It's getting cold, what should I wear?

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It's getting cold, what should I wear?

Post by MrJack » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:27 pm

Total newbie question, but it's getting cold even here in GA. What do you recommend wearing while paddling an OC in cool weather/water this fall.

I am thinking the NRS farmer Johns. (3mm). They fit like overalls though, what should I wear on top?

What about for my feet? I'd like something that I could wear year round on my feet. I currently wear vibram 5 fingers but am definitely open to another option.


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Post by jscottl67 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:49 pm

I would look into a dry suit if you can swing it (with the booties built in and a relief zipper). A shorty wetsuit is an intermediate weather option, and you can wear it under the dry suit when it's even colder to add a little bit of insulation too.

Wetsuits work when you're wet, but not at that first bit of swim....takes a minute or so to warm up and then you're wet for a while. Drysuit you stay dry. If the water is cold, then you might get a chill while you're in the water, but when you're out you're warm again. And you can layer under it to eliminate that chill ;)

NRS has some river shoes (neoprene with rubber soles) that would work well with either.

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Post by Rand C1 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:17 pm

Over dress, Dress to swim, you can always take off and stow.
If you don't paddle cold weather you don't paddle much.

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It depends

Post by Bill M » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:00 pm

If you can afford it a drysuit as above is BEST. A farmer John with a polypro and fleece top under a spray jacket and booties works for a lot less $. It used to be state of the art and a lot of us used them.

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Post by milkman » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:04 pm

Buy a drysuit. You'll never be sorry--particularly when you go for a long swim on a cold day.

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cold weather

Post by Acosi151 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:58 pm

we've officially hit "ice cream headache" weather here in NB. I know this for sure from what is now day 3 of a digital camera rescue mission.. I dropped my buddy's camera :cry: and we've been swimming for an hour or so every day after work to find it.

For prolonged swimming I'm wearing the drysuit. You can get them quite cheap off ebay if you don't get hung up on paddling brand names. I've got an O'Neil boost that i'm very happy with and only have $120 invested.

for paddling (lots of paddling.. good body heat generation) i'm still running a farmer john, neoprene socks, a walmart knock-off underarmour and a splash top. If I start feeling cold I've got a neoprene tuque in the pocket of my pfd.

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thirds on the drysuit

Post by mattm » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:01 pm

definitely drysuit. I don't need a pee zip, just drop your shoulders and your good to go, at least in my and my sons old and new NRS'.

Up here in Ct. it turned into shorts and t-shirt paddling...under a drysuit. Pretty soon it'll be fleece or poly under the Triton. Winter is far and away my favorite paddling season, though I don't go much below 28 degrees anymore, unless it's a particularly fun run come up to snuff..
Beauty of a drysuit besides the obvious is, you can paddle, swim whatever, then step out and go to church. 8)

I wear mukluks for OC, and water sandals for C. Nice wool socks underneath the suit. I use NRS reactors and my kid wears the NRS mittens.
so glad for Krylon, ABS and acetone.Squirt, sail, paddle and pole.

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Post by ian123 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:19 pm

I did the farmer john, polypro, dry top combo. It was cheaper and I thought it would be more versatile than a dry suit. It's warm(ish) and you get a cold trickle rather than a cold rush whenever you re upside down. So I guess it works. That being said, I just bought a drysuit and I ll probably never wear the wetsuit again. It would probably have been better to put the wetsuit money towards a drysuit in the first place.

Related question:
Gloves, mitts or pogies?
Beanies, skull caps or full hoods??

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Post by Larry Horne » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:35 am

wet suits work ok if you only paddle one day at a time.
I remember a few rough sunday mornings ..paddle all day saturday in the rain, camp in the rain, then put on that wet/frozen wetsuit the next morning. brrrrr!

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Drysuit 1rst / boat 2nd

Post by Einar » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:09 am

Buy a really good drysuit as the first purchase, buy the canoe as second purchase. Seasons later you will still have the same drysuit but
you will have gone thru boats in a hurry with the good drysuit as you will have doubled your season and steepened your learning curve. You will also double up on your aggression in cold weather; kinda hard to make the tough moves in neoprene and cold weather.
I've paddled 10+ winters in a Kokatat Goretex. I expect to get more years out of it.

