How it’s made
These jackets are made of two or three layers of material: an outer woven fabric, a waterproof/breathable “membrane”, and, optionally, an interior loose weave fabric.
The waterproof/breathable layer (Goretext, eVent, Hyvent, etc) is very thin and contributes basically nothing to the weight or stiffness of the jacket. This barrier is a very thin sheet of plastic (with pores). It is not woven from threads.
Most of the the weight and pretty-much all of the durability of the jacket is contributed by the outerfabric. Basically, any outer fabric can be matched to any membrane. This outer fabric is woven from thread and is treated with water repellant to shed water.
Generally, a heavier outer fabric will be more durable. A lighter outer fabric will be somewhat more confortable to wear.
Some jackets have an additional layer of fabric “laminated” (glued/fused) to the membrane layer on the inside of the jacket. This layer protects the delicate membrane from wear from the inside. This is a woven fabric with a loose weave. Jackets like this have three-layers of material. It costs more to create a three layer fabric. This means that this feature is found in more expensive jackets. They should hold up better (which means it might be worth the extra cost).
It’s easy to tell that a jacket has three layers or two. In a three-layer jacket, the inside has a weave you can see and feel. A two-layer jacket is shiny white or gray inside (maybe with dots). What you are seeing is the membrane. Sometimes, the two-layer jackets have a loose inner fabric (often a mesh).
Goretex an especially expensive membrane. Other competing membranes are less expensive. eVent is one and it has a rather good reputation for breathability.
How it’s made
I like it
I like the NRS suit. It might not be quite as breathable as Goretex but it looks sturdy and well made. It’s a three-layer material (I believe).
Look up the Stolquist BPod. Another good suit.
Heavier fabric will generally be more durable. Concidering that a drysuit/drytop is a piece of safety equipment being durable is important because a breach of the material means the jacket isn’t dry. (In contrast, wetsuits have the advantage of working just fine with a few holes.)
Breathablilty is useful even for non-fitness paddlers. It’s more comfortable and that means, you’ll use it more. (Note that nothing can be perfectly breathable.)
I am sartorially challenged
I think Ben may have been wearing something lime green, but hey, I am a guy. I really didn’t notice, other than that he was pretty casually attired.
In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if you encountered this in the military. Before you get into the boat, stick your head under water fully and hold it there for a moment. Some others may think you’ve totally lost it when the water is colder, but it is the absolute best way to reduce an untoward response to the cold water in a capsize. I’m also a big fan of ear plugs when the water is colder - iut really is terribly distracting.
How cool is that?
How cool is that?
Just gat a single lesson
If you get your drysuit, maybe you could get it from Barb and George at the kayakacademy. They have used drysuits which will save you some money which you can use for them to give you a wet exit lesson.
After an hour of wet exits and rescues, you would be very familiar with the process and the risks. If you get through with flying colors, ok, paddle alone.
But don’t think that being on a small lake means you can’t capsize. I have seen it, especially with beginners. And I can tell you about a rock just below the surface that I didn’t see - my wife still laughs at that - no way I though I could capsize on that day in that lake.
What about a wet suit?
Wouldn’t that keep me relatively warm until I can get back into dry clothes in the event of a capsize? They are much cheaper.
A wet suit could work
It is less protection and less money than a dry suit. There are a number of threads on this topic and a number of opinions. I have one, but seldom wear it. I did 1.5 hours of pool practice this winter in an unheated pool at 65 degrees and was surprised how cold I got, but it was just a farmer john that did not fit too well. Jay Babina’s website has some info on wetsuit/drysuit protection.
For anyplace you should be going as a beginner, it should be fine.
I notice that Spokane has a canoe and kayak club with a website. That would be a great place for info. See what other locals are using, and meet some other paddlers and instructors. Find some great places to paddle.
In general, it is better to get the local info first and spend money later, unless money is no object.
Try to find out where the serious paddlers shop in your area and develop a relationship. Although they won’t be pleased at losing a sale of a new kayak, a good store will still be helpful, and there will be lots more you will be buying in the future.
