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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, since the water is too cold for me too. (this is my 1st season kayaking), I want to extend my season like may of you out on the water for next year. I hear some people purchase wet suits and others get dry suits. What is the difference and which on is better for the kayaker and keep them warm when the water is colder in the early sping and late fall? What is the setup you have learned is the best from all of your experience? I want to do it right the 1st time.
 

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Moc,

I just started this whole kayak thing this past summer myself and although I've owned boats and have been on the water for many years, I've still done a lot of reading about the subject on sites like http://www.kayakfishingstuff.com and http://www.nrsweb.com/hypothermia.asp

A few items of interest that I used to make my decision as to what I'll wear in cold water conditions (<70 degrees).

1) First, I have experience diving in the ocean in February and March in NJ. I used a 3/8" (9.5mm) wetsuit. I was okay with that and the water temps were in the high 30s. If you're going to do the wetsuit thing in your kayak, you'll need something to break the wind especially if you go in and get wet. Therefore, I have a set of foul weather gear bib overalls and a paddling jacket. I also have a set of 5 mm booties and some Mysterioso socks, but I also need to get some sealskinz to keep my feet dry (they are water-proof). Mysterioso also comes in a full suit of clothes to keep you warm - the military uses this stuff for their personnel for cold weather operations. On a warm day in a wetsuit you're going to be warm. Remember you need to dress for the water temp not the air temp.

2) Some folks wear waders and other clothing. I think that if there was a problem with leaks in the waders, you got a problem if you go in the drink. I hear they're okay. I personally don't trust them at this point of my information level. Remember, I have experience in cold water with a wetsuit and know what it's like - it's cold as the water enters (but it doesn't gush in if the suit fits properly) and the body warms the water once inside the suit. If the wetsuit gets a tear it's only a minor inconvenience compared to a tear in a set of waders.

3) Some other folks wear dry suits. These run in the neighborhood of up to about $700 for a dry suit. They keep you warm and if they are intact (no leaks) they keep you dry. Other than that I cannot help on the dry suit issue as I have never used one.

I quit kayakng this year when the water got to 50 degrees. Although the wetsuit is not 9.5 mm (this is how we measure the thickness these days because I guess we don't want to offend our European brothers using inches) the 3 mm Farmer John suit I have along with wearing a 2 mm shorty suit over it gives me 5 mm of wetsuit around my torso and that's important to keep warm. Since I am not diving and staying the water I think 5 mm is sufficient, but if something happened that I couldn't get back on the yak quickly, then I prolonging the inevitable. Hopefully, someone would get to me before any extended time period.

I see that having a set of waders with a leak or ones that do not keep the water out would be a real problem. Dry suits with leaks can also be a problem. Like I said above, I have experience with wet suits and although I might get a leak in the way of a tear etc., it would become an inconvenience compared to a tear in a set of waders or a dry suit. Make sure you get a good warm under layers of clothing.

[EDIT]: Also in cold water you need a hat or whatever you want to call it that protects your head and keeps the heat in should you go turtle.

Maybe someone else can shed more on this subject than I, but the two website have good information on them. In the meantime, there is a seminar to be held at Appomattox River Company in Kiln Creek area of Tabb, VA near SuperK on Victory Blvd that will be given by a ACA certified kayak instructor on cold weather paddling. I think it should be interesting.

Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 16:29:21 -0000
From: "Jeff Smith" <[email protected]>
Subject: ARC News #117 -- Skill Development Clinics at Appomattox River Company

Skill Development Clinics Offered by the Appomattox River Company (ARC) and American Canoe Association Coastal and Traditional Skills Instructor, Victor Sorensen Cold Weather Paddling
November 30th 6pm Signaling and Survival Equipment
December 14th 6pm Topics will include trip planning, equipment checklists with required and recommended equipment, float plans, distress communications, garment layering combinations for cold weather paddling through the seasons, hypothermia... This is a great chance to get gift ideas for a paddling partner, and learn how to prepare for trouble on the water before it happens. This is part of a continuing series of clinics offered at the Appomattox River Company's Kiln Creek (Yorktown VA) store to help kayakers improve their skills and share ideas. Watch for upcoming clinics on fundamentals of kayak navigation, packing for kayak camping and Traditional (Greenland) paddle rationale & history. Fishing topics still to come include installing electronics, kayak fishing strategies, choosing equipment suitable for kayak fishing and tournament fishing. Prepared paddlers rarely faces serious trouble on the water because they have taken the time to research and
practice with their equipment, plan their trip, practice skills and rehearsed what to do in a distress situation. Clinic participants will receive a 10% discount on accessories at Appomattox River Company during the clinic. Call the Appomattox River Company at (757) 890-0500. For personal instruction check out Victor Sorensen at http://www.kayakinstruction.us/
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, I really appreciate all the information that you wrote. First I was leaning towards a dry suit, however, now you got me thinking. My kayak is a Tarpon T120 Anglers model. A tad bit heavy, but an excellent kayak to fish off of. I'll check out the websites that you mentioned. Hopefully, someone would give somemore light on a dry suit also, since you are an expert on the wet suit. How much is a wet suit anyway?
 

