Tulik / cold water immersion protection

To those tulik users out there - do you protect yourselves against cold water immersion after a wet exit? What do you wear and how does it work?

Tulik folks
at least the hard core ones, tend to keep rolling even into cold water so wet exits are not much of an issue. That said, a traditional tulik with a full hood tightened around the face will also reduce the amount of skin that cold water can get to compared to people paddling with a watch cap and a dry suit or separate.

For those of us who are less hard core and maybe mostly use something like the storm cag as a tulik, wear the same thing under the cag as if you were in a skirt. Dry suit for winter.

If you can’t reliably roll, the tulik is only going to make a diff when you are upright.

dress for immersion
Dress for immersion even with the tuilik.

I paddle cold waters year round. In the summer, if I wear the tuilik, I have a wetsuit on. In the fall and this time of year, I wear my drysuit. I was out yesterday with my tuilik and drysuit in 38F water and 40F air temps. I was hot. I needed to roll just to cool off, but that’s such a great feeling this time of year.

Celia’s gave the perfect answer.

Even with a bombproof roll, wear your normal cold-water gear under the tuliq.

You should also prove to yourself that your normal cold water gear is up to the task by actually getting into the icy water to see how long you can stay in and still function.

Tulik + Drysuit = hot!
Unless I’m going rolling or its very cold, I won’t wear the Brooks Tuilik and a drysuit: just too hot. Will wear the drysuit + a Brooks or Budhead spray skirt. You can get lighter weight Tuiliks–Reed for example–that might work better, but the Brooks is just too heavy for my taste.

Might be a function of where you are paddling and how cold the air and water are. Here in Northern New England it can be awfully cold. Hard to imagine being hot - and it might be a welcome feeling.

"Unless I’m rolling"
Well, that’s why I would wear a tuiliq, if I had one. To add warmth OVER the drysuit when rolling a lot in cold conditions.

I borrowed a Brooks tuiliq for air temps 53 and water temps about 60, in late June in the PNW a couple years ago. It kept me warm but not too hot.

Paddling in that combination without rolling would’ve been another story. But that’s in relatively warm water, not frigid winter conditions.

Forgive my ignorance
But why would one wear a tuilik over a dry suit? Why not just a spray skirt and head wear?

Freedom of movement, and added warmth
As you can tell from the other posts, a tuiliq adds warmth to the usual get-up.

It also feels freer, since the tuiliq body is loose-fitting and goes over the coaming directly, substituting for the skirt and its tight neoprene tunnel. The hood covers the entire neck and most of the head. If you snug it up correctly, it is watertight and warm.

The only time I wear my tuilik is for
rolling practice, which is ussually in a pool. It gives me more freedom of movement and let’s less water into the kayak. If I were to wear it for paddling I would still want my immersion gear on also. The tuilik is an interesting piece of paddling equipment but I only enjoy using it for rolling sessions. I removed the hood from my tuilik and replaced it with a neck seal so that I can socialize better. If you do wear it for paddling I would practice rescues and rolling in the conditions your paddling in so there’s no surprises. My main reason for not wearing it for everyday paddling is safety. When I wear the tuilik and PFD I have a very hard trying to switch sides under water for rolls. If I were to have to roll in surf and had to switch sides under water I would be in trouble.

I wear a tuliq and a dry suit in winter weather. My tuliq is GoreTex, so it isn’t as hot as neoprene.

I find the Gore-Tex to be more usable for me when in hot weather with cold water.

If you can’t roll every time or
it is a 20 degree day with a breeze and 36 degree water. I would not trust my roll to be reliable in those temps simply because it is so much colder than I normally paddle in. Those deep winter jaunts are occasional because by then even finding open water is a hunt, let alone putting together a few friends who are equally crazy.

Or if you don’t have a reliable roll to start with and would swim. I’d have to check back, but I think the OPer here is a relatively new paddler. Roll may be there but not yet shock-proof.

First, there are tuliqs and there are tuliqs.

The ones from Kokatat are intended to be an extra layer to wear if you you are cold with your regular paddling gear. The earlier version of those, made by Valley if I recall correctly, had one design bug. They didn’t breathe and people would put them on only to be ripping them off 20 minutes later because they were too hot. We paddled with some who had them, and at least on foggy chilly days in Maine during moderate weather I never saw one stay on for more than that. In winter this would cause more sweating, which is an issue of its own in a stiff breeze at the the temps I named. The Kokatat version does breathe, and is less hot.

Other tuliqs, like the ones from Brooks, more emulate the traditional ones that were intended to be worn as the sole outer layer. They don’t breath, some are of a material that is black so really catches sun. They are intended to be and can be very warm, even hot if your hands are covered OK and someone is more cold tolerant than I am.

But this is all about your being upright. Same as above - if you have any risk of a swim, the tuliq does not substitute for things like a dry suit.

Question - do you have a dry suit? That’s much more a question for paddling into the winter than a tuliq or not in northern NE.

Thanks - added room makes sense
but added protection - not really since there’s already a dry suit under it with supposedly all the right layers under it since the tuilik does not offer much protection once immersed (except for the head I guess).

