1.5mm Neoprene paddling jacket advice

Looking to compare two 1.5mm paddling jackets, an O’Neill and an NRS Hydroskin (NOT the 0.5mm model) with front zip.

Intended use is thermal protection over a 2/3mm Farmer John in case I dump. Will be kayaking in early/late season on a 12 mile (sometimes all 12 miles) flat freshwater river with no current in April and October in Maine. I never kayak alone, can do a self and assisted rescue, always wear a PDF, a Gortex water/wind proof paddling jacket, and insulated booties, gloves and a warm hat.

Main criteria is quality, fit, paddling comfort with little to no chafing. I assume both 1.5mm neoprene jackets will be equally warm. The O’Neill is $80 on Amazon and the NRS is $130 from NRS (currently backordered). The $50 price difference is not an issue, comfort, durability, fit and overall quality is.

What’s your choice?

The ONeill Hyperfreak long sleeved top with Technobutter 3 neoprene. I use one over a farmer john. Neoprene’s biggest drawback has always been that it’s stiff and feels restrictive, but it keeps getting better. Super flexible while still warm is the ultimate goal, and so far, this is the current winner. That feeling of restricted movement is all but disappeared. The same company will use different grades of neoprene for different product lines. The retail price is $100 I believe, and I wouldn’t consider it worth it to save $20 or $40 to buy a less flexible neoprene. A proper fitting one is not easy to put on or take off. But it’s really good stuff in use.

You may be going with zippered for either for ease of putting it on and taking it off. I would go with the more flexible material. I don’t have both in front of me. If I were betting, I would bet that ONeill pushes the envelope of flexible and warm neoprene a bit ahead of NRS. I tested them all to come up with Technobutter 3 as the flexibility winner, even over Rip Curl E6, which is also good stuff and seemed the closest 2nd. But it looks like ONeill uses a different neoprene in their zip jacket, and I’m just not sure where that falls. I don’t believe NRS’ neoprene comes close to the flexibility of Technobutter or E6.


I’ll look into it. Zip front allows easy venting but then my Gortex paddling jacket is a pullover.


I use to have a sailing jacket with a full neoprene zip up torso and waterproof fabric arms for ease of movement. On occasion I would use it for SCUBA.
I haven’t seen one in a long time…

Since you said comfort… I would suggest no neoprene. I would suggest a comfortable base layer with a dry jacket or drysuit. Neoprene is clammy and restrictive.

Thanks Rex,

I will put a dry top in the mix, but this 2010 posting (Dry Top vs. Paddling Jacket) gives me pause. Celia writes dry jackets are only dry when in the kayak, dump and you are wet. Here is her (edited) text.

'A dry top is only dry if you stay in your boat and the mating with the skirt tunnel is fairly tight. If you swim, it isn’t going to be dry unless it is really well mated with a bottom. If you end up swimming, you’ll probably want neoprene/hydroskin under that dry top to handle its now-not-dry phase. But the dry top will help you stay warm by being a wind-blocking layer for the neoprene.

A splash jacket is likely to let in more water during a roll. It can block wind after a swim as a full dry top will so you may want to consider the likelihood of a swim.’ (end text)

A 1.5mm neoprene/hydroskin jacket may delay getting cold long enough to get back in the kayak in case I dump and the paddling jacket will block the wind. A 0.5mm jacket may not delay the cold long enough and a 3mm jacket is likely to be too bulky. What are your thoughts?

A 1.5 mm jacket is designed for the summer. It would not be comfortable over another neoprene jacket. Good idea to wear the wet suit. I would consider a dry top over the Farmer John, maybe with a poly liner underneath.

Thanks, That’s what I heard about 1.5mm neoprene jackets. One person wears hers over a Farmer John and under a paddling jacket in the summer when the water or air temps are low. That’s my intent too now. Initially I was only interested in wearing it in the early and late kayak season but I see now they can be used throughout the season depending on conditions.

I just ordered an O’Neill Hyperfreak pullover neoprene jacket based on Cape Fear’s recommendation. The advice, and the intended use, were a match. Other’s mileage may vary.

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