Dry Suit 40 degree water 70 degree air t

Looking at both the Stohlquist EZ and the Kokatat Light paddling suit because of the neo necks for paddling on flat cold water in warm weather . Thinking Goretex would be more breathable but the Stohlquist would fit better since I tend to wear medium length pants and large tops Kokatat seems to be sized the other way around.Any advice on either of these two suits or any other suggestions would be appreciated.

Overkill probably maybe.
What kind of flat water? Unless you envision an unusual situation that would likely result in prolonged immersion that’s an unnecessary expense IMO, and for that matter wearing a dry suit in seventy degree air temps will have you fantasizing about prolonged immersion after an hour. Are there extenuating circumstances?

not at all overkill
40 degree water is almost immediately incapacitating – doesn’t take “prolonged immersion” to be a life threatening situation. Goretex is the best choice for warmer air temps, IMHO (I have drywear of various non-Goretex “breathables” as well as Kokatat Goretex suit). Not sure what your concern is with the Kokatat fitting. Buy it to fit your upper body. It is not going to matter if the lower portion is roomy since you are sitting. Personally, I would not venture out in water colder than 50 without a full drysuit.

Well, to each his/her own of course,

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but I'd never wear a dry (or semi-dry to be more specific) suit for flatwater paddling unless as I said before there were extenuating circumstances. Just seems like an unnecessary expense and hassle, and while Gore-Tex is breathable it doesn't take long to work up a sweat paddling in seventy degree air temps even in breathable fabrics. Also, not sure about the Stohlquist version but the Kokatat Paddling suits aren't Gore-Tex. Under the circumstances a far better option IMO if protection is warranted would be a farmer john and splash top.

Overkill ?
Wanting to extend paddling on lake Powell and on Colorado river from the Ferry up to the dam into the winter and spring. Highs are in the 40s in mid winter and 60s to low 70s in spring.Water temps on the lake is mid 40s in the winter and mid 50s in spring. River water is mid to upper 40s year around on the river. The coldest I have ever been in my life was a day on the Grand in April without my splash wear.Thought it was too hot so was buried in my dry bag under a ton of gear. While the conditions are typically flat the lake can blow up in very short notice and the the flat section of the river is still very pushy with powerful eddy-lines. Now that I am all grown up(late 50s) it is time to paddle safer…Check out cold water boot camp site…

be true to yourself
I had an upset in the Artic in broiling hot weather with 40 degree water. I wished I had my drysuit.

I was out this Saturday in 40 degree temps, 25 mph wind and 45 degree water. If I had been smart enough to bring my drysuit I would have been warmer.

Integral socks are really worth it. Fit the suit so there is ample room on top. Baggy bottom or too long bottom does not matter. You can cinch the waist. Leave room for fleece or wool. Wool is more comfy when its warm air temps and you are upright and dry but insulates when you are upsidey down and in the water.

Desert nomads wear wool.

suit yourself (or not)
Have you actually ever been immersed in 40 degree water? The shock can stop your heart and it is instant headache and gasp reflex. I’m pretty cold immune, buoyant and comfortable in the water but falling into 40 degree water (a mountain lake filled by glacial runoff) was one of the most traumatic experiences I can recall.

Kokatat does make a lightweight paddling suit of Goretex. It is just a lighter and less abrasion resitant fabric than the full GM-GF suits.

You could get
You could get a full drysuit with latex neck gasket and use this http://www.kayakacademy.com/products/neck-saver-prevents-neck-rash?variant=974346211

as the latex was bothering my neck but this keeps that from happening. What ever you decide a drysuit/paddling suit is a good idea in 40F water. I wear my drysuit when its 50F water temp.

Nope. Only fifty degree water with

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forty degree air temps. It wasn't fun, but I still don't wear my dry suit on flat water. That said, flat water means different things to different people. To me it means class I moving water or a lake in conditions I personally don't believe warrant dry wear. Others may and that's fine too. It's all personal choice. In the OP's case given the additional detail I concede a paddling suit wouldn't be overkill, hence my first question; "What kind of flat water?". I'd be completely out of my element out there.

