Am curious why you
avoid your drysuit “like the plague”, SP.
Also curious if the necks, whether neo or latex, are uncomfortable and if your clothes underneath the drysuit get wet from perspiration.
Am curious why you
As always, varies for different people
In spite of all the stuff you read here about uncomfortable latex neck gaskets, and people needing to struggle mightily to get that part of the suit on or off, I have never had such issues. No discomfort, no difficulty. Period.
As to sweating, yes, you will sweat, and your liner clothes will get wet in warm weather. That’s not a big price to pay for helping to ensure that you won’t end up dead if something goes haywire. And as others have pointed out, the deadliness of cold water varies with location. I’ve been blasted here several times before for pointing out that a quick walk to shore in a small shallow river is not the same as dumping far off the ocean beach, but will often wear the dry suit even then.
Part of your second question answers the first for me. I have a hard time balancing my layers so that I stay dry, and even then I usually sweat and then cool from the dampness. A few years ago I invested in a 3/2 wetsuit and I just prefer wearing it in most conditions. Once it warms I reduce to a shorty john with or without rashguard shirts.
Having said that, when I paddle this winter I'll be wearing the drysuit, and if I go on trips in exposed conditions I wear it unless water temps give me some freedom.
I find the neo neck works for me. Frankly it took a bit of time to get used to having something tight around my neck and switching from latex to neo made a small difference in comfort, other than I don't get the rash I do with latex. For some reason I don't get a rash from latex wrist gaskets. It lets in next to no water in my case but I've heard many reports from others to the contrary, so it's probably best to at least test-fit one before buying.
Some people find latex necks unbearably uncomfortable or even have a latex allergy. Given the number of people in drysuits versus not ina group of coastal paddlers in late November, I'd say those folks are not in the majority.
If you work hard you will sweat under the suit. The breathable ones are less so, especially if you cool off by rolling or at least dunking off another paddler's bow fairly regularly. Hence a very strong argument for a roll in warm air/very cold water combinations. But ultimately in my case anyway there is some sweat.
The tricky bit is to find layers that will accommodate some sweat and not leave you freezing because a cold wind hits you when you are wet inside. For me, silk is a horrid idea because it turns into a sodden cold mess. My best layers are synthetic, in really cold stuff a thin super-breathable base layer like cool max or polypro, then good quality 200 wt fleece. 100 weight in winter if air temps are above 20 degrees and the sun is out.
Wool also has useful warm-when-wet properties, and would be wonderful idea if I didn't itch from the stuff near my skin.
Merino under my dry suit makes
me happy. I adjusted to the latex neck gasket quickly but do understand not everyone can tolerate one for various reasons. Cat, you clearly know what you’re doing so I assume you have good reasons for not wanting the latex gaskets, but just in case cost is the only one there are full dry suits available barely used and even new for the same price.
another insulation option
Like Celia, I’ve long been a fan of wool inner layers, especially for wet conditions and have also used a range of various synthetics, from polypro to stretch micro polartec. I hate the feel of having damp sweaty skin and fabric sticking to me so I am always looking for wicking or other moisture managing clothing.
This Summer I found something I like even better than wool. Picked up an NRS Hydroskin rash guard type short sleeved shirt on the clearance rack at an outfitter’s and was so impressed with it after a few uses that I sprung for a pair of the Hydroskin long pants and a zip front longsleeved jacket. By now I’ve used them on strenuous paddles in air temps ranging from 80 down to 45 (with wind and rain) and the clothing was completely comfortable in all conditions – never felt either chilly or too warm. It’s a type of lightweight stretchy neoprene but feels more like thin fleece, with a soft brushed interior. Unlike regular neoprene, the texture makes you feel as if your skin is dry (though it is actually damp) and the dense fabric and the garment designs help them insulate against wind chill.
It’s easier to put on than rubbery neoprene and very flexible. Also dries a lot faster after you take it off and rinse or wash it. The men’s style in the pants is better designed than the women’s (I tried on both) and they are long enough in the rise and generous enough in the seat to fit me. I really like this stuff and will be testing it under the dry suit as our weather cools. Not cheap, but having clothing that I don’t even notice I have on while paddling is priceless.
Amusing side note: it is evidently rather flattering clothing as well. When I showed up in my black “ninja” Hydroskin garb at the put-in two weeks ago, two people who had paddled with me a month before complimented me on how much weight I had apparently lost (in reality, I was not an ounce lighter.)
that works best for me
Rashguard and rashguard-like shirts underneath. Unless it's really cold, then it's time for the microfleece union suit.
My only experience
was watching the discomfort of three people wearing drysuits in my June class due to overheating. Water temp was 60F at the surface and it was a sunny day in the low 70s. One gal had major overheating issues on the way back.
