Looking out of the shop at the cold winter scene outside, we are so grateful for all of the great cold weather gear available to paddlers! For those who don’t want the temperatures to keep them from the river, choosing the right gear is important. But there is no getting around the fact that good cold weather gear is an investment. Once you have purchased your cold-weather gear it is important to know how to care for it properly. Of all the cold weather gear out there, the number one material that makes it great is neoprene.
What is Neoprene
Neoprene is basically closed cell foam that traps warmth against your body to keep you insulated. Originally made from petroleum, neoprene provides both insulation and buoyancy which is a nice added bonus on the water.
Can Neoprene be Environmentally Friendly?
it is now possible to make neoprene from Limestone. This newer material is lighter, warmer, less permeable, more durable and stretchy, and a bit more eco-friendly. We are proud to say that all insulating neoprene here at Endless River Adventures is made with this limestone neoprene. We are as passionate about the environment as we about sharing our passion for whitewater which means that having BETTER gear that is also GREENER makes us happy paddlers! We have a variety of neoprene pieces to insulate you from head to toe and are happy to help you figure out what is best for your needs. But we want to go beyond your purchase of neoprene and make sure you know how to care for and repair it once it is yours, so it lasts you as long as possible. This is good for your wallet and good for the earth.
Why Does Neoprene Break Down?
Some of the biggest contributors to neoprene decay are chlorine, mold and mildew, how it is stored, sunshine and excessive heat. So let’s take a look at each of these:
This may be less of a risk factor than the others since you are usually on the river. However, if you use your dry top or wetsuit for a pool session it is important that you clean it afterwards. A great product for cleaning your neoprene is Gear Aid’s Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo (which we carry in our shop). If you do not have this, at least rinse thoroughly in cool water after your session.
Mold and Mildew
These can develop in your neoprene if it is not dried fully after use. Mold can also feed on any mud or sand that is left on your suit. So, again, wash your suit occasionally and properly – ideally with the shampoo above, and leave it to dry completely in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
When it comes time to store your gear, you first make sure it is clean and completely dry and then either hang it or lay it flat without anything heavy on it so that the tiny closed cells do not crush.
Sunlight and Excessive Heat
First off, just don’t put your neoprene near heaters or in the dryer. It isn’t worth the faster dry time. As for sunlight, we don’t recommend that you dry your gear in the sun. However, we know you are in the sun when paddling, so for added protection, occasionally spray your gear with 303 Protectant and wipe off the excess.
Caring for my Gear
With proper care, these garments can last many seasons. However, these materials are very susceptible to damage under certain circumstances. Here are some tips to help extend the life of your gear. Gaskets are always one of the biggest repair items. There are many articles about how to care for and replace your gaskets. As far as repairing your own gasket – feel free to use us!! We are trained to help you figure out how to fix your gaskets and which of the products we carry that do the job. Please, don’t hesitate to come by and ask our advice.
The Do’s and Don’t of Taking Care of Your Gear
There are definitely some do’s and don’ts when it comes to taking care of neoprene gear. Smell seems to be the most nagging problem with your cold weather gear. An antibacterial dip is what’s needed to get rid of that “kayaker funk.” It just so happens that you can get some Sink the Stink the next time you are in our shop.