Sweating in Drysuits???

Here’s a quick question / commentary. I have a Goretex drysuit that I have had for about a year and used on occasion, but not often.

Whenever I used it in the past I would always get pretty damp inside which I always assumed was from rolling.

I recently moved from the Pacific Coast to the east coast along the Chesapeake Bay (hate to have to say it). I started using the suit recently and found that the “leak” was worse…resulting in water actually pooling in the goretex socks after a two hour paddle and a few rolls. My whole body would be soaked and I would have a few ounces of water in each goretex sock that I would have to pour out after taking off the suit.

On Thanksgiving morning I went out paddling and it was fairly cool…in the upper 30s with water in the upper 40s and quite windy. I wore a Mysterioso top and similar bottoms that I purchased for the cold weather of the east. I did not roll at all on this trip which is never the case when I paddle…but I noticed that at the end of the 2 hour paddle (paddling hard) I was just as wet as when I roll and had lots of water in the suit and in the socks again.

I thought that maybe the water was getting in through the wrist gaskets, but then I started to wonder if it could possibly be sweat…so I did the dreaded taste test that has been mentioned here before and which I can do since I am paddling in fresh water…and the water in the socks appeared to be sweat!

I went out yesterday and tried to confirm by wearing nothing but shorts and a very light shirt underneath the suit and rolling a lot to stay cool and to test the water proofness. At the end of the paddle I was still damp, but not enough to wring out water from my shirt or empty it from the socks of the suit.

So, apparently I must sweat like heck in my drysuit, even when wearing what I would think is appropriate layers for underneath. I guess that from now on I will have to wear some really, really light base layers in all but the coldest weather and make sure to roll a lot to regulate my body temperatures, but frankly it sounds to me that drysuits may just not be for me!

Does anyone else out there have this problem when wearing a drysuit??? Frankly, I was rather shocked by my discovery.


I Sweat A Lot!!!
and, yes, my layers under the Goretex wetsuit are pretty much sopping with sweat after a good session, even in the middle of February. But, this doesn’t matter much, unless I stop for more than five minutes.

When folks say they’re totally dry after a paddle in their goretex drysuit, I can only wonder whether they have sweat glands. Come winter on the midatlantic and up to the NE, you’re still going to be glad to have a drysuit. I doubt you want to be wearing a surfing wetsuit, unless you want to roll and roll and roll. Your mysterioso stuff ain’t gonna cut it. I figure on a up to a 30 minute window for immersion in my winter surfing wetsuit. If I don’t get myself out of whatever trouble I got myself into, then I am pretty much screwed.


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I sweat and am usualy damp in my drysuit.

Sounds like you sweat more than me though.


I do sweat a lot I guess. My concern and part of the reason that I ask this question is due to the fact that if you get this damp in the suit then the suit and your layers start to lose their insulative qualities and you get cold…especially if you have to stop for a while.

I am wondering what the best solution is, or if this is unavoidable. I do have a heavy synthetic insulated vest that I might be able to throw on over the suit for lunch breaks, etc. Maybe that is a good solution.



– Last Updated: Nov-26-06 9:46 PM EST –

If working hard my underlayers are pretty wet in my dry suit. I find being certain to have very good wicking layer under my insulating layer is essential.

Yes it is important to carry something to throw on over your dry suit so you don't get chilled when you stop/pause. A cag is often the choice. I also have an NRS Over-Sea jacket which I like a lot for such purposes. Ideally it should be someting that fits over your pfd etc...

My wife and I have had NRS dry
suits for the past four years, and they are only used as our emergency change of clothes in case of a mishap for that very reason.

We bought them for a four month trip to Alaska, and after the first few days of using them, they were so hot and sweaty that we switched to light weight water proof cycling pants and a splash jacket, (naturally with poly pro or equal layering under)

Neither one of us rolls and have no desire to, so as far as I am concerned the high buck dry suits are wasted money unless you like to play around rolling.

If either one of us capsize, we will do an assisted rescue, head to the closest shore and then change clothes.



