How cold is the following gear safe for?

-- Last Updated: Oct-06-05 10:33 PM EST --

Given that I:

*Only paddle inland lakes and slow rivers
*Am a beginner with no roll skills yet
*Usually stick within 100 yards or so to shores (a mile lake crossing in calm weather is the farthest from land I've been and that's the exception)

What minimum water temperature would the following (combined) layers of gear be safe?:

Kokat polyolefin short sleeved shirt
2mm neoprene shorts and long sleeved shirt
3mm "titanium" neoprene farmer John
Polyurethane coated nylon paddling jacket
3mm neoprene bootie/shoes and gloves.
(I realise a hood is neccessary; what would be a good match for the above?)

Should I skip the poly shirt?

What are your thoughts? What are the weaknesses? A dry suit is out of my budget and I already have the above.

I'm trying to gauge how far into the season I can safely paddle.



P.S. Throw a Neo-nylon spray skirt and PFD into the above mix.

Wear your outfit
and swim 100 yards along the shore before you go out. Therein lies your answer.

Google some articles on cold water
and it’s effects. In extreme cold water you may not be able to swim 100 feet, much less 100 yards. Besides, a good drysuit will be far more comfortable than all that neoprene.

I didn’t say I plan to do extreme cold

– Last Updated: Oct-07-05 8:01 AM EST –

I never said I was going to do any extreme cold paddling. I'm asking (roughly) what water temp. is my gear good for?

I've googled info and have even searched this board, but the info varies so widely that I'd thought I'd solicit the opinions of arguably more experienced folks. I was hoping I'd get a few usefull replies before the thread devolved into "buy a dry suit" (which what every other one I searched did).

I'm fully aware a dry suit is the superior solution in most cases, but *I ALREADY OWN THE ITEMS I MENTIONED*. Right now, I cannot afford a dry suit. I'll probably own one eventually, but not this season.

Honestly, I rarely venture much more than 100 feet from shore, but I said 100 yards to add a large safety factor.

Yes, I know I need to try my gear in whatever conditions I hope to use and am fully aware that trusting it (untested) in 33 water 100 yards from shore would be idiotic at best. I also know that I need to improve my rescue skills, but for here and now, my original question stands.

I figure what I have is probably good for 60-50 degree water, but I thought I'd see what you folks say.



What is your water temperature ?
My wife and I paddle all winter in the mountains of NC in pretty cold water.

We stay close to shore so that if we dump we can wade into shore or swim a short distance.

I think wet suits are too uncomfortable and prefer poly pro under garments and a pair of dry pants with a waterproof (for splashes) jacket.

We layer as necessary depending on the days temperature.

If you are not a swimmer or confidant that you can get to shore than forget all of the above and stay off the water.



My experience

– Last Updated: Oct-07-05 9:36 AM EST –

BDS (before dry suit), that outfit as listed would probably have gotten me down to the lower 50's. BUT - huge caution here - that would have been just for a few successful rolls. For more rolls, or sculling, at a minimum I'd have had to add a heavier weight top under the wetsuit, like a Mystery top, and a good quality drytop which will do a better job of blocking wind than the jacket you mention.

If you consider the risk of a possible swim, even a little wind can make all of the above inadequate. I got out after a session dressed as described above one evening after some pretty wet practice (lots failed rolls) late last summer, with air temps in the mid 60's and a maybe 10 mph wind blowing, and was shivering within a few minutes. I had to change into alternate clothing before I could even take care of my boat - for me an extreme measure. (The boat always comes first.)

As to a hood - I get along for a decent time with the NRS Mystery hood, which is easy to pull on and off as needed. But there are heavier weight ones that really cold weather paddlers use.

Im In Pretty Much The Same
boat. I am a beginner and am thinking about continuing to paddle through the winter season. Our water temps here will get down to 50-53 degrees in Jan and Feb.

I understand completely that a good dry suit is the way to go. However, my piggybank will not streach to cover the cost of a good dry suit. So, I have just purchased a semi-dry top, semi-dry pants, dry gloves, and am looking for the right booties and hat.

I plan on paddling nice days continuing through the year. I will modify my paddling a bit and pick “nicer” days and easier paddles, but Ill be out paddling a bit.

happy paddling,


Everybody is different
and water temps and air temps factor in. Once the water temps drop below 50 deg you should be in a drysuit or thick wetsuit.

The zeal of the newly converted…

I’d Add
I agree with Chuck. Your body size and conditioning have to be taken into account. I’d also add the maximum time you might spend in the water. Consider your worse case scenario and dress for that.

If your not getting wet…
If you are not really getting wet just dress to keep your self warm. When your are dressing for a padle you want to be a tad cold when you get in the boat. A few minutes of paddling will warm you up. If you are warm when you get inthe boat you will be hot after a few minutes of paddling and then start sweating. That in turn could cause hypothermia even if its not that cold out.

Here is an article that will give yo a better idea of clothing.

Respectfully disagree…
“If you are not really getting wet just dress to keep your self warm.”

Kayaking is a water sport. A casize results in a wet paddler. Sudden winds, boat wakes, improperly placed paddle blades all result in a wet paddler.

I would refer you to the first paragraph of the the article you provided a link to.


…And a Dry Bag
Noticed that you’re using neoprene - can’t offer much re water temps, but there’s another consideration, as someone pointed out above - when you do get out of the water, your troubles are far from over if you’re wet and the wind is blowing. Wet neoprene chills you very quickly. We always carry a dry bag per boat with a full - and I mean full- change of warm clothing and a few emergency supplies (windbreak, fire starter, etc.

Temperature Range
50 degree water will incapacitate you very quickly, probably faster than you realize. I’d stay above 55 in your gear unless you can walk (not swim) to dry land in event of a capsize.

until you actually get wet
it’s all guess work. Immersing your head repeatedly in 55 degree water is a lot different than immersion your neoprene covered body in 55degree water. Same with recovery out of the water. When the water temps dip down cold enough to require specialized clothing your head will require the same.

Yes, I have…
I do have a medium dry bag I keep stashed behind the seat with various doo-dads and intend to add my water resistant nylon/poly-fleece wind breaker (not made for watersports, but it’s kept me bone dry and warm in pouring rain with it’s cinch up cuffs and hem) when the air temp. starts dropping and have kept a change of cloths double wrapped in zip-loc freezer bags in the hold of my boat since day one.

In addition, I have a pump and intend to add additional flotation to my kayak (Dagger Blackwater 10.5).

As for water temps, the 2160 acre (and 95 feet deep in places) lake I prefer to paddle on, as of a few days ago, was 80F at the surface and 75F at a depth of 10 feet. My task is to find historical data so I can gauge how far into the season it’ll remain above 60F, for example. Oddly enough, the lake temp. is around 40F at it’s greatest depths right now. I’m learning quite a bit as I go…



Start Naked
Start by swimming naked, and add stuff until you feel more comfortable!

Serioulsy, individual tolerances for cold water vary greatly.

See what the locals wear. Try it and see if it works for you.

Disrespectfully Disagree
The About site is a virus trap.

it is certainly an annoying site at the very least. Popups everywhere and floating adverts that could initiate a grand mal seizure!

Thanks for the heads-up.



get a fuzzy rubber hood
roll it up and put it in the pocket of your pfd. It’s more versatile and compact than a neoprene hood.