On the other hand, when we had to leap into the water they had no issues, except for a paddler whose neck gasket failed. I wore a shorty Farmer Jane, long sleeved rashguard and some top layers and still vividly remember the coldness of the water. On shore, it took 15 minutes of sitting in the sun to stop shivering. I’ve upgraded my neo gear, but remain uncertain about stuff with neck gaskets as I dislike anything tight around my neck.
what willowleaf said
about being true to yourself. Only you know your level of discomfort in cold water. I find my cold water tolerance is at the high end, I'm often swimming in temps others find too cold. OTOH I sweat just thinking about exercise.
Personally I think we each find the best answers for ourselves after trying all of the available options. Donning a drysuit isn't as unpleasant after the first few times.
The woman in that class
The temps you indicate are ones where many coaches would have had the students in a shorty wet suit, though frankly at 70 degrees that is hot too.
I don't know why the coaches didn't just stop to have the paddler(s) who were overheating dunk into the water off their bows. It is a simple solution and I can not imagine why it would be preferable to overheating. But maybe the paddler was unwilling to do that out of fear.
Once someone has the most minor introduction to a hip snap and has dunked off a bow a few times there is no reason not to.
The coaches were in drysuits, too
One remarked about being hot, but just kept moving forward.
I was wearing a shorty wetsuit that day, with a rashguard under and a synthetic pull over on top. Paddling pants over the bottom. I was very comfortable in my boat. Under water was a different story. After the first dip, I wouldn't have gone back under water for love or money. It might have been 60F on the surface, but was colder a foot and more under.
OK. but not really on my point
Coaches have to anticipate being in and out of the water multiple times if they have to deal with an issue, where dry suits are easier IMO. So let’s just agree a dry suit was the right clothing. In most training situations it is my choice as a student, because I rarely have trained when the water was above 52 degrees on the top.
That still doesn’t solve my confusion about why a paddler was allowed to overheat, while sitting in a boat surrounded by water. Unless the paddler did not want to get wet, or the class was running late against weather or tide changes and it was more important to make time than to deal with that paddler’s discomfort.
My point is that there is an easy solution to the overheating, but maybe there were other factors that took that solution out of the equation.
I will say
In taking lessons and helping others outside in those conditions - when you’re in and out of the water frequently - I agree with Celia, and tend to use my drysuit. If I’m training or helping train in summer, it’s the shorty john, cooler for me than a drysuit. In the pool I try to use nothing so it doesn’t get eaten up by chlorine. Well, not “nothing”, I wear a pair of shorts.
kokatat gore tex front entry dry suit
Thanks for all the input.Will order from Rei so I can return after trying out if it does not fit well.Then can order custom fitted suit from Kokatat site for about 90 bucks extra if necessary.Willing to compromise comfort for safety on the latex instead of neo neck.
alpalmer that trip to rainbow sounds awe
some.Over 100 miles in potentially very challenging conditions.Be neat to read a description if you have one posted some place.We used to have a whaler for that same trip in the 90s.There was one trip over thanksgiving that even the whaler was one wild ride back. Several house boats were swamped one sunk and our friends were pinned down to the beach overnight in a 18 foot ski boat.Think I will do some less challenging weekend trips on some on the coves over by lonestone.I will look into the custom fitting options you suggest from kokatat.
I never found the latex neck gasket to be uncomfortable. Think you made the right choice.
Just FYI, the neck might feel crazy tight out-of-the-box; just plain tight, you would probably get used to. Crazy tight = veins in head start popping out! In that case you can either stretch the neck carefully around a pot, large bowl or even a paint can OR cut carefully a thin strip from the top of the neck gasket – I’m pretty sure this will be in the directions that will come with the suit. Some folks are stretchers, some are cutters. Obviously if you choose cutting (or even stretching probably), don’t do it until you know you are happy with the suit otherwise.
Agreed. Great choice!
You’ll become accustomed to the neck gasket quickly, and don’t be afraid to stretch it if it’s too tight. There are videos online that show the correct way to do it; mostly common sense but you do want to be careful in order to avoid a tear. My neck gasket was a tad snug out of the box so I stretched it over a plastic flower pot overnight. The next day it was still just a bit snug so I gave it one more night of stretching and now it’s perfect. For reference my neck measurement is 16. They also come with guides for trimming, but don’t do that unless you have to. Enjoy!
Fresh Razor Blade
Use a brand new razor blade to trim your neck gasket. Trim one ring at a time until until it’s not making your temples throb.
My advice is dress for immersion even if it is not an comfortable. Forty degrees is cold and life threatening. Wear enough to protect yourself. The expensive breathable dry suits usually only get used once in awhile.