Wetsuit Jacket

I would like to extend the range of my cold water paddling. Currently I usually stop in early Nov and maybe start up again towards the end of March.

My late and early season paddling is really limited to small lakes, shallow streams, and canals. If I do fall out it is more a question of walking to land then swimming. I am looking to get into more white water paddling and planning on taking classes this spring.

Usually I wear a Farmer John with either Hydroskin and/or poly pro under it and my paddling jacket. I have never found it cold enough to need my fleece. Is there any advantage adding a 2mm wetsuit jacket as I can get one pretty cheap now? Would layering hydroskin pants and shirts plus the wetsuit and then a 2mm jacket allow me to extend my paddling season a bit?

Again in the cold weather I just want a mellow float in water that I can walk to shore in a min or two. I usually don’t wear fleece or anything other then board shorts and my paddling jacket.

I have been looking at dry tops but not many fit a 54" chest.

I know people really love the dry suits but honestly I probably will not be able to get one for sometime. I have tried some off the rack and my build is such that I would have to get one custom tailored and the money is just not there for me.

I can see where adding a vest would

– Last Updated: Dec-31-13 10:37 AM EST –

add warmth to your farmer john. I can't really see adding a lot of layers under the wetsuit since the suit works best when your body has a chance to warm up the water trapped next to your skin. If I were going to add layers they would go between the paddling jacket and the outiside of the wetsuit. It you buy oversized paddlin' jackets you can wear more than one at a time and layer up. You might end up lookin' like the michelin man though. Don't forget a beanie or balaclava for your head.
Your conditions sound ideal for a semidrysuit, provided you could find one that fits.

Hard work
paddling with a wetsuit jacket on. The rubber makes every motion the equal of working against a rubber exercise strap. This is why most (who paddle with a wetsuit) use a farmer john and not a full suit.

You are best served with wind protection and a layer (or two) beneath that doesn’t lose thermal protection when wet (ie. no cotton).


2 mm top

– Last Updated: Dec-31-13 11:39 AM EST –

The 2 mm top on top of a farmer john will give you a bit more comfort if submersed in cold water. Layering with hydroskins under a wetsuit does not really win you much, but it does make a difference.

I use a 2 mm top over hydroskins when paddling when the water temps are around 57-60 F. Your water temps will be much colder. I would not convince myself that you would be safe in cold water in the winter.

For paddling on cold water in a wetsuit I would look for a more substantial full wetsuit, 3/2 or 4/3 if the water is quite cold and you really only need to stand up and get your boat out of the water. Buy a good quality surfing wetsuit with stretchy arms that let you paddle. You will get quite overheated paddling hard in a 4/3 wetsuit. The solution is to roll to cool off.

A 3/2 suit will work for water temps down to low 50s, and 4/3 down to about 45, but that is for short swim times. Farmer Johns are poor for keeping you warm because they tend to flush cold water through the arm and neck region. The 2 mm top will help that, but stay safe on cold water.

I use a wetsuit jacket
and it works very well. It is the NRS Grizzly model in 2mm terraprene, and I wear a farmer john under it.

It keeps me good to 20 fahrenheit or so, and I’m good to zero with a thin primaloft vest underneath. The vest does not get in the way, and does seem to enhance the barrier to cold and to wind.

As long as I don’t wear a long-sleeved layer under the jacet, I have no problem with it restricting my movement. The one time I did have long sleeves under it I experienced the problem mentioned above, and it provided resistance to every arm or shoulder movement. The obvious solution is to ensure that it is worn as intended.

I imagine one could order a larger size in order to incorporate a layer under the wetsuit, but I would definitely want to try the combination out before buying.

Thanks for the advice…
I decided to pass for now on the wet suit jacket. The stock was on the low side and I was probably looking at a tight fit for what they had available. Due to my build I already feel a bit of a pull with my long sleeve hydro skins.

My schedule is so hectic this year I’ll be lucky to get on the water by May anyway.

That’s a shame.
I think you’re right that a tight fit would be a problem. You’d risk reducing circulation when you really need it.

Good luck with getting a little freedom of maneuver in your schedule.