-- Last Updated: Sep-15-13 5:01 PM EST --
I've done lots of summer kayaking, and I'd like to do some fall runs now. These will be short ~2-3 hour trips on local rivers, where each run is mostly flat and calm with minimal whitewater: just a handful of rapids over the course of say 5 miles, and the rapids are mostly class I, with a few small class IIs.
I've read about kayakers wearing wetsuits, and I wonder if that's the way to go. For the times I'm looking at, the air temperature averages ~65F and the water ~55F, so while the water is pretty cold, the air isn't too bad, and on these runs, the risk of immersion is small. More likely I'll just get splashed, and having never worn a wetsuit before, I wonder: how warm are they *out* of the water? Particularly when I'm sitting in my kayak, getting splashed a bit, maybe in a bit of wind, maybe sitting in a bit of water? And I know there are different thicknesses for wetsuits -- the ones I'm looking at are "3/2" mm, so thicker torso, thinner arms/legs.
Do you wear anything under a wetsuit? Underwear? T-Shirt? And given that I'm looking at fall, not winter, would I want to wear anything over the wetsuit? I've read about an insulating layer and then an outer layer, but that seems like maybe too warm when the air temp is in the 60s.
Finally, if I didn't wear a wetsuit, then what should I wear? In terms of materials, I know cotton is out. And I'm pretty sure a spray skirt and booties (I'm looking at "NRS Paddle Water Shoes") are a good idea. But in terms of pants and shirts, it seems like the possibilities are endless. Maybe "splash pants" and "splash top" would be best?
Thanks for any advice, and especially any specific recommendations for fall clothes that you've used.
[Edited to add: I've read about dry suits and I'm not interested in going that route at this time.]
Rescue / Throw Bags
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There was a similar question below.|
Posted by: bartc on Sep-15-13 5:43 PM (EST)
But anyway, I don't use a wetsuit in the temps you're talking about, just a wicking poly top and sometimes a poly sweater, nylon pants and neoprene booties, water shoes. If that would be too cold for you, then see below.
Dress for Immersion |
Posted by: ppine on Sep-15-13 5:49 PM (EST)
Posted by: nodivisions on Sep-15-13 6:58 PM (EST)
Thanks. I've seen the Farmer Johns and was considering that too, but hadn't seen the shortys. So many options.
Poly is for wicking|
Posted by: bartc on Sep-16-13 8:25 AM (EST)
Bike clothes, as well as some paddling and other sports clothes, are made to wick moisture away from your skin. Polyesters are woven to do that. I just use my long sleeve bike shirts and a light Polartech "sweater" as needed for layers.
Posted by: water_walker on Sep-15-13 6:33 PM (EST)
How deep is the river? You indicate the rapids are short in length, which makes it unlikely you will be forced to make a long swim.
Posted by: nodivisions on Sep-15-13 7:07 PM (EST)
The river is mostly shallow, like 4-5 feet. There are some deeper holes but they're brief. Self-rescue is usually just standing up and walking over to the side. We usually go in pairs, and I'll bring dry clothes.
Posted by: water_walker on Sep-15-13 9:16 PM (EST)
A good dry bag may allow in a small amount of water (via the folded opening) if fully immersed. If the contents get wet when your dry bag is merely sitting in an inch or two of water, it's time for a new dry bag. (Sorry about the old one. Talk to the dealer /manufacturer if it is less than a couple of years old).
You'd be fine. Typical 3/2 conditions|
Posted by: seadart on Sep-15-13 6:49 PM (EST)
65 degree air and 55 water you will be fine with a 3/2 full surfing wetsuit. If you buy a surfing suit the arms have plenty of flexibility so easy to paddle. Wear a rash guard on top under the suit. On the bottom most folks go commando. If you over heat just splash some water on your upper body, do a roll or slam down body brace or go for a little swim.
Add the paddling jacket.If you do |
Posted by: kayamedic on Sep-15-13 6:55 PM (EST)
get wet, the suit will be chilly.
I wouldn't use a wet or dry suit . . . |
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Sep-15-13 7:09 PM (EST)
. . . on an easy river in the conditions you describe. I would carry my usual towel and change of clothes.
windproof outer layer|
Posted by: nodivisions on Sep-15-13 7:25 PM (EST)
The windproof paddle jacket seems like a good idea, but what happens in the case of immersion? Is the jacket so thin/non-insulated that it dries off right away, and still provides some benefit after you get out of the water and back into the kayak?
Paddle Jacket |
Posted by: seadart on Sep-15-13 8:18 PM (EST)
I put a paddle jacket over a wetsuit when the air temps are down in the 40s to 30s. You will be plenty warm in a wetsuit.
Dress for Immersion|
Posted by: Alpinbogen on Sep-15-13 8:40 PM (EST)
Several years ago, when I got into kayaking with a stable rec boat, paddling calm rivers, I subscribed to the "just carry a change of clothes" philosophy.
swim trunks and a t-shirt in icy water?|
Posted by: nodivisions on Sep-16-13 12:19 AM (EST)
Thanks for sharing this. Clearly "dress for immersion" is the best advice, and your suggestion of going and jumping right into the water to make sure your outfit works in the current conditions makes sense.
What works for me...|
Posted by: suntan on Sep-15-13 8:46 PM (EST)
I consider it Wet-suit Season when the water temp hits 60, regardless of air temps. I use a 3 mm farmer john with a 2 mm neo jacket that I take off when I'm hot. If I'm still hot, I lower the zipper on the farmer john. When it's even colder, I use neo booties and gloves. In snow or cold rain, I put on an ultra hood.
Posted by: davejjj on Sep-15-13 9:39 PM (EST)
Consider the river. How long would you be in the water? How much chance of the boat being pinned making anything in the boat inaccessible? How isolated is the river?
Wet or dry|
Posted by: rjd9999 on Sep-15-13 11:54 PM (EST)
suit is what I wear in those conditions. 3mm may be warmer than you may want, but that's what I use.
Posted by: nodivisions on Sep-16-13 12:14 AM (EST)
Haha, actually that's exactly my attitude, too. I love being IN the water; kayaking is just one way to get to it. That said, I suspect that as the air and water get cooler, I'll be abandoning ship less often, but I think a wetsuit is my best bet either way.
Wetsuit probably fine|
Posted by: pikabike on Sep-16-13 2:02 AM (EST)
Your cold tolerance is YOUR cold tolerance, not mine, but if it were me in 65-deg air with 55-deg water, with little risk of capsizing, a good choice would be a surfer's full wetsuit. Thickness would be either 2mm all over OR a 3/2mm configuration (3mm torso, 2mm arms and legs). Having said that, I often wear a 2mm long-legged Farmer Jane over a 1mm long-sleeved shirt (also neoprene), in water that's a little colder. But I can roll my kayak.
Wind blocking layer OK wet|
Posted by: Celia on Sep-16-13 6:56 AM (EST)
Posted by: rjd9999 on Sep-17-13 2:30 PM (EST)
Wind blows right through a dry wetsuit. It is only useful if all the spaces in the suit are filled with water which stops the wind from penetrating. Even then, there isn't much insulation as the suit drys up fairly quickly and it becomes much like a wet cotton t-shirt.