When to use my drysuit?

don’t forget the zipper
ACA IDW, instructor goes over,but didn’t zip the pee zipper all the way.

He walks up the riverbank with water filled below the knees.

And burp it good
Having had to push a boat off the top of me when an air-filled suit pinned me up against it after I had fought my way under the boat for a roll rather than stopping to figure out why I was getting all that resistence…

Lots of witnesses of course.


OK then :smiley:

– Last Updated: Nov-09-07 7:17 PM EST –

first - hello, always very cool to meet another Michigan paddler. We have a nice community thing going up here.

Sounds like you are athletic, a good swimmer, have respectable experience on big water, (I'm counting Lake St. Clair here),have done repetitive respectable distances at a good paddling pace & know what the winters are like up here.

But (& do not cybersmack me LOL)

it does sound kinda like, with three years paddling experience, you are still downplaying what it's like to be wet on open water at this time of year. Not even talking capsize - wave wash, spray, sudden showers, etc. Once you are wet you stay wet. You can get hypothermic in exposed situations without capsizing with resultant loss of muscle control, torpor, lack of judgement etc, just when you need it most.

So instead of telling you what to do I will share my experience:

I started paddling about 15 months ago and the only month I've not paddled was this past February. Of 52 weekends in a year I go out over 40 and usually both Saturday/Sunday. This doesn't count a few multiday symposia and paddling events, and 4 or so all day classes and several pool sessions in the spring.

So I am a beginner, but a beginner with a lot of seat time. I am average athletically, although my upper body strength seems better pound for pound than most women just based on my ability to paddle longer at a faster cadence, and load/unload my boats. Capable swimmer.

Last year all the month of November and halfway into December (which was unseasonably warm, and especially compared with this late fall) I wore a 3/2 Farmer Jane, with PolarFleece over and a shortsleeve BomberGear drytop. If I wanted to cover all my arms (dislike) I threw a longsleeve Hydroskin under the drytop. I also have a totally rubberized longsleeve Bomber Gear paddling shirt, and a 3 layer hooded BG Nimbus jacket for really sleety, cold rainy weather.

At my small size and weight, hypothermia comes more readily. In retrospect shouldn't have stayed with that clothing as deep into a Michigan November as I did, esp. as I was just about always paddling alone.

Already experienced moderate hypothermia ten years ago canoeing the Pine River (western Michigan).We capsized a couple hours before dusk and had to paddle about 12 miles in the dusk/dark to the next base camp. It was unpleasant, disorienting and exhausting.

I got a drysuit in midDecember of last year so I will compare the two ways of dressing.

Rather then a few tight constricting layers peeled over each other (which are a pain to remove or add) it feels more comfortable to have a correctly sized drysuit topping a union suit, wool capilene socks, with maybe some heavy tights (don't giggle, if they use them in the NFL it's s'OK by me) Add the Polarfleece shortsleeve for single degree weather and water at 35 degrees.

My drysuit has full latex gaskets at neck and wrists, front diagonal zipper,Goretex booties and the women's dropseat relief zipper.

On my feet I prefer Chotas. They are comfortable, protect the booties and low profile, therefore nice in my low volume foredeck.

Absolutely second the advice about spare gloves and I'd throw in some spare fleece socks as well.

On my head is a BomberGear latex/neo scullcap with another polypro cap over that. As norserner says it's easy to remove head layers to adjust for overheating. In the rigging I keep a Henderson 7mm scuba hood as backup. Awesome if it rains. You probably have something like that in your scuba gear.

As a final tip and definitely not to sound like your mom - drink a lot of water, more than even you do in the summer. It's weird, but you can dehydrate very quickly in the cold, and muscle cramps in cold weather are a bitch.

Hope to SYOTMW - See You On The Michigan Waters

I haven’t been in either of my drysuits going near two years now. I’m out year round.

By these forums, I’m either a “risktaker” and/or “stupid.” Put it on my headstone when the time comes. :slight_smile:


the daredevil.

burping :smiley:
Got my drysuit from George Gronseth of the Kayak Academy. As many here know GG does drysuit biz only talking to you over the phone (no click and buy internet sales).

He told me to wade in chest high, stand the neck gasket off with splayed fingertips and do a couple squats.

Thus I learned early to check all zippers and test my drysuit before every wintry paddle :wink:

I thought “the bride” and I were the …
only ones who used PFD’s as a warming vest!



Everything but the hat - pretty funny NM

Yes, but how thick is your wet suit?
If I recall correctly, it’s not the 3mm farmer john that many paddlers call a wet suit.


Nice Day on the River
I put on compression shorts, rash guard, capilene long under wear and a fleece under my drysuit. Was a little hot at first but tolerable, the rest of the day was very comfortable. I took my hat on and off to regulate mt temperature. The drysuit was much better than I was expecting, my windsurfing experience tainted my perception of the drysuit. We did 18 miles at a moving average of 4.1 miles per hour, not bad considering the return current and the wind in our faces during it. What is even better is that I met someone from this post yesterday and he joined us for the paddle today. How cool is that, got some good advice (some not so good as well)and made a new friend to paddle with. Thanks for all the input.

if you’re in

– Last Updated: Nov-11-07 6:08 AM EST –

whitewater or quickwater, I wouldn't recommend going chest high. You may end up doing the trip without your boat :-).