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 work for a while after which the clingfilm-like membrane goes and 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 dry trousers 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, Kokatat don’t make pants with integrated latex socks, only membrane, but many others do, like Palm or Anfibio.
Gluing in latex boots
First I trimmed the latex on the trousers and the boots 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 boots 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 hoping you guess the 25:1 mix correctly.
I folded back the sock about 3cm on the pipe end and nudged it against the exposed trouser leg cuff (top pic). When the adhesive had cured after 30 mins, it’s another coat (middle pic), 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, the sealed pants have been great; you can wade right in without getting wet feet, and with socks underneath the feet 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 cuffs are often covered) and given the odd squirt of 303 UV protectorant.