Five 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 in future 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; maybe I’ve never spent enough on the good stuff. 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. The sealed wrists may be handy 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 the last trip I found that using the Swifts with knackered SealSkinz didn’t really work. ‘Waterproof’ SealSkinz only work after which the membrane goes and they become saggy sock-bags with insulation qualities no better than woollen socks. In fact they may well just chill damp feet. Wearing my slowly dilapidating Teva Omnium water shoes (left), I now think it’s better to use no socks for quicker drying/better aeration – or if it’s that cold, seal the feet properly with dry trousers including latex socks over normal 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.
First I cut down the latex on the trousers to make them a similar width to the socks – and did the same to the socks. Getting as close 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 as simple as repairing an inner tube. Not so it seems. My first go with regular rubber glue didn’t take at all to the shiny outer surface of the pants’ latex, even though the same glue worked fine making a temporary stretchy watch band from an old inner tube. Maybe inner tube rubber and latex aren’t the same, or one side of the latex cuffs has a sheeny coating.
I read of using two-part adhesive while researching latex sock replacement, 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, I tried again mixing up some PolyMarine Hypalon adhesive I had. This stuff really sticks like a pair of velcro electo-magnets, but curing times are lengthy and there’s the whole faff of hoping you guess the 25:1 mix right.
I folded back the sock about 3cm on the pipe end and nudged it against the trouser leg cuff (top pic). When the adhesive had cured after 30 mins, it’s another coat (mid 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. Looks like a good seal; let’s hope it was worth it. (one small leak, easily fixed).
My last trip would have been too warm for a dry suit, but if it’s that chilly, next time I’ll buy dry trousers with latex boots attached.