Wet Suit or Dry Top in cold water?

-- Last Updated: Jul-02-08 8:52 PM EST --

As someone who always uses my farmer john style wet suit in cold (56 degree) water on the Pacific, I find myself getting pretty hot in it after paddling my SOT. I have a long sleeve dry top that I have never used in cold water, only fresh water in fall/winter where water temps are considerably warmer. Opinions on if I can safely just wear my dry top on small chop ocean water? My 13' SOT is really stable and I have practiced getting back on in warm water...pretty easy to do, but cold water is a different matter. I would consider myself a beginner/novice on cold water and intermediate on fresh/warmer water. Thanks in advance.

;when you wear your dry top
what do you wear on bottom?

On warmer water, I usually just
wear swimming trunks or rain pants…not insulated, just treated water resistant fabric, certainly not water proof if submerged.

Drytops eventually leak
Since a drytop will soon allow water to seep upward from the waist should you end up swimming, I believe it is only as valuable as your ability to roll. And since most people cannot roll an SOT back upright from a capsize, I would venture to say that a drytop is virtually worthless in your case.

I say ‘virtually’ because if you are indeed proficient at righting and boarding your boat after a capsize, a tight drytop may offer dryness and warmth for enough time to execute such a self-rescue. It will do the same, but to a lesser extent, if you end up in the water for a longer time, by reducing the amount of water sloshing into and out of your FJ wetsuit.

So a drytop-and-wetsuit combo is no substitute for a full drysuit. Experiment for yourself by donning your proposed outfit and wading into a warm inland lake, taking note how long it takes for water to seep into your ensemble. Then consider if that is enough time for you to execute a self-rescue. If not, you’re gonna start getting wet–and cold–in case of a capsize.

Perhaps consider adding a pair of drypants, which can be double-rolled to join your top and provide coverage approaching that of a drysuit.

Good luck!



swim to cool off?
“I find myself getting pretty hot in it after paddling my SOT”

“I have practiced getting back on in warm water…pretty easy to do, but cold water is a different matter.”

I would think ss long as YOU are not cold, the water temperature itself shouldn’t matter for re-boarding your SOT?

Anyway, if you find it easy to get back in the boat, why not jump into the water from time to time to cool off? We sit-in boaters roll to cool off. The equivelance of a roll would be a swim. It’s not as big a hassle to get back into a SOT after all…

Think I will just stick to my wetsuit
and as someone suggested…a little swim too cool off. I feel much safer in my ws and it will give me better protection in the event of unexpected flip. Thanks again.

Have you considered
a shorty wet suit? Bare legs and arms would be cooler and still give core protection. What kind of head wear do you use? I wear a cotton ball cap and dip it in the water when I begin to get warm.

Dry tops

– Last Updated: Jul-03-08 11:46 AM EST –

Dry tops are intended to be used with a skirt.

If you are using a dry top without a skirt, you are just wearing a rain coat/splash jacket. A dry top will not really keep you dry unless you are in the boat and using a skirt.

If you swim, they aren't any better than nothing at all. That is a dry top is not immersion protection.

For immersion protection on a SOT, you need either a wetsuit or a dry suit or dry pants with a dry top.

NORCAL - 3mm Farmer John Base, And…
For ocean paddling in NORCAL I use the 3mm Farmer John as the base for everything, and add to it according to conditions.

I have several options.

For a nice easy paddle on a warm day at Capitola, I just wear the FJ with bare arms, or a long sleeve rashguard just to prevent sunburn if it is sunny. I know from experience this would probably NOT be adequate in case of an extended swim, but don’t anticipate an extended swim unless conditions are rough.

If I am doing something more challenging, say Van Dam on a rough day, I will add a Mysterioso top. This would probably be adequate to swim for a while.

If I am doing something where the probability of a wipeout and extended swim is LIKELY, like surf kayaking, I will add a wetsuit jacket to the FJ.

One thing to remember about and any neoprene wetsuit gear is that when you get out of the water, the wind will cause evaporation that will chill you. That is why Mysterioso top is a good combination for a FJ when paddling an SOT.

For fresh water paddling, I usually only do that in summer, so its swim trunks, Tevas, and a long sleeve rashguard. If the water is still cold, and conditions are rough, I might add 1mm nylon covered neoprene vest. This will at least provide some protection for your core.

I am on a long sleeve rashguard buying spree right now. After two weeks on the coast and a really nasty sunburn, I have decided I am just not going out without one anymore

Barracuda and others…thank you
for some good information. Van Damme is one of my favorites too. I always wear long sleeves rash guard or similar, to protect from sun and I like the idea of taking along a neoprene jacket…had not thought of that. Excellent advice here from you more experienced than me paddlers! Gotta run…paddle crazy weekend is here!

I second the shorty wetsuit
If you still get hot, jump in for a dip or pour water over yourself. I use a shorty 2mm wetsuit for hot weather and cool water. With my SINK, doing a static brace or a roll will cool me off. With a SOT, I’d just hop in and out of the water.

You might also consider a 1.5mm neoprene vest instead. Make sure it fits snugly.