In your drywear descriptions, what do you mean when you say “semi-dry”?
First let’s talk about what makes drywear “dry”. All
drysuits, drytops and drypants are made with a waterproof fabric. In most
of today’s popular drywear, the material is “breathable”
as well, to allow air and water vapor to pass through it, keeping you
more comfortable inside. Waterproof and breathable fabrics are made by
either laminating a waterproof, breathable membrane, or painting on a
waterproof, breathable coating to the inside of the outer fabric. There
are also dry suits, tops and pants that are made with non-breathable waterproof
materials. These tend to be less expensive than the breathable options,
but they don’t regulate heat and moisture the way breathable drywear
That explains how the material keeps water out, but what about the neck,
wrist and ankle openings? All drywear has latex gaskets attached at these
openings. Latex is a stretchy, supple material that will effectively seal
water out of the garment when the gasket is sized properly so that it’s
tight against bare skin. That’s the good news.
However, latex gaskets are relatively fragile, especially as they age
and/or exposed to a lot of direct sunlight. If torn, these gaskets must
be replaced. Also, latex gaskets must fit very snug to keep water out.
As a result, especially with the neck gasket, some boaters find this snugness
Now, finally, we’re back to what does “semi-dry” mean.
Instead of the latex gaskets, semi-dry garments will feature some sort
of non-latex alternative, such as a snug neoprene cone-shaped “punch
through” cuff, or a wider neoprene cone with a “hook and loop”
adjustable flap used to tighten the opening. While not as dry as latex
gaskets, these neoprene closures keep most of the water out; hence garments
with them are referred to as “semi-dry”.
So, when are semi-dry garments appropriate? They’re great when you
know you won’t be fully immersed, swimming or upside down a lot.
Semi-dry wear is ideal for river runners of all types, as well as touring
kayakers, recreational canoeists or anyone enjoying themselves in milder
waters. They are most appropriate in the non-winter months: late spring,
summer and early fall, when the weather’s pretty nice and the water