Topic-icon Wetsuit vs Drysuit

2 months 1 week ago #29244 by LakeMan
I'm sure this has been covered before but since I can't find an answer I'll ask it now. Which is better for use in a surfski, a wetsuit or drysuit? I live in an area of the world that rarely freezes but still gets cold. And water is always cold in the winter, everywhere. I want to stay warm yet do not want to spend $500 to do so. Wetsuits are a lot less money but are not as warm when in the water. I have very little wiggle room in my ski so whatever it is it can't be thick.

What is your opinion?

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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2 months 1 week ago #29245 by PharmGeek
Same - still circling wagons on this one and plan to buy some such gear this fall...

I'm leaning toward dry suit personally but price is an issue...but price aside, I like the idea that the wetsuit may be a bit safer? A small tear will not render it useless.

I think the reason I have a hard time with this question is that I have little or no experience with both so how they feel and work in my region is foggy to me...

I figure if I don't do white water and such - risk of a problem with a good dry suit is minimal and I can vary what I wear underneath for broader versatility.

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2 months 1 week ago #29247 by Fath2o
My vote is wetsuit, but, I'm a surfer. What do I know?

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2 months 1 week ago #29250 by MCImes
I personally have not used wetsuits, so am somewhat limited in comparing. I live in south western Massachusetts and paddle as long as there is open water (which is 11+ months a year. The CT river only freezes over temporarily when it's really cold)

I bought a Kokatat dry suit used for a good price and have never regretted it. I choose my layering based on air and water temp so the flexibility is nice.

Also, even at 30* air and 32* water temp, with 2-3 medium-thick under layers I'm comfortable. The only drawback is in the spring when the water is cold and air is warm, a dry suit is hot and sweaty! A wet suit probably would be too, but less so.

I went straight into an elite ski (cause I got it for a steal and that's what I could afford) so I spent all last winter swimming in cold water. I am very glad I had a dry suit, balaclava, and glacier gloves. The trifecta kept me warm, safe, and made paddling enjoyable.

Check out mythic dry suits if you want something cheap. Their cheapest model is only like $250. Also, you can often find Kokatat suits used for a decent price.

I'm interested to hear what the drysuit/wetsuit ratio is from cold weather paddlers on here. Whichever you choose, I highly recommend one to prolong the paddling season safely

To the SA folks, whys a typical winter day temp and sea temp?

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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2 months 1 week ago #29251 by MCImes
I personally have not used wetsuits, so am somewhat limited in comparing. I live in south western Massachusetts and paddle as long as there is open water (which is 11+ months a year. The CT river only freezes over temporarily when it's really cold)

I bought a Kokatat dry suit used for a good price and have never regretted it. I choose my layering based on air and water temp so the flexibility is nice.

Also, even at 30* air and 32* water temp, with 2-3 medium-thick under layers I'm comfortable. The only drawback is in the spring when the water is cold and air is warm, a dry suit is hot and sweaty! A wet suit probably would be too, but less so.

I went straight into an elite ski (cause I got it for a steal and that's what I could afford) so I spent all last winter swimming in cold water. I am very glad I had a dry suit, balaclava, and glacier gloves. The trifecta kept me warm, safe, and made paddling enjoyable.

Check out mythic dry suits if you want something cheap. Their cheapest model is only like $250. Also, you can often find Kokatat suits used for a decent price.

I'm interested to hear what the drysuit/wetsuit ratio is from cold weather paddlers on here. Whichever you choose, I highly recommend one to prolong the paddling season safely

To the SA folks, whys a typical winter day temp and sea temp?

