What would YOU wear?

Potomac River in West VA and parts of Maryland. Very flat water, in most places between Dam #4 and Harper’s Ferry the water is not > 4ft deep, with nary a riffle. Shore is within 50 yards in just about every stretch.

Air temp between 45 and 50, mean water temp between 40 and 45 degrees (if what I’m reading is accurate).

Planning on a 1/2 day solo paddle between now and end of March, so above temp’s are probably pretty close.

I have a 2/3 full wetsuit with socks/hood, and could pick up gloves and a dry top… but this is really my first cold water paddle. I really don’t think I’ll go swimming during this, but I guess you just never know… I don’t plan on practicing rolling or wet exits… just a good workout paddle is the goal.

My question, given the above, is if this were YOUR paddling outing… what would you wear?

I Would Add A Dry/Semi Dry Top
to the 3/2. You can put on or take off as needed for air temp.


dry suit
Wear a dry suit–safer, more comfortable, no worry.

“the water is not > 4ft deep”

How tall are you?

I’m 6’ 2"
But my point was more that if I do flip even if my roll fails… in most places I could just plant my paddle on the bottom and snap up.

My thinking tends to differ
as this is more about what your acceptable risk level is than what is really “safe”. The conditions you have described are the same conditions under which most paddling deaths occur. (At least the ones I have read about)

I am more concerned about cold shock than hypothermia. Wearing a dry suit, I make a habit of regularly wetting my face and head to reduce the probability of cold shock. I’m not sure if I could stay warm doing this in a wetsuit.

At 40/40 air/water most of us could and do enjoy paddling without a drysuit. But having not experienced cold shock or a gasp reflex, there is that risk that we each need to be aware of.

In that case,
Or you can simply stand up in that 4’ deep water!

I don’t think you’ll drown in that 4’ water, even if you had to wade through 40 degree water for 50 yard to get to shore.

Agree with Sing
I would wear my drysuit, but if all you have is the wetsuit, you should add a semi/dry top. If it gets windy, or you do get wet, the wetsuit will not be enough to keep you warm.

Enjoy the Potomac and watch out for rocks. Although the water is calm, rocks lurk just below the surface in many areas. If you flip and hit your head, it could be your last.

Thanks fellas
For the advice… I want to push my comfort envelope into the colder weather so I can paddle… but I need all the advice I can get since I tend to learn most of life’s lessons the hard way :-).

Seal-skin speedo.
But then, I’m a real man and I’m not scared of a little cold water.

Post A Pic, Please…
I have heard numerous claims of self-described “real men” but have not seen one prove it by wearing a seal skin speedo.

If you get a lot of positive responses from the fair and not so fair sex P-Netters, I may consider taking time to make (not “stitch” - too feminine a term) one. :slight_smile:


I’m sorry…
But I can not allow that to happen.

The response from the fair and not so fair sex to seeing my manliness in a seal-skin speedo would be such that the Pnet site would be unable to handle the amount of traffic it would receive, as well as the rest of the internet.

Being compassionate, as well as manly, I would not be able to live with the thought of taking all that away from the numerous people that rely on those things on a daily basis.

Please accept my apologies.

Have you actually tried…
…bracing off the bottom. It really doesn’t work well.

Dare ya!!
D double dare!!

I found his pic…

If you have it, wear it
conditions can change rapidly and obsticals can be unseen. How can you KNOW the water depth at any given location? How can you KNOW temps? What about sudden gusty conditions? What about an sudden unforseen health problem?

Why would you leave gear back in the truck instead of using it?

I have never seen such a wonderful drysuit. Look at all the floatation it has! My goodness… it just is soooo impressive!

You will be ok with what you have if you add a drytop to it. Before I bought my drysuit I used a 3m full wetsuit and a drytop and yes I did swim in it and it is fine. Lots of WW kakyakers wear them in the Spring also. As a diver that dives all year in New England with out a drysuit I know that a wetsuit works for me. But there again I run all year round and don’t wear anything other than a tee and shorts until it gets under 20. Maybe I have acclimated myself to the cold as I heard you can do that. Try it and see how it works for you that way you will know it before you need it.

Yeah, right!
>Why would you leave gear back in the truck instead of using it?<

Correction: Why would you leave gear back in the STORE instead of using it?

Let’s see, tow rigg, single flare, VHF radio… How about compass and GPS? And don’t forget to add a rescue beacon! No sense leaving gear back in the wherehouse of the mnanufacturer and deny their operation profit of $100+!!!

Not to be smart…
In the Potomac, you can tell water depth by looking down. Temp. can be determined with a thermometer. Weather conditions on an inland river are usually pretty accurate and don’t change as drastically as on open water. Unforseen health problems? Not much anyone can do about that (maybe take some vitamins.)

I always try to dress FOR expected conditions and bring a few extra layers along in the boat in case something goes wrong.