PFDs and winter clothing

If a PFD on average supplies an additional 15lbs of boyancy, is anyone concerned with the additional weight of winter clothing? My wihter clothing used on the farm adds an additional 10 lbs to my weight. Just wondering how much lower a person would float dressed for cold weather. I am assuming that the clothing does not displace much water and therefore does not contribute to my boyancy. Dumb question, Ignorant question, or Don’t worry about it?



– Last Updated: Dec-15-14 5:38 PM EST –

PFD is giving enough lift to hold one's head above the water. Winter clothing, primarily worn below your head, will be in water, and as such doesn't need to be lifted out. Only a hat or similar would be added weight which needs to be lifted out.

The stuff in the water would likely be neutral buoyancy, so not really affecting you ability to stay afloat. Even clothing that absorbs a lot of water, so long as it is under water, is neutrally buoyant (though would be heavy once you get out of the water). But if the winter clothing is such that it traps air in it (like some waterproof clothing likely would), it would give you additional floatation.

I agree

– Last Updated: Dec-15-14 6:44 PM EST –

with most all you said and will now say it was a dumb question due to a bad assumption. Each article of clothing would most likely be of neutral buoyancy except maybe heavy boots. That is neither float or sinks. Therefore PFD still providing most of its positive force. But I lost you about the no PFD giving enough lift to hold head above water thing. I thought displace more water with very little weight and ride higher in the water. Positive buoyancy. Sorry if I misunderstood you but at least it's right in my head for now.

On life jackets, those that pick up and
hold more water will make rolling more difficult. Older, multi-tube life jackets have room for lots of water inside the tube fabric and under the tubes. As your torso emerges from the water surface, the water inside and under the jacket takes time to drain out.

Modern life jackets usually use just a few slabs of foam for flotation, and they sit closer to the body. So when you roll, you aren’t lifting as much extra water weight as you emerge and finish the roll.

I used to have multi-tube jackets, and believe me, they can be an impediment to rolling.

“No” was Peter’s answer to …
… the first question which was asked by the original poster. It was not the first word of the first sentence in his post.

Therefore, he’s saying “no”, he’s not worried about having enough buoyancy when wearing winter clothing.

sorry about the confusion
Guideboatguy is correct about my intention.

My fault
I completely mis-read your first statement. Thanks for clarifying. We are gearing up to do some winter canoe camping and I guess I’m a little stressed over the kids safety. The weight rating for children on PFDs was messing with my head a little- well ok, a lot.

trust the PFD, but…
I would trust the PFD, but make sure you have the right clothing on them to keep them warm should they get wet, and a dry set to get them in after they get out of the water. Hypothermia is a bigger issues in most cases than drowning.

“Proper” Winter Clothing

– Last Updated: Dec-16-14 10:39 AM EST –

I don't know what you have in mind in terms of "winter clothing", but if the water is cold and you are *properly* dressed for immersion, your clothing would more often than not add a noticeable amount of buoyancy vs. your summer attire. My drysuit with warm fuzzy layers under it traps a lot of air. Thick wetsuits similarly usually increase your buoyancy considerably.

As others said though, probably not a difference to matter for your choice of PFD anyway (other than proper fit over bulkier attire).

Just curious.
What kind of winter clothing do y’all have for canoe camping? Do you plan to use what you wear for cold weather farm work?

one drysuit for everything
I even wear it to the chinese buffet!

Of course we will be wearing what we have which includes silk, and wool mostly. How many of you can actually afford to buy 5 new drysuits 3 of wich will be outgrown each year. We will go knowing that there is a possibility of getting wet. We will have a plan of action in case we do and about two backup plans for the backup plan. We will minimize the risk by camping with the canoes on small shallow water (40’wide slow stream waist deep) and trying to stay near near the bank whenever possible. If you can’t afford the clothing to keep you from getting wet, then you concentrate on minimizing the risk and being prepared when you do.

Sounds good.
I wasn’t trying to get into your business (ok, I was :)), but when you mentioned farming work clothes I just got the disturbing mental picture of a family on the water wearing Carhartt overalls and quilt lined jackets LOL. I LOVE winter float camping, but a very nice but very hardheaded friend who sometimes joins me brought his son along on one particularly cold trip last winter and the little guy just wasn’t properly attired. He was miserable and I was worried sick about him, hence my concern. Sounds like you’ve got it covered though.

I did not mean to sound cross, but by the direction of other posts I was sure you were going to say that I must have a drysuit before paddling. Yes, I would like to have 5 - but until we are going canoeing every weekend in the winter, or wanting to float some bigger water, I just can’t justify spending that kind of cash. Thank you very much for the concern of our safety though, it is much appreciated.

Didn’t sound cross to me at all,
only sensible. Dry suits are 'spensive, especially ones that won’t fit in a year or two! They’re mighty nice to have but aren’t always worth the cost IMO, and there’s no reason a lack thereof should keep one off the water provided adequate precautions are taken. Have fun out there!

My experience
When not choosing to wear my drysuit in cold weather I wear military surplus wool over poly base layer. I have swum with this on in cold water and it defiantly keeps one warmer than no wool. Floating and swimming wasn’t a problem, but climbing back in the boat or onto shore is. You gain lots of weight out of the water!


Um - minor point
Your original post did not mention trying to outfit a literally growing family.

In fact there are not dry suit sizes for kids that I know of, until they get to adult size. Maybe in the UK but not on this side of the pond.

But there is neoprene in kids sizes and wind blocking layers. I am unclear on what your drying options would be - neo doesn’t dry out easily once wet if things are damp and chilly - but then again neither do some of the traditional backup matreials like wool.

Supernova comes in youth size.
I know it’s not a full drysuit. Little Deuce has an old non-breathable Kokatat drysuit that she’s never worn and I’ve seen youth sizes on ebay. Might have been from across the pond as you mentioned. Funny story about getting wet in, ummm, nondrywear. A few years ago I fell out of my boat on the Current river in Missouri in February. I was sitting on a table strapped across the front of my raft and a buddy was rowing. I was a bit too eager to answer the call of nature and got too close to the end of the table and slid off into the water. I was wearing cheap polypro and fleece. Wasn’t fun but I quickly changed into dry clothes and was fine.

Polypro and fleece are great things. I wear them a lot. But from personal experiences, they do nothing to keep you warm in cold water like wool does. I find the scratchy nasty millitary surplus wool stuff does much better than the nice feeling marino kind. This is why I wear a thin base layer under the scratchy stuff.


original post

– Last Updated: Dec-17-14 3:47 PM EST –

The original post was more concerned with how PFD's are rated. My thoughts at the time were that I'm adding weight with winter clothes and boots but not changing my volume much. Somewhere along the way, PFD makers must have determined what the average density of an adult was, and that an additional 15lbs of boyant force would keep one afloat. Childrens PDF's list a weight and this was what was scaring me a little.

The direction has turned a little more toward clothing and that's ok. As for the question about drying out, we will have dry changes of clothes. I do like wool, and wear it everyday during the winter. I don't think it's magic and will keep me as warm when wet as when it is dry, but in my experience, you can remove a soppy wet wool sweater, shake nearly all the water from it, and put back on a damp wool sweater which is better than nothing. Yes it would be nice not to get wet in the first place and I hope that we don't.
Turtle- I have a army surplus one that I like as well, high colar, thin, and close fitting. I wear it over silk turtle neck base. We try to hit the 2nd hand stores for sweaters. I like to buy large and then felt them which seems to block wind better.