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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2 months 1 week ago - 2 months 1 week ago #29252 by MCImes
I personally have not used wetsuits, so am somewhat limited in comparing. I live in south western Massachusetts and paddle as long as there is open water (which is 11+ months a year. The CT river only freezes over temporarily when it's really cold)

I bought a Kokatat dry suit used for a good price and have never regretted it. I choose my layering based on air and water temp so the flexibility is nice.

even at 30* air and 32* water temp, with 2-3 medium-thick under layers I'm comfortable. The only drawback is in the spring when the water is cold and air is warm, a dry suit is hot and sweaty! A wet suit probably would be too, but less so. Also, the neck gasket was really (really) tight on me and I had to trim it to make it somewhat comfortable. I need to get it replaced and I think I will have a Neoprene neck gasket put on, as I've heard they're more comfortable. Although this makes it a "paddling suit", not a drysuit, I don't think it matters for my paddling. I'm not trying to survive 3 hours in ice cold water, I just need protection for a minute until I remount, and in the SR, stability isn't an issue now, so swims are generally planned and on my terms (although a steep wake did dump me recently as I was chasing the first wave of a ski boat)

I went straight into an elite ski (cause I got it for a steal and that's what I could afford) so I spent all last winter swimming in cold water. I am very glad I had a dry suit, balaclava, and glacier gloves. The trifecta kept me warm, safe, and made paddling enjoyable.

Check out mythic dry suits if you want something cheap. Their cheapest model is only like $250. Also, you can often find Kokatat suits used for a decent price.

I'm interested to hear what the drysuit/wetsuit ratio is from cold weather paddlers on here. Whichever you choose, I highly recommend one to prolong the paddling season safely

To the SA folks, whys a typical winter day temp and sea temp?

Current Boats: Stellar SR Gen 1 Advantage
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen 0 Performance
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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2 months 1 week ago #29253 by M.v.E.
I have experience with wetsuit and drysuit. In the wintertime when the air temperature here is around freezing and the water is not much warmer I always use a breathable drysuit. It´s important to use it with enough insulation underneath. Otherwise it will be pretty useless. I always use it with a long merino wool shirt and a thin Powerstretch-Fleece underneath. That works really well. Currently I have a drysuit from the british company Typhoon (Equator) It´s affordable. Around 450,- € (Germany) Kokatat Drysuits are also nice but here they are outrageously expensive. More than 1000,- € ! Unfortunately they will never last as long as a good wetsuit and you usually have to replace the gaskets after a few years.

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2 months 1 week ago #29256 by LakeMan
I paddle a Think Uno Max and although I'm thin I fit in the bucket with little hip space. I don't think I'll be able to layer under a drysuit. Maybe a fleece one piece but not much more than that.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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2 months 1 week ago #29259 by Ranga
All depends on the temperature?
As for freezing temps, I cannot help you there but down to say 4deg C I wear a wetsuit and a light plastic wind jacket or proper cag when very cold and booties.
I bought all my kit from Decathlon when over in Europe and it was very cheap, I think I paid around Euro 250.00 for everything, the cag was the most expensive and can get away without it most of the time. The wetsuit is a full length but has a vest top, no sleeves which is great for paddling. I am never cold as opposed to my hero mates who are frozen. Then again once you are paddling you will soon warm up.

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2 months 1 week ago #29272 by davgdavg
I think for paddling a wetsuit makes more sense. The amount of time you're actually in the water is minimal (hopefully).

A dry suit is made to wear with insulation underneath. They're principally made to be completely underwater for diving. If you just wear the dry suit alone it will be much, much colder than a dry-ish wetsuit.

I would be comfortable in a 3/2 with gloves and booties down to freezing if I was exercising and not planning on swimming a lot. A decent wetsuit is really insulating and flexible these days. Even if you take a spill, getting out at normal speed will still work well. (It will weigh about 5lbs more wet though).

People regularly surf in really cold water with 5m booties, gloves, and a 5/4 or if its super cold water (Antarctica cold again) 6/5 wetsuit.

Now, if you're in Antartica and you fear that you might get stranded somewhere or have to swim a ways, or are going to scuba dive, go for the drysuit.

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2 months 6 days ago #29282 by M.v.E.
I´d say it depends on the temperature and conditions. I paddle year round if the lakes are not frozen and we get many months when the temperature is between
+ 5° and -5° Celsius. I also have a good wetsuit but I never use it at these temperatures. The drysuit is much more comfortable for me. However when it´s over 10° Celsius it get´s too sweaty. All the seakayakers in my paddling club use drysuits for winter paddling and it´s quite common among whitewater kayakers as well.

