Wet suit for flat water paddler

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6 years 9 months ago #24749 by kwolfe
I know this topic has been covered before accept that people are usually talking about paddling in the ocean.

I'm in central PA so I am not going to be near the ocean this fall/winter. The lakes I paddle are almost dead flat water with the exception of the larger lake that make get 1-1.5ft chop on a real windy day .

I would like to paddle into early December if possible. I paddle an Epic v8 which to date I have only fallen out of once (my fault for trying to tag the buoy - I know....stupid). I was really looking for something that would keep me warm long enough to remount the ski on the off chance I take a swim. Keep in mind, I plan to paddle near (50-100yds) of the lake bank. The wet suit would be more of a precaution.

I could look into a dry suit, but they are very expensive and might be overkill for my situation.

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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #24750 by MCImes
Since you're local, someone is offering a free drysuit in need of repair on Connyak: connyak.org/cgi-bin/Classified.pl

New gaskets are probably $120 and patching is probably around $60, so you could likely get a drysuit for <$200 which is in line with the cost of a wetsuit, and likely more comfortable for paddling.

Also Mythic sells drysuits at $250 for the base model. www.mythicdrysuits.com/
It doesnt have a lot of bells and whistles but if you only need to use it for a month or 2 in the fall it should be fine.

In general though, you should be ok with a wetsuit near shore assuming you are acceptably comfortable in it if you want to go that way

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by MCImes.

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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #24751 by Flowmaster
For flexibility , go for a surfing wetsuit, not windsurfing, personelly I think excel is perfect, the warmest most flexible suit I ever had.
As for drysuits, had a few, don't trust it anymore and there's a reason :(

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...................(__./......
JUST LEAVE FOOTPRINTS
Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by Flowmaster.

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6 years 9 months ago #24755 by merijnwijnen
I am of the opposite opinion. Years ago I invested in an expensive Kokatat drysuit, I took good care of it and it never failed on me. I very seldom use my wetsuit as it is so much less comfortable.

For your situation a wetsuit should be OK. I always went with the sleeveless variant. Make sure you have some at least windproof layer on top of it. Swimming or not, you will always get wet and a wet wetsuit cost you a lot off energy due to the evaporation. If you paddle at high intensities this is less of an issue.

And a last thing: don't think to light about swimming in cold water, even with a wetsuit on. Even a 100 yards is a long way, it is not like a swimming pool 100 yards.

It is a very sobering experience to done your winter gear and take a cold water swim of a couple of hundred yards or just sit in the water for 15 minutes. (make sure you do this safe).

Seakayak, flatwater racing and a surfski on order.
Looking for other ski paddlers in South East Netherlands (Maas / Waal)

Surfski: Nelo 560 on order :-)
K1:Kirton Tor
Sea kayak: NDK Explorer HV
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6 years 9 months ago #24756 by jonny250
i think the previous post is bang on about not underestimating the effect of cold water - 100m would be a big deal in cold water with the wrong gear. i have a drysuit and also a 3mm surf wetsuit to choose from, both used for various watersports. to cope with immersion in a drysuit i would need to use a fleece type underlayer or wooly bear of some sort - paddling hard in that will make you sweat lots... then when you stop you would get cold. in a wetsuit you might be too warm and will still sweat, but if you stop its not so bad. Thats my experience so far anyway, hence i prefer the 3mm surf wetsuit.
my wetsuit would be ML size but i use a L to allow a bit more flexibility. has done me ok through last winter on the sea. cold water inland - oooh maybe go for a 5mm... :)
i will be interested to see what others think as its a hard choice balancing paddling comfort with swimming safety and there are probably a few other ideas too...

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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #24757 by Flowmaster
Same for me, there very cold, very fast and water coming in makes it even more dangerous

...ooooO...................
...(.......)......Ooooo....
....\.....(.......(.......).....
.....\.__)........)...../.....
...................(__./......
JUST LEAVE FOOTPRINTS
Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by Flowmaster.

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6 years 9 months ago #24758 by zachhandler
I think you will get a lot of answers here. Depends on how much risk you are comfortable with and how stable you are, how bomber your remount is.

Have you swam in ice water? Worth doing in a safe setting to gain healthy respect for it.

I have a lot of experience in cold water in MN. A few thoughts:

Modern surf wetsuits are cheap and awesome. Very flexible. If you are in the middle of a lake with 18" chop you want 2-3mm minimum unless you are very unlikely to tip and great at remounts.

If you are paddling close to shore, say 100 feet or less, you can dress lighter. Many canoe racers just wear normal workout clothes, carry a dry bag with dry clothes, and assume they will swim to shore or be helped by other canoe racers.

If you are alone then having some wetsuit is safer. I use 0.5 mm hydroskins in that setting. It is thin, but goes a long way towards preventing the cold shock you are susceptible to with sudden immersionin ice water. If you get cold shock you cant swim.

Obviously a pfd is 100% mandatory in ice water, even if you are michael phelps. It keeps you afloat for the 30-60 seconds in which you are disabled by cold shock, should it strike.

