Dry suit under layer clothing

I got my first dry suit last night. It is a Palm Stikine. The first paddle where I will get to wear it on open water will be a Monterey Bay to Lovers Point paddle March 5th. The water surface temperature today is ~ 55 degrees F so I expect it to be in that range on the 5th. I figure I will wear two layers underneath the suit. I was thinking the base layer would be capilene since I have tops and bottoms from my ski clothing collection. I have worn the capilene as a base layer under my wetsuit.

The second layer would be a fleece top and bottom. Of course no cotton! :slight_smile: For socks I think I have some non-cotton ones which I wear in my fly fishing boots. Am I on the right track in deciding what to wear as the under layers? Is it just a matter of trial and error when determining what weight fleece to wear? Does anyone have any rule of thumb guide they would like to offer say around when they may wear a 100 weight fleece vs. a 200 weight fleece? I ask that knowing we all have different sensitivity to cold. Also is there any issue in wearing a fleece top that has a zip-up neck? Also I am open to suggestions for socks to wear in the Palm dry suit booties. Then I guess there is the question around a one piece fleece garment so the top and bottoms do not separate creating a cold spot. Does any one have comments in response to that question?

Too much
I think you will be too warm with capilene plus a layer of fleece. Air temps will be in mid-50s as well this time of year, yes?

I would go for a wicking/rash guard layer and then a thin fleece. You really need to experiement to match to your own preferences and level of activity.

For me a cold spot at the waist is not a problem, but bunching of too many waist bands is. A fleece union suit is on my list of things to buy to avoid this. For now, stategic tucking keeps things managable.

one thin layer should suffice, especially since the PFD actually acts on insulation. The only reason to wear more is if you suspect the possibility of a long swim. I think you going our with a group, right?

Relativity kicks in too. Last year, surfing at SC, air temps in the 60-70 range and water temp of 50, I felt more than adequately dressed with a 2mm FJ, .5 mm neo top and a drytop over that.


How far are you from the water?
Dress, drive to the water minus boat, simply walk in…time it till you begin feeling uncomfortable…then take a walk along the shore…(Simulate exertion of paddling)…see how warm you get…To warm? Experiment BEFORE you get on the water to paddle…that will answer a lot of your questions.

Or just jump in the tub
Cold water from the tap is generally about 50.

However, if you dress so that your are warm and toasty while immeressed in 50 degree water you will be too warm while paddling.

Thin layer of silk weight capilene type
will be more than adequate and maybe too much and you could overheat. You may want to go with a farmerjohn, drytop or shorty drytop so you can layer.

Can be a battle
to find something that suits both the air and water temps. Each individual has a very different comfort level at different levels of activity.

I sweat when the air temps break 75°F. With my drysuit, a rashguard, a one-piece Polartec 200 liner, and a dive hood, I can roll in 40°air/40° water for 2 hours straight with no feeling of cold. On a 10-15 mile paddle wearing the same, I feel uncomfortably hot if I don’t roll regularly.

Once the air temps hit 60°, the water will still be 40°. I loose the polartec liner and keep the rashguard. I can only safely do this by limiting my time in the water. At 70° air, I can’t paddle any distance comfortably in my drysuit without rolling or even better, swimming.

another point of view
If the water is 50 it’s easy enough to cool off with a roll, or if you aren’t comfortable rolling, with a dunk off another’s bow. If you’re really warm, get your head and hair wet, that’ll cool you off for a while. On the other hand, it’s harder to get warm once chilled. Go with what you feel comfortable (as far as safety) with, then peel off or change the layers from there on the next paddle.


I also paddle in Northern California and
find one layer of capilene and one layer of smart wool is plenty for all but the coldest days, and then I add a second layer of smart wool on top.

Best Heat Regulator On The Water
is whether you don head gear or not, and what kind if you do. This one simple piece of gear can do much in regulating how warm, cool, or cold you feel while paddling.