Layering under dry suit

Hey so I am about to receive a Kokatat full dry suit in the mail soon (Goretex).

I am looking to paddle in all sorts of weather coming up into the winter and into the spring.

What type of layering underneath does everyone recommend? Of course breathable is good but also I need warmth.

I was checking out some merino fleece today that looked good but was pricey!



– Last Updated: Sep-17-16 12:16 AM EST –

First rule is always use long sleeve and long legs clothing. The dry suit right on skin feels weird to me.

Second rule, I avoid neck zipper clothing, a I worry that the pin on the zipper may damage the suit. Not as much worry on flies or others where the zipper ends in a button closure.

What I wear varies with temps (water and air). My coastal water is normally in the high 50s. My air varies from 50s to 70s. If air is at higher end, I usually have a light polypro type layer and light running tights. If colder end, a couple of polypro layers or fleece, and heavier running tight pants.

Always wear boots over the dry suit socks. Bring a wool or neoprene cap as a way to adjust temperature, as changing layers under drysuit is hard. You can always cool down by getting wet.

To show how much it can vary
I will paddle down to the 20’s with sea temps running in the 30’s.

Fleece union suit. wool sox, goretex booties sewn into the dry suit. Oversize neoprene booties outside

Long merino underwear under the union suit. 300 weight polartec fleece

Yes you feel like the michelin man

Our primary problem is the few boat ramps open in winter are darn icy sometimes. Its not practical to wear crampons over booties.

is what I do when it’s cold.

no need to spend a fortune,
dept. store fleece pajamas can be layered over synthetic gym/exercise clothes- silk also works as a base layer. You don’t want clothes that constrict. I carry a mat to peel and put on my suit so it doesn’t get muddy. Protect the feet of the suit with booties or other foot wear. I like a balaclava for the head- you can get different thicknesses to match conditions at a local sporting good store. Don’t forget the pogies- one of the few items that is made just for paddlers.


– Last Updated: Sep-17-16 1:13 AM EST –

I use Kokatat polartec fleece bunny suit. To me it is worth the money about 160. Washes well and super comfy. Rash guard under it. Wool socks 85%. Also bought Kokatat merino wool under layer. Also use the thicker Kokatat rash guard if really colder below 40* F. Do not feel bulky or Mich Man feeling. If you use 303 on gaskets do not over do it they will be ruined as Kokatat says in a video. Think they say monthly. Rinse well or wipe with wet towel (inside and out) in between mine is still like new after 5 years. if water is below 55* I use full Kokatat balaclava. I go out alone most of the winter.

There is no single answer – it depends on the temperatures, and it is easy to overdress. You will heat up fast once you start paddling, and unlike hiking it"s tough to remove layers from under a drysuit.

Start with a moisture-wicking base layer next to the skin. In warmer temps that is all you will need. Synthetic fabrics like polypropylene are best since they don’t absorb water and they move moisture away from the skin

As the temps drop add insulating layers. These can be synthetic, wool, or any combination. I tend to use synthetic fabrics since they are lightweight, breathable, and afford good freedom of movement. I paddle all winter in the northeast, and even on the coldest days never wear more than polypropylene long underwear and a fleece union suit.

Don’t forget the extremities - wool socks and booties for the feet, hat or helmet liner for the head, and neoprene gloves or pogies for the hands.

I’m in a canoe, and if I get cold anywhere it tends to be the feet. Kayakers seem to be more likely to complain about cold hands.

I simply wear

– Last Updated: Sep-17-16 9:30 AM EST –

sweat pants and a sweatshirt in 50% synthetic, 100% synthetic t shirt and underwear, merino's worked for me for the past 15 years, temps down to the 20's. I paddle/pole fairly aggressively generating body heat.
Feet and hands are important, I use 3 mm neo gloves (canoe/single blade or pole) and pack a thermos of hot water to rinse them in on occasion. No matter what you wear, you'll retain moisture under the pfd....

bought some stuff last night
So just bought a medium weight icebreaker merino base layer long sleeve for a decent price on amazon.

and also a thermal moisture wicking long pant.

on moderate cool/cold days Ill probably only just need those under the drysuit. but in much colder days Ill need a nice mid layer between base and suit.

Just make sure the base layer wicks well
Best if both layers wick decently, but in really cold weather the one that most matters for wicking is the one between your skin and any second layers. As others have said there are no hard and fast rules on material. I found that capilene, polypro and high performance fleece worked best. But my husband did fine with silk and wool blends that would leave me a sodden chilled mess.

In the coldest weather I always found it most important to have a change of top layers for midday. Water at 36 and 38 F can be hard to convince yourself to dunk in to cool off, and layers for air temps in the teens and 20’s meant the more hefty layers for me. So I was most likely to have chilling wet underlayers by midday when it was true winter. Past tense because it has been a while since I seriously paddled in those temps. Getting old.

search for: long sleeve polyester crew

try Champion

wear over a summer weave polyester T

nylon shorts…wool socks

with a dry suit over this.

good for 65 degrees variable sun.

if possible a GoreTex spray skirt.

marino fleece is for Glacier Bay.