Winter gear:sandals w/drysuits & hood qs

Winter kayaking still new to me. Two gear issues which some of you veterans may shed some light on.

I have been wearing my booties with my drysuit(boots attached). As much as I like these booties, there’s too much drysuit material, plus my socks, to jam into them. It’s a size 11 bootie and anything larger will be, I think, too much for the caribou. Any comments on using a water sandal? I can stay with a size 11 and just adjust the straps accordingly.

Other item is my neopreme hood with chin strap. I returned my last one…it had a nice bill with it, but much too tight on my head. I have replaced it with one I got from the local dive shop. The size is “extra large.” Comfortable, but am I making a mistake? I am not rolling yet, but when I do…am I risking that the water will strip it from head. Chin strap is only so tight.


What kind of sandals are you talking about. The Teva type all have much thicker soles than most neo booties I have seen. Get one of the thinner sole ones, like the NRS ones, or get an oversized neo sock. I think sandals are clunky and present a small chance of entrapment. Also bound to come off in wet exit. Also, if push your pegs forward another notch, you’ll find room.

Neo hood should be snug and comfortable. If they’re not comfortable then you gotta get a tension headache. The hood serves to prevent that “first shock” in a wet exit. After that your head will likely be out of the water (so, I would hope) and whatever water gets in will warm up. It’s not a wet suit that is submerged and a loose fit will mean more cold water circulation. (BTW, splash some water on your face as soon as you get on the water. Supposedly this helps minimize the gasp reflex. Does it work? Don’t know really except I do it. I roll in 40 degree below water temp and am fine.)


yep, what he said
tho the entrapment issue is enough that some outfitters dis-allow the use of river sandals on trips. Maine Is. is one.

I’d work out a bootie option. I use 5.10’s and medium thick sox.

Far as neo hoods go, I have a variety all the way from full diving hood for storm paddling and winter surf to light fuzzy rubber with thin strap. 90% of the time if I am in a ‘rolling’ enviro I wear a helmet, as well.


Booties I have now
are Brooks…imagine that they are similar to

NRS ones. Ankle high with zipper. In the summer

I wear a neopreme sock and I really feel more comfortable than with the neo bootie. More clearance with the deck. Hence, not wild about moving up a size to accomodate my drysuit in the winter. An option is to use an oversized sock, but I worry about how well it will protect my drysuit bootie. And, where I put is not real user friendly. Rocks, uneven surface, unknown objects under water.

The sandal that was under consideration is in Sierra T.Post. Echo. Looks less clunky and better laced. …certainly appreciate the comments from you guys on the issue of wet exits.

As for the hood, yep…tension headaches was exactly what I got before. Never noticed that the cap was too snug til about one hour later. The extra large,now, is just barely snug and hopefully enuf snug. Keeps my head and ears warm without that headache. Always a tradeoff.

an interesting hood
I bought a hood that I saw described and pictured on the NSPN BB. It’s made by O’neill. It’s available at The river here’s been frozen solid, so I haven’t been paddling in it, but it fits well, is comfortable and easy to put on, and the adjustable cord is infinitely better than a chin strap.


My solution

– Last Updated: Feb-01-04 8:33 AM EST –

Watershoes with removeable insoles. Take out the insoles and jam your drysuit booties with the woolie socks inside into them! Protect that goretex or latex! Double knot the laces down till there are no significant loops or loose ends to catch! Works for me!

I do wish someone would make a high volume watershoe for kayaking with heavy socks inside a dry suit, chota does come close but the heel is too built up for me.

Henderson hyperstretch wetsuit hood with the bib cut off below the neck seam does it for me. The unbelievable elasticity of the hood gives a good fit without too much tension. A Sonora Sombrero from OR does my visor duty year 'round and looks ratty :-), might as well let 'em know where I'm comin'from.

Vets suggestion
Poly pro sock liner. NRS Rodeo Socks Thin but with rubber sole. May find them more comfortable. Not bulky. As for head gear.NRS MysteryStorm Hood. You can get both for about $60.00. Dry suit layering can be bulky so look into a farmers Johns Polypro underwear to add

Stay warm enjoy.


Do you work for Confluence in NC or contract. I know most of the designers. Sold lots of Yaks at Pro Canoe Outdoors. Do you know Andy Z?

Zimmy and I go WAY back. Yep I co-designed the Tempests with Bob McDonough.


I’ve been waiting…
…to get mine out in cold water before doing a followup review, but I did try it in a pool session recently. I got virtually no leakage that I could feel, even when hanging upside-down for a while. I figure that cold water will reveal any leaks more noticeably, but so far, I’m impressed with this hood.

I’ve tried a lot of foot gear
but my favorite is Nike’s ACG

With the high ankle coverage they keep rocks and pebbles out, but what really sets them apart from say, Five-ten’s Nemo is the ajustment straps which allow easy on/off over a drysuit sock. Padded heel and low profile are perfect of kayaks.

Looks nice
Can they handle a woolie sock inside the drysuit sock if you go up a size?

Thanks for the post.