Undergarments for Dry Suits

I see people debating the merits of the different dry suits all the time, brand, material and such but not spending much time thinking about what to put underneath.

Recently I noticed a friend changing at lunch because he gets drenched throughout the day. I noticed that the rashguard he had on was nylon (soacking wet). So, here are a couple of suggestions to consider.

Wear nothing with nylon under your drysuit. Nylon holds water and doesn’t wick.

Multiple thin layers are more comfortable than one thick layer.

Your wicking undies should all be close fitting. If they don’t touch each other, they can’t wick the water away from you to an outside layer.

If you get pools of sweat in your booties, perhaps you are over dressed.

When I am surfing, I don’t care about the sweating. The sweat is warm while I am and when I am done surfing, the car is close by, I can change. Sweat when you are done exercising cools you off quickly.

When I am out for the day paddling in a sea kayak, I manage my exercise level so that I don’t get too wet. I dress for conditions and what I believe would be the worst case scenario for how long I would be in the water. Keep a scull cap around my neck and able to pull on if I get chilled. Wind bloc cap gets stuffed between the dry suit and the pfd.

Sure others will post some more suggestions.


sweating in a dry suit
I do, best way I’ve found to handle the overheating is to get wet - roll and scull often.

heard it referred to as “rotary cooling” before.

If you have a drysuit
then you need to wear wicking layers under it to help you stay dry. Also rolling to cool off works if you have a roll.

This is funny…

– Last Updated: Dec-14-06 12:40 AM EST –

I actually bought my first drytop today... (Stohlquist FreeFall)
And nothing to go under it...

Well, I did get a Kokatat farmer john... but that doesn't count... :-)

In The Buff…

– Last Updated: Dec-14-06 5:05 AM EST –

oh wait, that's my wetsuit.

I agree with the thin wicking layers. :) Better two or three thin layers than one or two bulky layers. Still damp though... But warm.


Sounds like you may have read my post about sweating excessively in my drysuit (pools of sweat in the booties, etc).

I have recently found that I am warm in the drysuit in cool temperatures (down to the mid 30s) with nearly nothing on underneath. The suit itself, exertion level, and my PFD provide plenty of warmth.

I have recently moved to using UnderArmour Heatgear (their lightest weight, form fitting layer). I have a pair of tights and have ordered a top. Seems to work well so far along with frequent rolling.



– Last Updated: Dec-14-06 6:00 AM EST –

is not paddling specific. The inside seams are raised and gets irritating, especially when you sweat. Get yourself paddling specific rashguards with flat seams. Those my words of advice to you. :)


PS. When you get your top and should find it irritating (as I do), and don't want to spend anymore on paddling specific rashguards, wear the UnderArmor inside out so the seams are outside and away from your skin.

Good advice. I will try the UnderArmour inside out.

I do have some paddling specific Rash Guard…NRS Hydrosilk. However, believe it or not, I find it too warm for me! I sweat so much that I need the absolute thinest baselayer I can get. I figure the UnderArmour will be a good bet b/c it is thin, tight, and wicking. Should help manage sweat well without adding any significant warmth (which I don’t need or want)


Nike Pro dri-fit
My son runs long-distance events (cross-country and track)in college and introduced me to Nike Pro dri-fit compression shorts and shirts - they don’t have irritating inside seams like UnderArmour. Nike Pro is my first layer. Haven’t tried the kayaking specific clothes yet, but look forward to trying them.

Fabric wicking when worn inside/out
I think that a lot of the wicking fabrics are getting very technical. I don’t believe that all will wick when worn inside out. Take a look at the inside and outside of your garments. They are usually slightly different on the newer stuff.

Back in the days of wool only, it didn’t matter.

One of you science geeks can look into the specs for the newer wicking materials and figure out if they are one directional.

Anyone who says they sweat a lot in a drysuit should review change their underwear:)


It is non-itchy Merino wool. Keeps you warm when wet, doesn’t retain odor, dries quickly, and doesn’t feel damp against the skin unless it is really wet. Plus the natural fibers regulate temperature very well. All of that and it looks fashionable enough to wear without the drysuit after you get done paddling.

It is also much better on longer trips when synthetics end up smelling rank after a few days.


But if you wear very little
under a drysuit and end up in cold water, aren’t you in almost as much trouble as if no drysuit at all? I’m thinking about length of time in the water. Or are you all relying on bombproof rolls so you’re only under for a few seconds?

another vote for wool
in my case I’ve got a wardrobe of Smartwool products and have proven over countless multidayhikes that they might get a slight stink over 5 days but never that Godaweful funk synthetics get…and with the number of ‘weights’ they offer you can easily tailor the amount of insulation you need…insulating when wet is already noted but my mom has told me for years that wool is tough and long lasting.

glider is on to the crux of it
We wear full fleece bunny suits from Stohlquist for warmth in ice cold waters. As Glider points out…if you are immersed for even five minutes and have very little under the dry suit you will be really cold. If it’s longer than 30 minutes you could be really dead! But being comfortable while in the boat high and dry is such a compromise with a full dry suit. I have always figured being too hot is better than being too cold but once I overheated on an early season paddle on Lake Michigan and that was no fun either. Bow hangs (I’m not 100% yet on sculling and coming back up every time) really helps since I don’t like to get my hair wet in cold weather since I seem to lose my core temp quick when I do that. As noted-nylon is nowhere as good as fluffy polyester under the dry top.

Well I tried the Underarmour heatgear top today on the water…it was an absolute no-go for me. Did nothing but hold the dampness next to my skin and make me chilled after being hot.

I am seriously looking at getting a micro weight Smartwool top (merino wool). I have heard a lot of good things about their layers.


Wool works
Icebreaker, Ibex, Smartwool. They’re all good against the skin. Fleece has its place, but wool against the skin, whether body or feet, is really better.


Another vote for Under Armor

What is the fabric that UnderArmor is made of?

I cannot find any information. If it is polyester, it will not be as warm as wool or polypro. (The lower the thermal conductivity the better)

Fabric Thermal Conductivity

Polypropylene 6.0

Wool 6.4

Acetate 8.6

Viscose 11

Cotton 17

I don’t have a clue but I like it