On an SOT, you will get water on you - period. There's no avoiding it. Some of the seats are low enough that you're sitting in water but there's enough boats now that have addressed that issue it's avoidable.
As far as a SinK, you will get equally wet unless you use a skirt. If you use a skirt, it is possible to stay surprisingly dry. It doesn't matter. When it comes to cold water paddling you must always plan for an unintentional swim.
On the waders issue, I disagree. I have and use each a "jeans" style of waist high waders, and also chest-high waders. With either pair, I wear a nylon "weight belt" snugly around my middle. Over that, I wear a semi-dry top (the neck is neoprene, otherwise it is a dry top). Over that, I wear my PFD snugly. With this set-up, when I have tested in warm current, I got a small drip of water down my neck and that's it. My waders did not fill with water in current. It is a bit difficult to swim with wading boots on, but when I wear NRS river shoes instead it is much easier.
I'm also a wading fisherman, and even when wading while fishing, I am careful to wear a wading belt around my waist high waders. If the water is swift or more than knee deep, I also wear a PFD. With this outfit, I have fallen in swift, spring water and gotten enough water down my back to be unpleasant and my pants were moistened but not sopping wet. There was no 'filling up' to become an 'anchor'. While this is a risk, the risk is easily mitigated with a snug wading belt and a snug PFD. If you have a semi-dry or dry top over it, it's almost completely mitigated.
My suggestion to you is if you get a SOT, then you should get some dry pants (rather than waders) specifically made for paddling. However, if you are a wading fisherman and already have a pair of breathable waders and can take appropriate precaution to keep water from going down them, they'll work. Dry pants can be purchased from NRS for under $200. On sale (like now) you can find some for around $100. A semi-drytop or drytop combined with it will give you a way to stay safe and can save your life from a dunking in cold water. NRS' website is www.nrsweb.com. I have no affiliation with NRS aside from that of a satisfied customer.
Always, in any condition, wear your PFD and wear it snugly. I do not care how well you swim, nor how calm the water is. Wear your PFD. Three different rescue veterans with roughly 60 years of rescue experience between them have told me that they have never done a body recovery of someone wearing a PFD. It's possible to drown with PFD on, surely, but 60 years of experience is nothing to sneeze at.
With some sensible and relatively inexpensive (when it is compared to the value of your life) clothing made for cold weather paddling is a far better way to stay safe and dry than SOT versus SinK, in my opinion. The reason is that SOT versus SinK assumes you will not fall out, which is not a prudent assumption.
Finally, in most cases dress for the water temperature and not for the air temperature.
- Big D
Pull-Up Strap Handle Kit
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