SoT Kayak Winter wear inquiry

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Eyejuggler, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. With the recent SoT posting and winter coming on, I was curious if anyone has thoughts on cold weather protection.
    I was thinking of just my waders and a rain shell but I was worried that waders would be super dangerous if you are overboard and flailing.
    I was looking at the Kotatat Gore-Tex front entry suit for cold/rainy Puget Sound paddling.
    I noticed some of the dry suits boasted Latex or Neoprene cuffs, I would guess latex would be better suited to whitewater applications and the Neoprene, being more comfortable, better suited to an SoT application since odds would be good, you wouldn't be getting submerged.

    I did a search but really came away with nothing related. If there is an old thread please pass a link!

    Thanks for looking and as a reward, here's a nice shot of a perfect Puget Sound day in MA 11 [​IMG]

  2. I would also prefer neoprene over latex gaskets on a kayak angling drysuit.
    I've done some research, and I like the Kokatat Angler "Hydrus" drysuit. Can be had for around $600.
    Apparently the "Hydrus" material is an upgrade over the "Tropos" material that was used in the earlier version of this suit.

    Gortex remains as the higher rated, better performing breathable fabric, and is also the most expensive material, so Gortex drysuits will set you back the most. I see them listed in the $800 to $900 + range.

    With any drysuit, you will need to get some good thermal layering to wear underneath. Kayak booties or some other appropriate footwear will be needed. This all could add up to a couple hundred$$ more.

    Also, I have heard that Kokatat's warranty and customer service is excellent.

    NRS makes some great drysuits, too, but I kind of like that Kokatat Angler suit. If I had one, I'd probably even wear it wading on a rainy day.
    Eyejuggler likes this.
  3. minimum would be a good dry top matched to a pair of waders... but the drawback is going to the bathroom if you cannot run to shore versus a full drysuit with relief zipper.

    i have used both of the above and tested both of them while practicing self-rescues. the dry top and waders will keep you mostly dry although the dry top i have has a neoprene neck so there was more water intrusion than the rubber gaskets in my kokotat dry suit.

    i would get the rubber gaskets if you want to spend any time paddling far from shore where getting wet and cold is far more serious than 5 minutes from the launch.
    Eyejuggler likes this.
  4. Well, if odds are good that you won't be submerged, and if you don't want latex gaskets, why screw with a drysuit??? Cuz' guess what??? Neeprene cuffs don't keep out water - therefore you don't have a drysuit. Plus, latex gaskets do require some care getting into and out of so you don't rip them, and they do require occasional replacement.

    A good option for a poor man's drysuit is to use a dry top with your chest high waders.
    Krusty likes this.
  5. one more piece of kayak gear that should always be worn is a lifejacket, especially in cold water.
  6. I don't have a dry suit. Since I usually just use my Tarpon SOT to fish out along the jetties here from mid March thru mid Oct, and keep it parked in my garage for the Winter, I wear one of my wetsuits. Once the water temps drop below 50 and the air gets cold, I can't stay out all that long in my kayaking wetsuit before I start feeling the cold creep in from my toes and fingertips (I don't wear gloves when fishing or paddling, and my feet are usually wet since I wade out when launching, and often hang them over the sides when fishing).

    I would not feel comfortable heading out on the ocean or the harbor entrance wearing waders and a dry top.

    Besides, my 3mm NRS Ultra John has a relief zipper! I layer a longsleeve 1.5 mm neoprene top under my farmer john, and wear a splash jacket over all of that, to break the wind chill and keep the rain off. With a wetsuit, cold rain and wind can chill you out fairly quickly, unless you have a splash jacket or even some rain gear over it.
    But like I said, this is a 3-season getup. I get cold after about an hour or so when surfing in my 5mm winter suit once the water temps fall into the mid-upper 40's and the air temps get cold. While a quick surf session followed by a hot shower is do-able, and often invigorating in cold conditions, I don't enjoy long hours paddling a yak on the water with frozen fingers and hypothermia setting in.
  7. Jim, for even more warmth, try putting a pair of cheap nylon wind or rain pants on over the wetsuit bottoms.

    I really like the Kokatat 'paddling' suits like Jim mentioned; I have the old Tropos one. With the built-in socks, your feet will be dry and with latex gaskets at the wrists, you won't get your arms wet. The comfy neoprene at the neck keeps it from being a full-blown drysuit but still keeps all but a trickle of water out even if you swim in big waves (assuming you are also wearing a tight pfd). Like breathable waders, your warmth still comes from the layers beneath it so be sure to get one large enough for lots of winter layers.
    Eyejuggler likes this.
  8. Thanks for the tip, Freestone. I've done that, and it works great.
    I also often use cheap rain pants over nylon shorts or boardshorts for paddling in the estuaries and tidal creeks in my Ultimate 12.
    They work fine to keep the bugs from chewing my legs, and offer protection from the sun, rain, and spray. In cooler weather, I'll wear thermal longjohns under my nylon shorts, with the rain pants over those.
    In cooler weather and with colder water, if I think that I'm going to be stepping out of my boat and wading when I'm upstream paddling a tidal creek, I'll wear my waders.
  9. Thank you all for the input. I am leaning to the full suit, but the dry top and waders bottom is an option I did not think of. Either way is a winner, I just want to be able to get out there and not fret if conditions are poor or something freakish happens. Shortly after getting the kayak, I was out and as I was removing a hook from an SRC, I got too absorbed in the process and dumped myself in the drink. Fortunately it was shallow and the middle of Summer or I would have been in a light pickle :)
    Neoprene is not water proof but I don't plan on being immersed much so comfort is key. I really love the boat and the flexibility it provides and I do not want winter to curtail the fun :)
    Thanks again for the tips, I will post what I do for informational purposes :)
  10. eyejuggler,

    one of the best things you can do is spend some time practicing re-entry into your kayak. start in shallow enough water to put your feet on the bottom if necessary.

    you don't want your first re-entry to be when you're in crappy conditions or deep water.

