be adjusted to be snug, but not uncomfortably tight. Once the neck seal has been drawn tight, the Velcro tabs can be attached to keep the elastic out of the way. To loosen, insert your fingers between the neck and the neck seal while pinching the toggle. Then gently pull on the neck seal with your fingers. Secure the loose end of the drawcord using the Velcro on the neck seal.
Good to know: Your neck and wrist seals will fit extremely snugly against your skin. This tight fit is an integral part of the dry suit design.
11. Reach over your left shoulder with your right hand and grasp the entry zipper toggle. While holding the top of the zipper, pull the toggle down.
Double-check: Ensure the suit is sealed by completely docking the zipper. The zipper chain should remain parallel while closing to avoid damage.
Warning: Placing excessive force on the zipper may damage the seal and harm the suit's integrity.
12. Tighten waist adjusters and adjust knee tabs.
13. Remove excess air before water entry by crossing your arms and gently sliding your fingers between your neck and the seal, squat down, and force excess air through the neck opening. (Reminder: If you are wearing the CCS Neck Seal, you will need to ensure it is sealed per step 10 above to perform this step.)
PART II - Getting Out of Your Dry Suit
Hudson Dry Suit (Men's):
Helix Dry Suit (Women's):
1. Remove any PFDs or other equipment worn over the suit.
2. Thoroughly rinse down the exterior of the suit, paying particular attention to the seals and zippers. Remove all dirt, salt, and debris.
3. Loosen waist adjusters and knee tabs.
4. Completely open the entry zipper.
Heads up: Partially closed zippers face the risk of being damaged during doffing.
5. Loosen the neck seal and insert your fingers between the seal and your neck. Gently stretch the seal outward and upward while pulling the neck seal over your head.
6. Remove your hands from the wrist seals by holding onto the cuff, pointing your fingers straight, and tucking the thumb. Slowly pull your hand through the wrist seal, turning the seal inside out.
Remember: Pulling on the seal or making a fist when putting your wrist through the seal can damage the seal.
7. Once your hands are free, invert the seals out of the sleeves to point away from the suit.
8. If wearing suspenders, remove them, pull the suit down past your hips, and slide your legs out.
Heads up: You do not need to un-thread the suspender attachment points.
9. Follow the cleaning and maintenance instructions for the suit.
Now that you've got the ins and outs dialed, let's talk about customizing it by trimming your latex and neoprene seals. Click HERE for more on trimming.