Need wetsuit advice

I am shopping for a Farmer John wetsuit at the NRS website. I’ve narrowed it down to the 3mm neoprene or the Hydroskin. I haven’t used any Hydroskin apparel yet, so I’m not sure how it stacks up in terms of warmth or durability.

I’ll also be looking for a long sleeve top to go with it and am looking for opinions there, too.



UltraJohn 3mm > Farmer John 3mm >> Hydroskin.

I have a hydroskin top and UltraJohn. Ultrajohn is much warmer. I’d wear the hydroskin if the water was cool 50 to 60 and the air warm, 60 to 80.


are not inerchangeable…If you want to compare them…It’s the differance between wearing a T shirt or wearing a long underwear shirt. They are for completely different temperatures of paddling.

Hydroskin is between shorts or swimming suit and the 3mm in warmth. need to buy both. if you opt to buy only one, go for the 3mm neoprene. the 3mm will be more usable in warm weather ,than the hydroskin will be in the cold.

Best Wishes


I went ahead and took your advice and ordered the 3mm suit. Can’t wait!


I switched to a Semi Dry suit
I have a 3 mm NRS farmer john wet suit, but I quit using it. It didn’t offer any real protection to the upper body, where you need it the most, and if it was even a little warm outside, I would sweat my butt off. Wearing it on slightly warmer days was the most uncomfortable paddling I ever did.

I bought a Kokatat Semi Dry suit. It is thin waterproof cloth, that breathes out your perspiration. You can vary what you wear underneath considering the air temps. If you do dump over, your body won’t get wet, and the layers underneath keep you warm. (wear Polyester underneth)

The basic model is under $300.00, and the better model with sewn in waterproof socks, and the relief zipper goes for around $400.00. read my review here on p-net.

Well worth the money in my book any day. I wish I could sell my “Grizzly” (for big guys) NRS farmer john wet suit, as I am not using it. sells the Kokatat semi-dry suit.

Good Luck!

I agree with
the 3mm, I own the Farmer Bill from NRS.

As for the shirt, Wal-Mart sporting good section has nice simple polypropylene whiet and black colored short and long sleeve shirts that make great undergarments for the wetsuit… quick dry, and only $11.99 (less if on sale) each. They looks just like the ones that sell at NRs and others for $20 plus dollars.

You’re Dressiing For Immersion
so it depends really on the water temp that you are buying this gear for. Unless it’s summer with water temps above 60, a farmer john alone will not offer sufficient protection. Water flushes through arm and neck areas big time in a swim. You need to pair off with a semi or drytop.


True sing…
…but also depends on how far out / duration of time in the water and type of paddling. For most paddlers (based at least on the photos posted here), they are within 50-100 feet of the shoreline in lakeside flatwater. If that is the case, I would argue that the wetsuit may be enough… just swim or stand up in the shallow water, get to lakeside, dry off/don more clothes, and head back for the truck. The rec kayaker (not the sea kayaker) may well get wet, and then get out of the water rapidly, and may not need the complete drysuit any more than they will need the VHF radio on that particualr paddle.

I Just Raise The Issue

– Last Updated: Mar-14-06 7:36 PM EST –

for him to consider without making any assumption about his distance and conditions to paddle. Sometimes folks have already thought about it and sometimes not.


True sing.

Top layer
A wet wetsuit is cold in the wind - can be a problem even with air temps in the 60’s if the sun isn’t out. If you swim or get rained on you’ll find out. So, for where you are paddling, as suggested above consider also getting a basic windproof layer, drytop if possible, not because it’ll be dry but because it’ll protect you against wind.

The wetsuit will be sweaty on hot days, but if you want to cool off and are paddling with company you can always take a quick dunk off someone’s bow. And it beats hypothermia. You’ll want a drysuit ultimately, but I still have my Farmer Jane and took it to Maine as backup last year as backup for a drysuit failure. Four days before the end of our vacxation I tore my neck gasket, and was happy that I had the wetsuit for the rest of the time.

Something to consider cooldoctor1
is that if you get dumped in Clinton Lake while wearing your Farmer John and get your upper body wet, even if you pop right back up and are out of the water and on to the shore in five minutes or less (that’s optimisic with the mud bottom), if you are a mile away from your truck, it could be a long cold wet walk back to the truck, especially if it is windy.

Just the little leak in my neoprene glove can be quite unpleasantly cold when I stick my hand in the water.

My feet also get pretty cold if they get wet inside my neoprene booties and I don’t have another layer outside those booties (such as my Neos over shoes) to help block the wind and keep the heat in. I hope that my new Chota Muckluks improve that situation.

I’ve also been paddling this winter while wearing my Farmer John with thick poly pro thermal over the top and paddling jacket over that and wondered if it would be adequate if I took a dunking and was either submerged for a while or had to walk a ways while wet. I’ve recently acquired a more robust paddling jacket and paddling pants that could be added to the mix if necessary.

I haven’t actually immersed myself in the cold water with my current set up, so I don’t know if it would be adequate protection or not.

So far, I’ve been blessed with no immersions.

I hope to acquire a dry or semi dry top sometime soon, or at least before the next cold water season.

If you’re looking for a good deal
on a john wetsuit, check

I got a red JetPilot, size large, I’m 5’10", and it fits perfectly with a comfortable snugness. Only yellow ones are left now. I went big-time for the wife, though, and got her the NRS model with the relief thing. She likes it, and that’s what will make it or break it. Different suits for different folks. Happy paddling!

Treu about the 5 minute muddy immersion

– Last Updated: Mar-17-06 7:54 AM EST –

I have a dry top, secured it from tsunamichuck, actually, and it fits like a charm, has gaskets in the cuffs and bottom, and will try it this weekend. Fear is that it will make me hot, but who knows... at 44F air, and very little ventability, it is a question. Chuck's solution: roll. My solution: Diddle around with it on the water, take it off with difficulty, and dump inadventently.

I bring a full set of dry clothes in a dry bag, so should I dump in my 25 inch beamed boat (unlikely but who knows), I will get to shore and strip and change completely.

Those Chota Mukluks look great (except again, hard to vent if weather warms up, I think -- I don;t know).

Ah, ha! You have a dry to. You’re
better prepared for immersion than Iam.

I’m sure that my feet and legs will sweat in the mukluks. The sweat anyway with just neoprene booties and wetsuit, so nothing new there. My underlayers and wet suit inner surface are always drenched with sweat when I take them off.

The Chota rep said I could just roll the tops of the mukluks down in warmer weather while I’m in the boat.

My main concern with the quick lace mukluks is the laces getting cought on underwater tree branches and hindering my foot movement. I’m wondering if the velcro straps on the NRS boots might be a safer approach.

NRS Ultra Farmer John
I have a NRS Ultra and have used it in various weather conditions for river trips. I also purchased a NRS Neoprene Jacket that I wear if the temps are in the 40’s or below with a paddling jacket over it and I’m fine. (I’ve went swimming for 25 min in water that was 40 degrees wearing this setup so I know it works.

When the temp is a little warmer (like 50’s or 60’s)I wear a sharkskin shirt and just a paddling jacket.

I was out yesterday in pouring down rain 52 degrees wearing paddling pants, nrs ultra farmer john, long sleeve sharkskin and a gortex jacket with a hood and paddled 20 miles. …

Jason S