Club and wetsuit
Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, memebership $25/yr and the following desciption: "All paddlers of non-motorized craft are welcome! The Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club is located in Spokane, Washington and has approximately 400 members. Club activities include paddling trips for kayakers and canoeists of all interests and skill levels."
Website is http://www.sckc.ws/
I am a little unsure about why you weren't referred to these folks earlier by the local shop, but you'd be making a mistake not to at least give them a try. Company for paddling for you, increases the safety factor, and they may also be running pool sessions so that you could start on some skills work in warm water.
As to the wetsuit, it still depends on the water temp. IMO, if you are talking 36 thru mid-40's water, just the typical Farmer John would require additional layers. Look at the thicknesses of diving suits, though even they are going to drysuits. At that temperature of water you'll see diving wetsuits in the vicinity of 5-7 plus mills. A typical paddling wetsuit is more like 3 mills at most, partly because it is really difficult to paddle comfortably in anything thicker. There are much better quality wetsuits for surfing, with varying thicknesses and high end very comfy materials, but you probably won't love the price on them either.
There is also the issue of your hands - it takes better than the usual hydroskin paddling glove to keep functionality if you end up in that temperature water. No hands, no self-rescue so it isn't trivial. You are talking either diving gloves (Deep Sea makes a nice pair), Nordic Blues or other more specialized and more expensive gloves. Your head too - I need a 5 mill diving type hood in that water personally.
You may be altogether better off just waiting to get onto the water until it's warm, and use the coming season to figure out exactly will work for you before you make the much larger cold water paddling investments. It's not worth being a statistic just to get the boat wet a few weeks earlier.
I'm really not trying to do gloom and doom here, but there is some very useful timing here. Look up the current issue of Sea Kayaker magazine. There is a story in there, unfortunately ending in a tragedy for one, about two kayakers in Sweden who had gone out onto 38 degree water last March. There is an unusually precise timeline on the progression and a good analysis of what could have been done differently and what were probably insurmountable problems in the moment. That one story will probably be more useful to you than the bulk of this thread.
I have this suit as well as a B pod. differences:
B pod has a neoprene neck collar which most find much more comfortable than a latex collar which the NRS extreme has. One is considered a semi dry suit because of the neoprene andd the other a full dry suit due to the latex.
both have booties
The B pod has a relief zipper and it is welcome. the NRS is big enough (really) to swing the zipper around to do your business. the B-pod has a strip of velcro that covers the zipper and that does get annoying sometimes as it adds to the bulk on the shoulder. Also that velcro catches on the velcro on your wrists etc and is vaguely annoying.
the NRS has no cover over the zipper but it is still new and feels stiff and just as bulky due to the stiffness on the shoulder.
NRS seems like it will wear better and is a bit thicker than the B pod.
The Bpod large is just a little uncomfortable to get on because there is no extra room until it is on and then it is very comfortable and fits almost too perfectly. The extra large NRS I swim in a bit but the good side is that I can layer a lot under it. The NRS has a bungee for your waist and the top of the suit overhangs this a bit due to the oversize. If you are a large, order the large if it is NRS or the extra large if it is the B pod.
Lastly I got both on e-bay and the NRS was around 300 with the B pod not much more when I got them. Keep looking!
the drysuit does build confidence if you do a couple of things first. After you have it on, go out and swim for 15 minutes. Not 5 minutes but a true 15 minutes. If you are comfortable you are dressed properly for the water temperatures.
Get a 5 ml hood and some neoprene gloves at a minimum. get large fleece socks for under the suit and polypro or fleece undergarments. Get some good wicking layers.
contrary to some peoples belief, a dry suit is hardly dry if you are expending any energy. Actually pretty damp and the trick is to keep warm and dry next to your skin. there are no scenes where you peel off the drysuit ala James bond and have the tux underneath for the party at the arch enemy’s house.
I think you got it backwards
He probably is considering the older version of the Revolution, which is a heavier fabric. I believe that the '08 version has the new fabric.
I am actually looking at both of those dry suits. Based on where most of my paddling will be done (lakes) is leaning me towards the bPod for the more comfortable fit around the neck. Before I make any purchase I will try them on to see which one I like better. I am also looking at getting some neoprene base layering. I do need to save some money for the next couple of weeks though. In the long run and to cover the most situations a dry suit seems to be the best option.