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2 months 6 days ago - 2 months 6 days ago #29285 by LakeMan
Thanks for all your input. Since I live in the southeastern section of the U.S. it looks like a wetsuit would work best.
Since there are so many thicknesses etc, is there any specific type of wetsuit that would be best for paddling a surfski? It would have to be somewhat slick on the outside so I can move in the bucket. Is there such a thing?

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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2 months 6 days ago #29289 by zachhandler
You dont want a slick wetsuit, like a triathlon one, because they stick to the bucket. You want the kind that has very thin layer of black fabric on the outside. Basically a surfing wetsuit. Avoid diving wetsuits as well as they are not as stretchy. You want a surfing suit and it is worth paying extra to have more "super stretch" neoprene in it.

It is hard to know what thickness to tell you to get as it depends on air temp, water temp, how hard you are working, and how long you have to stay in the water if shit goes wrong. I own 0.5, 1.5, 2/3,and 4/3 mm suit. I use the 4/3 in big downwind in 40F and colder water. The O.5 mm farmer john I use for flatwater if the water is around 50, and downwind if the water is around 60. The others fit somewhere in between. Farmer john style is the most comfortable for paddling, but will not keep you alive as long if you are treading water all night waiting for the sun to rise.

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2 months 5 days ago #29293 by M.v.E.
Lakeman: You should get a wetsuit that is designed for kayakers. They are usualy the Long John/Farmer John-style without arms because the neoprene arms will restrict your movements too much. I wear a Long John from the German manufacturer Langer but they might be not available in the U.S.
Another good US - Company is NRS.
Over the Long John I wear a 0,5 mm neoprene shirt with long arms and if thats not warm enough a paddling jacket on top. This is also my usual whitewater outfit.

Michael

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2 months 5 days ago #29295 by LakeMan
Thanks Michael. NRS is readily available here in the US. Thanks for this info. I used to use both a wetsuit and drysuit for diving but neither with work for the ski. Looks like the wetsuit is the way to go.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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2 months 5 days ago #29296 by davgdavg

LakeMan wrote: Thanks for all your input. Since I live in the southeastern section of the U.S. it looks like a wetsuit would work best.
Since there are so many thicknesses etc, is there any specific type of wetsuit that would be best for paddling a surfski? It would have to be somewhat slick on the outside so I can move in the bucket. Is there such a thing?


Like others have said, don't get a slick suit (I think the only slick ones are freediving suits anyhow). A surfing suit will be good, or if you can find one for paddling that's good too.

What kind of temps? My guess is that in the SE you won't need more than a 2mil. If I lived somewhere cold I might also try adding a cycling vest (super lightweight windbreaker) to get the internal temp right....not sure if that would work, but I would try it.

Also, if you can, its highly recommended to try on different manufacturers suits. The sizes are all different and once a person finds a maker that fits them well, they tend to be very loyal to them (I'm an Xcel guy myself, size L).

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2 months 5 days ago #29299 by kwolfe
Just my two cents since I was in a similar position. I paddle in central PA and try to paddle throughout the year. I'm only on lakes and rivers and if its bad weather, and the temps are below freezing I stay in. I use an O'Neil 3/2 surfing wetsuit and its great. It's not meant for me to swim an extended amount of time. Enough to keep the cold shock off and give me time to remount just in case.

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2 months 4 days ago #29303 by Atlas
I've never used a drysuit but I can see they have their place.
The winter air temperature where I paddle (Melbourne, Australia) rarely gets down to freezing and I don't think the water temp gets much below 10° C. No need for a drysuit here. For winter paddling I had a long-john wetsuit made for me with 5mm legs and 3mm over the torso. I also wear a Vaikobi Vcold top and a sea kayaking cag if its really cold and / or windy. The reason I had the legs made with 5mm neoprene is that I wanted floatation down as low as possible so as to help me remount. Once your torso is out of the water the PFD is contributing nothing to getting you back on your boat. Not that I would ever paddle without it. The 5mm neoprene also helps to effectively pad out the cockpit a little since I don't have nearly as fat an arse as ski designers think all intermediate paddlers have.

Fenn Swordfish S, Fenn XT, Fenn Bluefin, Fenn XT double

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