Waterproof clothing

Winter is coming, & while they’re not too bad here in Mississippi, the water will be cold & the air will be brisk. Plus I hate to be cold. I’m on a sit-on-top kayak. What things should I look for when choosing waterproof tops & pants? I’d like to keep it under $200.

Thanks in advance!

Doubt much under 200

Cool weather paddling…
I would look into a fairly light weight farmer John wet suit, with a water proof spray jacket. I use the same combo in winter conditions. Good luck.

how cold
what water temps are you talking about?

I agree on the wetsuit/dry top
The only way to stay completely dry when paddling is with a Goretex type drysuit with gasketed sleeves and neck, which will run you $600 to over $1000.

If you try to wear waterproof clothing such as regular coated nylon rain-wear while paddling you will just sweat inside of it and water will get into it around the waistbands, ankles, sleeves and neck.

Though your skin will be damp with a wetsuit at least you will be warm and the outfit is cheaper. A farmer john (sleeveless) wetsuit in 3mm thickness, which you can always find on Ebay for under $100, topped with a breathable waterproof pullover paddling top with neoprene neck and wrists, is a good basic outfit for cooler, wetter conditions.

Another option is a shortie wet suit (also called a “spring suit” with a long sleeved breathable paddle top plus Goretex or other breathable pants like the NRS Endurance style:


The 3 piece outfit gives you more flexibility but your legs may not be as warm.

Wetsuit boots, like the Deep See hard bottoms are good to wear on your feet over the wetsuit. I see them on Ebay all the time for less than $20.

I came here today with intentions of posting almost the same exact question, only I’m in Central NC. This is a very good subject that needs details and much discussion. Very few can afford a drysuit, there must be some decent alternatives. Adding waterproofing to existing clothing items and ect…Please Advise

need to dress for water temp
for many of us that means a wetsuit or drysuit

mythic makes a no frills sack like drysuit for $280, throw in some pile pajamas from walmart and a synthetic underlayer from the active wear dept, add wool socks, and you could get set up for about 350.00 Pogies and booties will run you more but worth every penny. Don’t forget a balaclava from a local sporting goods store.

some links

– Last Updated: Oct-11-16 11:55 AM EST –


and paddling jacket





dry suits

– Last Updated: Oct-11-16 12:50 PM EST –

Dry suits are really the only option if you want to keep your skin relatively dry, so for any extended and/or windy conditions with water that is cold enough to make immersion dangerous, they are what is needed. The basic Mythic is a very good deal for achieving that level of comfort and safety. Warm polyester fleece or even stretch washable wool garments to wear underneath can be found on the racks in the athletic gear departments of most of the "off-price" stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc. I've found many such items for around $12 to $20 each. You should be able to outfit yourself, as the previous poster says, for around $350, including a pair of hard-soled neoprene boots to wear over the drysuit sox.

Wetsuits will keep you warm -- I have a 3mm very much like that NRS one that is on sale and it is quite comfortable. But because your skin is damp underneath, I have to wear windproof jacket and pants over it in breezy and cold air conditions to keep from getting chilled.

If even $350 is beyond your budget, full 3 or 4 mm wetsuits are common and cheap on Ebay. I got a wonderful Exel surfing full wetsuit that fits me perfectly for $25 including shipping. It appeared to have been barely worn. If you are squeamish about used neoprene, just turn it inside out and machine wash it with Woolite and warm water on gentle cycle and hang to dry -- should kill any "cooties".

I just did a quick search on Ebay and found at least a dozen breathable WP paddling jackets for under $100. Anybody who kayaks anywhere should at least have one of these and carry it with them (I always do). Even if you mostly paddle in hot climates and warm waters you are at risk of hypothermia unless you have a wind and waterproof top in case you encounter unexpected rainy and windy conditions when you are far offshore from shelter. I did a short river paddle last weekend on an afternoon that was deceptively mild and sunny but with temperature in the mid to high 50's where we were often paddling directly into strong winds. One of the other paddlers had started out wearing just a long sleeved fleece jersey under her PFD and she was quite chilled to the point of shivering and her hands feeling numb within the first hour. Fortunately I had a spare hat and a Goretex shell in my stern hatch which I loaned her, and another paddler had a thermos of hot coffee which restored her core heat.

Which reminds me that you also need a hat. More heat per square inch is lost through our head and neck than any other part of the body. The old saw is true: if your feet are cold, put on your hat. Your body reflexively conserves body heat in your head and core (to keep your brain and major organs protected) by diverting blood from your extremities. Female metabolism does this more rapidly once temperatures drop (probably an evolutionary adaptation to protect a fetus within the body) which is why women will complain sooner of cold feet and hands. Women tend to have more protective body fat as well. Male metabolism tends to be slower to divert heat from extremities so they don't get cold feet and hands as quickly, but that also means that men will lose heat from their larger skin area rather than conserve it which tends to make them more vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite.

Maybe more detail than you were seeking, but I used to work for outfitters and learned this stuff to teach winter backpacking and mountaineering, also taught cold weather "hygiene" and how to dress for conditions in the construction trades.

Definition of Cold and Brisk?
You might want to define the water temps and air temps you will be paddling in. Also are you paddling flatwater or rivers and streams or Gulf Coast?

