Best 4-season wetsuit

I am looking for a wetsuit that will keep me alive/warm if I dump my boat while paddling in any weather.

I know that a dry suit is my best option but right now I don’t want to spend $700 I have splash pants and jacket and want a all season base layer. I was looking at some Wet Suits from NRS

Let me know what you think

Jason S.

simply put
no wet suit will do that. No wetsuit you will actually be able to move your arms in to actually be able to paddle while wearing anyway. Bite the bullet and buy a drysuit. I wish I had done it earlier.

For further reading do a search on the forum for the topic wetsuit vs drysuit.

Good luck.

How cold is the water???
If you are in florida you an get a four season wetsuit. In massachusetts it would be a stay upright or roll or die proposition.

I always prefer a drysuit if the water is below 55 and will not go without one in water below 50.

Dry Bibs/Dry top combo
Kokatat makes a $160 dry bib. It mates with a dry top that has a spray skirt tunnel. I have found it to be as effective as my drysuit. There are lots of decent drytops on sale for $100 or under… You can also find new drysuits for around $200. Just need to look. Ebay, pnet classifieds etc…

In Florida, a farmer John might be a year round wetsuit.

Most places is is not.

Why do people seem to think of
wetsuit and farmer john as one and the same. I have been diving with a one peice wetsuit for about 25 years (no not the same one) and in water around 30 it is fine. I have also used the same suit for WW and taken swims and it is fine. If you wear layers over it is that much better but a one peice will let you paddle and stay warm also. I finally did buy a dry suit but until i could afford one the wet suit did work fine. I don’t think that I would want to spend hours in the water or be alone but if you play it safe you should be ok. Another thing is that cold affects everyone diffently

For the most part, in the kayaking world, a wetsuit refers to a 3mm farmer john. A 5 mm or thicker diving wetsuit would indeed keep you warm in colder waters but most people find that it is difficult to sit in a kayak with a diving wetsuit and the range of motion in terms of the arms are greatly diminished. Of course it also comes down to ability and the conditions. An experienced paddler with a strong roll could get by with a 3mm farmer john paired with a good drytop and spray skirt. A paddler still developing their skills would be served better by clothing which can protect them in prolongued immersions.

If someone REALLY wants to paddle in the cold and cannot afford a high end dry suit, a low end nylon non-breathable dry suit can be had for around the same price as a good wetsuit (~$200).

Time to expand into other worlds
They make 3mm one piece wet suits. Now with your dry suit you still lose most of your body heat through your head but you protect it with a wetsuit hood, I find that ironic.

Some questions for Bmach

– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 12:59 PM EST –

What made you switch to a drysuit? With a 3mil wetsuit, was your mobility impaired? When diving in 30 deg water how long did you stay in ? Any problems with coming out of the water and into frigid air? Any problems with chafing while paddling?

Respect Cold & Ways to do it!

– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 8:17 AM EST –

This issue comes up over and over because drysuits are so darn expensive, and we don't like being told wht to do, and we don't always take seriously what happens until it happens, and we get away with dangerous risks and incorrectly conclude we were safe. I know I have done this myself!!!!

Dry Top/Dry Bottom can work but only if very good mating between the two, and if not done carefully is way not good. Dry top with farmer john, when capsize and swimming can kill you.
On the other hand know how to maximize full wetsuit combo and see its limits. There are many drysuits on this site and ebay used in good condition for same price as these alternatives!

Check out hte Jay Babina article. It is NOT a plea for drysuits. He does show us how to BEST use a wet suit, torso piece and hood the best way and its limits.

The diver's wetsuit is an excellent system for cold water, based on the fact that all the ingredients are meant to compliment each other to form the complete "suit." Take the jacket and hood away and you have decreased the thermal protection by more than two thirds. Winter paddling should be treated with the utmost respect and the apparel we use should never be taken for granted. If the Farmer John is your only piece of cold-water apparel, pick days when you're not in danger, paddle with friends, carry extra dry clothes and stay within easy reach of shore. The Farmer John will protect you from the initial shock of cold water immersion ...but unfortunately, not for very long!

heres one to look at
take a look at this:

If your comfortable with Ebay…heres an option. I’ts breathable too with boots…can’t beat that. I got one but haven’t tried it yet. Nice workmanship and its from Great Britain :slight_smile: I don’t know weather its proper to post links like this one…if not just holler and it won’t happen again.

