Wetsuit or drysuit or just tough it out?

When you are doing the safety speech at the beginning of a trip with a group, have them stand in the water at least thigh deep. That wakes up a lot of people.


General George Armstrong Custer tried to tough it. Didn’t work out well for him.

2 mm Farmer John may have helped Custer then again probably NOT :no_entry_sign:

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Great link. “Coastal Waters” covers a lot of ground. For example, the Great Lakes are included in the NODC tables. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about finding water temps: Water Temperature Links - Google Docs

That’s a good idea. But for those people who are already wearing thermal protection such as wetsuits or drysuits, we recommend swim-testing your gear. This is described in detail on our website under Golden Rules of Cold Water Safety. Go here: http://www.coldwatersafety.org/Rule4.html

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Ancient thread raised from the dead.

The type of thread people should think about all the time, no matter how old it is.


Last year on FB Long Island Paddlers I was constantly trying to get the point across. 3300 members doubt 30 have a clue about cold. Maybe 7 talk of the danger. Sorry to say this year it’s on someone else. I’m DONE!

A paddling jacket is a very poor choice to use with a farmer john because it’s not watertight and therefore won’t protect your arms. A drytop works well with an insulating layer underneath it, but you need to make sure that the drytop seals well at the waist so that it’s watertight. Classic Case: National Center for Cold Water Safety

If we’re talking about Portland Oregon, much of the paddling is either on the Willamette River, or the Columbia River. In the summer, both rivers warm up nicely for swimmers. In the spring it depends on when it starts to warm up. Most of the lakes in the area also are very swimmable in summer months and sometimes a little bit in the spring. The Pacific Ocean is more often much cooler, but once in awhile it warms up in the summer.

Even Puget Sound warms up in the summer in placesl That also is the case sometimes in the San Juans.

I’ve been paddling the waters of the Northwest for decades. Spring and summer I wear shorts and long sleeved shirts to keep from being sunburned. When it cools down, I wear a full wetsuit. I wore one Saturday 10-16 for the first time this fall. The water temperature is still not too bad, but then I didn’t go swimming.

Well Magooch, I guess it depends on how you define cold water. Most people will experience maximum-intensity cold shock at water temps between 50-60F, so if you don’t have the protection of a proper wetsuit or drysuit, immersion at those temps will be immediately life-threatening.

In the Pacific Northwest, water temperatures never get above 60F for major bodies of water like these:

Yes, it can warm up in shallow areas that don’t have much tidal water exchange, but that’s about it.

As for the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, those temps are under 60F for 9 months of the year - the exceptions being July - September.

You may have taken the trouble to fully acclimate yourself to cold water immersion, but the vast majority of paddlers have not. For them, paddling in shorts and T-shirts on sub-60F water is very dangerous.

Is overheating a concern? Read this: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XYlNdjq9kEyUvfe7BJiwewKHVX--C4s1/view?usp=sharing.

Want more info on cold water safety? Go Here: www.coldwatersafety.org.

Also watch this short 9-minute video: https://vimeo.com/529139413

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I drag my hand in cold water even 65°F and I’m like :scream::flushed: imagine my whole body in it. Me 65° water I’m in my drysuit. I went out for short paddle this fall in my farmer John the water was 63° close to docks 50-75’ I was really not comfortable. I haven’t used the wetsuit for years.

NRS Northwest River Supply
I learned a lot by spending time in outdoor swimming pools with known temperatures.
I started carrying a thermometer with a float.
We used to do lots of water skiing and later wake boarding from April to October on mountain lakes. After awhile you know what to wear for the conditions.

I thought I did mention that I do wear a full wetsuit when I need to. Maybe I failed to mention that wetsuit, or not, my first intention is to stay in the boat and stay upright. So far, so good for about seventy years. I have been flipped more times in canoes and sailboats than any kayak–well not counting white water.

Like I said, maybe you’re fully acclimated and 55F is no big deal to you, but I paddle on the Columbia and Willamette a lot and I think you understated the need for thermal protection here in the PNW. Just my 2 cents.

The OP posted …Just tough it out…HUH? If it is cold water, that isn’t one of the options…

Might want to re-think. The other options can be made to work…not the tough it out. Not an option. If it was , your not in cold water.

I recently had researched on this forum what I need. I haven’t bought or tried anything, but I got enough information to know to not “tough it out”. I encourage OP to read this and spend the necessary $:

Post is 9 years ago hope he got something by now.

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Aaarrgh… there should be a forum software function that only the OP can re-surrect a thread with he last post older than a year or so.

Still good discussion

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