Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 26

Thread: paddle suit vs. dry suit

  1. #1
    Member Ripface's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    320

    Default paddle suit vs. dry suit

    I've been researching the differences between these lately, but I can't come to much of a conclusion (mainly because I haven't done a great deal of research). I assume that the dry suit can keep you warmer longer if you fall into cold water. Can any of you fill me in as to what the differences are?
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    The paddle suits that I have seen would not keep you dry if you fell in, and a dry suit would. I'm sure I haven't seen them all though.

  3. #3

    Default dry v. not-so-dry

    I am in southeast AK and paddling through the whole year, I cannot see myself in a dry suit. I tend to overheat in "paddling gear" which technically is called immersion tops and bottoms.It does not breath at all. When the inevitable happens and I have taken a dunk, I remained relatively dry and the main thing-warm. It depends a lot on where you are going to be kayaking. I tend to stay pretty much to shorelines and do not make a lot of crossings over a mile. Try checking out rei.com, nrsweb.com and outdoorplay.com. I believe they all have a Q&A spot and can tell you about all the different products, gadgets and gizmos they carry. The dry suits I have seen, remind me of the the little kid from A Christmas Story that fell down in the snow and was so bundled up, could not get back up. I am pretty athletic-but I doubt I could get back in my boat by myself if I had one on.

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    867

    Default

    Remote,
    You bring up a valid point in that getting back in the vessel is important. Something that one might not think about. Thinking I have a dry suit so it wont matter much if I take a dunk might get you in a lot of trouble.

    Great point,

    George

  5. #5
    Member jaydog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    161

    Default

    I've paddled for years in a Gore-Tex drysuit. When paddling in cold waters (e.g. anything below 60F) it can be a critical life-support item. The general rules of hypothermia in 50-60 degree water are that exhaustion or unconsciousness can be expected within 30-60 minutes without thermal protection. Colder water (common throughout most of Alaska most of the year) accelerates this rapidly. Swimming will also accelerate it.

    A dry suit will keep you warm and completely dry if you go for an unexpected swim. A paddling suit is designed to keep you warm and dry from rain and splashes - not immersion.

    Experience with wet exits and re-entrys is crucial (or better yet, a solid roll, but that can be tough with a fully loaded kayak) - especially if you choose to dress for the air temperature rather than the water temp. In calm seas, on hot days, I'll sometimes choose to dress for the air temp, but if the water is rough, or we're making a crossing, I typically go for the drysuit - a little discomfort is a small price to pay in the event of an accident.

    I've swum in Juneau's winter waters in my drysuit and been entirely comfortable except for the splitting "ice cream headache" that cold water causes and cold fingers in my paddling gloves.

    I seriously doubt that in 40 degree water dressed in normal paddling gear, that I could easily do a re-entry, paddle to a secure landing area (which sometimes can be miles away depending on the shoreline) and build a fire and get dry clothes on - fast enough to avoid a serious, and potentially life-threatening, case of hypothermia. Just because you're back in the boat doesn't mean you're safe if you don't have protection from the water. Have to consider that whatever caused the first capsize may also cause subsequent capsizes too...

    Paddle Safe!
    DaveS

    Juneau

  6. #6
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    867

    Default

    Jaydog,

    Do you have any re-entry with a dry suit experience? I am assuming you paddle a Sit In Kayak.

    George

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    I don't see how a drysuit would restrict a re-entry. Most of them are baggy, but lightweight and not restrictive to movement. They're not even uncomfortable, and I sometimes wear one around camp for rain gear. I only do SOT's and inflatables, but have had plenty of experience climbing back into them, and the drysuit never was any kind of restriction to me. On the other hand, without a drysuit and being cold and wet has caused loss of enough mobility and strength the keep me from a re-entery twice. And this was in 80 degree weather. Drysuits are not manditory clothing, but they might save your life.

    By all means get a breathable fabric though. Long term sweating in them is miserable. NRS and Kokatat both have reasonably priced, breathable suits. Gore-tex is more money, but is not the only choice these days.

  8. #8
    Member jaydog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    161

    Default

    George,

    A properly fitted paddling drysuit (not a diving drysuit!) allows complete freedom of movement and does nothing at all to hinder a wet re-entry. It's much less restricting than even a paddling wetsuit. The only time I find mine uncomfortable in the least is on hot days paddling under clear skies (a rare thing here in Juneau). I've done tons of re-entries wearing my drysuit - I started my paddling as a whitewater canoeist, so I'm a bit of a safety nut - self-rescue is the only one that counts for anything in my book - anything else can turn into a body recovery all too quickly. I've logged many more miles in both my Seaward Ascente and VCP Skerray in my drysuit than I have without it. I have a Kokatat Gore-Tex that I absolutely love - the Gore-Tex DOES make a difference.

