More and more drysuits are being fitted with silicone wrist and neck seals as standard as their popularity increases. Silicone seals offer some massive benefits over traditional latex seals including:
- Hypoallergenic medical grade silicone (no latex allergy)
- Up to 40% more stretch than latex
- Very durable – protection against UV, ozone and chemical damage
- Much improved comfort
- Easy donning and doffing – no talc or powder required
- Quick seal replacement
I have had silicone seals fitted to my drysuit for about a year now and find them infinitely more comfort to wear than the latex that were fitted before but they do need slightly different care to latex, especially when getting in and out of the suit. Although the silicone seals are super stretchy and durable they can be punctured easier than latex when they are stretched so they are effectively at their most vulnerable when you're getting into the suit and especially the first couple of times of trying the suit on until you get used to the seals.
Two particular causes of tears or punctures are:
- Finger nails
The best way to avoid damaging the seals is to remove all jewellery and trim your nails but that isn't always practical so keep these tips in mind to minimise the risks:
- When putting your hands or head through a seal, don't just force it. Forcing the seal over stretches the silicone and increases the risk of a tear so instead pull the seal wider and ease it into place.
- When pulling the seal openings wider be mindful of your finger nails. Finger nails are pretty sharp and can quickly weaken a stretched seal. Where possible stretch the seals with your hands rather than the tips of the fingers to spread the pressure evenly.
- Be careful to ease seals over jewellery or, ideally, temporarily remove it to don or doff your suit.
- It is not recommended to use seal lube or creams
Silicone seals are great (I certainly wouldn't go back) and once you've made the necessary mental adjustments when getting in and out of the suit you'll have a very happy life with your new silicone seals.