Clothing for Fall and Early Spring

Let’s do this again…I live in New Jersey and am interested in doing some late fall/spring trips on lakes. Air temps range in the 50s to 60s at this time of year. Water temps are probably in the 50s I think.

I am not interested in winter kayaking nor rolling. So…my question is…do I really need to get a dry suit?

Just got a reply that a wet suit sounds like the way to go. That is what I was thinking too. What are some suggestions on what to wear over the wet suit??

Thank you!!

wet suit
With water temps above 50, I think a wetsuit is fine. If you’re not easily chilled, and you don’t expect long immersion times (good rescue skills, fairly close to shore) then a farmer john or even a shorty john would probably be sufficient. On warm days around here (where sea temps peak in the mid-fifties) I’ll wear a shorty john and a short-sleeve thermal or rashguard underneath. On days in the 60s in the summer and fall, I might wear a shorty with a longsleeve thermal and a drytop rather than the drysuit.

Always take along or wear a windbreaker, or drytop as you can get chilled by the wind if a wetsuit gets wet from spray, rain, or a swim.


My wife and I live in NJ also, and we like to paddle on Round Valley Reservoir when we are on fresh water (we also like to paddle among the islands off the coast of Maine).

On RVR from 1 November until 15 April a dry suit is required; this is posted on the bulletin board at the launch site. (The park rangers/police are also NJ state police; they have been friendly to us, but we don’t try to take advantage of that - one of them might have had a bad breakfast.)

It’s just a personal preference, but for paddling with either a dry or a wet suit, I feel more comfortable in a Goretex dry suit, especially if the day becomes warm.

Have fun,


what to wear over a wetsuit
If chilly and windy, fleece over a wet suit and windbreaker will work fine on a lake. (depending on the size if the lake…waves you might encounter)

Just use your head and watch the weather. don’t go out if it is really nasty. The lake will be there … always.

Clothing for Fall and Spring …

– Last Updated: Aug-03-09 2:21 PM EST –

...... is highly recommended when out of doors , according to most state laws !!! ... sorry , couldn't resist .

We live in MD., VA., PA. area , NJ is the same ... water temps. usually bounce back in forth between low 40's and 50 degrees during the whole month of Apr.

In mid Mar. to sometimes early Apr. , water temps. can be in the low to upper 30's ,

without a drysuite , which we don't have , we stay off the water in our canoe until it's safely reached into the upper 50's to 60 ...

I am out there on 40 + degree water , but in a good size Jon boat .

I've always thought I might like to get a nice drysuit , and wear some good thermal stuff under it and whatever needed over it ... it should be easy enough to de-layer if the day air temps. get too warm , but still leaving the drysuit on ... as I understand it , the drysuit doesn't offer much in the way of thermal protection , but does keep you from getting wet and therefore saves you from the cold (body heat loss) factor of having wet skin or acually being in the water ... which is like 25 times quicker/greater than non-wet skin .

Wetsuit is fine for those temps
and layer with any synthetic. I like to have at least one layer of something that is warm and stretchy so there is one snug fitting layer just over the wetsuit. After that layer up as much as you want and try to have a windproof outer layer.

The farmer johns at NRS are very nice for paddlers.


with a wetsuit
emphasize layering between the suit and the PFD.

Good thick neoprene like Mysterioso’s Titanium series, or a NSR Wavelite top under some BomberGear neoprene longsleeves.

Fleece is fine but put something water repellent and insulating like neoprene over it. Not a rain jacket.

Your PFD is also an insulator.

Remember that you can get wet without going in (waves, rain). You can get hypothermic without ever going in the water, so you want good layers.

Lastly, a fleece or wool cap (I personally like skullcaps w. chin straps in neoprene or Metalite), some three quarter gloves, and some closed booties.

You lose more heat thru your head than anywhere else, and you want your hands and feet to stay warm to maintain dexterity.

Finally, in line w. your sensible question, be conservative. Water temps AT 50 degrees F are rated “arctic” by the US Coast Guard for gauging survivability. Don’t push it to that mark unless you’ve tested your clothing and KNOW you can stay wet and functional enough to get back in the boat. We all tolerate cold water differently but you don’t want to wait until your first capsize to find out how YOU differ.

Keep in mind a wetsuit only works if there is a layer of water between your skin and the Neoprene. To solve the same problem I decided to purchase what they call splash wear which essentially means it’s water proof but not necessarily water tight. I went for the separates and used them all spring and will problem use them again in the fall.