Dry suit: now what?

2nd the fleece and synthetics

– Last Updated: Nov-18-14 2:16 PM EST –

Here's what I wore this past weekend for rolling practice in 54F water, 35F air temp with the wind blowing.
- short sleeve polypro t-shirt
- long sleeve Helly Hansen polypro/wool shirt
- Reed Chillcheater fleece top
- Reed Chillcheater fleece pants over polypro boxer/briefs
- Fox River synthetic mid weight wicking socks
- Goretex drysuit with stocking feet
- 10mm dive hood
- 5mm dive gloves
- paddle booties

I rolled for an hour without ever feeling chilled or wet. I stopped due to elbow soreness. When I took my shirts off I could ring sweat out of them.

The previous weekend the air temps were in the low 40'sF and I wore all of the above except the HH long sleeve shirt and rolled for 2-1/2 hours and was soaked.

If I'm going out to just paddle, no rolling, I wear all of the above except replace the dive hood with either a fleece hat or balaclava. Sometimes I'll wear Hot Hands pogies instead of the dive gloves and my hands stay very toasty. I always take both just in case. Also take a very warm jacket, hat and mittens to keep warm if you take a break as you'll get cold very quickly.

I also got a neck ring reliever from Kayak Academy when I bought my dry suit. This helps greatly to keep me from overheating. It is made of 3/4" fiberglass reinforced plastic water hose (available from RV shop) and a piece of dowel with one end glued into the hose. Loop it around your neck, then pull the latex neck gasket over the tubing and this vents your dry suit. In the unlikely event of a spill you can nudge the gasket off of the gasket so that you don't get too much (or any) water down the suit. There's a pic on the West coast paddler forum.

I've worn these layers in VA Beach for winter paddling and surfing, winter paddling in the PNW, and now in SW Ohio.

Check out the dive shops in your area. They're a great source. I just picked up the new hood and dive gloves from them.

Good luck and stay warm!


neck gasket – some trim, some stretch
You can stretch the neck gasket around a sauce pan and let it sit over night – try it on again – you can let it sit longer if needed or maybe go to a bit larger pan. It should be tight on you, but not to the point of your forehead vein popping out and feeling light-headed! – which is why I stretched mine. Trimming also works – be careful, as said.

This is why I asked. After about 5 minutes I got light-headed and nearly passed out.

Immersion Research bunny suit
I recently got one of Immersion Research’s union suits (the “thick skin” version.) Pretty nice piece of apparel for under a dry suit, very warm and cut specifically for the purpose with a superstretchy neck and shoulder fabric that makes getting into it simple and seams and gussets that facilitate the position and movements for paddling. It certainly makes wriggling into the drysuit simpler, not having to adjust and tug two pieces of under layer. Very warm too, in fact I am having to refrain from over-using it as a lounging outfit on these cold evenings,

Stohlquist Vapor Suit
Lighter fleece (200gm weight I think) than the denser Bunny Suit by Stohlquist. No zippers but rather a double collar arrangement so you slide it on starting from the shoulders. I do t think it’s on their site yet but I brought them in early. Been very happy with mine. I’ll have to put some pics of the entry system up on the blog tomorrow.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY