More Cold Water Apparel Questions......

I know that there are a few posts about this—one of them from me.

I have learned a lot from reading all of them and now am looking at a few other options and wanted to start a new post.

My original question was about wet suits for paddling in Monterey where the water is in the 50s.

I am now starting to think that perhaps I can deal with not paddling for a couple of the coldest months of the year and ride my bike instead. I will only be there for 2 years anyway. So if I were just to paddle the spring through fall then that might change things a bit.

I just got a great deal on a dry top so that will be good to have for the colder months. Now I am debating over what else to get…

  • I could get a 3mm Farmer John

  • Or I could get a pair of the NRS 2mm Rodeo Pants and then layer with an appropriate top: Hydroskin or dry top as appropriate

    I think that the second option is probably more versatile, but will the 2mm pants be enough?

    Will a full 3mm Farmer John be too hot in the warmer months?

Cold water
Well, if you want to paddle in the colder months on a calm day, the farmer john under the drytop will be sufficient if the air + water temp = 100 or higher. I used to use that combination in CT until late december if the weather was right.

Just don’t paddle alone when the water’s cold.

A drysuit would be your best option, but they do cost $$$$$$$.


Spring is the most dangerous season
Water temps in the spring are very low (typically colder than fall temps), but the warmer air temps lull paddlers into a false sense of security and they tend to under-dress. Unless you’re going to be moving back to a warm climate, you may as well invest in good immersion clothing.

With all due respect
"…will be sufficient if the air + water temp = 100 or higher"

We need to get away from this ‘rule’. Just doesn’t stand the test of reality and leads to a false sense of security.

Individual metabolisms, ambient wind speeds, distance to shore, individual swim skills, etc., all insert variables.

I agree with your conclusions, but the air/water temp ditty so often espoused is invalid.


Dry Suit
I finally have a good dry suit (gift from my wife). I already had dry seperates and loads of other paddling clothing.

We spent six hours yesterday paddling on Champlain, at times into stiff winds.

The dry suit is more comfortable and easier to get in and out of than any alternatives I’ve tried.

I know a god dry suit is expensive, but it does cut down on the other clothing you need.

There really aren’t warmer
months along the ocean in Monterrey. The water temps are pretty constant between 50-60 deg and the air temps air rarely below 50. If you get 2mm gear, you can layer over it. Look out on the coast and you will see people surfing all year round.

a kayak builder shares his perspective
Here is a link to a really great kayak builder sharing his very personal experiences and perspective on this. Many people find it very useful to help them assess how divers approach knowing the underlying principles of immersion and how kayakers sometimes fail to know how to assess this issue.

He calls it the "Farmer John Fallacy

Well, I tend to agree that ANY “rule” is imperfect, however, in our “Sue them because I wasn’t held by the hand & guaranteed absolute safety” society, people demand guidelines.

Personally, I wear the drysuit as soon as the air temp allows, regardless of the water temp, because it’s much more comfortable than a wetsuit (If you buy breathable). But if someone is only interested in a wetsuit, there has to be some indication of its limitations given when you give advice about them.

Only experience can take the large number of factors into account and make the right choice when conditions are questionable. A guideline is a good place to start for the people who don’t yet have that experince. If someone has a better one, I’d like to hear it.