Drysuit/wetsuit question

Fall is fast arriving and am wondering opinions on what other lake kayakers (Lake Michigan) wear to be able to continue paddling into late fall. I just got back from Pictured Rocks and wore a wetsuit there. The price difference is enormous between wetsuits and drysuits, but I am looking for others’ opinions.


Dry top dry pants on Tahoe
during the winter. It was not totally dry, my top is a semidry but I was able to swim for 10 minutes without getting numb. I could not do that in a wetsuit. Safest is a drysuit.

Wetsuit Is Limited
A 3mm Farmer John you can actually paddle in is pretty limited. Only good down to water temps of about 55 degrees, even with a Mysterioso top.

Water temp

– Last Updated: Aug-12-04 10:59 PM EST –

When the water temp is significantly above 55, I wear a wet suit. When it is near or below 55, I wear dry (actually mated drytop and drypants).

When the water is above 65, I wear a bathing suit.

I have spent major portions of
my life swimming in cold water. I draw the line at 50 degrees below that I wear a drysuit ever time.

Late Fall on
L. Michigan. You will need a drysuit to be safe. Late Fall usually means cold water, or if it’s not real cold one day it can be the next depending on the winds which can bring upwellings of colder water near shore.

Depends on the wetsuit or drysuit. In Rhode Island, surfers (including kayak surfers like myself) can be seen in lower 30 degree water in wetsuits, but these are special suits with thicker neoprene in the back/torso, and thinner in the arms/legs, where flexibility is needed. With the wetsuit I use in the dead of winter, I can surf for three hours and be completely warm when I get out…and that may include several rolls. I like the wetsuit for surfing, especially around rocks, because a rip in a wetsuit is no big deal, but a rip in a drysuit is a catastrophe.

For touring, I prefer a drysuit…it’s just more comfortable. However, you must keep it in good repair, especially the zipper(s) and gaskets. Also, the liner is important, since the drysuit itself offers little thermal protection. I own 2 liners: a lighter weight, and a heavy, expedition weight.