Wet Suit Questions

2 questions:

  1. At what point does it become too cold for a wet suit? Right now, the water temp here is probably just above freezing, but the air temp is 40+. Would you go out in a wetsuit or drysuit?

  2. I’ve read lots of posts on wet suits and dry suits, but never any post about what to wear on one’s feet when it’s cold enough for a wet suit or dry suit? What do you people wear?

    Thanks for the input!


Rule of thumb
I follow a well used rule of thumb…Water temp below 50, dry suit. Water temp above 50, Wet suit. Once the water get’s into the 60’s (here in New England not until July or so) it’s a judgement call when you go with just shorts.

Footwear…my drysuit has goretex booties, so just some polypro socks under the drysuit, then I wear Choata Muckluks over the drysuit. When wearing my wetsuit, I have the option to wear my muckluks, but usually I just wear my regular paddling shoes (Nike Toketee mid), no socks.

a 3mm wet suit in about 40 deg
water is cold, real cold! I have wet exit at this temp and don’t think I would like to spend much time in the water? This is with a semi dry top on and neo muckluks. I only had to do this once to understand that cold water can be a big problem, if you had to spend some time in the water.

fun read

just don’t lend him your GP!!!


Timo is a bit "out there"
I’ve had some interesting exchanges with him elsewhere. Apparently, he thinks the extreme immersion protection approach he uses for his equally extreme paddling is applicable to everyone who paddles in winter. Yeah, right. He also seems to revel in “stewing in his own juices”. No thanks; I’ll take a breathable dry suit, please.

Those temps are WAY too cold…
…for any wetsuit that you could actually paddle in. If you want see for yourself, don your wetsuit and walk out into the water, which is the best way to test the effectiveness of immersion clothing. That should be enough to convince you to either get a dry suit or stay off the water.

his idea to have a heavy wetsuit instead of tent or sleeping bag? halllo!

what a kook.


But his gear is all Hi-Tech
Everything is multifunctional.

The wet/dry suit is also a bivy sack/tent


Your GP doubles as both a paddle and a poop chute.

I can hardly wait to see what he uses a pfd for.

His descriptions are so pc also
and I quote,

“Pants are designed for sitting position, with a zipper which reaches down to the *#$hole.”

Have you tried it
divers once agian wear wetsuits alot in cold water surfers also.

Yup. Something Like It.

– Last Updated: Feb-04-05 3:48 PM EST –

I started with 3 mm FJ, Hydroskin top, and 3 mm neo jacket over that for waters under 50. Too restrictive for me and not warm enough to stay in the water for more than 20 mins before the shakes set in.

These days, I am partial to FJ, rash guard, and drytop when water is around 50 or above. I am not in the water that much or long, or I can reentry and roll pretty quickly.

I am still paddling, but once the water temp dropped below 50, I am in a drysuit. Much more comfortable both in and out of the water.

I am also not that tolerant of cold water. Not much "natural insulation" on me.

As a surf kayaker who has been out a there a bit with board surfers, I can say definitively that they don't need or use the same mobility in the arms, shoulders and torso as I do. So, they may find the 5-7 mm neo suits "not restrictive" while I definitely would in paddling fast and hard to catch a wave.


Sure, I dive too…
…or at least I used to. I wore a 6mm farmer John with a 6mm jacket over it and it was barely enough for 45 degree water. There’s no way in Hell anyone could paddle in that getup. For that matter, I couldn’t even get into any of my boats with it on.

The problem with wetsuits for paddling is that anything that provides adequate freedom of movement is not going to provide enough protection in cold water. It’s that simple. Dry suits are far more versatile, handling a wide range of temperatures simply by varying undergarments. They’re also a lot more comfortable.

Polartec Socks
From Campmor, under the drysuit booties. They are pretty good to the lower 40’s unless you spend a good long time in the water. Haven’t tried anything cooler than that.

Gotta add one consideration for drysuit and wetsuit - the relief zipper (or drop seat). When you are out paddling for several hours all told, including a lunch stop on an island for example, it’s very valuable to have either a paddler’s wetsuit in the expedition version or a drysuit with the appropriate options. The majority of wetsuits out there don’t have those options, nor do many drysuits unless you get a good enough one to have it as an option. Or you can just not drink - a rather bad idea.

Personally, if I had to choose between a lesser drysuit and an NRS Expedition Jane for a trip like that, I’d probably try to work around the Expedition Jane.


Jon Turk backed off massively

– Last Updated: Feb-05-05 11:53 PM EST –

from touting dry suits over wet suits. People roasted him for it in sea kayaker's letters to the editor. His reply said that only goes for non-arctic waters, He also recommended keeping a rescue knife and slitting your suits ankles if you do have a catastrophic failure. Then it's rescue and duct tape time. Timo closes his page with the turk quote from sea kayaker, whci as stated above Truk has largely recanted.

For feet, I'd use latex booties or goretex if you can affort them. I will never go back to ankle gaskets. Thin liners and really thick mountaineering (not hiking, really thick) socks keep me warm.

Breathable dry suits are great. My drysuit, a dry top, and a polartec aquashell wetsuit keep me going year round in New England.

As to doing #2, I use a bombay(see the patagonia website) style fly in a polartec bib . If needed, I'd just take off the top of the drysuit and do my bit with very little skin exposed.

I bet a henderson hyperstretch 6 mm farmer john and top would be paddlable and about as expensive as a kokatat goretex meridian. Nowhere near as comfortable or versatile though