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Old 11-01-2020, 09:11 AM   #1
MarkE
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Wetsuit/Drysuit ?

I recently started to, and find I’m enjoying, paddling in colder weather. I’m also beginning to think, paddling without either a wetsuit or a drysuit is akin to bicycling without a helmet. That said, I’m not really exciting about purchasing or paddling with said gear, and thought I would seek advice to make my decision optimal.

From my SCUBA days, I haven’t found wetsuits all that comfortable out of the water. Also, they don’t articulate particularly well. With paddling, my goal would be to get out of the water as quickly as possible. So my body would have little time to warm up the water captured by the suit, and once out of the water, some of that would drain. Despite the advantageous price of wetsuits, it seems a drysuit would be more comfortable in the boat, and more effective should I really need to use it. Am I missing something?

Regarding drysuits, I find pricing all over the place. I found some “Crewsaver” models and an “O’Neil” model much less than some NSR models. Is this a case of you get what you pay for is a rubber suit with cuffs just a rubber suit with cuffs?
Thanks, Mark
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Old 11-01-2020, 03:56 PM   #2
electbc
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I have been considering a drysuit myself and have found pricing all over the place as well.
More research needs to be done. Here are a couple of articles on Paddling.com
https://paddling.com/learn/tips-for-...ther-paddling/

https://paddling.com/learn/dressing-...ther-paddling/
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Old 11-01-2020, 04:27 PM   #3
Wldrns
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During the past year I completed the NYS Swift water/flood rescue training, the ice/cold water rescue training, and the Emergency boat operator's rescue training. Students were given drysuits for the swift water swimming and boat operator's course, but the ice water training of course required an insulated neoprene suit of a different kind. Student drysuits were the rather inexpensive Kokatats. Mine last year was comfortable and adequate. But from last year to this year, some student's suits had developed ripped wrist and ankle seals, and some even had small holes in the suit itself. Some students had their own NRS brand suits, which seemed to work good for them. The instructors all wore the much more expensive (listed at $2k or more) Mustang or Force6 tactical/rescue dry suits. Even though instructors are not supposed to steer us toward specific manufacturers, we were advised to avoid the cheapest made in China brands. Based on that information and my own research, for myself, if I choose to get one for SAR use, I would look hard at the Mustang Sentinel, available for around $1300 or (sometimes) less.
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Last edited by Wldrns; 11-02-2020 at 07:26 AM..
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Old 11-02-2020, 12:48 AM   #4
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Years ago I used a neoprene farmer john when paddling a canoe. It served me well.

About 20 years ago I bought a Kokatat goretex semi-dry suit. (neoprene gaskets) It was a big improvement over the neoprene suit. Lightweight and non restrictive. After a few shoulder injuries it became difficult to suit up so i ended up selling it. In cold temps I would wear a base layer with poly pro mid layer. I was never cold.

The dry suits are expensive but a lifesaver. A $600 suit would not be considered expensive.
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:45 AM   #5
MarkE
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Thanks for the informative responses, based on which I will likely get a drysuit and spend with the intention that it lasts a reasonable length of time.
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Old 11-09-2020, 09:04 AM   #6
Rich Lockwood
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I used to wear a wetsuit for day paddles and it was fine, but for paddle camping NO. Getting in and out of it at camp while almost naked was awful. I got a dry suit after that. Turtle
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Old 11-10-2020, 08:14 PM   #7
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I paddle the Great Lakes fishing. I just bought a Stohlquist with a neoprene neck gasket. I bought it from a local store. The owners paddle local big water. The owner told me if my old NRS suit was 7-8 years old I would be pleasantly surprised. She also told me it was suitable for the Great Lakes(with proper layering) as long as I wasn’t planning on rolling a kayak regularly.
I jumped off the pier in late March, seemed warm enough. It breathed well enough when water temps were in the high forties and the Mercury was approaching seventy.
I make it a point to jump in at the end of the day. When it gets a pin leak Aqua Seal will fix it. At $500 and available when my other suit ripped out a zipper in the pandemic early stage, I can’t be more pleased. I wanted one that was more than twice this from O-S Systems in Washington. I don’t know if I need to spend that kind of money. Quality has improved over the years. Btw Kokatak is high quality, but if I was spending in that range I would go for the O-S Systems, and have it made custom for me.
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Old 04-30-2021, 11:03 PM   #8
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My brother and I are planning the Bog River-Oswegatchie Traverse in mid-June. Looking at the historical records, water temps around the Adirondacks range from high-50s to high-60s. While I've yet to capsize on a lake or quiet water, I'd like to dress for immersion, and the historical temps suggest that some sort of cold water protection should be worn.

Based on the comments here, which I realize addressed the OP's desire to do more cold-weather paddling, and elsewhere, I've picked up a semi-dry suit. However, I'm second-guessing myself and wondering if a 3mm Farmer John wetsuit and a splash or dry top wouldn't be better.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-01-2021, 08:11 AM   #9
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TEO, For 30 years I have been an instructor for a early-mid-June 8-day BSA adult trek leader wilderness guide certification training program. We condiuct the field training and student evaluation portion on Lows Lake. Part of the training is canoe rescue from capsizing, which involves every student capsizing and participating in a wet rescue on the lake. In a separate scenario, I regularly as instructor role play a difficult scout or scoutmaster and of course as part of the role I end up falling out of a canoe, swimming and being rescued. The water in Lows during that week is certainly not "bathwater warm", but it is not cold enough to take your breath away either and everyone who takes a dip is fine. The air temperature can get quite warm and a cooling dip on certain days is very welcome. Of course we do follow the buddy system and everyone is wearing a PFD at all times while paddling (except me during my escape role play when another instructor is watching the whole scene).

On the other hand, when you first step into the Oswetatchie at the end of the carry from Lows, there is a very cold water spring that wells up at that point. Standing in the flow on the gravel you will thnk your feet are freezing off. But the river soon warms away from there with other warm incoming flow. The river for the most part is slow moving and narrow and/or shallow all the way to the take out at Inlet.

Consider your own swimming and paddling skills (always wear a PFD), do what you want and are comfortable with, but IMO purchasing a wetsuit just for that trip at that time if year is overkill.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:56 PM   #10
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Thank you, Wldrns, for sharing your personal knowledge. I couldn't have asked for better beta.

Last edited by TEO; 05-03-2021 at 02:31 PM..
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Old 05-03-2021, 03:16 PM   #11
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Well, Lows is relatively shallow everywhere and hence does warm more quickly than other typically deeper Adirondack waters with those colder lake temperatures your research found.
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