Dry suit use

I was wondering if any one could advise me on how long they wear their dry suits into the season. I like to get out on to area lakes soon after ice is off the lakes. I have been using only a wet suit and fortunately I haven’t had to go for a swim. I now know that this isn’t the smart thing to do and I am considering getting a dry suit. I try to get out two to three times a week, and I am out for a couple hours at least. I haven’t decided on which suit to consider yet, but was also factoring in just how long in to the season I should be wearing it. I have seen some of the other threads, and there where some good suggestions regarding which suit they like or don’t like.

Drysuit use
Well paddling in Newfoundland in June can be extremely dangerous without proper thermal protection. I wear a two piece drysuit, during july and august and some of sept, I wear only my Kokatat drypants combined with Helly Hansen Lifa layers underneath, and i’ll carry a paddling jacket(not goretex). I know some people who paddle in front entry kokatat goretex one piece drysuits yearround…I hardly think this is necessary…but I guess its all about being safe and comfortable…therefore, try em out…where in the world are you located?

Really depends on water temperature. I was wearing mine on June 5th this past year during a kayak instrution course because the lake water had only warmed up to about 54F. If I remember correctly air temp hit the mid to upper 70s, maybe higher. A breathable suit is nice when you encounter extremes between air and water temp.


Water temperature
determines how long I wear mine. When the water temp nears 70F then I usually go to the wet suit.

Anything lower, the dry suit with appropriate under garmets according to the air temp.

Anything < 60 f air temp…
If the air temp is much greater than 60f than I find it too hot to wear my drysuit w/o lots of rolling. If the air temp were > 60f and the conditions and water temp not unreasonable I would probably just keep my drytop handy and skip the drysuit. Living in Wisconsin you won’t be sorry you purchased a drysuit.


Hello fellow Cheesehead!
As others have said, the water temperature is of the greatest concern. If you are paddling the open waters of Lake MI or Superior, a drysuit would not be out of the question 7-9 months out of the year.

A common, but not perfect rule of thumb is to add the water temp to the air temp and if the result is below 100, the risk of hypothermia is much greater. Some even say 120, to be safe.

For me, anything above 65° air temp becomes dang warm in the drysuit without regular swimming &/or rolling.

I was out for a couple of hours this morning. The water temp was 36°F and the air a couple degrees higher. Wonderful considering it’s January.

I have no clue about water temperatures
so i go by air temperatures. In summer give me a dry suit and a dry top as i am not concerned about swimming in then. For the rest of the year when i do not want to get chilled by the water or the cold cool air i use my dry suit. Depending on how cold it is depends on the layers underneath my dry suit.

Drysuit greatly extends the season
For us anyway. I don’t do cold well.

We tend to be in pools rather than outside from early December until sometime in March - ain’t that tough - but with the drysuit I can stay on (and in for practice) the water comfortably for a good 10 degrees colder than I find convenient with a wetsuit/drytop layers combo. And our more extreme comfort zone runs down to at and below freezing with the drysuits. Our last paddle of 2005 was in 35 degree water and air temp at 21, 17 degrees effective with wind chill. (Add the ice cap for rolling by then.) Last spring we were first on the water at air temps in the high 40’s, and I took my first outdoor roll in 45 degree water temps. With the Henderson ice cap as well as the drysuit I figure I’ll be upside down a bit sooner this year.

The drysuits are also just plain easier when we paddle in Maine in the summer and can hit dense fog on the way home or a day of off and on rain. (just rain doesn’t necessarily keepus of the water) In those cases the air cools off pretty quickly, the water temps are at their best high 50’s, and the drysuit is a lot more confortable to wear than the wetsuit/drytop combo I’d otherwise need.

LOL !!!
70 degrees ! Whatever.

An Alternate Opinion
You can safely paddle in a good 4/3 wet suit designed for surfing water temps around 50 F, and a little bit below (45 ?) depending on what you have on underneath and your own insulation. You can paddle in a 3/2 Wetsuit comfotably above 55 F and maybe a little bit below with a semi dry top. Above 60 F you can use a Farmer john type suit. What thickness is your current wet suit? How cold is the water when you ae going to go out? This time of year you can get a deal on a 4/3 suit (120-150 $) if you are only going to paddle in the spring-late fall. If you are going to paddle in really cold water then the dry suit is the way to go, but if you get one make sure you test it in cold water and make sure it really performs the way you think it will.


– Last Updated: Jan-08-06 12:24 PM EST –

by where your profile says you live and paddle. You might only gain a week or two of paddling by using a drysuit. Those inland waters warm up fast once the thaw and the sunshine hits. This also depends on your aclimation to cold and any age , extra body insulation or medical conditions you have. Guess I would talk to people in your area, with an open mind, maybe at Rutabagies to see what they say about their drysuit use and what it gains them on your waters.

Best wishes

Use like a dry top…
Here are my thoughts…based on only a little experience with dry suits.

Assuming cold water that would require a wet suit anyway…why not use a drysuit whenever the air temperature is cold enough for you to choose to wear a long sleeve paddle jacket / dry top?

I like to roll and I like to paddle whitewater so I have gotten rid of my paddle jackets and gotten drytops (a little less breathability sure, but selling my paddle jacket helped pay for my nice expensive drytop). Well…if it cold enough for the long sleeve dry top and not for a shortie, then why not wear the dry suit??? It’s surely more comfortable to wear than the long sleeve drytop and a wet suit?

Based on this I am selling my dry top and my wet suit and will use the drysuit instead of this combination (again this is to help pay for my VERY expensive drysuit).


It depends on the water temp
Here in New England, I find I use mine 7-8 months out of the year.

Dry suit use
I just wanted to say thanks for the response, I do apperciate the insight that everyone provided. I hope to see some of my fellow Wisconsinites out on the water some time. Again thanks!!