Drysuits Are The THING

I’ve been paddling in cold weather with a dry jacket and Hydroskin bottoms. I thought it was pretty good. Naw. A drysuit is SOOO much better. Here’s some free, unsolicited advice: Don’t waste your money on a dry jacket. It won’t keep your butt warm and dry like a drysuit.

Wish someone had clued me in a long time ago.

the second coolest part
after loading the kayak on the car, peeling off all your gear and putting on dry clothes. Definately more civilized than stripping off a wetsuit in a cold breeze.

Totally agree
On the other hand, for those who aren’t buying it, I have a Kokatat Wave Goretex dry top that I’d be willing to sell ;-). Oh, and a NRS Grizzly John GXXL wet suit.


And look how the price is dropping on some models:


Look for My NRS Jacket on Ebay

Like you I just switched
from a drytop and neoprene to a full drysuit.

What a difference in warmth and comfort…I’m too old to be freezing my butt off anymore.

Still a PITA to climb in and out of and the zippers are stiff but glad I got it.

We were out on Lake Erie today…a nice day but cold,clammy and foggy.Glad I wasn’t in neo.

One small exception is for paddling
whitewater decked c-1s. I find that with the low kneeling position needed to fit in the hull and for good stability, I can’t have a bunch of drysuit fabric, plus any underlying insulation, bunched behind my knee.

When kneeling in an open boat, the higher pedestal and lack of cockpit make a drysuit normally comfortable. For kayaking, a person as big and tall as I am may find that a drysuit makes snaking into a tight cockpit a little more difficult. Fortunately, I have a choice of kayaks.


For Sure
I thought about buying a dry top I saw on sale, and realized I could not think of a time I would not prefer the drysuit.

I just got back from a nice paddle in the drysuit and thought, how nice to be warm and dry on a cold wet day.

The best
I got the NRS Extreme drysuit for Christmas and went out with Daggermat yesterday to try it out. After four hours and three swims (due to my poor side surfing skills), I was still warm and dry. Can’t beat it. Few pictures here:


Satan’s Kingdom on the Farmington

yeah man
Aaron and I went back today, same bat place, same bat channel. One swim each, both in the Encore. No big deal when you’re dry, potential serious issues if you’re wet. Eck, you got it down real good a couple times yesterday. Aaron put on a show in the Encore today a couple times. Practice, practice, practice, splash, blub blub, swim…

Kinda makes me sad when…
Kinda makes me sad when warmer weather comes around. I held out last year until the air temps hit 70. Drysuits are almost a religious experience the first time you actually need one.

I think it was a little over a year ago that coyoteequip and I were paddling the Saint and Jarvis was trying his drysuit for the first time. It took him quite a while to make the decision to buy one because of the expense. Anyway, we dropped through a rapid and a limb knocked him out of his canoe. All I saw was his boat and paddle??? Then he sprang up out of the water with a huge smile on his face and screamed “WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!”

When it gets near the end of the cold season and not quite back to neo, I start wearing my street clothes under mine. I just pull it off when I am done and put my tennis shoes on and head home.


What to use for extremeties?
What do you guys use for the extremities (hands and feet) to go along with a drysuit? I still haven’t figured out a perfect solution. For my hands I use the NRS mamba pogies which work great as long as you stay out of the water. Plenty warm. I wouldn’t want to take a swim in them, however. I have a pair of hydroskin gloves (.5mm?) and my hands get really cold when soaked.

For feet I have a pair of NRS expedition socks (3mm ). I’ve gotten these immersed while getting in and out of water in water temps of the 30s. Seems to be adequate although the feet can be a little chilly for a bit. The biggest issue is the time it takes to get them to sit flush with the drysuit latex gaskets so there isn’t any leakage.

Get a drysuit with
attached booties. No more wet feet and no ankle gaskets to deal with.

You could try some Hypalon gloves
I got mine from George and Barbara at kayakacademy.com, and they are pretty good. Of course, you are in North Dakota, so I don’t know about that. For bitter cold here, I have used the gloves with Snapdragon pogies and been very warm.

Example, Last Sunday 38 f
I paddled whitewater last Sunday with 38 degree temps and water that included snowmelt and I was toasty warm.

Don’t even think of a drysuit without sewn in waterproof booties. I wore one layer of Merino Wool longjohns and a fleece vest. The PFD takes care of a lot of the temp issues of the torso.

I use Glacier Bay gloves (under $20) and I never have cold hands.

Take the drysuit plunge. No one ever regrets it.


Not a regret but
I don’t like wearing my drysuit all that much. If it’s below freezing I’ll wear it for safety. However I find mine to be clumsy. It’s like there’s too much material where I don’t want it and not enough where I do want it.

That being said the thing has saved my life at least once. January 14, 2007. I was paddling approximately 79 miles west of Kalaloch WA looking for an island that didn’t exist. Looooong story there involving locals having a bit of fun with an out of towner at the local watering hole. I mean really, who would believe a story about an island loaded with Native American artifacts just off our coast? As one of the locals put it “Like Easter Island with totem poles”. Only a complete idiot would try to find an island at coordinates that every chart said was nothing but water right?

I digress, so here I am paddling around in January in the north Pacific (looking for that damn island, alone, without letting anyone I trust know where I was) almost 80 miles from the beach looking for a island that wasn’t on my chart. Weather was rough, but I could handle it. Or so I thought. Anyway after 12 hours of fighting the elements I was exhausted and decided I needed to paddle back to shore. Any shore. A moments inattention and I was in the water. Very, very cold water. The drysuit likely saved my life because if I had been wearing my more comfortable wetsuit I would have gone into deep hypothermia in minutes. As it was the drysuit kept me warm (and dry) and I was able to get back in the boat and paddle back to a beach.

Good gear saves lives.

Get booties added
if your suit doesn’t have them. Should be possible from any manufacturer these days. Then you can use stuff like sheep or alpaca wool socks that’ll also work for snowshoeing or just plain walking around on cold days.

For hands, Deep Sea gloves. They are actually scuba dry gloves, intended to mate with a diving dry suit. Deep Sea was the first we found, but there are other brands of the same thing these days. Easier to use than most of the paddling choices like Nordic Blues, much more feeling than something like NRS Reactors and plenty warm in winter.

Drysuit Questions


Very appealing! Two questions:

  1. How do the attached drysocks in NRS Extreme compare to models with attached booties?

  2. If you are wearing a drysuit, how do you answer nature’s call during a long trip with no landing options? With wetsuit and drytop, I can flip over, do my business, then either do a solo-T followed by cowboy scramble, or a re-entry and roll, depending on the condition.


There are two kinds of calls. I would guess that “Depends” would be an option for the solid call.

As a man, I am able to open the zipper and urinate into my pee cup while seated in my kayak.

I suspect a woman might be able to unzip and catch the urine in something. Uhhh… never seen it done.