What to wear in New England over next few weeks

I’m traveling through New England and planning on paddling in NH, CT, MA, RI and in some areas in and around Long Island. I’m wondering what I should wear. I assume a dry suit, at least for MA, NH, RI. I also have a farmer john and neoprene jacket though. If I wear a drysuit, I’m wondering what to put underneath. Just some light stuff (like I have a thin wool shirt from Kokatat) or more of a heavy fuzzy onesie.


Put something underneath it that will handle water temps in the upper 50’s and wicks. I don’t find that basic wool wicks well but then again I can’t have it next to my skin anyway.

Air Temps the last few days are in the mid 90’s with high humidity, but the water isn’t all that warm. I live in Central MA

If I was going paddling this weekend (rivers and lakes) , it would definitely be a t-shirt and shorts with a change of clothes in a dry bag. Ocean? No idea. Although I can’t see how 90 degree Temps and a dry suit will be safe

It would depend on how far off shore I was going -

A river or estuary where shore is <200 yards away, probably shorts and a synthetic shirt, PFD. Possibly thin neoprene hydroskins if I was going to get splashed by a kayak paddle.

If I’m in LIS and not crazy far off shore or conditions were not bad, the neoprene is the way to go. Ideally something like a 2/2 or 3/2. This is still insuffucient for survival, but will keep you alive in most situations

Only if I was getting towards RI and north would I consider a dry suit. Considering the air temps a drysuit is going to become a wetsuit very quickly. I would only use the drysuit if conditions were rough or I was doing a long crossing where rescue is a long ways off. Even then, for a drysuit to be effective at 50-55*, you’ll need medium weight insulation which will be miserable.

Thus, I think the wetsuit will provide the best combination of heat management and cold water protection assuming you’re not doing anything remote or in bomber conditions.

1 Like

As an anonymous, unqualified internet advisor, I’d say a kayaker is more likely to develop heat stroke from baking in the air wearing a dry suit or even a wetsuit. It’s not waterskiing or kiteboarding where you can submerge at will to cool off (unless you have a reliable roll). The water temperatures will probably be in a range where you have at least an hour of submersion before you even feel any physical decline, and several hours before you’re in danger.

I paddle the Maine coast often, and go with shorts and a sun-blocking shirt, plus a good PFD. And a paddle float for self-rescue. If it’s chilly, I’ll go with some nylon warmup pants and a top over the warm weather clothes. I also have a waterproof marine radio that I could use to call for help if I really got into trouble but have fortunately never needed it. But as an anonymous, unqualified internet advisor, I’m not advising anyone else to do what I do. Everyone has to make their own call when it comes to what makes them feel safe.

1 Like

I don’t think there are any right answers, there are so many variables at play, paddler skill, weather conditions, paddling alone, in a skilled or unskilled group etc. Each time we go out on the water we accept some amount of risk and we take certain steps to mitigate it up to our own comfort levels. I am also in Maine and I wear a tuiliq paddlesuit for winter paddling using Chillcheater Transpire fleece base layers (chillcheater.com/baselayers-and-undersuits). However once the water gets up into the high 50’s I typically switch out to a Farmer John and Dry-Top. If I was heading out on a solo trip into the wilds I would have my dry-suit no question, but if I am just out for a shore paddle or some close island hopping with friends the wetsuit meets my risk and comfort levels.

When I am paddling in a wetsuit I do take a few steps to help my odds; go for a swim first, roll periodically and immerse my hands. I want to get a good sense of the temp, mitigate that cold shock etc. I don’t want that cold water to be a surprise. Also a neoprene beanie really helps!

For the future I do plan on looking into one of those hybrid dry-suits that open up at the top into more of a inclement weather jacket. They don’t get the best reviews for kayaking but they seem like a reasonable compromise. You would just have to remember to close the top before you capsize :slight_smile:

1 Like

Water temps in the Atlantic ( Gulf of Maine ) off Portland is 57 degrees. Rise of a degree since yesterday.
Inland I wear a bathing suit and PFD.
Water temps inland are above 60
Ocean temps can vary but in most cases a wetsuit will do you nicely. One day in August it was 90 degrees and we paddled across Long Island Sound. Just wearing long sleeve stuff and PFDs, It was dead calm… We did rolls to cool down.
this site may be useful

1 Like

Water below 65° I’m in my drysuit with thinner polyester layers or thin wool. Water here on Long Island jumped almost ten degrees in little over a week. Now over 70 in ocean 72-3° in bays. Goodbye drysuit. Over 60-62 I say wetsuit. I don’t use mine any more rather be in drysuit up to 65-67°. Like said above weigh your risk carefully. Enjoy :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Jones Beach State Park Water Temperature (Sea) and Wetsuit Guide (Long Island NY, USA).

They say 65° but few boat guys told me ocean is 70+ from their transducer. I use my KESTRAL meter, infa-red gun, and transducer in my boat. They are all with in a degree of each other. Buoy may be measuring 3-4 feet below surface but boat transducer is down 2-3’+ depending on the boat.

I live on Cape Cod and paddled this year in Buzzards Bay and Waquoit Bay. I’ve also turtled my kayak and been for the associated swim. I just wear a bathing suit. The air temp is very warm. Today’s water temp in Buzzards Bayt was 61º and in Waquoit Bay 70º