I’m not a big fan of the farmer john wet suits that people recommend. When you do go in the water, cold water flushes through the top of the suit because of the lack of sleeves, this quickly cools your chest and heart just what you don’t want to happen. When the water is cold 45-55 F, I use a 4/3 full surfing wetsuit. You can find one on sale for about $120 but should plan on spending about $160. Water temps low 50s to ~ 60 I wear a 3/2 wetsuit surfing brands. When water is warmer than 60 I have 2 mm tops and bottoms made by Oneil which cost about $160 together. If I am paddling hard long distance I will wear these with colder water if in a group or rescue is close at hand. A good semi-dry top can be had for about $80. Semi dry top and 2mm top and bottoms will probably work for your climate. You don’t have to buy all at once, and slowly add a set of layers each season that you can fit to the conditions.

you need not
to worry about comfort on the kayak first. You need to worry about safety in the water.

chinese wetsuit
booties. wear polyester clothing over wetsuit.

Debunking the head myth
A few years back, Scottish researchers actually tested heat loss through the head and it accounts for about 10% of total heat loss, which is basically proportional to its surface area. While that 10% can certainly make a difference in comfort and safety, covering your head is actually no more critical than covering other parts of your body. It just seems to be the last thing that people tend to cover, probably due to simple vanity more than anything else.

If there was a cheap alternative…

– Last Updated: Oct-12-16 10:12 AM EST –

...to dry suits, nobody would spend the money. The truth is that when conditions warrant wearing a dry suit, there isn't any viable alternative. Also, beware of cheap, non-breathable "dry suits", as your insulating layers will quickly become soaked with sweat, rendering them ineffective, not to mention uncomfortable.

Wet suits work in moderate conditions, but they're not a substitute for a dry suit.

The best test for any immersion clothing is to immerse yourself in the conditions you will be paddling in, near shore so you can exit readily. You'll find out very quickly if your clothing is up to the task.

When it comes to waterproof/breathable fabrics for dry suits, nothing compares to Goretex in terms of overall performance and value. Yes, it's expensive, but unlike any other fabric that I'm aware of, it comes with a lifetime waterproof guarantee. That makes a Goretex dry suit (or other garment) essentially a one-time purchase, unless you shred it somehow. I've personally had 3 Goretex garments replaced free under warranty, some after more than 10 years of use. In the case of my dry suit, the manufacturer (Stohlquist) no longer made Goretex suits, so Gore replaced it with a top-of-the-line suit from Kokatat (I offered to pay the difference for the upgrade in the suit but they refused to take any money). With any other fabric, you can expect it to start leaking and have to be replaced, so spending the extra money up front for Goretex saves you money in the long run.

DK, what would be the point of wearing poly fleece over a wetsuit? Soaking wet fleece has reduced insulation value and most is not windproof. What one needs over neoprene is windproof shells with snug wrist, neck and ankle seals to prevent evaporative cooling from damp skin.

I can see wearing fleece on shore over neoprene (which I do myself) but cheap poly fleece becomes a soggy mess on the water unless it’s layered under Goretex or other wp shell.

I’m convinced…

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...that these "datakoll" posts are just computer-generated nonsense from some snot-nosed kid or other miscreant who gets off on trying to disrupt the forum. That's why they typically make no sense and should just be ignored. Responding to them is as pointless as responding to a troll, which is basically what "datakoll" is. I don't know why these haven't been blocked, but they should be.

Semi-dry & waterproof - material?
Thanks for all the input! I’ve been looking online for waterproof & semi-dry paddling jackets, etc. They come in a wide variety of materials, all unfamiliar to me. What materials do you recommend - or not recommend - for jackets & pants? I have a sit-on-top. I’ll be on flat water, mostly in Mississippi. That sounds nice & warm, but I went on a night paddle on the Tenn-Tom waterway under the last full moon & by the time we were nearing the end of the paddle I was cold! Need to keep the prices low, if at all possible, but I don’t want to have water soak through just because I was trying to save a few bucks. I’d rather get it right the first time.

Thanks again!

No fleece. Por favor.

I’m inclined suggesting to an OP here that wet suit top n bottoms are acceptably worn under light clothing, with a wind breaker, ball cap…

If the dry suit is too much $$$ n getting out is an obsession then go with neoprene.

Great suit

– Last Updated: Oct-30-16 4:23 PM EST –

I had one of these for rafting. The only thing that makes it a semi-dry instead of a full drysuit is the neoprene neck gasket. Water entry if submerged is minimal, and comfort over a latex neck gasket far outweighed the tiny bit of leakage for me. I used it for one season while rafting, but decided it was overkill for what I was doing at the time. I sold it to a kayaker who paddles on the great lakes and she loves it. I went back to fleece top & bottom, with a Gortex paddle jacket and Gortex paddle pants.

At $500, it's a great suit from Kokatat

Now that I'm paddling a SOT kayak, I sometimes wish I still had my Kokatat Supernova paddle suit. Instead I bought a full wet suit to layer under my paddle jacket & pants for cold conditions/cold water.

Neoprene outside, synthetic inside
I use a wet suit with polyester, or other synthetic long sleeved underwear shirt and a pair of shorts inside. Footwear is neoprene boots with neoprene booties inside. It keeps me warm and mostly dry. I don’t go paddling in inclement weather and when it gets below freezing, so it has worked for me for many years.

Generally you can find a full length wet suit for under $100, neoprene boots (NRS Boundary boots) under $100 and the cost for the rest is fairly incidental. Don’t go and spend a lot on a costly pair of paddling gloves. Most of the time I use the same open fingered gloves in the winter that I wear the rest of the time. I have found that even in colder weather, if your paddle shaft is black, the sun warms it up and keeps your fingers warm. However, I do have some water proof “thinsulate” gloves ($6.95 on sale) that come in handy sometimes. Don’t waste your money on rubber gloves; they don’t work.