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
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6 years 9 months ago #24759 by merijnwijnen
Stuff that I personally do not have experience with (except their excellent sprayskirts) is made by chillcheater in the UK. I know it is highly regarded by many, and more comfortable than most wetsuits.
Might be interesting to look into.

Seakayak, flatwater racing and a surfski on order.
Looking for other ski paddlers in South East Netherlands (Maas / Waal)

Surfski: Nelo 560 on order :-)
K1:Kirton Tor
Sea kayak: NDK Explorer HV

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6 years 9 months ago #24761 by gallagherwilson
I paddle in similar waters (Lake Union in Seattle) average water temp is mid-low 40's over winter months. I picked up this (www.amazon.com/NRS-3-0-Farmer-John-Wetsuit/dp/B007JVY2ZC) and used it all winter last year while training. It was a little on the light side when in 40 degree air temp, but did keep me warm long enough for a safe remount and 1 mile paddle back to dock on multiple occasions. This winter I'll probably be adding a 2mm jacket over the top for comfort, but I was fine with just the sleeveless.

Current boat: Epic V12 Ultra lay-up
Old boat: Think Evo II

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6 years 9 months ago #24762 by kwolfe
Sounds to me like there are a lot of options out there. I've swam in water down to about 42F. Mind you, it was in my pool last Spring however I was only in shorts. Swam the length of the pool (45ft) 3 times then got out. I could have done another couple of laps but I was just doing it to see what it was like. It did induce a fairly sudden headache. I'm not saying that this would be the same as a lake, however attached is a pic of one of the lakes I paddle (don't mind the paddle board in the pic, I know this is a surfski forum :unsure: ). The water is as flat as pool water.




I have an inflatable PFD (that I haven't actually worn yet) however for cold temps I plan on getting a vest for added safety. I also plan on staying close to shore. I can remount the ski fairly quickly given that I'm not dealing with any surf or chop. I guess I'm really looking for something to buy me enough time for a remount or short swim although I can't really see my self swimming for any reason.

Also, I would like to try and paddle into earlier December and probably start back up in mid March or so realizing that once the ice hits, I won't be paddling.
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6 years 9 months ago #24763 by red_pepper
I use a dry suit with a Smart Wool base layer. It does a good job of keeping me warm, and is reasonably comfortable (neck gaskets take a bit of getting used to). After I'm done paddling I may get a bit chilly from the sweat condensing, but no problems while paddling. When I tested the dry suit in the water I was surprised to find it holds air quite well (I felt like the Marshmallow Man bobbing on the water), giving me sort of an additional flotation device. Since I'll paddle as long as the waterways are open (I'm in Indiana) and I'm usually by myself, I like the additional security of the dry suit.

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6 years 9 months ago #24764 by Newbflat
I use an O'neall hyperfreek 3/2 for paddling unless it's near or below freezing, then I use a kokatat dry suit. Even a light wool top and bottom in the dry suit are too hot while paddling in anything over freezing temps. It has little immersion insulation value with so little on under it. The new generation neoprene is super stretchy and I find my 3/2 full suit nice to paddle in as it's super stretchy. It's also an easer for me remount in the wetsuit as your not bringing all those folds of fabric out of the water with you. I also swim much faster in a wetsuit... No comparison there. A high quality good fitting single suit is also much much warmer that using two pieces like farmer Johnson and a neoprene top and more flexible as well. I can spend 10 min in the water in my suit and my chest and back are still dry. Tip.... If you get a full wetsuit, don't get one with skin side out on the torso. It sticks to your PFD and binds. Plus one with fabric on the outside helps you cool down if it's a little too warm out for the suit. If it's a bit chilly for the wet fabric on the suit, throw on a paddle jacket. With fabric on th torso it has a wider temp range with a paddle jacket as part of you clothing options.

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #24767 by Fath2o
Newbflat, I think you have summed my thoughts up pretty well. Although, I have only paddled in a cold alpine lake once. I have found a one piece suit to be very restrictive around the neck and i would prefer a two piece option as you have mentioned with a farmer john and neoprene top underneath. Being a long time surfer I have 3mm and 4mm
pants that I simply created by cutting an old full (one piece) surf suit in two.
It definitely can be a dilemma trying to decide on the appropriate balance of surfski attire for the conditions and comfort when the water is cold and there's a possibility of long term immersion. Especially when your by your self miles offshore in 50*F water and near gale force conditions.
Oops! I guess I initially misread that and find a one piece suit to be less flexible than a two piece suit when paddling. But yeah, the two piece suit doesn't keep water out as well. One other thing. I have owned dozens of surf wetsuits over the years and each manufactures suits fit differently for different body types. O'Neil's do not fit me well, my shoulders are too wide. I have found quicksilver to fit my body type best.
Good luck!
Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by Fath2o.

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6 years 9 months ago #24771 by sAsLEX
Another thing to consider is Cold Water Habituation - repeated dunking in cold water in a controlled environment drastically reduces the physiological response/shock when it happens on accident. Makes interesting reading and viewing.

I paddled in winter (UK) in a paddling jacket, polyprops and merino bib pants thing. Though I could stand in most places on the canal and was only feet away from the edge at most. Took a few swims but managed to get back on the water and paddling to warm up pretty quickly.

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