Maybe you should try a Timo-suit…
Timo Noko built himself a wetsuit for paddling in arctic waters. His website has all the details (perhaps more than you’d want):

Another plus, you’ll get double duty from you greenland paddle if you use this suit as Timo does!

Needs some more work

– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 12:14 PM EST –

It could be an alternative but needs some work. As my diver buddy tells me, from looking at the pics, there will indeed be significant water pumping through this during a capsize and swim or reentry. Just needs some more execution of fit, sealing, etc.

But even so, pretty restrictive stuff at 6 mil. Yes nothing is perfect wet or dry. If go dry suit get the best very not likley catasprophic results that way IMO.


– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 1:19 PM EST –

Another meaningless, and potentially dangerous, discussion on this topic.

This guy has no profile, and doesn't say where he paddles. He doesn't give water temps. I don't know if he paddles the Florida Keys in summer, or Lake Tahoe in winter.

You can not tell his usage. Is he in a SINK And have a good roll. Does he paddle a SOT?

One of the worst cases of hypothermia I ever had was in the Florida Keys in June in 75 degree water. Two back to back one hour dives in 30 feet of water wearing swimming trunks and a Tshirt.

Then other posters give opinions without giving any background info.

Then someone says he is fine in 30 degree water in a "full" wetsuit. Is that 3mm or 5mm or 7mm? Divers in NORCAL wear full 5-7mm and hoods for 50 degree water. Not that any wetsuit would work in 30 degree water.

This is life and death stuff here. Not a topic for throwing around opinions without enough information. If someone doesn't give adequate info on this topic, he shouldn't get any response, other than a request for more info.

Timo rules!
That link is way too funny. This guy should write more.

I dive in mass and nh during the winter. The water in glouster by the breakwater was 30 deg. It was frezzing rain and yes it is uncomfortable changing but hey it only takes a minute and I have the car warming up while I change and its warm when I get in. The dives last about one hour. I do have a 5mm for winter diving but I have worn the 3mm also. The 5 is better but for kayaing I wear my 3mm and I don’t do long crossings or paddle with out an partner. If you can’t afford a dry suit a wet suit fitted out properly will work if you are smart about it.

Do surffers wear dry suits when the water is cold? I think they are in wetsuits also they are also in the water a lot longer than a person in a kayak would take to get back in. Yes a drysuit is nicer but if you can’t afford one a wetsuit is better than not wearing one at all. Maybe you should borrow one and see how it works in the water and then decide for yourself. Wetsuits today have heat refective material in them and are not made of the stiff rubber of old days. Try to keep an open mind to other ways of doing things. I have just purchaced a drysuit because I had some extra money and I will wear it for kayakig. But for years my wetsuit worked for me,including WW kayaing.


– Last Updated: Feb-03-05 4:40 PM EST –

I guess if you say you can dive in 30 degree water in a 5mm full wetsuit I can not really dispute you.

I have never dived in water that cold, so I wouldn't know. I won't dive in 50 degree NORCAL waters. Most of my diving was in the Florida Keys.

I have never owned a drysuit, and probably never will. I wear a 3mm farmer john and mysterioso top yearround in NORCAL. Water temps here never go below 50.

I should not have confused my main point. The amount of protection you need depends on the water temps and conditions. What works in the Florida Keys does not work on Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe can get below freezing due to the dynamics of the lake. You can't make ANY kind of responsibile comment without knowing the conditions.

I agree and water will affect different
people differently. Just remember, I am also talking about a one peice wetwuit. I did get lucky once diving off of Block Island. The Gulf Stream was in close to shore and I was able to enjoy a dive without a wetsuit. I have dove a couple of times in the keys and it is nice to dive without a suit on.

Happy diving and Yakking

Another Good Point!
Different people have very different tolerances for cold. And tolerances can change.

When I first came to California I didn’t think I would ever be able to enjoy the ocean, but I have built up a tolerance over the years. Now I sometimes spend hours boogie boarding in a 3mm FJ and no top.

This is an important topic, and there are lots of variables. Each person needs to find out what works for them in controled conditions before they trust their protection level on open water.

Which is why what ever you
buy whether it is a drysuit or just a new spray skirt you need to practice with it and know how it and you will react to the new gear. I almost drowned when I first started to do WW. I had no problem with a wet exit in the pool or a roll but one day I was flipped(in March no less)could not get my roll and had to exit. I was wearing 3mm gloves (which I had not worn in the pool) and because of them I could not fell my strap to release the skirt. Lucky for me the guys I was with flipped me up. So even something simple as new gloves can make a difference and you need to PRACTICE with them.