    DaveS

  9. #9
    Member Ripface's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    320

    Default

    Jim, which "models" would you suggest from the manufacturers you mentioned? I don't want to get more than I need, and I would get one mainly for paddling in saltwater. Each manufacturer has a few models to choose from. Also, I wouldn't want to pay $900 when I could get away with $400.
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  10. #10
    Member jaydog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    161

    Default

    I can't comment on the NRS drysuits (but NRS has always been a great company to deal with from a customer service perspective), but Kokatat suits have been the gold standard in paddling drysuits for many years. Check the sizing carefully - if you have to err, err large. A relief zipper is a godsend. My personal opinion is that the extra tunnel on the Kokatat Meridians is overkill for sea kayaking. I think that if I were in the market for a new drysuit I'd seriously look at the Kokatat Swift Entry Tropos - for around $400 it might be just the ticket. Kokatat will customize with a relief zipper at order through a dealer or after the purchase if you send it in to them. I've always found them to be an excellent organization to deal with. Five stars across the board.

    DaveS

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Douglas Island
    Posts
    248

    Default Drysuits

    Good discussion! As most of you may be aware, the Coast Guard uses drysuits for any job that involves risk of going in the water including air crews, small boat crews, rescue swimmers, etc. We have specific water/air temp criteria that determine the requirement for personal protective equipment (PPE)...drysuits being part of the PPE. As a recreational boater, everyone has to make their own decisions about what "PPE" is appropriate...sometimes, those decisions (if made in error) can cost a person his/her life. I'm with jaydog 100% on this one....it's a drysuit or I don't get in the kayak. Incidentally, when I did my first training 'wet exit' in a kayak, it was in Sitka and I was wearing a drysuit. I found that the suit did not restrict my ability to self-rescue; in fact, because I was dry (read: warm!), I was able to do several evolutions back-to-back. If I had been in anything but a drysuit, I doubt seriously if I'd been able to get back into the boat more than once...if then.
    This really brings up an interesting subject: Risk Management. I'm working on a project that will offer the recreational boater an opportunity to learn about risk management. The average boater simply makes decisions based on experience...if that experience is lacking in some area(s), the decision could easily be one that kills them. A fascinating book called Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzalez talks about who lives, who dies and why. As Gonzalez describes different situations, you suddenly realize that he is right and you don't need alot of wilderness experience to recognize the same hazardous thought patterns in yourself. Those 'mental markers' that cause you to decide that not wearing a drysuit when kayaking in 40 degree water because the sun is out...might kill you!
    My job is recreational boating safety. I review and analyze every recreational boating fatality in Alaska. As with any hindsight, it's easy to see when/where the decision-making processes failed; combined with circumstances and/or environmental factors and people die. I see drysuits for kayaking (or any other watersport with a high risk of immersion) as being cheap insurance....but that's an individual choice. Safe paddling! Mike

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    Yesterday the Anchorage REI had Kokatat Tropos (breathable fabric) in stock, with relief zipper for something like $500. I thought that was a pretty good deal. I think the NRS suits are about the same but you can check them out on the web. I have no idea if one fabric is better than the other, but both claim to be breathable and still cheaper than Gore-Tex.

    http://nrsweb.com
    http://rei.com

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    Double post. How does that happen? & how do I get rid of this sticky underline?

  14. #14

    Default Using This Thread For Leverage

    I really appreciate all the info on this thread! You guys have answered questions I have had regarding drysuits. I hope you guys don't mind me quoting you in regards to convincing my wife on a future drysuit purchase as this will be great leverage(you other married guys will understand these dynamics)! One reason I love this site.
    Playing the devil's advocate, I still remain firm behind the gear I currently have. In practising rolls and re-entries, I don't get cold nor soaked-to-the-bone. It has served my purposes well. I don't think the water around Revilla Island is a lot warmer than other waters. If there are white caps on the water-I don't paddle. If the weather is foul or the wind is cranking-I'll wait or not go. As stated above in a thread, there is a lot of assessment involved. Where I live, everyone believes if you can't go in a motor boat-why bother!? So when kayaking, I am always on my own and act accordingly i.e. self-reliant. When I make my crossings, I time them to correlate with the tide and currents-or I will wait.
    In essence, I don't think a drysuit is mandatory or necessary in all situations. As I said above, because of the input I have read, I see a drysuit purchase looming in my future to broaden my horizons-but I won't be wearing it on ALL my paddling adventures.

