Cold water suits...

To follow along Rookie13’s Post, but more specifically with regard to everyone’s thoughts on a good 3/4 wetsuit.

Who’s a good manufacturer?

What is important to look for in the way it’s designed/put together?

And what about fit?



Most important thing

– Last Updated: Mar-23-05 8:52 PM EST –


-enough said.

I have an NRS ultra-john (with fleece lining, and titanium-supposedly for better insulating). It's great. They also have an ultra-jane.

On a wet-suit, fit should be snug everywhere. No gaps or air-pockets between suit and skin will make for an effective barrier against cold water.

Best $100 I ever spent.

Wetsuit paddling…
So, with a wetsuit, to find you overheat above a certain level of exertion?

And, are we talking 3/4 or full to wrists/ankles?

Farmer John/Jane
is full wetsuit sans (without) sleeves. It goes all the way to ankles. You can see some at

I warm up very quickly when paddling whitewater in the wetsuit. That’s when the roll comes in handy (rotary cooling).

How I went for immersion protection

– Last Updated: Mar-23-05 10:56 PM EST –

I have a polartec aquashell wetsuit and a goretex dry suit and a dry top. The wetsuit is not quite as warm as a 3mm neoprene suit but much more comfortable in hot air or when exerting. The dry suit is great and that is how I protect myself fron really cold water.

It's all about you ambitions. but if you know you are going to buy a full out drysuit then a aquashell wetsuit could be agood choice. Expecially for those with cold tolerance, and reentry skills

IMHOP some of the best neoprene wetsuits are made by henderson in hyperstretch but $$$. NRS are well respected for value; super jane or farmer jane is worth a look.

Wear a rash guard under it.

Thanks…I will
check out your suggestions…

I wonder where I can go locally to try on different wetsuit/drysuits…do stores let you ‘test drive’ them?

Wetsuit, Overheat
I have both an older Expedition Jane (womens relief zipper) and the slightly lesser wetsuit. Prior to my finally getting a drysuit this last fall I used the heck out of these things almost year round because some of our summer paddling is in Maine, where the water temp doesn’t usually see 60 degrees.

Between the two, I strongly suggest getting a version with the added relief zipper. It’s not much more money for tons more convenience. Having sleeves would be overkill. NRS and I think Seal Skins both make a long sleeve zipup wetsuit jacket that you can add on if merited - but the better mate with a wetsuit is a dry-or nearly-dry top in breathable material. It’ll keep you from overheating and still give you some limited protection from a brief swim (traps warmth once you are back in the boat, even if the wetsuit got wet).

As to how warm - on a sunny day when you are wearing the wetsuit for the water rather than the air temps it’ll be hot. If you put a light rash guard under it you avoid any rashes, but the top underneath will still be soaking wet at the end of the paddle.

The choice in the colder water/warmer air situation varies a lot between paddlers, especially at temps between 50 and 60. My husband will go for neo separates when I am still in a wetsuit, but he doesn’t get as cold as easily either. I’m not sure there’s a hard and fast answer to this - depends on your own reaction to colder water.

After learning about aquashell

– Last Updated: Mar-25-05 12:16 PM EST –

let me recommend the nylon faced version only. I found out yesterday that there is a urethane faced type as well.

A 3mm Neoprene wetsuit will keep you warmer but for the hard core paddler who knows they are buyint a drysuit, the aquashell might well be a good wetsuit. YOu could make you own if you can handle the zipper as polartec is easy to sew.

Double layers from sacrum to shoulders and wrapping fron spine to both kidneys halp with warmth. My suit is fron aeroskin but they are hard to get inexpensively any more. Got it for about 90 bucks fron wyoming river raiders who is out of business now.

Kokatat and Stolhquist
hard to go wrong with either one in goretex. better to go a little big then a little small if your fit is right on the edge of two.

Test the suit by going into the water up to your waist and suit. I highly doubt you’ll find a leak. But if you do, send it back to a retailer and they’ll exchange it.

My 3 year old kokatat is still going strong and I go out year round. Is it worth the money? Do you want to go out and extend the season and do so more safely? Everyone has to ask that question. I rarely hear of anyone regretting a purchase of a drysuit.


some more affordable options…
For cheaper (yet still excellent) drysuits, look at NRS, Palm, and Ravenspring. Goretex is nice if you can afford it but these companies dry suits breath pretty well with their choices of materials.

I have one too!!!
My husband just bought me goretex drysuit from outdoorplay at 25% off.


Thank you, everyone, for
your insightful input…

Ok, here’s what I’m thinking might work, with special focus on the CREWing that I may be doing, for cool weather/cold water situations with me.

A Farmer Jane w/Rash Guard top (and bottoms?!?) and a Drysuit Top with Relief Zipper. Now that I have a good idea of the right combo and important things to look for, I can start my hunt!

Question :Does anyone have opinions about how well a Drysuit Top will seal against a Wetsuit Farmer Jane?

Drytop and Farmer Jane…
only works when you in a boat with a skirt on and have a bombproof roll. If you swim, the water seeps through the zipper in the jane and work it’s way up to the top. Nevertheless, it’s an okay combo if you got quick self rescue skills and the water is the sixty range. YMMV according to your cold water tolerance and your ability to do self or assisted rescues.


Guess You’ll Keep Him
around awhile, eh? Drysuit good for Filipina used to warmer temps and water. :slight_smile:


I posted this
I posted this in onther subject, but i thought it would be fitting here as well.

. I just bought; a NRS Ultra Farmer John, NRS Wetsuit jacket, and NRS 3 MM Socks. My total was around $240 (with shipping). I went out yesterday 3/26/05 for a quick trip on the river to see how comfortable it was to paddle in. I was also wearing a NRS Endurance paddle pants, and some NEO gloves (that were purchased at Wal-Mart $9.00), and NRS Kicker wetshoes. I live in NW Ohio and the weather is far from warm right now. The temp outside was 47 degrees. I am not sure how cold the water was but I do know that it was snowing the night before I went out. Anyhow I wanted to see how well my wetsuit insulated in the event of a unexpected trip into the water. So I took a leap into the river. Surprisingly I was not cold; in fact I was rather comfortable. I’m ended up treading water, and swimming around for around 30 minutes. I will admit that I after a few minutes that my male member began to get a little cold, but I think than is because my swim trunks had bunched up around the area and were not allowing the wet suit to work properly.

If I had been wearing my NRS RIO jacket I think I would have been even warmer because I would have had more neoprene around my neck area. But I was extremely happy, not to mention that I was even happier that I didn’t spend $605 on a Dry Suit. Another thing that I will do from now on is not have my neoprene ankles buckled so tight because when the pants got water in them they didn’t empty. It wasn’t a lot but it was more than I wanted.

I didn’t go completely submerged because I didn’t have a hood. If I would have had a hood I don’t think I would have even thought twice before dunking myself. I can tell you that when I was swimming around when the water hit my bare skin IT WAS STINGING COLD.

The wetsuit worked so well that when I walked back my Honda element, I put a towel on the seat and drove home. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t dripping water all over the place, and I didn’t even turn on the car’s heater.

With my wetsuit and jacket, I have a total of 2 MM protection on the arms, 6 MM protection on my body, 3MM on my legs, and a total of 5 MM protection on my feet; 3MM from the socks and 2 MM from my NRS kicker shoes.

Hope this helps in your decision process. I now know that I can kayak all year round, and not worry if I take a unexpected dip into the water.

I have pictures of all my gear along with some trips posted on my website if you have any other questions feel free to email me

Jason S.

Visit my website