I suppose the small cockpits of greenland kayaks make neo skirts less stretchy (there is just less neo to stretch). I didn’t think about added flexibility since on large keyhole cockpits I never felt any restriction from my skirts - my neo or neo/fabric skirts offer all the flexibility I need and do not restrict my movement in any way.

I guess, I can see also the “comfort factor” of not having a skirt’s tunnel sqeezing the torso ('cause a tunnel/overlayer has to be tight or it will leak)…

Until you try a tuilik, you won’t believe just how restrictive a regular neoprene sprayskirt is. The difference in freedom-of-movement (for rolling) is night and day.

Regarding cold exposure, a tuilik traps a lot of air, and the Brooks style comes down to your knees, in the traditional style. If you bail, the suit actually keeps most of your body buoyant and protected (like an open-bottomed diving bell) and you can pull your legs up into the suit. I have experimented with this in cold water (controlled situations), but it would be foolish IMO to rely on this in uncontrolled situations since as soon as the warmed air “bubble” is lost (it very slowly seeps out around your face), so does most of your warmth. It’s best to treat the tuilik like a drytop and dress appropriately, but a tuilik is actually much warmer and more protective than a “normal” drytop.

A drysuit and a tuilik is a very toasty combination. The full hood keeps the cold off your head and neck and is very comfortable, and very warm (sometimes too warm).

When I attended my first Greenland competition, the water was litered with ice and was around thirty degrees (salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh). For the first few rolls the water burned my face like battery acid, but even so I was soon overheated paddling/rolling in a Brooks tuilik with a full kokatat suit (with fleece insulation). For later sessions, I kept the drysuit underneath but had to adjust my insulation layers.

Greg Stamer

Maybe I’m not reading this correctly as I only use my Valley cag as another layer when I’m eating lunch, but it’s been my understanding that the Kokatat cag is a cag and the Brooks neoprene down-to-your kness, Inuit-style is definitely a tuliq.

I do understand that the Kokatat or the Valley or even the old Expedition Essentials crinkly nylon one can be used LIKE a tuliq while paddling, especially when you need an extra layer or you’ve perhaps forgotten your spray deck. However,or at least the way I read it, the term cag and tuliq aren’t necessarily interchangeable and doing say may confuse things.

that’s correct
A Cag doesn’t come close to what a tuilik is…only in the outside appearance because it has a deck (sort of) and a hood. A tuilik keeps you warm and dry in frigid conditions. If you are careful getting into the kayak, and don’t carry any water in with you on your feet. (remember , when upside down, the water all runs to the low point) I can roll for one or two hours and still have dry hair…doesn’t matter if it’s summer or not. In the winter , my eyes start to be affected by the cold water after about a half an hour…same as in a pool.

never confuse a Cag with a tuilik…they preform completely different. and they were designed for completely different purposes.

Best Wishes


(isn’t the question of what is worn under the tuilik…sort of like that same question posed to a person in a kilt ?)

Me bad
Y’r right.

I’ve seen the terms used interchangeably so much - figured that was the context especially when the OPer talked about how well one would handle a wet exit. I may have jumped too quick there.

That said, it seems that in the context of the original post - doing a wet exit - neither is a plan without a dry suit underneath for paddling in the winter in the northeast.

Thanks for all the input

– Last Updated: Nov-14-11 8:35 PM EST –

I am new to Kayaking but not new to paddling in cold water and cold weather. In the old days we paddled spring white water with wool underwear, pants, and sweaters in open canoes. Crazy? Perhaps. But that is what we all did. No one had money for wetsuits and dry suits. Maybe a wet suit top on really bad days. Open boat trippers and native arctic paddlers travel in the arctic all the time in extremely harsh conditions without dry suits. They manage their risk and make decisions based on years of paddling experience and the knowledge that help is at best several hours and more likely several days away. That reality changes your decision making process.

I totally get it that cold rough water in winter off the coast of northern new england is a different kettle of fish, something I would not attempt until I had good solid self rescue skills and a solid roll. It will be at least a year, maybe more, before I am at that point. Part of the calculus is your skill level.

Still, I do enjoy paddling in rivers and lakes late into the season before freeze up and so I am thinking about what sort of clothing will work best in this new to me world of kayaking. I actually enjoy paddling in inclement weather - a cold rain in late fall can be great fun if you keep yourself dry and warm. I am considering various options for use on the lakes and rivers here in northern new england where I live and I'm also considering the day in the not to distant future when I am getting out in the salt water on bad days. A tulik is appealing to me for my current needs. It seem that it would make a cold rain a lot more bearable. Also, I could wear it for rolling. My thinking is that for now I will put off the inevitable dry suit purchase for a later day and give a tulik a try - I'll stay close to shore so that I know I can get out of the water quickly if the need arises - as I have always done in the past traveling in an open canoe.

In That
case…since your going to put off the dry suit…get a pair of 3mm neo pants like the NRS rodeo pants. Some Sasquach booties and several different tops. Like a IR thick-skin, a Mysteriosia Nyloprene short sleeve top…maybe a NRS neoprene shirt like a Hydro skin …For paddling I would get a semi dry top with a neck that you can open to vent and gasket-ed wrists like the Kokatat or the reed paddling cag. The Tuilik is better suited to rolling than to paddling, if you live in the arctic the Tuilik would make a good paddling jacket.

Best Wishes