What do you wear under your drysuit

in water that lets say is under 40 degrees?


varies according to anticipated
challenge. solo or good group and air temps.

But I’d feel comfy in a layer of mediumweight capilene, a bib of stretch polartech 150 (with a thru the crotch zipper), a pair of polartech 100 pants and a polartech 200 top on a moderate day.

3 mil hood at least more likely a 5 nordic plue dry gloves.

Paraphrased from the essential sea kayaker by David Seidman." Putting on a drysuit is an aknowledgement that you are going out to do something pretty serious with an element of risk to it. You might want to give this some thought"

Ratchet down your risks when the water is really cold. Carry extra food and a vhf and some survival gear.

lot’s of layers!
I wear a thin layer of underarmor as my base followed by a polypro union suit. If it’s really cold I then layer that with some fleece long underwear. That keeps me nice and toasty in the coldest temperatures. Of course I wear a neoprene hood with a wool cap and pogies for my hands.

Not sure about your quote:

‘Paraphrased from the essential sea kayaker by David Seidman." Putting on a drysuit is an aknowledgement that you are going out to do something pretty serious with an element of risk to it. You might want to give this some thought"’

That’s sort of like saying putting on a bike helmet is an acknowledgement you are going out to do something pretty serious…

I guess it depends on what you call “serious” but I don’t think wearing something to keep you comfortable in and out of the water implies undue risk – just sense.

no insulation just bc have drysuit
I guess the best answer for me is to remember that being dry provides little if any insulation by iteslf. It just retains the properties of insulation, i.e., dead air space between you and whatever cold challenge exists. Water sucks heat away 25 times as fast as air, and 5 knot water 250 times as fast as air.

So I think, OK, if capsize and lose the boat, how long do I need to stay warm so I can keep my head up and emply rescue signaling and get help to me. That is what I dress for. I adjust my level of exertion downward to not overheat, or like others here say, reduce the exposure if I wish to wear less.

40 degrees I wear 200 weigh fleece top and bottom for less exposure, calm waters. Colder water I have a primaloft top and bottoms and socks, for more warmth. If I need cooling I lay over, a bit as needed.

Hope this helps.

Yep it deserves thought

– Last Updated: Jan-22-05 8:39 AM EST –

I advocate having your bike in great shape. When I was a courier I saw a girl go down in front of a car because her deraileur shifted her chains onto her spokes A properly equipped and adjusted bike. (with a good derailleur, properly adjusted would have prevented this accident, (girl ws OK (road rash); the car driver was going slow (downtown Boston traffic) and fantastically aware). If this courier had thought about the minor but real risks in what she was doing, perhaps she would have learned how to keep her bike in great shape. Reading John Foresters "effective cycling" is another way a thinking cyclist might choose to mitigate risk while keeping road riding speeds and enjoyment high. Risks that are not considered canot be properly mitigated.

Someone like you or I has spent some time and developed some skill on the kayaking path. I'm sure you give special thought and preparation to cold water paddling. I carry more gear, and pay more attention to my paddling companions, and the challenges of my route, and my choice of both of them.

Someone who needs to ask this board what to wear under a dry suit, might well need to think about other things that go with winter paddling. I do not know if this person paddles a suburban lake, or Hell's gate, or alaska. Wherever they paddle, paddling on cold water is inherantly more risky that paddling on warm water. I certainly embrace paddling in the winter, but do not do so thoughtlessly. I nowhere said it is an undue risk, but all risks should be acknowledged, mitigated where knowledge and one's aesthtics dictate, and them assumed (or avoided) rationally, not thoughtlessly.

In those conditions, I typically wear…
- Either synthetic or Smartwool underwear top and bottom

  • 200 or 300 weight fleece bottoms
  • 200 weight fleece top
  • light wool socks (my dry suit has latex socks)

    I tend to dress lighter on the top than on the bottom, since the spray skirt and PFD add significant amounts of insulation. Also, upper body muscles are more active when paddling and generate more heat.

40 degree water can incapacitate

– Last Updated: Jan-22-05 9:54 AM EST –

and kill in minutes. Paddling a small boat in water this cold implies GREAT risk far beyond concerns of 'comfort'.

I prefer redundant protection in very cold conditions and wear a 3mm wetsuit under a drytop/drypant combo. I also bring extra base layers (polypro, polartec, Mysterioso) that insulate well even when wet (not saturated).