Underlayers that work
"Tis the season… dress for the water and you are sweating bullets in the air. Shortened version of a post from the Why Semi-Dry thread still running under this board, some others reported my experience.

“…Alpaca (or sheep) wool socks maintain their warmth when wet. Good quality fleece, with a lot of loft, can manage to be soaked underneath from sweat and moist on top from minor leaks and, with a light wicking other fleece or wool layer underneath will get me home if needed OK.

I like and use light polypro as a base layer in most situations, but it will get to a point of wetness where that is itself a chilling issue.

I always carry a spare set of insulation and will (always) change out that for dry layers at the half on a full day paddle. But I find that fleece and wool will get me home if wet as long as I don’t just sit still in the wind looking at the scenery for a long while…”

Also - a nice big thingie that you can at least change your torso layers out under while blocking wind works out nicely. Carry a cag that can be gotten on over/around your normal layers and pfd in the day hatch, will block wind and create an additional layer of air.

I feel your pain, Bowl man,
You have described my problem exactly. I paddle in Northern climes, and even in cold air temps I have this problem. I too thought that I was leaking, especially around my wrist gaskets, but the taste test confirmed the same thing. Since I paddle on really cold lakes (e.g. Superior) I have to have good immersion protection, so I have just resigned myself to being damp/wet when I paddle. I’ve tried all of the above wicking layers, but cheap-assed wool seems to be as good as anything.

It’s still worth it to paddle, however.


I am usually pretty dry
after paddling with my Goretex drysuit. Sometimes my under clothes are completely dry and sometimes my shirt will be a little damp under the life jacket. I dress for the air temperture more than the water and I cool off whenever I start to feel myself starting to sweat. I feel that I would be better off with a thin dry layer of clothes on rather a thick wet layer on if I had to take a swim. The balance brace is an efficient technique to cool myself down and it also gives my back a good mid-paddle stretch. I suppose my body is a light sweater also. I can’t imagine sweating so much that I would end up with water in my socks. I have always wondered if a drysuit would disapate moisture better by not burping out all of air. Has anyone ever tried this?

Do people have the same sweating experience with a semidry suit?

Brain storm – Desiccant?

– Last Updated: Nov-25-06 11:54 AM EST –

Could one put some kind of reusable desiccant pouch in their drysuit to absorb moisture/sweat? I suppose too large of a pack would be a liability if it weighed too much and if you sweat so much you'd need a cubic foot of it, using it would be a bad idea.


I don’t get soaked with sweat
in my semi-dry suit. But i doubt the slightly loose neck has anything to do with it. Even with the neoprene neck I still have to burp air out of the suit, so there’s not much air flow there.

I wonder if it has more to do with being in a kayak with a spray skirt (rather than an OC)?

The humidity in the cockpit under the skirt probably gets pretty high, which renders breathability of the suit below the waist moot. And up above with the PFD on, the only real breathability you’re getting is through your arms.

check for leaks
sure you can have sweat but it you walk around eventually it eventually dries out. If you’ve got pooling of water check for leaks. Goretex is good but I had a drysuit delaminate and develop pin hole leaks in two years.

Good point about the breathability issue. I guess I never thought of it that way.


Regulate with head cooling.

– Last Updated: Nov-25-06 3:02 PM EST –

Maybe you already do this.

As long as the air is down around 40 F and there's some wind, head cooling makes a big difference for me. Works best with a shaved head or buz cut.

If just wearing a light hat, and side scull once in a while, I do pretty good. If I wear my scull cap, then my ears are warm and I feel nice and toasty, but I'll sweat.

I end up switching back and fourth sometimes.

Paul S.

Exertion Level
Was just wondering while reading this thread about sweating in a dry suit. No one is mentioning how hard they are paddling when relating their experiences. In order to keep it simple, are you lillydipping and or just easy paddling downstream with the current, going a moderate pace with some short breaks or are you maintaining a high cadence but not necessarily a ‘race pace’?