  11. Key words here are "should always be worn." A kayak angler on the N Fork Lewis is missing and presumed drowned. His yak was found yesterday with his PFD on board. His PFD did a great job of keeping his yak from drowning.
    Another Darwin Award candidate.
  12. Wear a boat that keeps you dry. SOTs are a disaster looking for a place to happen in winter.
  13. I totally disagree! Being improperly dressed for immersion is a disaster waiting to happen no matter what type of craft one paddles. Add to it not wearing a pfd and/or not having adequate skills & knowledge and one will be in trouble in any watercraft.
    Eyejuggler likes this.
  14. bingo, even washington state's "warm" saltwater will kill you. from an immersion standpoint there's very little difference between august and january.
  15. I have to agree with both of these statements, and can totally appreciate where dlf is coming from. If you are out in anything but conditions suitable for your skill level and don't have a bomb proof roll to both sides - and wearing a boat that you can roll - you are asking for trouble.

    To Chris's point re August or January... It is extremely rare to see anyone on the water in the South Sound in the winter. In summer people are everywhere - but it is not like I would count on them. You are just out there by yourself. And once you make it to shore in winter you will be greeted by 45 degrees and rain instead of sun warmed rocks for your walk out. Likewise if you crawl back on your boat most summer days you will recover. In winter it is not as casual.
  16. Its the wind chill that gets you if you are wet on a cold windy day.
    Sometimes I go surfing on cold Winter days when the surf isn't too big and brisk offshore winds are grooming the swells. The thermometer might read 32 F, and the sea-surface temp might be in the high 40's. That sounds cold enough already, but the wind chill factor makes it much worse. I usually get cold after about an hour of surfing in those conditions, even though I'm trying to stay moving all of the time, alert and concentrating so that I do not have to sit and wait very long for a wave.
    Making the post-session sprint back up the beach to my rig, the wind chill just sucks any remaining body heat away, right through 5mm of neoprene.
    That's why I don't like to be out on my Tarpon in a wetsuit on a cold Winter's day.
  17. Brrr, that sounds cold Jim! You are a tougher man than me, well, if I weren't a girl, lol!

    That wind chill cooling effect is why I love my drysuit and semi-dry paddling suit in the colder months, especially when there is wind chill. In the heat of the summer, I prefer to wear my neoprene. Huh? Most people do the opposite but I try to use the advantages of each fabric to their fullest potential. My Goretex often gets too hot when I am working hard and the air is warm. Unzipping it to cool off while on the water is a no-no in my personal safety book. However, WET neoprene is great at evaporative cooling so when the air is hot, I wear neoprene and just be sure to keep it wet. It acts as insulation against the heat and keeps me cool (when wet). My companions are sweltering in their drysuits and they're sure I am going to die of heat exhaustion in neoprene, until I peel back my sleeve and show them the goose bumps, lol. However, it is this same reason that I do not paddle in neoprene when the air temps are cool and especially, windy. Then, I prefer a drysuit/paddling suit with appropriate layers. Both will protect me from immersion and yet allow me to dress comfortably for the air temps.
  18. That's some good info regarding the performance of a neoprene wetsuit vs a breathable drysuit in various conditions.

    As far as surviving the cold water and air when surfing here, we now have newly constructed facility at Westhaven State Park with radiant heating built into the slab, and pay showers! Construction just finished, and it should be open any day now. The outdoor showers (cold water only) for rinsing off the sand and salt are already operating and in use.
    I usually "bring my own shower" consisting of 5 2-liter plastic jugs full of hot tap water, carried in the large Rubbermaid container that I stand in when I strip off my wetsuit.
    Sometimes when I'm surfing locally on freezing cold days, I just have my driver's seat already lined with beach towels, and an old bath mat over a plastic sheet on the floor, so I can just run from the water's edge to my rig, hop in, and drive the short distance home to my own shower. No toughness involved! Ha! Ha! I've even been known to grab a beer from my fridge on my way to the shower!
    Freestone likes this.
  19. Thanks Jim! Like you, I've been around the water a long time so have figured out what works for me.

    Here I am whitewater canoeing in the late winter of '79 decked out in full neoprene from the hood to the 3 fingered mitts to the a full diving farmer john wetsuit with the old fashioned long sleeve zip up jacket with that crotch piece with the two metal twist closure thingies. I could barely move, LOL. You can't tell from the photo but I had the windbreaker over the neoprene as while I didn't understand about evaporative cooling back then, I'd figured out it kept me warmer.

  20. Cool! You looked kinda hot in that getup!

    I wore one of those diving suits (one that I sort of fit me) the time I surfed at Short Sands back in the Spring of 69. Lucky thing we were riding longboards back then, so we could knee paddle. Those twist locks for securing the "beaver tail" were a bummer for sure.
    I squirm into my new Winter suit thru the stretchy neck hole. Then pull the hood over my head and zip it down. Having just one small zipper across the chest allows for unbelievable stretchiness all throughout the rest of the suit. The neoprene on the new suits is so much better than it was on the ones from 20 years ago. Lighter, warmer, stretchier, and better in every way. Better designs, too.

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