The zipper is the most expensive part of a drysuit and can be very costly to replace. Zipper care is an essential part of owning a drysuit and can help you avoid a costly replacement. Taking these steps will benefit you and your drysuit.
Maintaining the Zipper:
- Proper lubrication of the zipper dock helps keep the zipper from drying out and should be done frequently to keep it running smoothly. If you don't have the lube packet that came with your suit you can purchase more here. The application is quick and straightforward. Spread a small amount of lube around the horseshoe, trying to fill the small holes. Do this on both sides and spread around where the horseshoe touches together. Be careful not to apply lube directly to the teeth and wipe away any excess. After application exercise the zipper 5-10 times. The manufacturer's instructions on the lube application can be found here.
- YKK also recommends the application of paraffin wax on both the inside and outside of the zipper when closed. This will help make the zipper slide smoothly and help prevent damage during zipper operation. Rub the wax along both sides of the zipper while closed and wipe away excess wax with a toothbrush. We recommend doing this and the lube at the same time and exercising the zipper after applying the wax as well.
Operating the Zipper:
- Managing a drysuit zipper can be frustrating, especially for those with rear entry suits. Make sure to take your time and not to yank excessively on the zipper. This can cause failure in several ways and will surely make your paddling trip less fun.
- If your zipper isn't running smoothly or has trouble fully docking, go back to step one and make sure the zipper is adequately lubed and waxed.
- For less flexible people keeping a small prusik loop in your life jacket can lengthen the pull tab and make zipping and unzipping much easier.
Storage and Drying:
- When storing your suit, the zippers should all be fully closed, and the suit should be folded loosely to avoid kinking the zipper. We also recommend storage in a sealed container, which will make all the components of the drysuit last longer.
- When drying, it is acceptable to leave the zippers open to expedite this process. Once dry, the suit should immediately be zipped up and stored until the next use.
- If you get sand or grit in the zipper, this can also quickly degrade it. The best way to deal with this is by using soapy water and a toothbrush to get the sand out of the teeth. Do not use any hard implement to remove sand because that could damage the teeth.
Hopefully, this short guide will help you take better care of your drysuit zippers and keep your suit fresh for many river trips to come.