The summer is coming to an end, though it may be hard to tell here in California with temps in the 90′s and long sunny days. But the forecast calls for cool rain, even snow up in the mountains next week. That means it is time to start thinking about your winter gear. And for most of us that means drytops and drysuits. So pull them out of the closet and make sure they are ready to go.
In particular, check the gaskets. It’s all too common to see people ripping their old gaskets as they pull on their top at the first cold weather outing of the year. Just sitting in the closet degrades the latex so you may want to replace them before they tear and save yourself a day or cold paddling (and the hazard that a torn gasket can represent during a swim). Give them a stretch and look at the edge – is it ragged? dried out and cracking? These are signs that the gasket is nearing the end of its life and you might want to replace it. And if one gasket on a garment is looking old the chances are that all the gaskets are in similar condition even if they aren’t showing as visible signs of wear
Replacing gaskets is relatively easy if you have the right equipment and take your time. You need the proper forms, a tube of aquaseal, some good clamps, a little sand paper and some painter’s tape. Or you can just bring it in to your friendly neighborhood paddleshop and have them do it for you. It does take 24 hours for the glue to dry, so planning at least a day ahead is essential – you can’t replace a gasket just before you go paddling. So check your gear now and be ready to paddle regardless of what they weather is like.