Clothing: 2 confused 2 know what to ask

I want to stay dry and warm.

New to paddling, but have completed 3 and 4 day trips. Wonderful! However, when it rained all day, I gradually got cooler and clammy under my rainsuit. Six hours later I was miserable, with two days to go. Good thing I had several changes of clothes! [This was July in Michigan! 50 degrees and raining at 8am; 80 degrees and sunny by 2pm; raining again at 6pm.]

Looking around, it seems I need underwear, shirts and pants of polyester, wool or whatever. I’m basically all cotton now! But I’m getting sticker shock.

Here is the question: Does it really pay to cough up $60 for Patagonia underwear, $80 for fleece pants etc. OR … Can I get by pretty well for less, elsewhere? I hate to spend a fortune if it’s not needed. But, that day in July, I would have paid anything to have been more comfortable!

If it really pays to spend so much, I’m still confused as to what I really need. What do you suggest?

Warmer clothing; lower cost.
Wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on this forum, on anything. But I can appreciate your need and concern. I would advise you to focus on learning about the materials first, then pursue lowest cost options. You’ve already learned that you don’t want cotton, so you’re on your way up the learning curve. Unless you go all the way to neoprene, I suspect you will end up pursuing the manmade fibers of poly and nylon, layered as needed. Lower cost synthetic material underwear can be found at Sierra Trading Post or Campmor. Poly fleece is now available nearly everywhere, including the box stores and Goodwill. There is a very good article on this subject that was just added to this PNet website–provides a good intro to history and state of the art.

cheap synthetic
you should get yourself one complete set of synthetic paddling clothes. you don’t need to buy patagonia capilene, although i would note that it last absolutely forever and is extremely comfortable. try, rei outlet, and altec outlet. you can also find good wetsuits for not very much, new or used, and that is a huge bang for your buck, warmth and safety-wise.

and thrift stores , I bought a fleece jacket once back in 1986, I think , an paid retail , haven’t done that since . End of season sales , REI reture sales if your a memeber , an there is one close . Cabelas has a credit card you use to pay for everthing an ya earn points back like travel miles only use em in there store for anything from smoked salmon to guns . Conditions you described , welp there are a # of ways to go but cotton isn’t one , unless yer dry and in camp and ready to get in yer sleep bag . I find for myself a polyester/rayon blend fleece works well for my body/metabolism , better than a “normal” fleece . Blocks the wind better an breaths to some extent . The BEST foul weather jacket I’ve ever had is the Skanorak by Patigonia ( it has a hood that stays where you put it ) , while very pricey , just ask yerself what price is comfort , it’s also a safety issue , read up on hyper and hypothermia , good info . A “good” hat is essential too . Paddling the Everglades in winter I advise trippers to have a sunhat as well as a knit hat or balaclava for the evenings an to sleep in . A 5-10 minute break in paddling to adjust or change clothes on the water is a nothing compared to a few hrs. of misery . As well as gettin rid o the water in yer bladder that your body needs to keep at temp, which takes up alot of fuel from you for a waste product .

New Article This Month
There is a new article on the home page about exactly this subject.

I spent a lot on cold weather gear when I moved from south Florida to the Sierras. Much of it wasted because I did not know what really worked until I had more exprience in the mountains, and the cold ocean temps here.

I took me a while to get rid of the cotton, but too many miserable nights finally broke me of it.

I would start with the poly pro underwear. It is really good stuff and packs light. Check out the army issue stuff.

Some kind of breathable outershell. Mircofiber is cheaper than goretex, but it does not keep you warm.

In between the two I wear as many fleece layers as I need to stay warm. Unlike wool or down, fleece keeps you warm even it if gets wet. I layer it. Judge the fleece by the wieght. 400 is very thick. I don’t think you need to pay top dollar the heavywiegh fleece. The cheap stuff works if you have enough layers.

Remember the old army saying. Hands , head, and feet. If you don’t cover them you can’t not stay warm. Make sure your footwear is as waterproof as possible. Your feet can not stay warm if they are wet. Try poly sock liners under fleece socks to wisk mosisure away from your feet.

All of the above is for camping. If you are boating consider a 3mm farmerjohn wetsuit. I layer that with poly pro underwear, mysterioso fleece and hyrofleece depending on conditions. Some people are not comfortable in wetsuits, but I am used to it…

If you’re wearing a rainsuit in the summer, you’re going to steam yourself eventually, even with synthetics. The big difference is that the synthetics dry much faster. Breathable shells help – some help a lot – but they’re not cheap. I don’t know of anything that’ll keep you really dry when the humidity is high.

As the other folks have said, you can get decent stuff as seconds & closeouts from several sources.

cheaper alternative know how to be warm
Staying warm does not require synthetics, and even if so, you can get cheaper ones that work as well. They may have less design, be bulkier, heavier, but just as warm.

Staying warm means reducing convection, conduction, radiation, and evaporation. Cotton gets wet, transmits allot of heat, and high evaporative cooling. Wool gets wet, but still insulates and evaporative cooling is less. A cheap wind shirt of nylon will reduce wind chill. Keeping neck and head covered warmer still.