Yup. I f I dress too thick I overheat.
But over the past several seasons I have learned that with the drysuit on I need only be dress for an emergency swim since the air temp will be far less a factor than the dip in the cold water would be. I have to make a judgement call beforehand about how long I may be in the water in a swim situation. Even in 30 degree air I find myself wishing I had less on under my drysuit if I could be sure the water temps weren’t too bad. It is the water temp that worries me far more than the air temp. I mean in a drysuit I can get myself overheated in a short period of time by paddling hard so if the water tmep is isn’t bad I dress accordingly. It is only when the water temp drops into winter type temps (Jan-April ocean temps in the 30’s) that I wear a full set of polartec 200 underneath. I know from past experiences that I can stay in 35 degree water for more than 20 minutes dressed like this without becoming too cold (assuming good gloves and a neo hood) but it is a bear trying to paddling like I want to dressed like this especially if the air temp is above freezing. It is terribly hot and tiring for me. So for the first part of the cold season (Nov-Dec. ocean water temps above 40)I go with a thin nylon long sleeve shirt covered with a thin polartec vest. Polartec 100 pants. With this I am reasobnably comfortable in a swim in water down to 45ish assuming it will not be a long swim. I overheat rather quickly when wearing too much thermal protection so if I am going to be out for more than a short outting I have to take into consideration the air temp AND the amount of in the water exsposure I might have on a particular trip should I end up in the water. Anything more than 1/4 of a mile I consider to be high risk type exsposure. It would take me a considerable amount of time to swim 1/4 of a mile.

I dont bother buying goretex drysuits therefor I dont feel the chill outside the boat that others attribute to their breathable drysuits. Usually I am feeling far too warm.

My first choice for 50 water is a farmer john wetsuit underlayer with paddling shell over. For some reason I find it more appealing with regards to regulating my core temp while paddling. Above 60 degree water and I rarely decide to go with immersion gear.

My drysuit is basically a non breathable 3 y.o. nrs extreme. Made before they started to claim the were breathable.

I should say that from what others tell me, I am a bit more tolerant of cold water because of my bulky upper body with it’s blubber content. Probably why I tend to be too warm most of the time I am paddling. The only way to know your personal tolerances is to get into the cold water with different underlayers and find what works best for your needs.

The only problem I have with the non breathable suits is when i go swimming in cold water condensate tends to build up against my outter-inner layer. I can only imagine the same exact thing happens in goretex clad swimmers in which case they might be a little colder when they get out of the water.

high cadence or moderate pace
In any chop approaching 1 foot, I like to go at a good clip as it increases hull stability and keeps a paddle in the water. I can also sweat if I paddle at a moderate pace when tired, like toward the end of the trip.

Sometimes I’ll lilly dip in flat water and don’t sweat then.

Paul S.

Paddling cadence…
To answer the previous question, I am paddling at a pretty brisk pace—maintaining around 5mph with a high cadence a moderate level of exertion. I am sure that if I were just kind of tooling around that I would not sweat too bad.

I went out again today with just shorts and a silk weight capilene shirt…air temp was 55 and water in the high 40s. Did lots of rolling, but still ended up being soaked inside my suit after 2 hours of paddling. I did not have enough to dump water out of the socks, but my shirt and shorts were absolutely soaked…to the point where I sat on my coat driving home.

It’s a bit frustrating for me because I can’t really wear much LESS under my suit, and even with a lot of rolling in cold water I am still getting soaked with sweat.

I am going to try to go out tomorrow and do nothing but roll about a dozen times and then go home. If I am still dry under my suit then I know it is just that I am sweating and not that my suit is leaking.

Still can’t believe that I could get this soaked inside my suit just from my own sweat.



I think I read somewhere
that an aggresive athlete can lose up to 2 liters of fluid an hour from persperation alone. It could be sweat in you suit. Imagine how wet you would feel if you dumped a quart of water into your drysuit. You could be doing just that trying to maintain a 5mph pace in a drysuit.

Just a thought.