Or if you wanted you could even
have the latex gaskets replaced with neoprene.

I prefer a Gore-Tex suit…
but the material’s performance is somewhat dependent upon individual metabolism and ambient atmospheric humidity.

I’m in Wyoming and paddle the waters you reference. We’re fortunate in that our dry climate assists the G-T in its ability to pass body vapors. I’m a sweat hog during exertion thus I dial it it down a bit when wearing a drysuit. I have the Kokatat G-T with socks (a must have) and its served me well for nearly a decade now. My spring and fall paddling often sees water temps of 40-45 F and air temps of 60-70 F, pretty similar to what you’re describing. I prefer a latex neck seal as I have no allergy issues with the material. The neoprene seals are more for those whom don’t like latex than they are for the warmer weather use.

Lake Powell is a large body and those unfamiliar with it probably do not appreciate its potential for trouble during the transitional seasons. The winds can come in fast with little visual warning. This is the nature of a large labyrinthine body of water. The extraordinary high canyon walls also means there are many areas where a capsized paddler will not be able to get out of the water easily. Rescue communication can also be a problem in this kind of geography.

Get a breathable suit, a nice merino wool base and practice swimming in it until you’re comfortable with the suit. Learn how to burp it both before you strike out and later while underway and heating up.

I would also add a good hood kept in a PFD pocket that can be pulled on while in the water. Practice this maneuver in advance, too. Keeping our big brains protected against wind chill and cold water helps keep us alive in an extended mishap.

I think a drysuit is a good plan for the conditions you paddle in and especially considering your age. I’m 10 years your senior and paddle solo quite often. We don’t have the circulation efficacy of our younger days and our energy and strength levels are reduced. A drysuit is an excellent insurance policy.

Pleasant waters to ya.

dry suit and 70F+ temps
I can;t answer the specifics you asked between the two dry suits, but can comment related to the talk about whether a dry suit would be needed, or even overkill.

We commonly get days where the temps get into the 70s. Our water temp isn’t nearly as cold as you are looking at (usually mid- to upper-50s). I do wear a dry suit (Kokatat Goretex) for this, but wear lighter layers under it than when cooler air temps are around. This is not at all overkill for me. And if it does get a little warm, it is easy to splash myself or practice a roll or re-entry to cool back off.

In your cold water situation, I wouldn’t go out without the dry suit. I don’t expect to get in a car crash, yet still wear a seat belt. In flat water, I wouldn’t expect to swim in flat water, but because of the bad things that can happen real quickly should I end up in 40 degree waters, I would only paddle with appropriate clothing.


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Put you leg in 40* water while sitting on a dock. Then start kicking it in the water like you were swimming. See how it feels and what you think you would feel like in the water from head to toe. 40 or 50* doesn't matter when it comes to gasp reflex it has the same effect. Below 60* I am in a drysuit. Below 55* I have the balaclava ON my head. Don't even bother with my farmer John after getting the Kokatat suit and Kokatat polar fleece they sell. I paddle hard and fast most of the time and I am 62 6' 235 lb. I feel totally comfortable in the suit. Even your fingers get disabled fast in the cold water. I have pogies but also keep neo gloves in case of an extended stay in the water I paddle all winter mostly alone. There are no second chances to say I should have worn this or that when ion the water. Murphy's law can take your life. Your body reacts by sending your blood back to the core and it can be very hard on your heart like an attack. Kokatat makes custom fit suits.

Agree with Holmes
I used to live in CO, and I too wore a Goretex drysuit for the cold season. Lake Powell and other large inland lakes do indeed whipi up some gusty, violent winds, and in winter the water temps drop well below the ice cream headache threshhold even when daytime temps are in the 60s and 70s.

