Mustang survival suit

Hi All

I came across this ad for Mustang suit, but I can’t quite make sense of what is it exactly and whether it’s suitable for cold water paddling. Can someone educate me? It is a dry suit really?


Please view this ad:

Mustang survival -MSD585 22 USCG Boat Crew Dry Suit,

Price: $ 250

Download the application from the Google Play Store.

Survival suits are made of neoprene and flotation built in. My understanding is they are big and bulky. I don’t think they are something you would want to (or perhaps even be able to) paddle in.

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I bought one way early in my paddling career (back in the early 90’s). The suit was very heavy nylon (maybe poly) canvas drysuit. It seemed a good deal then given that a kokatat goretex drysuit ran close to over $850. But the mustang suit was really way too stiff and hot. These days you can get much lighter (“breathable”) dry or semidry suit for under $500 from a brand company, e.g. NRS, Kokatat, Soloquist. I would recommend stretch the budget for one of those instead of the Mustang.

Ok, thanks. I am getting the picture.

If you want to do cold water paddling, the first things to get are a number of very quick and reliable re-entry methods. Have them so well-practiced you can do them blindfolded and half asleep, because that’s how it might be when you need it.

Survival suits are about exactly that - survival. Note they are not called “Comfort Suits”. Invest in a proper dry suit meant for kayaking. Preferably one with breathable fabric but many will agree that “breathable” is highly exaggerated. If you don’t overheat and sweat easily then this criterion will be less important to you. Layering under the suit is critical. The suit itself offers almost NO INSULATION VALUE when you’re in the water, it just keeps the insulation dry.

You need to be dressed to be in the water for as long as you foresee being there in a worst case scenario. This could mean anything from a confident reentry to bobbing in the water waiting for someone in a passing boat to see you because you forgot your cell phone and don’t carry any other signaling devices (not a great idea) Swim in your gear in a safe environment with someone else present before you trust it to save your life while paddling. Build up to longer and longer times, in colder and colder water. Don’t just jump in beside an iceberg for your first try. Your hands are likely to be the first things to go numb and become useless; hence the emphasis on FAST and reliable reentry skills. Make sure you are well practiced both in the conditions you will paddle in, and in the gear, because the insulating layers and dry suit absolutely will limit your mobility and coordination if you’re dressed properly for very cold water.

“Cold” is a relative thing too. I paddle year round so I’m speaking mostly of water that’s around 2°C. It has a funny way of turning solid much lower than that. Generally I limit my paddling to days where the air temperature is above -5°C and the wind not too severe. Much colder and things just ice up and it’s generally unpleasant. If your intentions are more toward “shoulder season” paddling, everything still applies but not quite to the same extent. Late fall paddling is moderately safer than spring paddling because the water takes longer to cool down. Likewise in the spring the water stays cold long after the days have become warm.

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@Sparky961 i am with you on the reentry and testing cold temp gear. I am doing both regularly, only my “cold” gear is 4/3 wetsuit with windbreaker and splash pants. The water is reasonably warm too. Anyway, this is my mindset as well.
I generally find, I don’t really like the wetsuit all that much. It does the job for now, but with my body’s tendency to lose heat fast I feel I am nearing the safe limits even with 15 degrees Celsius. I already need gloves and a hood at those temps. So, a dry suit is a long-term plan. I am hoping it’s just a more solid approach generally. I am not yet planning to go out in Feb, but extending into something like November on Lake Ontario would certainly be nice.

Just to clarify, i can certainly do a float rescue withoit gloves and hood now, but if i stay for 5 or more minutes I start feeling pretty massive heat drain from bare hands and head. 3mm gloves work for the hands, haven’t tried the hood yet.
This is now. I am sure it will be different when it gets down to 10 degrees. I would feel safer knowing that in case i do lose the boat i can safely swim for a while.

Btw, the instructor who taught me is pretty much the same heat-losing body type. He is in a dry suit in August.

It sounds like you’re familiar with your limitations. I’m fortunate (or not) to have the heat output of a furnace much of the time. In the winter this helps, though it’s difficult for me to dress for very cold water when the air is only “chilly”. I have to spend some time in the water just to keep from overheating.

Your wetsuit is better than nothing, but when the water starts approaching single digits (or maybe sooner) it won’t do you much good.

My best “float time” in near freezing water is about 25 minutes. That was with 3mm neoprene gloves, booties and socks, hood, Goretex drysuit, and two layers of fleece top and bottom. Had it not been for my hands starting to go numb, I’d have been ok to stay out there longer. But it certainly sheds light on what little time you have to get out of the water.

I now carry a PLB in addition to the self-rescue skills I practice regularly. I also tend to stay a little closer to shore and civilization when weather turns hostile.

As temps drop so does my bravado

Balaclava is a must. After water is below 60 F I am in a drysuit even 65*. 60* water 2 VHF s and a cell phone.

I bought a good rain suit for cheap once. I wore it on the Jax to Daytona to St Augustine night race. A couple of trips up and back from the fore deck during sail sets and it was shreaded toast. Cheap could mean all the goodies are worn out.

@PaddleDog52 said:
2 VHF s and a cell phone.

Around the great lakes, I no longer trust a VHF as a lifeline; especially not in the winter. There’s a better chance of getting help with a cell phone these days.

Now, for communicating with boat traffic in a busy area, that’s where the VHF shines.

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Don’t know anything about the suit in question, but the description at the link the OP provided states:

"Made of lightweight waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex®, the MSD585 22 includes removable internal suspenders for a near custom fit.

“Fleece lined hand warmers offer relief for cold, wet hands and the adjustable storm collar protects against rain or sea spray and can be folded out of the way when not in use. Elbows, knees and seat are reinforced with 500-Denier Cordura® and reflective tape on the arms increases visibility. A large sleeve pocket and two deep cargo pockets provide easy access to equipment and a back calf pocket fits the required MA7348 neoprene survival hood (MA7348 not included). Easy-clip belt keepers stabilize duty belts and gear without the hassle of an over the shoulder harness. Tall lower leg over cuffs with long zippers allow easy donning and doffing of high cold weather boots while also increasing comfort.”

No Gore-Tex booties, though. From what I’ve read 500-denier Cordura has big gaps between the fibers. Kokatat uses 330 denier Cordura Gore-Tex in the knees and seat.

Ok, I’ll admit to not looking at the link or doing more research. I was picturing the typical “orange garbage bag” style of survival suit that many beginners ask about. This one does seem much better than that but I stand by the original recommendation for a paddle sport dry suit.

One site I was looking at said these could only be sold to US military and law enforcement. How do you figure this is being listed for sale used in Toronto?

^ could have been bought at a police auction down south.

Found the owners manual for the mustang. I have to say that i am intrigued by it. Seems like it’s built for mobility.

Hi SpaceSputnik,

Did you end up purchasing the Mustang Survival Suit? If so, what did you think of it?

I’m in a similar situation, I found a Mustang MS565 for sale and was wondering if it works well as a dry suit for kayaking.

Here is a link to a description of the suit: MSD565 Breathable Rescue Swimmer Dry Suit :: Mustang Survival

I live in the midwest US and pretty much exclusively kayak on small calm lakes this time of year.

If anybody reads this and has tried one of these suits out, let me know if you think that they are a good option.


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PLB then.