Recently, I’ve had a bunch of people ask me which neck seal is best for them and whether GlideSkin seals are a viable option for dry kit. The short answer is, yes they most definitely are. Over the last three years, I’ve been using both latex and GlideSkin seals often enough to give them a fair comparison and neither one is better than the other – they’re different …

Latex seals

  • Latex has a shelf life and will deteriorate over time especially if not looked after (exposed to sun and heat). This is obviously a disadvantage but if looked after a latex seal can last many years.
  • It’s a very stretchy rubber which can be made into very supple, thin gaskets. It makes a fantastic seal with your skin and provides a very reliable seal to keep water out – Pro.
  • Fragile in nature, it can be very easy to rip a latex seal, even a relatively new one. Take care while putting kit on and taking it off, to stretch the neck seal over your head with your hands and not to force or pluck at your seals. Any minor tears or cracks (as the latex deteriorates) will soon split the seal – Con.
  • They’re quite easy and cheap to replace, it’s best to send your kit off to a professional but there are guides online to doing this yourself – Pro.
  • You would hopefully know this before buying or using your kit, but a number of people are allergic to latex – Con.
  • Latex can be uncomfortable, this isn’t the case for everyone, but in my experience, it only irritates me after shaving – I’ll let you decide on that one!

GlideSkin seals

  • After three years of using a Palm GlideSkin neoprene seal, it’s clear that they’re pretty tough. They will deteriorate over time depending on use, but if looked after I think they would have a longer life than latex – Pro.
  • Like latex, the GlideSkin seals are really stretchy, this makes them really easy to put on and due to their soft nature, they make a really great seal to keep the water out. On the other hand, I have a skinny friend whose neck doesn’t make as good of a seal and they have gotten wet because of it. It’s going to come down to your size and the size of kit you order – I’ll let you decide but it’s an advantage from me!
  • GlideSkin can also be replaced if damaged, but don’t try this at home, Palm can definitely help you out with that! – Pro.
  • People with an allergy to latex may find GlideSkin neoprene seals a great alternative – Pro.
  • The main selling point for me with GlideSkin is the comfort factor, you can wear it all day! Shaved or unshaved, in my experience it’s irritated me a lot less than latex – Pro.
  • With more powerful whitewater I have had small amounts of water get forced through the seal, this has never really bothered me as its only ever been a dribble – for some this could be a con.

So to summarise, latex is a fantastic seal but not as comfortable for most and potentially more likely to tear and need replacing. GlideSkin necks make a good solid seal, are super comfortable and tough, but are less reliable if they are ill-fitting. After returning from a week training and racing at Sickline I couldn’t have been happier in my GlideSkin kit and for me, it’s my preference for most boating situations. I recommend going to your local dealer, try on both and hopefully, this post will give you confidence in your next purchase and gear this winter!