Cold Weather Clothing

I just bought a kayak and want to get out on the water. Unfortunately, here in Western NY we have snow on the group this first week of April, temps between 30-40, and frigid water temps. I am not sure I will hit the waterways until the air temps hit 60, but what should I be wearing to block spraying water and submersion? I am looking at:


NRS Hyrdroskin

NRS Bill’s Wetsuit Jacket

Thoughts? Other options?

Thank you,

a drysuit

– Last Updated: Apr-06-16 5:30 PM EST –

or a thick wetsuit as a minimum. Splash gear only protects you from some splashing. If you have a drysuit with booties you still want some foot protection - neoprene socks or outer boots. Hands may need protection also.

Browse the NRS catalog to get an idea of this gear. Once you've done so, realize there may be cheaper outlets for the gear.

If you haven't paddled before I might caution you against venturing into the water alone this time of year. Not trying to frighten anyone, but google "gasp reflex" or "hypothermia". Sometimes we don't know what we don't know.

Western NY Paddlers
is the name of the group that regularly goes out in the winter to spring time for day paddles

They have drysuits for the most part.

Mythic Gear makes drysuits for this market. Affordable that will keep you dry in the recreational paddling season. Not an expedition suit with all the bells and whistles.

Another vote for drysuit, sorry. I’m sure you probably didn’t want to hear it. If you go in, you’ll want it. Even if you had a dry top and those dry pants, if you take a swim it will leak through the waist.

I got a killer deal on a new-with-tags NRS drysuit on eBay for $200. There are deals out there if you look.

NY’s short and chilllly WW season strongly suggests a one piece drysuit with pee zipper for an NY paddling kit. A drysuit would extend the season by 45-60 days.

On the ‘sock I was coated with ice pulling into the Barbours General Store coming down from Forksville but the stream is easy from Forks down.Class 1 -1+ . What if you fall in ? Well, you develop hypothermia.

Once the water n air was warm so the threat of hyperthermia was gone so was the water !

With REI, sign up for the credit card n buy a suit.

Or used:

A full wet suit, helmet, n booties is doable at abt $150. Nylon clothing over the wetsuit is socially acceptable,

Kayaking alone
No, I won’t by kayaking alone. I have a second victim that’s new to kayak no also…lol

A drysuit…
…and some skills.

than just happen two guys on lake one dead.

Flat water or white water?
At the experience level you indicate one will be more kayaking and the other will be more swimming (I mean intensive learning).

W.NY? Where abouts? Binghamton by any chance?

You could rent a suit from a kayak specialty store like the one in Hyde Park, NY.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

never heard of Binghamton
as western NY. Its the Southern Tier… Went to school there!

WNY is Buffalo-Rochester and maybe down southwest to Fredonia. Got paddling friends who are posting their drysuited flat and moving water trips. They do mentor newbies.

I’m in Buffalo
I saw your post and thought I’d actually join and offer a reply…

After getting out of power boating after 20 years I got into Kayaking last year and have been doing a ton of reading, paddling, and checking in on this site over the winter. Everyone I talk to seems to have a different opinion as what is best to wear and many people I see paddling in this area wear no protective gear at all.

After talking to some local dive shops and guys who wind surf in 40 degree water I’ve decided that a combination of a 3mm farmer john and 3mm jacket is a good balance of safety and comfort for me. When it’s cold I stay close to shore or the break wall and only paddle when it’s calm. I also have a change of clothes and can get back in the boat if I were to fall out. I put the boat away in early December and got out on March 12th this spring for the first time with this setup. Although it’s warm enough to walk in waist deep to launch, I do not think I’d want to spend much time in 30 degree water with just a 3mm suit.

My goal is to get out and paddle 5-10 miles for some exercise and scenery and just be out on the water. If I were doing any distance crossings or going out in waves - or planning on getting wet - I would make be sure to have a drysuit or wait for some warmer weather.

Not to be a buzzkill but…

I got hypothermic in 65 degree water and 70 degree air once. Not fun.

Spot on re: WNY
but as some refer to Hyde Park as Upstate (which it ain’t) from NYC I thought I’d try to nail down where the OP definition of west was. As there’s an off chance of my being in Binghamton a drysuit demo/cold water clinic/skills session could be arranged. Still waiting as to where W.NY for the OP.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Buffalo paddler here

– Last Updated: Apr-07-16 11:54 AM EST –

Depends on were you will paddle. Down a Ellicott creek or say Erie Canal you don't need much. You fall over swim to shore get on land, change cloths. Sure you will be cold but hardly dangerous (PFD). Now go down white water lake Cattaraugus Creek, Zoar Valley whole different story. Then you need a drysuit now, later in May a wet suit like you mention will work ok plus helmet. Join Zoar Valley Paddling club if you want to do the Catt.

Now paddle out to say Strawberry Island on Niagara River which I did on Easter I wore my drysuit (I had to roll to cool off, hurt my head Ice cream freeze) . I will be Paddling Oak Orchard on the 16th this month Alabama swamp area will just were my dry pants the ones you mention and a splash top kokatat Anorak that will seal to pants for a pretty good seal. Plus have full change of cloths in boat to change into. Fleece under pants and top. Water is only about 2 to 5 feet there.

Lake Erie or Ontario Drysuit. I know many who paddle 3mm farmer John right now BUT I know I cant take 35F water like they can. I go right into shock if I swim in that water for long with a 3mm farmer john. Farmer John when its 55F water. And I have bullet proof roll even one handed. In early season I mainly paddle alone though. I have VHF radio on my PFD.

If your beginner even with a friend can you guys do an assisted rescue, not as easy as you might think. BOM Buffalo Outdoor Meetup this May will be doing some rescue practice sessions. I will be there. Now if staying in slow moving creeks a rescue not so important but in the lake or Niagara river different story.

So it depends on were you will paddle.

water temps
Here are current and expected water temps for Great Lake locations:

The general rule I follow is if water temps are in low-50s or below, I am in a dry suit.

60 or below, wet suit or dry suit

70 or above no wet suit or dry suit

60-70 and I take into account other things, such as air temperature, risk level/chance of swimming, if other trained folks are there who can get me back in to my boat fast if I am unable to, etc.

So I would be dry suit until May, and June would be the first time I’d consider not wearing wet or dry suit.

If you are paddling smaller bodies of water, they may warm up a little faster.

good deal on dry suits
Depending on your size, Folding Kayak Adventures in Durango, Colorado, is having a clearance sale and has some men’s size large Kokatat Tropos Paddling suits with booties and pee-zip on sale for $299 (list price is over $500). These are lighter weight than the full-monty Goretex suits but for the price that’s a top quality brand.

This would be more comfortable than a wet suit in warm air/cold water weather

Remember one thing, dress for WATER temperatures, not air temperatures.

I’m in northern IL, same kind of problem in the spring, air temps can be in the high 60’s after a long cold winter, but water temps may not have warmed up above 40. 40 degree water immersion will kill you without a full on dry suit.

We lose too many inexperienced paddlers every year, don’t be one of them. Measure the water temps in the spring before you decide to launch you boat.

Bill H.

River safety
Its likely you will be in moving water and this link was posted on the Western NY Paddlers FB page

sound advice about floods, ice shelves
now if I would just follow it! Sometimes you push the envelope a little bit, I just don’t want to get pushed back! Do as I say and not as I do! Learn enough to evaluate the risks and make your decisions- live or die with the consequences.

so will 55* read about temps and the affects.