  15. #15
    Member Ripface's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    320

    Default

    I plan to make the crossing from the Homer spit to the other side of the bay, and that is why I have been looking into dry suits. It's 4 miles, so an hour or less of paddling. My kayak should arrive in a week or two, so I can't wait to go check it out. It's supposed to be extremely stable, and I look forward to practicing re-entry. I haven't been out IN the saltwater around here, but I remember around Ketchikan a long time ago that it was shockingly cold. I would even like to cross the Cook Inlet around Kenai. Well, I have ruled out a paddling suit, thanks to the posts here, so it looks like with what I want to do, I should get a dry suit. The $400 choices seem like what I will buy. Now I just have to wait for the next REI sale.
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  16. #16

    Default paddle suits and dry suits

    a paddle suit can be a "dry suit" and still not keep you 100% dry. But then, a real diver's dry suit will not be 100% dry around neck and wrist seals either. May come close, but...

    I have a couple of Kokotat dry suits for paddling, the top end Gortex ones.
    From what I have been told, compressed Gortex,, the part you sit on, will let your tush get wet. It is a membrane that "breaths", so water can go both ways.

    Dive Concepts, DUI, etc.. are manufactures of Dry Diving Suits, but I doubt you want to wear one paddling for long if the sun is out. You would probably end up feeding the sharks when you passed out from the heat build up..

    Check with the folks at WWW.Connyak.org.. They are really into paddling and have an open bbs to post. They will set you straight.

    Regards

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Sierra foothills
    Posts
    32

    Default

    For saltwater use, I've gone over to a dry suit 100% after using wetsuits and good paddling jackets for 12 years. Granted this is in NorCal, but our winter water temps are in the high 40s - low 50s, so not that much different than AK temps in the warmer months. I use the same suit for WW rafting and kayaking in the spring time when you'll see water temps down closer to 40 degrees.

    I'd heard good things from local boaters about the Palm brand, and went with one of their mid-range suits. There were two nearby dealers so I could touch and feel the suit before purchase. Since then, Kokotat and NRS also jumped on the imported waterproof/breathable wagon. I kayak fish out of a SOT, and my butt is constantly immersed. While it feels chilly, it has yet to be actually wet after getting off the water. No issues at all while in a SIK or rafting.

    As noted above, the one issue is that of getting too warm on nice sunny days. A quick roll in the SIK, or jumping in from the SOT will fix that though. There is also a DIY plastic tubing collar that will fit under the neck gasket to vent, and yet is easily removed should the conditions deteriorate. I've yet to try that as I'm waiting for a fellow kayaker to provide some feedback.


    The drysuit was one easily one of my best uses of $$$ when it comes to paddling.

    Regards,
    Scott

  18. #18
    Member Ripface's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    320

    Default

    I've been seeing some semi-dry suits in my researching of "dry suits." How does a semi-dry suit differ from a dry suit?
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  19. #19
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,449

    Default

    The semi-dry suits that I've seen have a semi-waterproof zipper, sometimes with plastic teeth, and a neoprene neck gasket instead of latex. However, neoprene neck gaskets can be completly waterproof too. These suits are designed for short stints in the water, and to only leak a little bit for the short duration. I think they are fine for paddling use. Not many situations where you will be dropped in the water and have to float without your boat for more than a few minutes.

    Kokatat's Whirlpool bibs and jacket are only semi-dry because of their roll up connection between the top and bottom halves, and they have been a popular option for paddlers for years. If you swim with those you usually end up with damp shorts. I noticed last fall that my dry suit has a leak in the side, so I guess it's only semi-dry too.

    Generally, there is not much difference in price between dry and semi-dry suits though.

  20. #20
    Member JonS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Rockaway, NJ
    Posts
    13

    Default

    I've been using a semi dry suit for kayak fishing for a couple years now and love it. It's the Kokotat supernova. What makes it a semi is the neck seal. It's soft neoprene and very comfortable. If I were to spend time underwater it would let some water in, otherwise both zippers are completely waterproof as I've sat in water up to my shoulders when I first tested the suit. As I always wear a pfd when out having my head underwater isn't going to happen. Dry suits are very comfortable and user friendly. I highly reccomend them.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •