Gore-Tex ?

I’ve begun kayaking and just finished my first T-rescue/self rescue lesson (I have the leg bruises to prove it). Some of the participants had full Gore Tex with neoprene gaskets. I’ve also heard that a Gore Tex top over a farmer-john wet suit is another option.

I live in Northern CA and I want the right attire to paddle in the ocean.

Any suggestions?


farmer john
NorCal varies a lot, but the standard starting point for NorCal is a 3 mm farmer john. Wear polypro or similar layers for added warmth. A paddle jacket or dry top (dry top provides more help once you get a bomb proof roll - until then, a paddle jacket would likely be fine).

For winter, a dry suit is a nice improvement, but they do cost $500 plus.

For some areas during summer (Central Valley, the warmer areas of the bay, etc.), a wet suit isn’t even needed. For example, I checked water temps online right now (at http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/wtg12.html#cpac) and Redwood City water’s are at 71.6f. I’d go out without a wetsuit in that.

Coastal water doesn’t ever get above 60F, and it is often foggy and cool air temps. Wet suits with paddle jackets will work, but you may not be as comfortable as you would in a dry suit if you were doing something that you likely would be getting very wet (say surfing or rock gardening).

Goretex is just a fabric
Not even the fabric you see. There is an outerlayer and an inner layer with the goretex in between.

What you saw were paddling jackets that just happened to be made out of goretex. A good paddling jacket is important piece of gear where you live, as the other poster said what you put under is it depends on the season and personal choice.

Goretex is a great breathable fabric, it is also very expensive which means the items made from it is usually well made. Once again a personal choice how much you want to spend for a paddle jacket.

I’m a NorCal paddler myself and just started last year. I’ve found that buying a drysuit has made a huge difference in my ability and desire to paddle because I’m always really comfortable and I can focus on the task at hand rather than being wet and chilly.

And, don’t worry about GorTex, there are a few companies that produce drysuits with a different breathable, waterproof fabric.

Consider going…
…straight to a goretex dry suit which may end up saving you money.

Here’s what happened with me… first I bought a dry top only to find out that I couldn’t get it on or off without help. I actually got stuck in it and had to have a neighbor “rescue” me. Whereas I was starting to panic, she seemed to be endlessly amused.

Next I bought NRS hydroskin top/bottom combo. This worked okay and extended my comfort zone down a few degrees. However I just didn’t like wearing the stuff.

Earlier this year I bought a Kokatat Goretex paddle suit with the neo neck. It is easy to put on and take off. It has greatly extended my temperature range. Only issue is that Kokatat does correctly advertise it as a paddle suit and after about twenty to thirty rolls my shirt is very damp. However for the first time ever, I can kayak, roll and splash and have dry feet!

Just wish that I had gone straight to the Kokatat suit and now I wish that I had gone for the latex neck :slight_smile:

Learn from my mistakes.

drysuit deals
There are two men’s sized Kokatat Goretex suits on Ebay at the moment, a small and an XXL. Their suits are generously sized – check the Kokatat website for the sizing charts. I bought a used one and have been very happy with it. The company has great customer service for any repairs or modifications you need. Also, the Kayak Academy sells used Kokatat suits and other paddling clothing from their instruction program for good prices.


I agree that a good drysuit can transform your enjoyment of paddling in cool/cold water situations.

I have had drysuit envy
for 2+ decades. I was a Nocal boy and was taken advanced diving classes in Monterey. We had dove the night before then camped out. Prepping for the dive the next day we were struggling to get our cold, wet sandy 7mm farmer johns on, when our instructor showed up. He was wearing head to toe pile (thing old school fleece). He stepped into his dry suit in about 2 minutes without so much as a grimace and was ready to go.

Fabric DOES matter
One thing you’ll hear frequently is how dry suits made of fabrics other than Gore-Tex tend to die prematurely. At this point, there isn’t anything else on the market that’s proven to be as durable. Moreover, if Gore-Tex fabric ever fails, it’s covered under Gore’s lifetime warranty, which is something that nobody else offers. I recently had a 9-year-old Gore-Tex drysuit replaced at zero cost to me.

Yes, Gore-Tex costs more up front, but it’s cheaper in the long-run.