Dressing for Cold Water

I have a wet suit and a dry suit. What is the best way to layer up for cold weather paddling in a kayak? Can any one suggest a good material to wear under a dry suit to wick away moisture?

See Non-Breathable Drysuit Thread
Lots of knoweledgeable folks responded with info on the best layering system to wear under drysuits. Some excellent info on cold water hazards generally, and links to excellent info sources.

Wear the same type of garments…
…that you would layer under shell gear for hiking and such. polypro, polyester, wool and fleece all have their place under a dry suit. You’ll have to experiment a bit do determine what works best for you.

I have a sleeveless wet suit. I was going to use that as the bottom layer with fleece over that on top and a semi dry jacket.

Don’t Wear Neo
under drysuit. You’ll end up getting wet and clammy next to your skin. Wear however many layers, as appropriate, of non cotton material, e.g. polypro, thermax, coolmax, polyester, etc. The layer next to your skin should be tight to wick away sweat to the out layers.


Here is a builder’s very personal view

– Last Updated: Oct-30-04 8:50 PM EST –

This may of great interest and use to you, the article entitled,
The Farmer John Fallacy by Jay Babina, kayak builder.

He presents some real world advice on this from his own and many others actual experience. It has the perspective of why divers wear what they wear, and why it works for them, and why kayakers sometimes do not understand the underlying principles as applied to their situation.


Good refresher on cold
water paddling. Also when not so cold info.


Cold water paddling
Before I head out on the water ( Tahoe in the winter) I go for a swim and get my face wet. It reassures me that I will be ok if I roll or wet exit, helps keep me from overheating during my paddles and lets me know if I have to add layers. I have been wearing either a drytop/dry pant combo or a drytop over a farmer John. I just got a drysuit and I am having the neck gasket replaced and plan on getting a good hood and NordicBlue dry gloves.

A trud classinc that all cold-water

– Last Updated: Oct-31-04 1:32 AM EST –

paddlers should read.

As to layers: something light and tight near the body. I like silk and thin capilene. Polartecc of various sorts outside.

I do not layer much under my wetsuit just rash guards, but I have a drysuit, If I needed to layer under my wetsuit I'd buy a thicker one.