Wetsuit for warm weather, cold water?
Posted by: lytleric on Jul-08-11 10:54 AM (EST) Category: Other Gear
-- Last Updated: Jul-08-11 10:58 AM EST --
Need some advice/recommendations on selecting a wetsuit. I've done a search and read much of info and opinions here, but there is almost too much to sort through to find what is best for our situation.
My wife and I are relatively experienced kayakers but don't own wetsuits. We will be taking a trip the Apostle Islands later this summer and thus will be out on Lake Superior - i.e. warm weather (possibly as warm as 90+) but cold water (water temps in the mid-50s).
I look at wetsuits as insurance - a good idea but hopefully will never need the benefit. We have taken lessons on kayak safety and rescue techniques but have never had to put them into practice. Neither of us have ever fallen out of our boats. However, that doesn't mean it can't happen obviously.
So we need wetsuits. However, since we rarely touch the water and will be paddling in the heat of the summer, I don't want to be roasting in a full-on 5/3 wetsuit designed for cold water.
NRS has its Farmer John and Jane, which seems like it would be adequate for our situation. However, they also offer the Little John which they describe as "combines warmth and mobility for those warm weather, cold water days."
Would the Little John be the way to go for our situation? Or do we need to move up to a Farmer John - or even up to full coverage? How do others handle the heat of summer paddling in a wetsuit? Not having wetsuit experience, I have no idea how much they hold in the heat when not in the water.
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I have no experiece with wetsuits|
Posted by: kayamedic on Jul-08-11 10:58 AM (EST)
wear a drysuit in the summer and want to point out that a roll now and then will keep you cool.. Keeping your head damp really helps.
Posted by: jimyaker on Jul-08-11 11:05 AM (EST)
NRS makes a "Little John" wetsuit in 3mm neoprene and hydroskin that would be just the thing.
One last thing|
Posted by: jimyaker on Jul-08-11 11:07 AM (EST)
A snug fit is key. A loose wetsuit doesn't do much for ya.
Go Farmer John|
Posted by: bryanhansel on Jul-08-11 11:35 AM (EST)
Go Farmer John with hydroskin and a drytop if needed. You'll want the legs, because the inside of the boat will be cold. Especially if you get a rain day or colder temps. This year has been a cold year.
Posted by: fadedred on Jul-08-11 4:06 PM (EST)
agree with Bryan...the only other way I would sugest for late in the summer . I would consider would be to pair a Hydroskin pant with a neo/nylon mysteriosa top. or something like a Hydroskin top or a rash guard and a neo vest. and always have a drytop or a paddling jacket like is made by Kokatat or Reed etc.(either on or with, just in case)
Posted by: radiomix on Jul-08-11 11:57 AM (EST)
I love my hydroskin. Some people deal with cold water differently. I can swim without anything in low 60 degree water for a long time if it is warm outside. My wife wouldn't last for five minutes. In hydro skin I have stayed in for about fifteen minutes with out issue in low 50's water with equal air temps.
Mid 50s water 90s air ...|
Posted by: seadart on Jul-08-11 12:45 PM (EST)
There are not a lot of comfortable solutions but whitewater kayakers and surfers do go the farmer john route. Be aware that water sluices through the arms and cools your core so these are not the most efficient at keeping you warm. Another option is to buy 2 mm trunks and top, Oneil makes excellent warm suits in that thickness that are reasonably priced. There are sleevless vests, that also work well for paddling. You can take off the top or unzip it and cool down. Also splash your self with the paddle and wet the suit a lot, pour water on your spray deck, the evaporation will cool you off, tip over and brace back up, or do full on rolls - you will get very hot - this is even true in a dry suit - which to me are even more uncomfortable when hot.
Very tough to figure|
Posted by: pikabike on Jul-08-11 1:46 PM (EST)
We get that here with mountain lakes and heat spells. Also on early spring hot days before the lower reservoirs lose their wintry chill.
No sleeves or drytop|
Posted by: jimyaker on Jul-08-11 1:59 PM (EST)
Paddling wetsuits don't have sleeves for obvious reasons. It adds warmth and a little resistance to every stroke.
That's The Worse Dressing Scenario|
Posted by: sing on Jul-08-11 2:05 PM (EST)
Posted by: old_user on Jul-08-11 5:29 PM (EST)
carry wetsuit shirts that may work for you. They are long sleeve and usually 2mm thick. They also have a waist loop on the bottom to attach to your shorts to keep the shirt from rising up. Billabong and O'Neill both make one but there may be more. This should not be too warm or thick and would give you added insurance if you needed it. I have two and cut the sleeves on one of them for mobility. Its just a thought!
NRS Hydroskin farmer john|
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Jul-08-11 6:00 PM (EST)
Have had one for at least 15 years, used often in cold Maine ocean water in summer.
Posted by: old_user on Jul-08-11 11:28 PM (EST)
You say you have practiced rescues, but have you practiced in rough cold water, with one or both of you in that water? Since you dont have wetsuits I'm sure you havent, so you aren't prepared, and your wetsuit will only buy you some time. Very cold wet time, as you fumble around trying to rescue yourselves in cold waves. Are you fit and athletic enough to pull that off? Its obvious from your post that neither of you can roll. Be prepared for immersion for sure, but Invest more time in the skills first. Lake Superior will still be there next year.
I understand; all valid points.|
Posted by: lytleric on Jul-11-11 4:59 PM (EST)
Nope, we haven't practiced rescues in cold water, nor do we know how to roll. However we are both comfortable in open water, strong swimmers, and have taken a couple of week-long trips in our kayaks (Isle Royale last summer) and have never had any issues with safety. As such, we are looking to improve our skills and venture into some more advanced areas. We live a block from Lake Michigan and paddle there at least weekly. We have owned our kayaks for a few years and are ready to add to our investment in gear for our next adventure.