Go with the Polartec…
I don’t personally care for drysuits, but I wear dry pants with a drytop. I agree with previous posters that 100 or 200 weight polartec is a fine option, in fact REI had a lot of it on closeout around Christmas (luckily my wife noticed!) Layering is always recommended. In addition, I keep a spare set of Polartec gear with my back-up clothing in a dry bag in my day hatch–always keep a change of warm clothes with you in a dry bag, it could save your life.

Double Layer
of 100 200 polartec fleece. Used fleece lined neoprene gloves,(adequate but want Nordic Blues). I wear Chota Mukluks over fleece or fuzzy rubber socks. I use 2 fuzzy rubber hoods on my head. I either use a dry suit or an IR semi drytop/drybib combo. Stay equally dry after swimming with either.

Thanks everyone.

So are you wearing light weight socks
and the chota mukluks outside the suit?

When I swim with lightweight socks I freeze.

I use liners socks,and heavy mountaineering-weight socks, but no real insulation above the suitt, just some shoes to protect the goretex.

Not sure if the question was
directed at me but I wear my mukluks over the suit and yes, my feet get cold. I may try wearing pants over the drysuit so I can cover the mukluks. I plan on putting latex booties on the suit or bibs.

sub 40 degree water does not kill within
seconds or minutes. if you can suppress the gasp reflex (and you can) most fit people will remain conscious for at least an hour with diminishing muscular function as time passes.

remember the 1, 10, 1 rule. you’ve got a good minute to control your breathing and calm down, 10 good minutes of your limbs functioning well to carefully exit the water and if you can’t- an hour before it’s lights out.

i work with a prof who is the worlds foremost authority on hypothermia (he has induced hypothermia in himself more times than any other researcher) and he has proven this time and time again. in 10 years from now, these facts will be prevalent and hypothermia treatment regimes the world over will be different than they are now.

Any Combination…

– Last Updated: Jan-23-05 6:18 AM EST –

of non water absorbing materials. This means lightweight fleece, polypro, capiline, thermax and other brand (of usually polyester) material.

Frankly, under a drysuit, any of the materials will do. The amount of layering will be dictated by your physical capacity to deal with cold and a compromise with the amount of exertion and heat generation you will put out in your "typical" paddle.

For me, since I get immersed a lot, the really BIG deals are related to how I protect my feet, hands and head. The feet were taken care of once I added booties to the drysuit. For the hands I use Nordic Blue drygloves. 3-5 mm gloves (with a smooth neo face) will provide protection when dry, but I find them losing protective value when wet and once the water temps hit 45 degrees and lower. If body is warm but your hands are cold and numb, that can still be a problem in a rescue situation where things have to be manipulated with hands as adroitly as possible. The head/neck is a real BIG deal. A quick dunking will knock you for a loop, if not take your breath away in the gasp reflex. 3-5 mm smooth face neo surf hoods are the best but they may be too warm for general paddling (great though when air temps are cold and the wind is blowing). You can move to a thinner no-bib neo hood. These are more comfortable but offer less protection for that initial capsize and dunking. A good compromise perhaps, from my surfing experience in cold water, is to smear silicone grease all over your face and neck areas. The silicone grease will close up the pores and minimize cold shock. All my surfing buddies report the same surprising lack of cold water shock when using the grease. (Don't ask me what it does to the complexion. I surf not model...) As far as I know right now, none has experienced any sort of reaction to the grease. YMMV. Petroleum will do the same thing but petro based grease/creams will deteriorate your rubber gaskets, leading to an equally potential disasterous situation down the line.


Incapacitation in 10 minutes is,
in effect, a death sentence if one is paddling alone. Attempting to swim will cause even faster incapacitation (as moving limbs through the water will cause them to lose heat faster). One must also consider the dangers of vertigo, shock, and the gasp reflex which can incapacitate in seconds.

No I wear socks inside the suit
The latex socks I installed are large enough to accommodate light socks inside. I’ve only worn my Chotas once or twice since installing the latex socks. They’re a bit warmer than dive boots, but not much.

BTW, before I installed the latex socks on the suit, I did wear wool socks inside the mukluks, over the dry suit.

“Survival time” means nothing unless there’s someone around to rescue you. Also, while you may have “limb” function for 10 minutes, that doesn’t mean that you’ll have usable finger dexterity or hand strength for anywhere near that amount of time.

a pink feather boa
and a lime green speedo

Aquaman Underroos!
and this of course: