Farmer John wetsuit 3mm or 7mm

-- Last Updated: Mar-13-10 11:42 PM EST --

I am looking to do alot of sea kayaking in georgian bay this year.wondering if I should go with 3mm or 7mm Farmer John wetsuit???? Help

I paddle Lake Superior and
use a dry suit because the water is so cold. I would think Georgian Bay has pretty frigid waters too. You would be a lot safer in a dry suit.


– Last Updated: Mar-14-10 9:19 AM EST –

Hey this could be the THREAD that some people have been waiting for. You know the one that polarizes everyone into two different camps and we argue for a hundred or so posts? Let me start it off:

You will be MUCH more comfortable in a drysuit. Wetsuits are STUPID! There is no good reason to use a wetsuit for kayak touring, none! Surfing, rolling, practicing wet exit/rescues ok, but not touring, get a drysuit you will never regret it.

There let's see how that goes.

Ok I will play
I have a drysuit and a 3 mm farmer john wetsuit. I have used both quite a bit this last winter. sometimes I will do the wetsuit and neoprene tuiliq combination which is pretty warm.

A good combination for comfort for me is the wetsuit and a dry top mated with a good sprayskirt.

But nothing beats a drysuit if you absolutely positively have to keep your core warm and reasonably dry.


Thnaks fot the reply
Thnaks fot the reply. what will be looking at for $$$

for one of these drysuit,What is a good brand,and are they that comfortable to paddle in? They look tike you would swet like a pig in them??

A bay is an animal of a different color
Dry suit only under such conditions.

I paddle solo all winter on a small river and a wet suit works just fine but anytime your likey to be bobbing around in a large bay it is time for a drysuit and a partner or just stay home.

is probably the best suit out there. Their customer service is top notch also. I send mine into the company at the end of each season for a tune-up. They do a leak test, etc. Big dollars for the initial cost of the suit, around $1000, but I think the Gore tex material, which Kokatat uses on there suits is yet to be provin unsuperior. Google a sight called Kayak Academy. They sometimes have used suits or custom suits that were never picked up. I got a suit from them 4 years ago and I’ve probably had it on at least 100 times each season. Last year I finally had to replace the wrist gaskets. It’s really simple to do. You can order new gaskets from Kayak Acadamy or have them do it for you or send it in for Kokatat to do for you. There are so many pluses to using a dry suit. One, that was a biggy for me was to have dry feet all day. When I started paddling I started with a wet suit and a pair of Keen paddle booties. Well, having my feet incased in wet neoprene all day made my feet rot. Athetes feet fungus grew profusely! And talk about stink! With a Kokata dry suit your feet are kept dry with a gore-tex bootie/sock that is part of the suit. In the winter I wear a hand-knit pair of wool socks in the suit. In the summer I just wear a regular pair of socks. Your outer boot/footwear is worn on the outside of your suit. I’m sure if you dig around on the internet enough you can find a good Kokatat suit without paying retail price. Why not get the best. It might save your life one day.

After posting my last reply to you I reread your post and you asked about comfort. As far as comfort goes I would again suggest going with a Kokatat suit. Nothing breathes like Gore-tex to keep you comfortable. I’m a big guy, and sweat a lot! I wear my dry suit most of the summer, because I’m usually paddling in 5o* water. Hypothermia is not your friend. I wear a thin poly-wicking material as a base layer and add insulating layers as needed. Best way to test this is to suit up, and then go walk out in the water your going to p[addle, and stay submerged to your neck for 10 minutes or so. See if you stay warm.

Thanks for the input.
Anyone here use a level 6 drysuit? Have found quite a sweet deal on one, and was wondering if they were any good?

Never another dry suit
I blew out gastkets on a dry suit that was less than a year old in the 90’s almost froze to death. Water entering the suit slowed getting out of the water as well.

Recently cut my neoprene waders and some water entered but I stayed pretty warm. I’ll choose tighter fitting neoprene most every time the water is truly cold. Once you tear that dry suit you have no protection at all.

My gaskets looked fine and the suit was being worn for the 3rd time so I don’t know how you trust the gaskets.

