Clothing Suggestions

Just looking for suggestions as to what kind of protection I should wear for water temps in the 55-60deg range (what most Connecticut lakes and rivers seem to be hovering around right now in early may.)

Is a separate 2-3mm neoprene top and bottom adequate? I’ve never used wet suits before… Can/should you put normal clothes over them? I’m not in the best shape and would probably be a comical sight in just a wet suit lol.

Partly asking because I look at what these suits claim they are rated for, and if I follow them, I’d technically have to step it up to the more expensive 4-5mm stuff for those water temps. I’d prefer to stay as flexible as possible, and the suit is just for survival in that rare chance that I flip the yak in 55 degree water.

probably ok
If it’s a just in case situation, you’re paddling cold water and warm air, and it’s not a long swim to shore i’d say you’re probably ok with the 3mm top and bottom.

Yes, you can wear some shorts/pants and shirt/jacket over the neo, but keep the layers synthetic and minimal so as to dry quickly and not weigh you down in the water.

depends on air temperature and wind
On a warm summer day a brief dip in water of that temperature can be quite refreshing. On a cold, windy day a longish swim in the same water can lead to hypothermia.

If you are mostly paddling in decent weather, a 3mm thick neoprene wetsuit should provide adequate protection. On a really warm day, you might not even need the wetsuit, unless you are paddling a good distance from shore.

I usually wear a paddling jacket and often paddling pants over a shorty wetsuit on water of that temperature and most often will have a thin layer of polypro or some similar synthetic on under the wetsuit.

Another Option
You may want to consider is a paddle jacket and pants which is what I used while paddling recently in CT. I find them to be two of the most versatile apparel items I use when paddling as I get more use from them than my dry suit. A wetsuit is an affordable option to.

Practice, practice, practice no matter
what you end up with. Swimming in a wetsuit is a whole other thing,

In addition to water temp …
… factor in wind chill. Below is how long you have in the water to be able to get your self out, ie the first set of numbers, when you’re conscious and have the strength you need.

Once out of the water, and you’re wet, air temp and wind chill become factors.

Every year, this time of year, we see tragic news stories of people going out in their canoe, kayak, or row boat, on a nice sunny warm day, only to end up in 50 degree water and not make it. Even on small ponds, sometimes only a hundred feet from shore.

Dress for the water temp, not air temp, first, and then be conservative where you paddle when the water is this cold. I normally paddle alone, but would not do so in these temps. I also keep a set of dry cloths, towels, etc in a dry bag.

Have fun but be safe.


32.5 Under 15 Minutes Under 15 - 45 Minutes

32.5 - 40.0 15 - 30 Minutes 30 - 90 Minutes

40.0 - 50.0 30 - 60 Minutes 1 - 3 Hours

50.0 - 60.0 1 -2 Hours 1 - 6 Hours

60.0 - 70.0 2 - 7 Hours 2 - 40 Hours

70.0 - 80.0 3 - 12 Hours 3 Hours - Indefinitely

OVER 80.0 Indefinitely Indefinitely

your lucky you are so warm…we just lost the ice on the Conn. river in northern NH Easter weekend. I am wearing a drysuit.