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Old 11-01-2020, 09:11 AM   #1
MarkE's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 25
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
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Northern N.J.
Posts: 165
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
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Old 11-01-2020, 04:27 PM   #3
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Location: Western Adirondacks
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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.
"Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

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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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Keene
Posts: 840
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
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 25
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
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Springville,NY
Posts: 482
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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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Land of Lakes, Headwaters of Three Rivers, MI
Posts: 55
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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