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In the beginning I tried a 4mm wetsuit, it was fine out of the water and warm if it was dry. If you went in you still had to be exposed to the water for a few minutes until it warmed up. When you get out of the water the warm water drains out and you are exposed to wet neoprene which eventually cools down to the air temp. Thick wetsuits are also bulky.

I prefer the dry top and paddle bib, with an layer of fleece underneth, you will stay warm and dry. Even if you go in this combination will keep you from being exposed to the water. I have been in the surf (yes i turtled my yak), in January, and have had very little water to get in if any. They are light and hve no bulk. The majority of our guys are using this combination.

Ultimately the decision is up to you, both will give you enough time to get back on the kayak if you go in.
 

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Read up on www.kayakfishingstuff.com.

Most like a dry system. A wetsuit with splash gear will keep you warm also but you won't paddle very far in a 9mil wetsuit or anything over 3 for that matter. I wear breathable waders with an Extrasport semi-dry top over that with whatever clothing under it I think will keep me warm depending on how cold it is. I haven't been in the drink with it yet but they guys I know who have say that with a PFD on (a must) you will get a few drops inside but that's about it. The BEST system is a full drysuit. $700 for the Gortex drysuit is a little much for me. Kokotat also makes a 'semi-dry' suit. The oly difference there is no rubber neck gasket and it is the Tropos fabric instead of Gortex, still 100% waterproof. That is the one I'd get if I was going to get a drysuit. That one is like $450. I had a bluefish bite a hole in my waders this spring and I'd just hate to have that happen to something that cost $450-$700. I like my system and the only thing I want to add is a better first layer.

Tom
 

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I use a pair of 4 mil neoprene waders and a Aquaskinz neoprene top. The rubber is warm enough that I only need a layer of Under Armour cold gear and a wool sweatshirt underneath. Smart wool socks with a silk liner are the best bet for the feet. Wool watch cap keeps my noggin warm. When the temp gets above 50, I use a breathable rain jacket up top and breathable waders down stairs. Breathable stuff will keep you dry, but not warm. Of course, the breathable stuff is lighter and more comfortable. Everything is a tradeoff. Wet suits will not keep you warm. Cory, does the paddle bib keep your feet warm? I remember we went out one time a few years back and you had some neopreane booties on. When you took them off your feet were purple. Have you solved that problem?
 

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Yes I cut the latex cuffs so that they do not cut off circulation (which was the problem, not the cold), my feet stay toasty now. It is amazing what a little blood flow will do.
 

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So, what are you wearing on your feet? Feet are definitely the missing link. Good point about the circulation. Sometimes, I'll loosen my boots or wiggle my toes to keep the blood flowing. Glad you got the equation solved, interested to see your system on the water. The waders/pullover is effective but not 100 percent safe. Worst case scenario - I get seperated from my boat - and I can't say for certain I'd last long before the waders were breached and I was wet. Something like you've got would be safer if it is as warm.
 

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I wear booties, just like the ones that divers use, mine are NRS high top zip booties. I wear them with another pair of neoprene socks underneth.

Understand that only a dry suit is going to be 100% effective, however the waders, dry bibs, dry top combination,with a layer of fleece under it, will protect you long enough to get back on the kayak or to get help. This is why I never paddle open water alone.

I am working on an indoor rescue clinic, may be then will be a good time to truely test out everyones system for cold weather paddling.

I was turtled in the surf lat winter, and so was George Hughes, I was still dry enough to keep on paddling, I never felt the water. Even after body surfing.
 

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moc,

Found a couple of good web sites that deal with your question. Here they are;

http://www.capital.net/com/nckayak/nck_safety_p4.htm

http://www.sit-on-topkayaking.com/Articles/Instruction/ColdWeather.html#1
 
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