Posted by: old_user on Jul-14-11 11:41 PM (EST)
Posted by: WaterMark on Jul-09-11 1:53 AM (EST)
has the best deals on farmer john/jane wetsuits, imo. They have the best quality cut and neoprene that I've seen, at a very good price. If you call them, they may have some of last year's models on clearance for around $60.
Posted by: paddlesheep on Jul-13-11 9:18 PM (EST)
I am really liking the two piece fusion wetsuits that MEC is offering now. Instead of the one piece farmer john I bought a seperate neoprene vest and long neo shorts. Much more versatile for those warm weather days.
timing is everything|
Posted by: celia on Jul-09-11 10:14 AM (EST)
How fast can you get each other back in the boat? Can you get back in if both of you are.out of your boats? How long would that take?
Quick Rescues are NOT an Excuse for Less|
Posted by: bryanhansel on Jul-09-11 11:55 AM (EST)
Following Your Direction...|
Posted by: sing on Jul-09-11 12:09 PM (EST)
Posted by: bryanhansel on Jul-09-11 4:09 PM (EST)
Sing, you're taking the argument to the extreme along a slippery slope. When, in fact, you know what I'm saying. Stop being internety.
Actually, I Do Know...|
Posted by: sing on Jul-09-11 8:12 PM (EST)
Posted by: bryanhansel on Jul-10-11 2:54 PM (EST)
I agree with what you're saying. You have the experience as do I with cold water paddling, so we make our choices based on our experience and the risks we're willing to take. Someone that doesn't have the experience has a much harder time judging the actual risks of cold water, so they should dress conservatively until they gain experience.
well . . .|
Posted by: NateHanson on Jul-09-11 2:19 PM (EST)
To make clear, I definitely agree with dressing on the conservative end of the spectrum, but it's simply not practical to dress for a swim of ANY length (except perhaps where the air is colder than the water).
Posted by: bryanhansel on Jul-09-11 4:12 PM (EST)
I agree with you, but this thread is addressing someone who lacks the judgment to make those decisions. If they had the judgment, they wouldn't have asked.
Posted by: lytleric on Jul-11-11 5:03 PM (EST)
Looking for people with more experience than me to help me make and informed decision. Very much appreciate the knowledge and comments in this thread.
Posted by: Celia on Jul-09-11 1:13 PM (EST)
Bryan is not incorrect - I personally dress more warmly than anyone I ever paddle with, because of one paddle where everything that could screw up with a rescue did. But I also think that getting wet, and a lot, is the best way for people to sort this out for themselves.
Have not thought about dry suits|
Posted by: lytleric on Jul-11-11 5:05 PM (EST)
but will look into it... Thanks.
Posted by: radiomix on Jul-09-11 2:38 PM (EST)
Typical northern Michigan weather will take hold. Which means who knows. Maybe it will be 60 and raining. That would help the hotness. I also remember a few years back when the water in lake Michigan was I'm upper seventies as far north as traverse city. And folks there told me that people were swimming for fun on superior. This seems like you are in a situation of bad chooces, so just pick one and live with it, or not.
I paddle Lake Superior|
Posted by: dong on Jul-09-11 7:57 PM (EST)
All summer long and when it gets to the warmest part of the summer I wear Hydroskin long sleeve top and shorts when I'm going out for an afternoon paddle. As soon as I get on the water I roll and the cool water flushes through the top and keeps me nice and cool. This isn't something I would want to swim in for a long period of time but it gives me some thermal protection from the cooler water, keeps me cool from the heat and most importantly it keeps me from being eaten alive by the flies. Like others have said, if you can't roll you can dunk yourself by holding on to the bow of the other persons boat. If your taking a trip on Lake Superior you'll definitely want immersion clothes that will protect you if conditions go bad.
"people overestimate their abilities"|
Posted by: old_user on Jul-09-11 11:13 PM (EST)
Cold Water and Conditions|
Posted by: rjd9999 on Jul-13-11 11:05 AM (EST)
The big issue is, really, the cold water and the paddling conditions you will experience.
Going to a drysuit early on?|
Posted by: old_user on Jul-15-11 11:36 PM (EST)
Bouncing off of Celia's advice to Lake Michiganers (below), what do you (and anyone else who wishes to chime in) think about going to a drysuit sooner rather than later for the California coast? I'm new to the sport, and considering my options.
If you live on Lake Michigan anyway,,,|
Posted by: Celia on Jul-13-11 9:10 PM (EST)
really worth it to consider going to dry suits earlier rather than later. It really does extend your season. If you can rent a couple for this trip, it'd give you a chance to see how you like them. Just remember to burp them before launching, lest you end up looking like the Michelin Man.
FJ w/hydroskin top|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-14-11 9:45 AM (EST)
And a drytop makes perfect sense in this combo. The only other approach is a drysuit. You may want to start with a drysuit and add the other stuff as budget allows. By then you may have a better grasp with which to make these decisions. Until then I'd err on the side of caution otherwise - heed the weather reports and local knowledge. The apostles can get hairy very quickly.
try 'em out|
Posted by: old_user on Jul-15-11 11:13 PM (EST)
I'll add (at the risk of being pedantic)--try out your rescues with your new gear before your trip! Buy Farmer Johns, head for a safe spot with a lee shore, and practice all your different rescues--solo, assisted, etc. You might be amazed at what you've forgotten since you last taken a course or practiced rescues with someone.