Dressing for Warm Air / Cold Water??????

Okay, here is another question on this topic.

I live in Monterey, CA. I have been using a 3mm farmer john for my paddling, plus splash jacket. I think it is too much. I never capsize and there are some warmer days where the air is in the 60s and 70s, water 55-60. I don’t even really get cold when doing rolls for an hour at a time.

I am looking for something less substantial for sea kayaking and some white water. I am going on a ww trip next week where the air is going to be about 100, and the water is cold from snow melt in the Sierras. Not sure what the water temp is, but it is pretty cool. I have a pretty good roll so I don’t plan on swimming.

I want something versatile to use for both warm air and hot air combined with cold water.

I am considering the following: hydroskin shorts and pull over vest, to combine with spalsh jacket or semi-dry top as needed. I think this will give some options. Probably will not always need the vest.

Another option I am looking at is the Hydroskin Farmer john shortie, but I think that I may burn up in that thing in 100 degree air temps.

Does this sound like a good suitable compromise? I would only really use this in warmer air conditions where I did not really plan on swimming (not for colder mornings or really rough seas).

If I go with this set up, what do you think I should use for my upcoming ww trip? It is only class II, but again the air is around 100 and the water is cold.



Hydroskin Shortie FJ, Rashguard And
shortie drytop is what I use these days, with hot air and water in the 60’s (I do the same with hot air temp and water in the 50’s as well). As you say, if you got a roll that you’re confident in (as in tested), then you don’t come out. If you can roll, you can also cool off in the same way when it gets too hot.


I love a a nylon skinned aquashell

– Last Updated: Jul-17-05 9:02 PM EST –

farmer john. Carry a survival hood in your pocket. Dont need a rash guard, long wearing works for me. Rotocooling or bow dipping highly recommended.

I do not get cold in the boat but if you can endure neo-shorts, that is fine. I like a synthetic hight SPF,long sleve shirt. Nylon or poly mix, AKA a rashguard. Then a 2mm neo-flex vest and a splash or semi dry-top. The nice thing is you and pull one or two layers off as needed, depending on the conditions. Do not forget the hat, a Tilley or Seattle Sombrero.

Well while you are talking of hats
I like the sonora sombrero or something non goretex

We are all between swims
Don’t matter how good we are, swims happen.

Dress to survive the swim. You can always roll or jump in to cool off.

The best way to find out what you need to wear is go swimming in the water you will be boating in. If you are comfortable/functional after about 15 minutes then you should be OK.

Everybodies tolerance for heat/cold is different. You need to find out what works for you.


Real life real knowledge
That is the best of all possible advice. Take yourself on a guided self discovery visit with the water. Then when your self assessment ( however accurate) fails, (I have a good roll I won’t be swimming) and they always do sooner or later, you know what will happen to you.

I am tall and thin so I wear more in warm air cold water than my paddle mates, so I roll often to cool off, but when in cold water, I had the experience of not being able to roll up, my arms would not work, os I ALWAYS take a discovery swim at beginning of trip too see if I am dressed right.

You are right…
I agree that trail and error is the best way to find out what really works for you.

I ask the question largely because I am going on a trip this weekend and need to get an idea for a starting point in advance so that I can buy what may be the right stuff. Right now I have a 3mm farmer john but that will be way, way too much for the 100 degree air temperatures so I need to purchase something else this week.

I bought a shortie wet suit made of Hydroskin but have not yet taken the tags off becuase I am thinking of going with the 2 piece option for may laying options----the hydroskin shorts and vest. Seems like it may be more versatile, but not sure if the gap between pants and top will make a difference if swimming in colder waters as it will not provide the same seal as the one-piece. I have not swum in a 2 piece set up before, but I am guessing that may be the case.


More Flush Through
with two piece. I have neo shorts and shortie top too. I don’t wear these until probably into late July or August, when water is bordering on 70.



good info…

thanks for the info. Souns like maybe this combo will not be a good choice—sounds like the gap will make a difference and is really for much warmer water conditions.

Maybe I will stick with the hydroskin shortie. Can always roll if needed/leave the rashguard at home, or use a splash jacket instead of the semi-dry top (my semi-dry is about as dry as a true dry top)


My favorite summer garment…
…is a short sleeve dry top. It keeps my core protected, but it MUCH cooler than a long-sleeve dry top. I still carry the latter, just in case conditions cool off. I don’t wear neoprene for paddling. If it’s too cool for Hydroskin and the shorty dry top, I wear a dry suit.

CoolMax T shirt
under a shorty drytop if needed and nylon or fleece lined shorts. The water temps are not that cold so you may want to bring along a cotton tshirt to keep you cool off the water or on flat sections.

Grab a Boogie Board, And
Grab your Boogie board and try it out. You don’t know what will work for you until you really test it.

For summer in the Monterrey Bay, a lot of folks use mysterioso pants and top.

Chill Cheater
I agree with B Nystrom, except for I prefer Reeds’ Chill Cheaters top. My preference is the “Baffle neck” as it can ventilate and when needed it’s one small plastic button to seal.

Summer months for me, are

short sleeve, baffle neck chill cheater and chill cheater shorts.