Semi Dry Top, Or?

-- Last Updated: Oct-28-04 4:08 PM EST --

The thread about a wetsuit for Monterrey Bay has me thinking...

I would like to maybe get in a couple short winter trips this winter. I need a little more than a 3mm farmer john and Mysterioso top. That is good for a short 5-10 minute emersion, which should be enough to self rescue, but I would like some more protection.

Maybe a Semi Dry top?

Or 1mm neoprene?

Hydroskin would be a litle more protection than M-Tech Mysterioso because of the outer layer of Neoprene.

Or maybe even this?

Just rent a surfers wet suit.

Another Option, But

– Last Updated: Oct-28-04 4:07 PM EST –

These days I have a awful time getting a full suit on and off.

I was looking for something that would work with my farmer john.


– Last Updated: Oct-28-04 5:01 PM EST –

Does a semi-dry or dry top works as immersion protection once you're out of the boat? I don't think it would seal well enough to the john to keep water out around the waist.

I Was Thinking That
I think you are right. Also, it is designed to work with a skirt, and I don’t wear one…

And if you got worked really good, I think it would leak too much…

Maybe Even Just This?

– Last Updated: Oct-28-04 5:20 PM EST –

When I got chilled I was just wearing a fleece top. My Mysterioso top is much better. Maybe just a extra vest is all I need?

I want to keep it light and non-bulky.

I wear my farmer john without a top much of the time. This would be another option to wear the FJ and just the vest...

You made no mention of temperatures…
where you will be paddling. Any water below 50 F can be unsafe for submersion without a drysuit. A good rule of thumb is that if you add the air and water temps together, anything below 100 F should be cause for the purchase of a drysuit. Regardless of ones experience, plan for the worst. A strong swimmer will most likely not be able to swim 50 yards in 50 degree water before muscles stop working and hyperventilation caused by cold shock sets in. A wet suit in cold temperatures is of little use if you have to spend any amount of time in the water.

Water Temps
This is sort of a continuation of another thread. I am talking about NORCAL around Monterrey Bay. High water temps of 56-58F and low water temps down to about 50F.

I have wiped out kayak surfing, and spend some time in the water in winter, so I already know what happens.

A Farmerjohn and fleece top is good for 5-10 minutes. After 15-20 minutes I got real chilled. I think after about 30 minutes I would stop functioning well enough to self rescue.

The water temps around here are around low 50’s. I took a nice swim this past weekend in my drytop, 3 mm farmer john and fuzzy rubber top. I felt fine while in the water but I got back to shore relatively quick. But, on shore, I was getting a bit chilled because of the wind and went back to the car to snack, warm up and take care of a cut. The other swimmer was similarly chilled when he got out of the water. We told him to sit in the brush to get some wind protection while he rested.

This morning both he and I were in drysuits for dawn patrol. I even had on a 3 mm hood. Water temp still in the low 50’s and air temp around 40 degree. We were a lot warmer. No swimming today for either one of us. I was also nice to be relatively dry when I got out of the drysuit. I admit it’s a bear for me to get in and out of my drysuit because I am stocky for my height. I wouldn’t mind a more custom fitted drysuit someday in the future.

Anyway, I think it’s now officially drysuit season for me here on in.


Getting Out…
Actually, it is the getting out part that gets really cold…Especially on an SOT

Water temps here only get down to 50F for 2-3 months each year, and most of that time I am too busy with mandatory social functions to do much on weekends, anyway.

I can’t really justify a drysuit for a few trips each year. Especilly when I am considering relocating back to Florida sometime in the fuure…

Actually Cold Shock Comes First
I can say that from experience. offers some really good info on this. Many drowning deaths are caused by the intial cold shock in cold water.


Two Things That Help Me…
I always splash cold water on my face when I first get on the water during winter paddles. I also found that the silicone grease that I rub around my neck to fight off latex irritation also works to protect my face from cold water. I apply on the exposed portions of my face and find that I do experience the cold but not that “stinging” sensation that I used to get before using the grease. This was tested when I did the winter RISK surf session last year when the water temp was 34 degrees. You can not surf without getting water splashed on your face.

A true surf hood with a face “gasket” really helps alot. I used this hood today and found no water getting into the hood even while running straight into piles of foam. I also didn’t notice any cold when rolling. Granted water temps are still in the low 50’s here.


I Need a Hood, or Cap
I know you are right about the hood. You lose up to 18% of body heat from your head, but I never wear one. I should.

I am putting together an order, and I am going to include some kind of hood, too.

I can not imagine 34F water temps. And I do not plan to find out!

The Hood I Posted
is $20, a great buy.

hoods are good

– Last Updated: Nov-02-04 9:29 AM EST –

Yep, me too. I use the Henderson artic hood, for drysuits. It helps keep that neck warm and dry and fits really nicely with the gasket, less irritation. This an important componnent in not getting the cold shock, and even better having little or no ice cream headache upon rolling. Makes for more peace of mind knowing if you go in it won't be majorly nasty.

You know looking over the messages, this really is not an easy topic. We love kayaking, don't want to stop, the water is a dam killer if ignored, yet eventually we end up in these darn suits, oh well, most of the world is starving, has no time for leisure, is subject to cruel governments. Hey maybe our concerns are pretty tivial. I guess we are quite blessed if the big concern is how much and what to wear.


– Last Updated: Oct-28-04 7:37 PM EST –

Where did you get it. I was looking at one at NRS, but it does not have bill of drawstring, and it was $30.

Page 2
of this link:

Cuda, check out …they have about 20 different hoods of varying thickness to choose from.

a good combo
Here is a good combo that has worked for me over the past couple of years. I have a 3-4 mm wetsuit bottom from Patagonia that I interlock with a semi drytop and 6mm booties on my feet. I have minimal leakage when interlocked correctly at the waist and have used this on the surfski a lot. As opposed to a farmer John the wetsuit bottoms can go between the inner tunnel and the outer neoprene of the drytop. This forms a good water block. With a sprayskirt I would put the tunnel over the wetsuit bottms and in between the neoprene spray skirt tunnel.

With a 1mm titanium vest with hood and whatever other warm layers needed depending on temps, the neck neoprene interlocks well. In big surf I would not trust the semi drytop as much as a full drytop (except the vested hood is so great wearing underneath the semi drytop), but otherewise the combo should be pretty good… Especially in 50 degree water, where small leakage and wetsuits will not amount to much heat loss. With full drysuits I have sweated so much that there has been more moisture than the amount formed from this combo. When I stop paddling, cold comes on quickly no matter what combo. Unless you don’t sweat.

One trick for the wetsuit bottoms is to wear a long lycra type or stetchy pants underneath. This makes for easy on easy off.

The full drysuit really only comes into play when the air gets well below freezing, which at this point I probably won’t be going out. I would think for CA a full drysuit would be overkill.

getting into my full suit …
is part of my weight loss program

You know you need help …when you need help.