Grazing with complex carbs at 20 minute intervals keeps the furnace stoked up and produces a great deal higher metabolism increasing resistance to cold challenge especially over several day.

Save your money and stay warm, I did the 211 mile John Muir Trail mostly above 8000 to 15000 ft over 10 days with a 15 lb total pack weight using cheap wool, nylon, and a polar guard delta vest, only. Go for it

just remember

– Last Updated: Dec-09-04 3:48 PM EST –

ABC Anything But Cotten!!

Sierra & Sportsman’s Guide
That’s where I buy most of my paddling gear. Sportsman’s Guide has name brand close outs and blems as well as some “House” brand items. I’ve had good service and purchased CHEAP, but quality items from these two. WW

Warmth and Wetness
It is unclear from the post whether the problem was paddling or once on land. For paddling, you need to have clothing that’ll keep you warm if you flip over. In case that is the question - below is a list of common solutions.

Frankly, your best long term bet is to find the money for a good drysuit. Or a drytop and pants combination. Paddle in it all day with the stuff that you’ll be wearing on land, polypro and fleece. If you can’t, it’ll take layers of neoprene type materials to stay warm enough, though this stuff won’t keep you dry. Good intermediate step would be the below materials with a drytop - since you’ll be relatively dry below the skirt this’ll keep you comfortable as long as you stay upright.

You can keep the neo paddling stuff from getting really pricey. Check out the online site for NRS, or Sierra Trading Post etc for discounts on prior year models.

60 - 70 degrees (water or air temp)-

rash guard top or neoprene type top (like NRS hydroskin or Mountain Surf’s fuzzy rubber), shorts of same, choice based on which end of this range the temp is and how warm you tend to stay if you ended up in the water for 20 minutes.

Or a shortie wetsuit, with a light rash guard top underneath at the lower end.

50 - 60 degrees -

Full wetsuit, like NRS’s Farmer John (or Jane) or Expedition version of same (more zippers) with heavy weight rash guard or hydroskin top underneath. Think long sleeves by the lower 50’s.

Below 50 degrees - At a minimum, wetsuit with layers for torso including rash guard top plus something like NRS’s mystery tops, their warmest hydroskin based ones. Better yet, a drysuit below 50 degrees.


UnderArmour is half the price

– Last Updated: Dec-10-04 8:44 AM EST –

as Patagonia for the first layer. I also have biking shirts that I bought on sale. They wick the moisture away and dries quickly. [July in Michigan , 50' (air temp. I'm sure)raining in a.m., 80' and sunny in afternoon.....]you're problably going to sweat during both conditions. Sweating under the rainsuit, sweating when the sun comes out. Use fleece over the biking shirt e.g. and then take it off when the sun comes out and the shirt dries in no time at all. Some waters in Michigan still may be cool in July but you are probably not far from shore if you happen to get 'wet',so a wetsuit would really heat you up when the sun came out..

Oops - big temp range
The problem with mornings… I missed the 30 degree temp change in the original post. So - needs be clothing that can be easily layered on and off, preferably while sitting in the boat.

I don’t want to hawk brand names, so consider this an example. I have a breathable Immersion Research top, short sleeve with neoprene neck and sleeves, that keeps my torso dry and I can get on and off (after finding a relatively safe situation to remove the PFD) in the boat. It’s one of their older Session tops. I can put a short sleeve lightweight rash guard top under it so I have something legal to strip down to, and the top itself fits easily in and out of my day hatch. I live in this thing on the warmer days in Maine. My husband has a short sleeve top from Kokotat, also breathable, that he uses similarly. This kind of top is not hard to find on sale if you go looking now, including finding one with a tight waist that’ll sit over the skirt waist.

Mate a decently tight neck closure with a gore-tex big brim hat and it’ll handle some pretty major downpours.


Discounted Patagonia
You can try here. There are ususally some good deals if you don’t mind that your top doesn’t match your bottom!

Don’t forget Campmor
Fleece is always on sale somewhere. I got a pair of Black Diamond pants made of Polartec 200 for $14 at Sierra Trading Post. As others have noted, check them out for great deals on all kinds of casual clothing.

Campmor always has tremendous deals on long undies and fleece. They sell a lot of Duofold products, including many types of good long undies, and the price is right. All Duofold underwear I have bought featured flat-felled seams and lasted a long time.

Patagonia Capilene (I have the medium weight and the light weight versions) is indeed quick-drying, comfortable, and warm. But it almost never goes on sale. I’d say that it is the best of the long underwear I’ve tried (with one exception), but the other brands are more than satisfactory.

It’s like buying Wigwam wool socks instead of SmartWool: similar quality at a much lower price.

Now, about that other product equal to Capilene: Kraft’s crew shirt. I bought the short-sleeved crew, and that thing is WARM. Just like a dog’s fine, fine undercoat but no itch. (It is synthetic.) Alas, like Capilene, it is very expensive. I do like it’s tubular knit and body-hugging design more than anything else.

You can also use good merino wool long underwear instead of synthetics. As long as you keep the moths away from it, it can last literally decades (I have some cycling jerseys to prove this), and it has a wider temperature comfort range than anything else. Does not dry as quickly as the best synthetics.

Thank you all for the great advice!
Now I know what to ask for for Christmas!