Down side of wet suit with dry top

-- Last Updated: Oct-15-06 2:11 AM EST --

I know there's a lot of past discussion on WS and DT vs DS. I've read most of it, and started some of it. Today I found a big draw back on the WS/DT combo that I don't remember being mentioned explicitly. Maybe it was. Anyway ...

It's fine if you stay in the cockpit with neo spray skirt mated to a double tunnel on the DT. But if you come out of the boat and are up to your neck in water, the water wicks up the WS out the arm pit openings and into the DT.

I was thrashing around for at least 15 minutes today in the water practicing paddle float self rescue, and when that didn't work, re-entry and roll. The ankles on my WS are admittedly loose. The rest is a good fit. I felt the cold water immediately on my chest near the arm pits. When I was done I had water sloshing around in the sleeves. Not cool! Wait, is cool. The water was 63F so not serious, but still not cool, wait, you know what I mean.

Paul S.

That’s not just wicking
> I felt the cold water immediately on my chest near the arm pits.

When I was done I had water sloshing around in the sleeves.

That’s not wicking, that’s a downright leak somewhere in the system.

I’m still interested in the answer. I was out in my new WS/DT combo yesterday and spent time in the water. The inside of the DT get fairly damp, though there were no overt leaks.


It’s Been Mentioned…
countless times here. A wetsuit/drytop combo is really for someone with good rolling and (self/assisted) rescue skills. Once you’re swimming around, the water will come up through the waist tunnel. If you have a NRS FJ with the zipper down to the crotch, water will come through the zipper really fast as that is exposed.


Ah, the zipper.
Sing, you certainly know you’re kayak stuff.

Paul S.


– Last Updated: Oct-15-06 8:53 AM EST –

farmer john is for immersion,but having water flush around neck and armpits isn't good cold water protection. If you got a wetsuit and you really need immersion protection make sure your get-up has some kind of armpit/chest protection under the FJ. My favorite addon to the fj was a 3mm short sleeve neoprene shirt with lycra neck or 1mm neoprene shirt with lycra neck.
If the water is cold enough to require a wetsuit, even 60degree water, then keep a fuzzy rubber beanie/hood nearby to extend the cold water protection. A few seconds immersion of the bare head feels like a few minutes immersion of a protected body. The seconds can pile up quickly when tossed around or at the end of the day and you don't have much reserve calories to keep the heat in.

A good dry top is nice to have, but most of the paddle jackets out there with neoprene or velcroed wrists are glorified rain jackets and kind of misleading to folks in sea kayaks who don't practice rescues.

But why does the top get wet?

– Last Updated: Oct-15-06 12:23 PM EST –

Sing, I understand your point. But my question is, how does the water get from the bottom of the drysuit, where it enters via the legs and lower zipper, to the top, under the dry top?

My skirt tunnel is in the DT tunnel, which is secured quite tightly by the outer velcro waistband on the DT, not to mention the tight velcro skirt tunnel itself. The combination is really quite tight against my body. So there should be little or no leakage under the DS from the bottom to the top, nor between the inner DT tunnel lining and the DS. Or is it "little" rather then "none", and that's enough?

Or could water be wicking up the undergarments, say polypro and/or fleece? If so, will it help to roll them up at the waist so they don't extend below the tunnels?

Also, is dampness under the drytop still a lot better than an unprotected drysuit or a lot of water in the DT? Seems like it.


Seapage Through The Tunnel

– Last Updated: Oct-15-06 12:41 PM EST –

test it, go walk around water up to you chest. You'll find water seeping right up the tunnel area, even under your tight skirt. There is some bunching there. Even if it feels tight to you, the are channels where water will flow through. The other way water gets in, though slower, is the capilary action of the nylon fabric face of the wetsuit.

I keep saying this, the wetsuit/drytop is good for folks who rarely come of their boat. And, if they do, they have the ability to get back in quick. Swim around a couple minutes in the wetsuit/drytop, you will find water in the top. This has been my experience and I have 4 drytops and a variety of wetsuits (I am talking good fitting surfing wetsuits not FJ's either).

I think if someone is more likely to swim, I would definitely recommend a drysuit for colder water. I would also recommend a good surfing wetsuit but this seems to be "controversial" as some folks think you can't paddle with one that is thick enough to be warm for chillier water temps. That has not been my experience. I probably won't be in my drysuit until after Thanksgiving when I give up on the waveski (though I am increasingly tempted to buy a winter surfing wetsuit because I want to stay on a ski rather than retreat to the surf kayak).