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Post by philcanoe » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:00 am

Being from Georgia, warm weather gear is a must. Sounds a little over the top doesn't it, but winter is going to become your favorite paddling season. It may not happen at first, but those days of long lines for a surfing wave, or floating that same dam control week in week out... are fixing to come to a close. Welcome to the wonderful world of southern whitewater boating. (fixing that's a southern term - used amongst southerns for maximum impact). The best water is in the colder months, the most reliable water is in the colder months, the bulk of your paddling friends will be there in the colder months, and there you will be too.

Having been around before the advent of paddling dry suits, a wet suit was the norm. And I still believe is an essential element in paddling. They work relatively well, and excel on cooler days; however a dry suit is sheer comfort. I'm not a ten year a suit wearer, and have completely gone through 2 of the much prized (and high vaulted) Kokatat suits, and am currently on my 5th dry suit. I will never be caught without one ever again, As once accustomed to one, their benefits will become an absolute requirement. Yet do not forget wet-suits, they will greatly increase a dry-suit's life, as they can be used throughout the southern paddling season. I recommend one with a two-way zipper, the kind that also zips bottom up, like a sleeping bag (very helpful when in need of relief). You won't even have to remove your PFD. They also excel at taking abuse, so bushwhacking which would kill a drysuit, has far little impact on a wet one - so much so - that this is my choice for exploratory type trips. Back to a drysuit - that relief zipper while costly, will double the life of your main zipper. Since it will decrease one zipper's use, by at least a factor of two. And for ease of operation - as most have found out, it's way mo - much mo - considerably easier to get to things during the extreme cold - when the zipper is close at hand. And as my Canadian friends have taught me, so I hope to impress upon you, quite frankly there is no substitute for booties in a dry suit.

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Post by Craig Smerda » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:14 pm

Like any of you Southern folk know what real cold weather/water paddling is about... heck... until the temps dip below freezing this is how I normally dress for paddling... this is GoreTex though.


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Post by Todhunter » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:40 pm

I initially balked at the price of a Kokatat Goretex dry suit....until I paddled in freezing weather in February 2010 in my 6 mil wetsuit. I bought a boat that day, and my wife wasn't too happy when I called her on the ride home and told her I was also about to spend the same amount of money on a dry suit. As others have said, it has by far been the best investment I have made in this sport. I would go for a goretex suit with relief zipper and booties, but if you can't swing that, get SOME kind of dry suit.

I layer merino wool, polypropylene, and fleece underneath the dry suit. I put a thin synthetic skull cap under my helmet (it will cover my ears), and use a pogie on my shaft hand. The t-grip hand goes bare, but since your core stays dry with a dry suit, you will be amazed at how fast your unprotected t-grip hand re-warms after getting wet - your core can dedicate energy to warming that distant extremity back up! I find the t-grip pogie too difficult to get into quickly.

I paddle with a 6 mil wetsuit in the fall or on really cold rivers in the summer. As Phil said, it is way more durable than the dry-suit for bushwhacking.

So to answer the original question:

For cool weather - get a wetsuit
For cold weather - get a drysuit, some pogies, and some wool and/or synthetic layers.

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Post by oopsiflipped » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:49 pm

yeah, drysuits are great, but depending on how old you are and how much you want to paddle, you'd be amazed at what you can get by wearing for the first few winters. save your cash, get a wetsuit and whatever else you can afford and go from there. i made it through my first few winters boating in idaho in a wetsuit with what had at one point been a drytop and drypants, but by the time i got them, just trapped water in. we'd run a rapid, and then bail ourselves through the ankle gaskets.

best bang for your buck in winter gear is headware. get a neoprene skull cap from NRS or i'm sure lots of other places carry them. i usually wear, or at least carry in my pfd, the standard or sidecut, and i have the full hood for when it is really cold. makes a huge difference warmth and comfort,

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Post by sbroam » Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:24 pm

What Gabe said, mostly. I'm in SC and progressed through:

rain wear + polypro, neoprene booties
splash gear + polypro, booties, fleece beanie,nylon/fleece pogies
Dry top + semi-dry pants, fuzzy rubber beanie (tired of water running in my eyes), neoprene pogies (easier to put on)
Dry top + neoprene pants (tired of soggy polypro)
Semi-Dry top (tired of latex neck)+bibs (relief zipper!)

I paddled what I thought was cold water (Nolichucky, Chatooga in Jan, Feb - low 30s) in all but the first configuration and was comfy at that time. But, father time marches on and I see a drysuit w/booties in my future. Try the wet suit + splash top this year - maybe it will work for you. If not, it will still be handy. And dry suits are cheaper in the spring...

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