Pueblo Reservoir was the only lake that usually did not freeze over in winter. In December and January, we sometimes had 70-degree days with light wind, but that water was literally just above freezing, as in 33 to 34 degrees. The intensity of that frigidness was noticeable even with a brief dunk of gloved hands. It is not overkill to wear a drysuit and good insulation in those conditions. Risk of capsize was low, but CONSEQUENCES after a capsize were severe.

It is worth the price of the drysuit to extend the paddling season. Otherwise, you have many more months off the water.

I paddled Lake Powell in Feb/2015

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, Wahweap to Rainbow Bridge and return, using my Kokatat Hydrus 3L drysuit, with neoprene neck and tropos booties. Glad I had it with me. Had mostly good weather but when the wind kicked up it was nice to have on. Never overheated. Also nice to have the drysuit on when setting up camp in the later afternoon after the sun had dropped over the horizon. The one change I will be making to the suit is replace the Hydrus booties with latex. for some reason my feet get cold with the hydrus feet even with wool socks and neoprene overboots.


Kokatat will increase or decrease the length of the arms, legs, torso (above the waist) or rise (waist to crotch) on most of our dry suit models for a nominal charge. The adjustments we can make are limited in scope and depend on the model and size of the garment; please contact Kokatat or your paddle sports dealer for more information. Since everybody likes a different kind of fit, we cannot build or alter a suit to a list of body measurements. If you believe some customization will be necessary, consult with Kokatat or your dealer. We will even send a sizing suit to the dealer for you to try. You can then determine how much to add or take off. Please exercise caution: when you get a custom dry suit, it's yours. No returns will be accepted (other than warranty)!"

Kokatat does offer a custom build option with their goretex drysuits but not sure how good it is or how much cost increase is incurred.

Water temps have dropped around here
Surprising how quickly water temps have dropped around here (RI). Local rivers were in the high 50’s last week. They are in the low 40’s now. Lakes and the ocean probably hold their heat a little better.

I did a flatwater trip last weekend and didn’t wear cold water gear. To deuce’s point, it was a trip with almost no possibility of getting wet. The trip leader did require a change of cloths in a drybag, which I had.

Having said that, I did a whitewater trip two weeks ago and wore my drysuit. Air temps were in the mid 60’s. I don’t know the water temp’s, but the water was releasing from the bottom of a large flood control dam. To Peter-CA’s point, if you go light on the insulating layers a drysuit can be comfortable in warmer temp’s and still provide protection.

In terms of sizing, I think bigger is better. Once you burp the air out of the suit any bagginess goes away, and you need room for insulating layers in cold weather. All my suits have had latex gaskets, so I can’t comment on the effectiveness vs comfort on neoprene gaskets.

Not so for everyone
I appreciate there are guys who seem able to go out and risk a dump in those kinds of temps and manage a short capsize OK.

I am not one of those people. I have tried swimming down to 45 degree water in layers of neoprene. More than once when I tried stretching my neo layers into fall for early wet work. I started getting chilly in the water in quite short order and hypothermic within minutes out of it. I have been well into hypothermia complete with not-great brain nd uncontrollable chattering a couple of times, I know the signs.

Once you are talking either temp under 50’s, air or water, IMO the only reliable advice is to suggest that someone take a swim themselves and see where their tolerance lies. I don’t agree with telling anyone that a particular layering option is not needed via a message board under those conditions.

this brings up a good point
Hutchinson talks about it, when you get to a level of aptitude that you can take certain liberties when preparing.

I’m the same way, I avoid my drysuit like the plague. In that situation with land nearby, I’m wearing my wetsuit and liners. But we’ve been through a swim or two in those conditions in that clothing, and can make the call. If the OP is also, they’re good.

Neoprene necks

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IMO, neoprene gaskets, while fine for short sleeve paddling jackets in warm weather, allow too much water to leak in for cold water paddling. In cold water / warm air/ near shore paddling, I'm in my drysuit with latex gaskets in silk weight / rashgaurd underwear. If I get hot, I just roll or balance brace to cool off.

it all depends on your neck
Mine lets in little if any water during rolling practice and swimming.