I’ve been off the water for the several weeks now due to cooler temperatures and my lack of any cold weather gear and it’s starting to make me a little nuts. I’ve been looking at drysuits, but I really need to find a lower cost solution. So the question is, what is the least expensive way that I can be reasonably comfortable and more importantly safe on the water? I’m thinking water and air temps in the 40’s maybe as low as the 30’s. Is it possible to get outfitted for $200 - $250? I’d consider used gear if I could find it, but not much luck on that so far.
When you get down to water temperatures @ 40 degrees; you’d be well advised to work the problem from the other end: rather than ask what can you afford and start looking what fits that requirement , figure out what you need to be safe and happy and then figure out how you can get it.
A drysuit, no matter how expensive, is cheaper than your life.
Nothing else, IMO, will keep you safe at those water temperatures. Also, the appropriate practice before getting in the water is in order: eg a cold water clinic, where you can try out your gear, get a sense of how the cold water affects you (it affects people differently ) etc
So , I would suggest that you look for a used drysuit,which puts you in the $300-400 neighbrhood.
You can get a decent 6/5/4 wetsuit that will work from the high 30’s up and still be flexible enough to paddle for about $250-$300. Of course you still have to outfit your feet, hands, and head. Realistically, for wetsuit or drysuit, $200 is way too low.
Check the Kayak Academy…
for a used Kokatat SuperNova semi-dry suit. There were a couple there in that price range a few days ago. We have these suits, and they work just fine for us - far better, IMO, than wetsuits - for our alongshore cold weather/water paddling. Allow some extra $$ for hoods (very important) and gloves.
Everyone is constantly upgrading and many people hate the idea of replacing gaskets. You can buy an old non-breathable drysuit on Ebay and then spend $125 to replace the gaskets yourself. That might still be less than $250 total.
If You Can Scrounge Up…
just a hundred more dollars you can get this new drysuit on sale.
4/3 Surfing Wetsuit
Bought a 4 (torso)/3 (arms and legs) full length wetsuit about a week ago for $130; Polypro longjohns $7 tops, $4 pants on sale at A&N; Fleece pullover $15 also at A&N. I was out this evening with the wind blowing 15 to 20 and rolled several times. Not sure what the water temp is, but would guess around 45. Air temp was the same. Other than a bit of a freeze headache right when rolling up was very comfortable the whole time.
I doubt if this set up will keep me rolling the entire winter, but is working well right now. I do think it will be sufficient for common sense paddles all winter long.
Practice helps a lot
I highly recommend practicing in the water you are paddling in. You CAN swin in 35 degree water if you practice it. About half of us can train to not have the gasp reflex that causes you to inhale cold water when your head is submerged.
A neoprene hood and earplugs reduce the potential for the grasp reflex.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t blow a grand on the best drysuit available, but make sure you take a swin with it in shallow water and submerge your head in water where you can just stand up.
After having a gasket blow on the neck of a drysuit and surviving it, I’ll stick with the wetsuit. It is too hot and clammy when I paddle and colder when I swim, but I think it is more reliable.
several pounds of vaseline is cheep
just a bitch getting it out of the hair…worked well for the woman who swam from Russia to Alaska
Now to be serious, go here:
I promise you’ll like it.
I’ve got it and a drysuit…I use the tropos far more.
Tropos semi-dry suit??
“Built for mild surface immersion and not intended to replace a full dry suit in more challenging conditions like whitewater or very cold water”
I’m confused. Is this a dry suit or not?
No - we have them
The neck gasket is a looser neoprene that is not guaranteed to be water-tight. Of paddlers we know who have this suit, one finds the neck to be fairly dry - that is a few rolls and a dunk or two are OK - and the rest find that it leaks between some or (with my chicken neck) like a sieve. The neoprene doesn't stay closed around the neck as you rotate your head like latex will.
I think that Kokatat is trying to say that the SuperNova is not OK for environments where you are quite likely to be upside down or sideways, or in any environment where the water that could be seeping into the suit in a capsize would be very cold.
The Tropos material is also not as robust as the various materials that in the heavier duty drysuits by Kokatat and others.
Just another alternative - we know a paddler locally who picked up a basic military drysuit dirt cheap from EBay with OK material but dry and beat gaskets. He picked up a gasket kit and put them on himself, coming up to a total of maybe $100 for the whole thing. The suit doesn't have a relief zipper and the material is sufficiently camouflage that a bright color PFD is a good idea, but the material is quite heavy duty and solid.
At those temps, you aren't going to get much recommendation to have other than a good surfing suit or a proper drysuit. And frankly, even if you have to wait to put some money aside and get the good stuff for early spring, you'll still be glad you did.
At those temps it’s drysuit or nothing
No wetsuit that you can paddle in is going to adequately protect you at those temps. If you can’t afford a drysuit, stay off the water until you can. It’s not worth risking your life.
It’s looking like I’ll be saving my pennies for a used drysuit and counting the days until spring.
That might be possible, but they seem to only have large and I’m at least an XL.
REI Outlet has a 20% off sale
going on until Dec. 7. I see a Stohlquist drysuit for $299., then take 20% off that to get it to the $240. mark…excellent price. Also see they quite a few tops and wet suits and with the 20% off there are some very good deals to be found.
I found a used Kokatat Gore-tex drysuit for my husband. Turned out it was being sold by someone I knew AND it was the right size AND in great condition AND it was a bargain at $400 including a thick fleece unisuit to wear underneath.
This year I started using neoprene wetsuits for late spring through early fall. There is no way I’d paddle without a drysuit in water temps below about 45, though. If I plan to practice rolling and other acts that involve getting much of my body wet, the drysuit goes on when water is below about 55 degrees.
Thing is, people’s reactions to cold vary a lot. If you can rent a full wetsuit, maybe you could go for a short swim in that to get an idea how you react.