All Good Responses
But I still think wearing a drysuit and protective head gear may be TRUMPED by staying close to shore.
A few years back me and a couple friends donned our drysuits, wetsuits, etc. and went out on a fairly large inland lake. We paddled out to where there was still ice, then paddled along the edge.
After a time out there we realized just how far we were away from hot chocolate and porn, so we generally stay close to shore now days.
Celia’s correct. Frozen hands and hypothermic head can kill a fun time.
get a copy of Matt Broze’s
It’s only $3.42 used–a compendium of Sea Kayaker Magazine’s accident column, with description and analysis (post mortem). Good stuff. You owe yourself the read. To know what the issues are involved–what kind of trouble you can get yourself into wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Most all in WA state.
Re the idea about making it back to your car and changing clothes, I wish Cool Doc would repost his thread here. About how he did the same thing. Very sobering. It sounds so simple. It was not. Not pleasant and not simple.
Aren’t there any pool sessions in the Spokane area? Somewhere where you could practice a wet exit in clear warm water? Tons of pools have them in Portland.
Seems like at least one should where you live. Ask around.
Because I have a wife and kids, my first rule is: You cannot die. If you like that rule of thumb, it may mean no paddling on cold water by yourself until you’ve 1) taken care of the clothing issue, and 2) learned how to do a wet exit and learned some rescues to get yourself back in the boat.
(Sidebar: One of the instructional videos out has got an excellent segment in which the interview beginners about how long they think it will take them to get back in the boat, and then film them actually doing it. Everyone says it will only take a minute or so, and then NO ONE is able to do it!!! You’ve gotta try this stuff out yourself in controled conditions first before you need it.)
I can’t remember, is money an issue? Either way, I’m a believer in getting instruction. At least one or two lessons early on to kick you off. You can ask all the questions you want and have somebody right there supervising you, helping you acquire each skill, some of which–like a wet exit–can be life or death.
On clothing: Learn about hypothermia. Deep Trouble is good. Read around. A drytop and dry pants combo will leak where they join. A 3 mm farmer john won’t cut it in cold water. Drysuits and surfing wetsuits are the best solution for a cold swim. But even they only buy you time.
My personal experience: trying to save money up front (e.g. by getting a cheaper two-piece solution) will cost you more in the end. Find a way to get the right thing the first time. The first swim you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll save money in the end.
Piece of mind. And get instruction.
I am getting a dry suit before I paddle
and I am looking into instruction. There are 2 clubs in the area and Kayak CDA offers instruction. They have already let me borrow an instructional video to give me an idea of what to expect. I have my bases covered don’t worry… Thanks!
get some pool instruction maybe for wet exits and self rescues.
read deep trouble
what’s the rush? You got the rest of your life to kayak…a month or two until it gets warm and you get some experience under your belt will make you a much better informed buyer of gear that you will need for you.
So far what I am hearing from you is a scenario where you go out this week and go paddle. for this it is worth 3 to 500 bucks when it is going to be warm in a couple of months? Do you have any real knowlege of what you would do in a capsize situation or other calamity even if you do have on a dry suit???
during the heat of the summer after you have some butt time, you can make your decisions as to whether this is going to be something you do every day (like me with two drysuits) or occasionally, or never in the winter time. right now you just don’t really know.
kayak academy rents suits. go rent one a couple of times and spend the bucks on instruction with great teachers. It is amazing what you learn just in conversation let alone the formal instruction on the water.
take it slow and live. You got plenty of time.
Yes don’t worry I will get instruction.
Starting on the 20th I am going to be in a partial body cast for 3 weeks as a trial before I have back surgery. (fractured vertebra) Also my boat isn’t even done yet. So I won’t be in the boat tomorrow or anything.
Stohlquist bPod on Layaway
A dry suit seemed to be the best way to go. I just need to get some undergarments to wick away the water and keep me warm.
hard part is over.
I found some of the best wicking t shirts at Walmart for 6 bucks each.
congrats on the B pod. great suit. Welcome to the Devo wannabe club.