A few years ago I wrote:
… I deliberately chose [these Kokatat Swift] dry trousers with no sewn-in socks as my drysuit has those. With the Swifts … I’ll just wear short Seal Skins and have no worries about the sewn-in socks getting holed by gravel. Time will tell how they wear and perform.
Well, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve never been convinced by the Goretex/membrane magic; at least not for hillwalking – I get too hot and sweaty. But making less heat paddling an open kayak on a cool Scottish day, the stuff seemed to work. It keeps out the splash and light rain, but because the leg muscles are inactive, sweatiness is barely apparent. Using a regular eVent hiking cag on top produced more mugginess, but nothing as bad as on the hill and easier to control with the front zip and adjustable cuff cinches. Unlike a hardshell, for an IK there’s no great benefit to buying a regular kayak cag with a waist seal as there’s no cockpit spray skirt to seal it against. If you really want to keep dry all over, just use a dry suit.
On one trip I found that the Swifts with knackered SealSkinz didn’t really work. ‘Waterproof’ SealSkinz only last until the clingfilm-like membrane goes. Then they become saggy sock-bags with insulation qualities no better than woollen socks. In fact, they may well chill damp feet. Wearing my slowly dilapidating Teva Omnium water shoes (left), I now think it’s better to seal feet properly with latex socks. IMO latex is easier to repair than socks laboriously made from off-cuts of membrane fabric which, like all that kind of stuff, has a limited life span, especially under the grinding weight of a foot. Bizarrely, I see most don’t make dry pants with integrated latex socks, only membrane, which must be a a cost or maybe a UV thing. Anfibio is an exception. But you can easily buy dry pants with latex ankle seals and glue on latex socks which are readily sold individually for around 20 quid.
Gluing on latex socks
First I trimmed the latex on the trousers and the socks to similar lengths. Getting a circumference match is important if there’s to be no leak-prone creasing once they’re joined.
You’d think gluing latex socks to latex trouser cuffs would be simple. Not so it seems. My first go using regular rubber glue didn’t take to the shiny outer surface of the pants’ latex.
I read of using two-part adhesive, even though that refers to the tricky latex-to-dry suit fabric seal, not similar latex. So with the leg and the sock remounted on a piece of 5-inch plastic drain pipe (below), I tried again mixing up some PolyMarine Hypalon adhesive. This stuff sticks like a velcro electro-magnet, but curing times are lengthy and there’s the whole faff of getting the 25:1 mix correct.
I folded back the sock about 3cm on the pipe end and nudged it against the exposed trouser leg cuff (left, above). When the adhesive had cured after 30 mins, it’s another coat (middle), wait 3 mins then just roll the sock over onto the leg and lay in with the roller then strap it up for a couple of hours. There was one small leak, easily fixed.
When cooler weather requires them but you don’t want a full-on drysuit, these fully sealed pants have been great. I can wade right in without getting wet feet, and wearing regular socks underneath the latex is are warm and comfy. A few years later one sock started leaking; a tiny hole, easily fixed with a dab of Aquaseal. They say latex is prone to UV so is best kept out of sunlight (which is why latex cuffs are often covered) and given the odd squirt of 303 UV protectorant or NikWax Solarproof.