I know the dry suit is a million dimes more comfortable but a raincoat and rain pants ,ight be safer because then you know you have to stay out of the rough stuff and play it safe.

idea about Level 6, but based on a quick look at their web site they look like a solid company making good stuff. I would just say this in general about waterproof/breathable material (warning: controversial statement ahead, may result in possible disagreements). I’ve tried several “high end” waterproof/breathable fabrics and none have come close to the performance of Gore tex. That does not mean that it is perfect. It is not, but it is, by far, the best stuff out there. Well worth the extra cost in my opinion. To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous comment about capitalistic democracy, “Gore Tex is absolutely the worst breathing waterproof material out there… except for all the rest.”

lemme see. breathable dry suit covered from the waist down in a cockpit with a neoprene cover (sprayskirt)

top core covered by a pfd

pretty much leaves the arms and shoulders to breathe. so I never bought the how much better goretex is to all the rest. Perhaps in lab conditions but for the paddling I do I am going to sweat regardless and no fabric is able to transfer that much anyway.

I have a NRS Extreme that is a couple of years old. no frills and probably too big for me but I can layer undrneath if I need to.


3mm vs. 7mm
To answer the original question, 7mm is too thick to paddle in, IMO. 3mm will be much more flexible. I’d say 5mm is about max for a wetsuit that you can move in. Leave the 7mm suits to the divers.

What is the water temperature when
you will be paddling?

I once ordered a custom wetsuit, and
specified 3mm. They made it in 5mm and I could not paddle in it. Having a copy of the order form I had sent in, I was at least able to get them to change the sleeves to 3mm. I never got much use out of that wetsuit, and it cost a bunch.

Georgian Bay
As someone who has actually paddled on extended Georgian Bay Trips the last several years (Tobermory and the Mink & McCoys), I’d have to echo the previous paddler in asking when are you going?

Early August the last couple of years has brought water temps to respectable levels. Even enough to do a bit of swimming for those with thick skin. If you’re going early summer or fall, I’m guessing a Dry suit or Wetsuit, whichever fits your budget would be a must.

On several trips our group included paddlers who used dry suits exclusively and others like me that used fuzzy rubber on the sunny days and a dry top on the windy overcast days. The ladies in our group used their drysuits primarily for warmth and the guys layered as needed.

Water/air rules state to dress for the water, so whatever makes you comfortable. I paddle warm, have a bombproof roll and self rescue skils and am always with a group of very experienced paddlers on these kinds of adventures. So I don’t plan on being in the water for an extended period of time, but there is always that sliver of a chance I’d be in the water long enough to experience hypothermia. That’s the chance I take, not owning a full drysuit.

I’m assuming you don’t have $500-$800 to spend on a drysuit. Have you thought of a farmer john and a drytop, this combination of layers allows for flexibility in your gear throughout the season and buys you some in-water time if you are out of your boat. You get the warmth of a wetsuit, the shoulder flexibility of the farmer John and then you can regulate your heat by layering to fit your needs?

I have been testing my own theory
on the paddling prejudice against wetsuits.

I think it depends on what you are going to do, and what range of temps we are talking about.

Sea Kayaking in air temps above 50 with water temps in the 30-40, would be a good case for a drysuit. You are exerting yourself in a temp range where water and air are fairly disparate and you may not be repeatedly getting wet.

I have been toying with the idea of a 4/3 suit for surf kayaking in spring and fall. Water temps 30-40 air temps 50-70. But I will be wet and not paddling continually. I got a good used Xcel 4/3 full suit. I used it this weekend on an inland lake for a paddle round the lake. It was really warm, too warm, but the range of motion was excellent. The newer surfing suits are pretty nice. It was warm and didn’t impede paddling at all.

I have a good Kokatat Drysuit for paddling, so to me it is a choice.

But a 3mm suit should be fine when paired with a drytop.

In the land of “group think”, individual theories are not welcomed, even if based on actual experience rather than conjecture.


I should stop with all this empirical stuff, it just gets me nowhere.

We’re going to have you on a waveski
before the end of the summer …

The trip to the darkside continues …