From your skin up what are you wearing under your drysuit? What temps are you paddling in water and air. I guess there will be a few different layering scenarios. Thanks for taking the time.
For cold water, warm air scenarios I might have only one thin layer of Capilene or similar synthetic in the form of pants and a long sleeve shirt.
Water temperatures in the mid 30s with air temperatures in the 30s is about as cold as I have paddled in and I’m not sure I would care to do that these days. For frigid temperatures I usually use one or more thin layers under a synthetic pile two piece or one piece “bunny suit”. Immersion Research makes a pretty nice one piece suit. Bomber Gear did also but Bomber Gear is now defunct thanks to Confluence.
I ever got was just to experiment (safely). I have up to 3 layers that I wear depending on the water temp. Put on what you think might work, use a meat thermometer to measure the water temp, and go for a swim (head, too). Are you comfortable? Too hot (that happened to me once)? Adjust accordingly and you’ll learn how many layers you’ll need for the temp.
Regarding your actual question of what to wear, I have two base layers that snow skiers use, and two IR union suits (one thin, one thick). The important thing is that everything should be synthetic, no cotton.
The IR Thickskin union suit is one of the best purchases I’ve made. Usually on sale at Austin Kayak for about $90.
Last weekend - Air 40*, Water 40?, Wind 15mph. I had on wool socks, 2 pairs of medium weight fleece pants, 2 layers of medium weight fleece long sleeve shirts, a wool hat and a synthetic hat over that, FJ Rain grip golf gloves, possibly Glacier Gloves if I let my hands get wet.
A couple weeks ago - Air 50*, water 45? wind 5-10 mph. I had on wool socks, 2 pair medoum weight fleece pants, 1 medium weight long sleeve shirt, and a wool hat, FJ Rain grip golf gloves.
Late fall paddling - Air 60*, water 55ish?, wind N/A. possibly wool socks, 1 pair medium weight fleece pants, a light weight fleece shirt, and ear muffs if needed, FJ Rain grip golf gloves.
I usually come out soaked with sweat, but am comfortable to slightly cold when not moving.
what Fred said
options are great. I too use a union suit, only one thickness. Warm weather I only use a base layer of coolmax or campmor lightweight thermal underwear. Colder weather always gets a tight rashguard shirt and hot chili long underwear, then the union suit. But other times I mix and match. On a trip it’s nice to have that option.
So it’s an excuse to go and buy all sorts of underlayers.
Two layers or features
Base layer highly wicking. Any additional layerscwarmer, some wicking also good. Number of layers, one or two, depends on temperatures and time out. Most dry suits are sized so that if two layers, the base one should be pretty thin. Different people find different materials suit them better. For ex some folks love silk or wool percentages in their otherwise synthetic layers. But neither work well for me, l do better with cool max or equivalent fleece, polypro.
I have Kokatat meridian drysuit, base rash guard shirt and pants, Kokatat WoolCore pants and shirt, Kokatat NeoCore shirt, Kokatat Polartec one piece liner (bunny suit), and Kokatat Surfskin Balaclava. Just added the WoolCore pants and shirt so I have not tried it yet. Wanted to go today but had back spasms. Was about mid 20’s air and water 50*. Wanted to try it today in the cold weather. Water is usually colder by now but with usually warm weather it’s not. Water goes to mid 30’s + - on usual cold year. Seals pogies are usually enough on my hands although I do have 5 finger neo gloves forgot the brand of them may be NRS. Hands get tired holding paddle with them. Thanks for the responses so far. Anyone use a Cag for another wind break layer in the cold?
Never without a cag
Especially on cooler weather. They stuff fine in the day hatch
Capilene for me…
…even on the coldest (sub 40) days. At most, I wear two layers upper body - layered short and long-sleeve thin capilene, in that order. Shorts, maybe with capilene tights underneath but this is rare. Wool socks. I run hot, so I don’t need a lot of layers. The main thing that helps me on really cold days is a hat…If I did something different, it would be a unisuit, probably wool.
Remember, too, that in addition to the underlayers, you have a spray skirt (neoprene, hopefully) tube around your torso, and your PFD on top of that.
As another poster said, avoid cotton.
And, truthfully, if I dunked and was unable to re-enter, with only a short-sleeved shirt and shorts on beneath a drysuit in 40 degree water, I wouldn’t have too long. That’s level of cold saps you quickly. So, there’s that, too.
Maybe I’m wrong…
but I would never (personally) go out in the cold without good gloves. If you take a swim you are going to need the use of your hands and the pogies aren’t going to help in the water. Cold water on bare hands is excruciatingly painful and your hands are going to be useless in seconds.
I’ve always used a $20 pair of Glacier gloves and have been reliably toasty.
grades at 3 levels, 'to start with'
Cool at 65 maybe no sun: hi tech poly long sleeve crew base layer...see REI
below 65, no sun: base crew top plus base long underwear
Below 50/45: same crew plus polartec, lower yet try mysteriouso 4 way stretch .25" thick...with light long underwear bottoms.
shorts and a tee shirt
when the air is warm, water cold. 1/2 poly sweatshirt and pants when the air is cold. NRS reactor gloves, and a thermos of hot water to rinse them in
when it’s REAL cold, though I cut out the sub 30 degree air temp. paddling a few years back.
always have neo gloves with me in case of extended stay in the water or separation from kayak.
I’ve been feeling my way through the glove thing and haven’t found a winner yet. I had some 5 mm gloves but they were so awkward while paddling that I took them off. Last week I went with no gloves in 35 degree weather. I know that’s not ideal but I felt like paddle control trumped hand warmth. Still looking for some I like.
I usually wear
a polypro base layer and a fleece union suit. If it is really cold I’ll add long underwear. If it is warm I’ll ditch the fleece. Liner socks and wool socks for the feet. With a canoe paddle I don’t think the hands get as cold, so I use HydroShin gloves. Hat or my helmet.
I’ve got the NRS mitts
For me they were the best compromise between paddle feel and protection. People's opinions vary widely but I like them, I can stuff a liner or even a thin mitten inside.
Sonny, have you
tried Glacier Gloves? That’s the only glove that lets me feel some connection with my paddle while still keeping my hands warm.
ha! same here
When it’s that cold there’s usually some good snow to be found. My kayak doesn’t get too jealous.
add MESH to search terms for a second group. Try Hi to low $$$
Bean is Big