NRS Ultra John wetsuit: info to share?

I’m considering buying this wetsuit to use along with a base/wicking layer and a longsleeved neoprene top for Fall and Winter paddling here in central NC and on the NC coast.

Any experiences with this wetsuit?

In the longer run I might buy a dry suit, but considering the above for now.


still use
I have one an still use it when I am not wearing a dry suit. Works great. Get the relief zip option.

I have the Ultra Jane

– Last Updated: Nov-16-10 11:20 AM EST –

But honestly, the only time it's been used since I got a dry and semi-dry suit is to loan to new paddlers for sessions where they will be getting wet, or for shorter sessions myself where again I am getting and staying wet.

The Ultra is thicker, so to me is only bearable in colder weather, than the regular NRS wetsuits. The seating/rash issue is worse.

There are many who find a thicker wetsuit and neo layers under a wind blocking layer to be comfortable. For me though, anything less than at least a semi-dry suit gets darned little wearing. The only thing that makes the investment I made in wet wear before going dry worth it is that I can loan stuff out to newer paddlers doing skills work, and I use the neo tops for pool sessions where we are working in one normally tuned for lap swimming.

That said, if you do go to the wet wear you still need to have a wind blocking layer up top, and a decent one. If you take a swim and rescue, so are back up in cold or windy air wearing just the basic paddling wet wear, you could get cold very easily. The Mystery stuff does have wind-blocking layer, but of course is also hotter and sweatier underneath... so it's not a perfect solution.

We are in the northeast, so winter paddling is regularly air temps in the 20's or teens and water temps below 40 (inland). Could go lower, but somewhere in the single digits I find that a fire and cup of hot chocolate works better..

Good info so far
Thanks, Peter and Celia. Useful perspectives and info. Would love to hear from some Southeast US -situated paddlers like myself! … or others from similar climates.

I have an NRS 3mm farmer john that I use in conjunction with an NRS dry-top and I’m also in central NC. I don’t think my suit is the ultra, but I’ve been happy with it. I’ve been swimming in it in fairly cold water and while I wasn’t entirely comfortable I felt that I was safe. I second the recommendation of having some wind protection. I had a pair of wind pants in the day hatch that I’d put on immediately after I got out of the boat so I would be more comfortable while loading the boat, etc. Wind blowing across wet neoprene can get cold in a hurry.

NRS wetsuits
Bought a NRS ultra-john wetsuit at Canoeacopia this spring, found out its not the same cut as their regular 3mm farmer-john, which I had been using. The arm holes on the ultra are smaller, and to me, less comfortable. Too bad, as I got it for a great price. Thus I took it back, and Rutabaga gladly exchanged it for the regular NRS 3mm farmer-john. Nothing wrong with it, great piece of gear, just didn’t fit me as well. The Ultra is a little nicer, but I’d try them both to see which is best to paddle in for you.


Ordered …
OK, I decided to go ahead and order the Ultra John (and some paddling boots). Will report back … now a little concerned about the arms hole size. We’ll see how it works!

Might get more answers if you post…
what thickness that wetsuit is. More important than brand name.

I find sleeveless suits to be too cold for all but the hottest days. Armpit area is very sensitive to cold. So I use shorty 2mm wetsuits in the warmer stuff and full-length 3mm suits when it gets colder. Drysuit for the coldest times. Your own reaction to cold could be different, so you need to experiment yourself.

As just one person’s reference point, two days ago I did some roll practice here (I’m on Tybee Island now). Air temp low 70s, water temp felt like mid- to high-60s. The 3mm full suit was hot while paddling but comfortable for rolling. If I’m not planning to roll much, I use the shorty suits instead.

If you wear a neoprene hat or hood, that will boost your warmth, too. Again, you need to play around a bit–go for a swim–yourself.

I have the Ultra John
I’m pretty big - 5’10", 220, and I don’t have any issues with the size of the armholes. Wear it late spring/early fall here in the northeast. No complaints. Good luck.

very good point
the farmer john outfit really needs another layer of some sort around the armpits. I used a 3mm vest with lycra sleeves for the longest time but the NRS hydroskin shirts would be a good idea.