Spring/Fall Gear

Howdy All,

I am wanting to go kayaking where I live during the spring and fall in upstate NY, and I am at a loss on what to buy. I have been looking at wet suits, but I am uncertain how thick and what type to get. I want to extend my kayaking season to as late as November and as early as March for flat water kayaking.

Any help that you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your help,


recent related thread…

sort through some heated debates and you may find your answer.

Water temps will be…

– Last Updated: Aug-22-11 8:59 PM EST –

In the 40's late Nov and March inland, some water bodies like Lake George may not have passed 40 yet depending on the year.

Anything below low 50's is too darned cold for me without a dry suit. But I know of people who get away with wet suits in that stuff, and you may be one of them. The only way to tell is to borrow someone's wet suit similar to one you'd get, and go stand in the water as it gets colder. If you have trouble moving arms and legs under control after a few minutes, it's too cold for you to be able to perform a self-rescue. Make your judgement from there.

There are surfing wetsuits that provide more protection than the basic paddling wetsuit. They are also pricier.

You still need a wind blocking layer, so add a decent semi-dry top. And a hood or wool hat and hefty gloves.

FYI, the local club encountered a couple of guys in rec boats on the Mohawk a few years ago on I think an early April paddle. Wearing jeans and cotton - the usual bad combination. They capsized, they were gotten to shore pretty quickly but still one was very close to a trip to the hospital. Wet suit is obviously better, but that time of year whatever you choose has to be a lot better.

In Capital District then?
I have to guess so since you list 6 Mile Water Works.

Check out the following: http://www.adk-albany.org/, “Outings at a Glance”

Also look for winter pool sessions via the club and Duanesburg Community Center if you want to keep messing around with paddling after the water gets hard outside.

Spring/Fall gear

Thank you both for posting some information. I just used the Google search option, instead of the regular one and found someone recommending the NRS Farmer John Ultra with a dry-top (http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=advice&tid=1200878). That was the same exact model that I have been looking at for quite some time and it just went on sale today. I bought a large suit with a rash guard that was also on sale at EMS.

Now I am wondering what type of dry-top should I get and booties. Can you help me out with that?

Celia - cool thanks

Thanks for the info. I have not tried paddling there. I noticed that your group is having an outing on the 8/23, unfortunately I am still trying to finish a class for grad school, but I would like to join one of those outing s that your group is having sometime in the future.

Do I have to be a member of ADK?

Membership not needed
for the evening paddles. PFD on, buckled and zipped mandatory, also white light needed for evening paddles as the days shorten. The other trips are also open to all, the ones organized by individuals paddlers that run thru the week.

ADK membership gets you a discount on some of the instructional stuff in local pools over the winter. FWIW, the prices to access pools around here are quite cheap compared to a lot of areas. Low 20’s for the instructional ones run under the aegis of ADK, usually start sometime in January, and $12.50 to $15 for the more loosely organized ones out in Delanson. Those are help available but not structured instruction.

Celia - Quick Question
What is a white light and where can I get one? Also how much does it cost?

Thank you for helping me out. I have only started to get seriously in to kayaking this year, so I am pretty much a tender foot in most of this.

NYS requirement

– Last Updated: Aug-23-11 8:18 AM EST –

This is literally a white light - doesn't matter exactly what - so that motor boats don't run you over after dark. NYS requires that craft under 18 feet display a white light visible for 360 degrees.

Some of the folks make do with headlamps and flashlights stuck under the bungies, imperfect but if we stay out of the channel and together the group is decently visible. The best solution is something that'll mount to your deck via a suction cup, so it meets the 360 degree rule and can be taken on and off easily.

West Marine (store in Latham) has a basic black one that is waterproof against splash for at least a while and likes to eat AA batteries. But it's the best I've found so far. Check out web sites for paddling stuff, there are others out there. Cost is usually around $30 to $40 bucks for the proper lights.

Also, if you are there, get some reflective tape (the folks in the store can point you at it) and wrap it around your paddle shaft down near each blade. Makes a huge diff in boats being able to see you. It's fairly pricey for a bit of tape, but once on it lasts forever.

In general, I wouldn’t recommend any thicker than a 3mm suit. A drytop over the wetsuit is great if you are wearing a skirt and have a roll. Otherwise a splash top will do about the same thing. If you swim, the dry top will likely let water in at the waist.

A full Drysuit is ideal and a used one isn’t crazy expebsive, but they are more trouble (occasional maintenance) and a failure is often dramatic. Modern suits are pretty darn good.

But if you are willing to pick your days and think about how to keep potential swims short (e.g. learn self rescue), you can get away with a wetsuit and a shell of some sort.

Knowing your worst swim might be 5 or 10 minutes, a 3mm Farmer John will work most anywhere. Especially if the day is relatively warm and you have some sunshine. But you really do need to learn your personal limits for being wet and in cool water – some folks have a high tolerance for it and others just have to stay dry to be comfortable.

Until we get to real winter, I live in the basic zip up ankle high kickers from NRS. That’s in warm weather as well - if your feet get hot, just stick them in the water. Chotas, available in local stores as well, has similar models. For winter I have a pair of mukluks, knee-high, that are also thicker. Mine are actually diving dry boots from a scuba shop, but these and the paddling muklucks are quite similar.

For dry tops, lots of good ones. Checking out local stores means that you know it fits.

I have a gradation of gear
On one end I have a full surfing wet suit and neoprene hood. If the air temperature is high while the water is still very cold then I can roll or use a companion’s bow to submerge myself. I do have a farmer john wet suit and have used it with a paddling jacket and under layer for my under top. I find that a bit bulky and am more likely to use the very comfy dry top from NRS with a fleece lining made for playboating. It leaks less than others around the waist. If I really had to I have dry pants and know how to connect them without leakage. There is a video on the net about that. Next step is a thinner surfing shorty wet suit. It is very comfortable and is great for late Spring and early Fall. It didn’t cost me an arm and a leg either. This is all a result of experimentation over the years and spreading the expense. I did at one point order a Kokatat dry suit from NRS and chose a size based on their recommendations. It flat out did not fit. Not even close. Neither did the one my wife ordered. We apparently don’t fit the size profiles they use. I later learned (here on p-net) that you can get a custom size made. But by that time I had my surfing wet suit and have not looked back. Good luck.

What brand or particular dry-top do you recommend?

My current list has the following gear to buy:

  1. Dry-top & booties ($50~$100)
  2. White light ($40-$50)
  3. Possibly another float bag ($25), but one for the bow

    I almost looking at another couple hundred dollars just for this extra gear. I am hoping after this that I will no longer need any further gear, except one of those carts that will be on my x-mas list.



Dry top and booties
Don’t know where you can get both a dry top and a pair of booties for that amount. A decent dry top is going to cost over $200 and probably much more. Good booties are going to cost you at least what you have allowed for both booties and dry top.

My Bad
I meant to say spray jacket, not dry top :stuck_out_tongue:

I have been eyeing the NRS Endurance and Powerhouse spray jackets. They have had good reviews and are about under $100 bucks.

I am still waiting on my farmer john ultra from NRS to arrive just to see if they even fit. I am between a medium and a large, because of my height, weight, waist sizes don’t quite match up with medium (ditto for the rash guard that I ordered with it), but slightly smaller for a large. All I care about is protecting my legs and core in case I happen to fall into the water. I will mostly be doing flat water during the fall/spring. Any thoughts on this???