Tyvek "Dry" suit


I’m new to the packrafting community and I was thinking of some ways to stay dry and keep my pack weight down. In the construction industry I’ve used these Tyvek Jumpsuits they sell that are pretty much a full body setup w/a hood. They worked great for keeping dirty water and grease and rain off of you. I’ve also done the expierement filling them with water and they are surprisingly tight. I’ve made a few thinks out of Tyvek and have been pleased with how they hold up. One thing though is you look like a big marshmellow in the winter. I wouldn’t see it working on some difficult rafting, but for intermediate stuff you might be alright.

Let me know if anyone has done this or has input.



Great idea!

Since they are only a few dollars each, the field test would be easy to run.

Come to think of it, tyvek jackets with race names used to be handed out in some trail ultramarathons 10-20 years ago. I always gave mine away, but some old-timers swore by them

Thinking muskratsteve had a neat idea, I swung by my local safety supply store. I wilted in the Tyvek suit – too sweaty to imagine working hard while wearing it. I asked the sales staff about alternatives with attached boots that might not be in the show room. They brought me a Kimberly-Clark dust protective suit – Kleenguard A20. Much cooler than the Tyvek. Blowing at it, I felt air go through. Not a good sign, but for less than $7 still worth a try. I bought a 2xl for enough room to move easily in street clothing with pockets loaded for an after-work float.

My test was water in a glass, rubber band sealed to a layer of fabric inverted on a paper towel. Every hour and a half I rubbed the fabric to induce leakage. At 9 hours with no leakage (occasional signs of light condensation appeared on the towel, but the fabric stayed dry) I quit and emptied the glass. When tested across a seam, leakage occurred, but not that all much. The suit exceeded my fondest dreams. I decided I probably had blown across a seam in the store.

The suit weighs only 7 ounces in 2xl. The zipper needs taping to the waist for adequate protection – it would be a sieve If it were not sealed. The neck and sleeves will not seal, so the top of the suit does not count for much. Cutting the coverall into a high suspendered pant would save weight and bulk; sealing the seams would be easy. The pant would couple well with a spray or dry top to protect one on a trip – for 5 ounces or less.

I’ll pick up 2 more suits, sized differently, for serious use. Thanks, muskratsteve for the wonderful idea.

Raven: Thank you for your info.

I agree that Steve had a great idea. My Tyvek XL coverall weights just 4 oz. But, I have not tried wearing it while packrafting.

There is no easy answer to be dry while working hard.

If you don’t want water to come through, you will be warm and sweaty doing hard work (e.g., wearing a dry suit in a kayak). If you don’t want to be sweaty while doing hard work, water will soak through (e.g., wearing Marmot Precip in a kayak).

I would rather be hot and sweaty rather than cold and wet any day.

Steve’s idea will also make a good vapor barrier suit for winter camping.

Mitch, I disagree with you. The Tyvek was hot and very sweaty, the Kimberly-Clark was much more comfortable. The Tyvek might function as a vb, but you are wrong about the water-resistance/sweaty trade-off. The K-C would fail as a vapor barrier – it both breathes well and is amazingly water-resistant.

Raven: Thank you for correcting me. Please let us know how your suit works under real life conditions. All the best,

Interesting thread! …forced me to do a bit of followup research on Kleenguard

There’s a product selector on the Kimberly-Clark professional apparel website. Selecting for things like “non-hazardous liquid barrier” in the selector yielded recommendations for A40 ($5.89) and A60 ($14.36). Both are listed as breathable, but breathability ratings weren’t listed consistently. I didn’t see any fabric weights.

They have a fairly detailed brochure with all of their fabric options (A10-A90) listed and broken down. Some are more for less related things like fire protection, but a few others look interesting.

Hydrohead (from brochure):
A20 - 72.8cm
A30 - 88.2cm
Tyvek - 112cm (for comparison)
EU Standard for “Waterproof” = 150cm
A40 - 187cm
A60 - 183cm
A80 - 703cm
Gore-Tex - 2,800cm
Gore-Tex XCR - 4,500cm

Gore-Tex XCR ~2,100 gm/m2/24
Gore-Tex XCR ~2,500 gm/m2/24
A60 - 2,800 gm/m2/24
eVent - ~5,500 gm/m2/24

If you go to KC Pro’s YouTube channel and search for A30 and A40, there are a few videos looking at liquid resistance and breathability… particularly compared to Tyvek. Here are a couple…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgUeiLCGtmQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRZXaaKIVQw

Andrew, a very interesting post. Thank you.

As reported earlier in this thread, I tested an A20 suit – apparently the most porous fabric KC uses, demonstrating a degree of waterproofness that seems adequate for packrafting. I don’t know if A20 would be adequately waterproof for squirming while sitting in a puddle on a hard substrate, since the continuous application of body weight might drive water through, but that is more likely to be relevant criterion on shore than in a fabric boat. A30 I guess, for those who are concerned. My working hypothesis is less water resistance implies greater breathability.

I haven’t had the time to seal the seams and stand in water, or to exercise in the suit, so I can’t provide any real world results yet. Also just how to best seam-seal where elastic is sewn on remains a bit of a puzzle. The KC literature I found does not mention seam sealing, even on blood protection suits with booties.

Generally, I think your hypothesis about the breathability/waterpoofness curve is likely to be correct within one type of fabric – though things like eVent manage to increase both significantly (debatably sacrificing a degree of durability vs. Gore-Tex). Reading through everything it wasn’t clear what’s different about the fabrics/weaves/films between all the Kleenguard options, but it did seem that they are using different processes for at least a couple. Then again, it could just be marketing-speak. The A80 doesn’t really talk about breathability at all, and is way more waterproof, so there may be a fairly narrow limit to what they can squeeze out of each tweak. I’d also imagine Kleenguard generally suffers in the durability category. At $5-$15 a pop, there’s lots of room for experimentation.

It looks like most of the fabrics come in suits with 4 different cuts. There are combinations of hooded/collared, elastic/no-elastic, and boots/open-ankle. If they’re light enough, it might be worth it to mod (and seal) one of them and throw it in the pack for a secondary strategy… especially in longer trips where a drysuit would be smart, but infrequently “needed”. A light, compact, “there when you need it” dry suit is kinda the missing link in packrafting trips consisting of significant time overland (are you listening cottage gear manufacturers?)… making this stuff definitely worth tinkering with.