If Dry Suit Fills w/ Water Will U Drown?

A quick question. I have a dry suit with a relief zip. Sometimes I have to make use of the relief zip while on the water. It is a bit of a balancing act but not too bad in calm water.

I have been somewhat concerned though in the event that I were to capsize. What if this happened while your zip was opened and your suit filled with water. Would the weight of the water in the suit cause you to possible drown (I do wear a PFD which I am sure would help)? Or would the water in the suit not matter as it would be the same density as the water around it?

Of course the best way to answer a question like this is to test it for yourself, but I don’t really want to in this instance for obvious reasons.



drysuit drown ya?
I ripped a dry suit 130 feet below Lake Superior on a shipwreck I was diving at Isle Royale in May. Water shock was tremendous but no problem swimming with the suit.

Problem comes when you want to climb back into the boat!!! That water weighs a ton and it won’t drain out! Your legs will get elephantatis!

carry a knife
If you should fill with water, you can puncture the lower leg or foot (if socks are attached) and drain the water out to reenter your kayak. Another good reason to carry a knife.


You won’t lose your life
if you zip fast, but you may lose something else

of course not!
Umm… water is neutrally bouyant. It’s not like it’s lead going into your pants. With a PFD on, you can completely fill your drysuit with water and still float. Hypothermia would be a much bigger concern. Rescuing yourself with heavy legs would also be pretty tough I would imagine.

I never thought about the issue of getting back into the boat with a water-filled suit. That’s not good either… but I like to do a re-enter and roll so I think I could end up getting back into the boat okay but would have the issue of having all the water in the boat.

Sounds like maybe I just should try to hold it or make it to a place where I could land.

I also thought about using a paddle float as an outrigger for stability in the event that you have the need to do this while on the water.


But you need to understand that the paddlers who belong to this board have superhuman strength, unlimited endurance, an over-abundance of intelligence, and are walking encyclopedias of paddling knowledge and experience.

Other people drown, but not us, because we are the superheroes of the paddling world.

We may wobble but we never fall down.

A flooded suit might make rolling harder

– Last Updated: Mar-27-06 6:05 PM EST –

I was practicing a few renter and rolls at a pool session while wearing a tuilik this weekend. Water filled the arms and chest of the tuilik and the added weight made rolling up very difficult. If the water in the flooded drysuit migrates to your upper body while twisting your way into the cockpit, it might be more difficult than you're imagining to roll up. Just something to keep in mind.


you sound bitter…
Where’s the angst coming from? Do you know of anyone who has drowned by having their drysuit flooded? I have watched people in drysuits go into water with their relief zipper open and were none the worse for wear aside from being a little chilled and a little embarrassed.

He’s just being rwven as usual

Different from Rwven
This is not the Rwven of the B&B boards - note the slightly different spelling (“rvwen” vs “rwven”) and the fact that this guy has no profile.

He is a very new member and yet already accusing the people on this board of being arrogant know-it-alls. Doesn’t he realize it takes years to earn the right to call the people of Advice arrogant know-it-alls? :wink:

Question from ignorance
If you’re opening the relief zip on the water, aren’t you sort of defeating the purpose of wearing a drysuit? You’re giving up your immersion protection at a moment when you’re unstable and unable to brace. Leaving aside the question of getting back into the boat with a water-filled suit, would you be OK with the cold if you got yourself soaked?

Fishers in waders ask the same question
Lefty Kreigh, legendary fly fisher, used to jump off a bridge into a river, let his waders fill with water, and then swim, walk, crawl to shore just to demonstrate that you would not sink and drown. The hardest part is what do do when you reach shore.

Male external catheter
The logistits involved with stowing your paddle, holding the spray skirt out of the way, opening the relief zip, opening a container and accurately hitting it are just way beyond my abilities.

If you can’t, or don’t want to land go to a local medical supply shop and ask for some male external catheters.

This would be a fun test …
in warmer water. First, in order for your suit to fill with water all of the trapped air would have to escape through the relief zipper. I would think that would be rather difficult if wearing your pfd. I would doubt that it would be that difficult to re-enter and roll, but give it a try and let us know if your drown!


P.S. Ever jump in a pool wearing chest waders? I have. Boy do you float!

Well he is right!
And if the newbie poster had superhuman bladder capacity as I do, he wouldn’t have to post such a question. SHEEESH!

Real men use internal catheters

Isn’t anyone who uses a relief zipper
a fly fisherman?

Scull Up?
Getting the paddler with a water-filled drysuit and the boat both upright again is kinda an interesting problem. Maybe do a wet re-entry, get to a sideways scull position so that the water in the suit is kinda equalized with the water around you, then scull up the rest of the way?

Still wet and cold of course…


I initially bought drypants and drytop. Usually they worked together OK (not watertight like a drysuit, but not too much water getting in).

But one day I flubbed a roll and had to wet exit. When I was in the water, I felt an odd flubflubflubflub sensation in the pants. Didn’t think anything of it. With extreme difficulty, I managed to do a paddle-float re-entry, which I normally did quickly. When I paddled to shore and began getting out the boat as usual, I nearly fell over. There must have been several gallons of water in the pants. Once on land, I could barely walk. I opened the ankle gaskets and, LO, a veritable flood rushed out.

Still, while I was immersed, the giant water balloons that my pant legs had become did not drag me down. They were buoyant.

(The water intrusion was from a poor seal at the waist. Those drypants had a flimsy bungie with a toggle to cinch the neoprene.)