Need help selecting cold weather gear

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by MCS, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. MCS

    MCS New Member

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    Hi. Brand new here. Your forums were suggested by a friend of mine. I know its best for "newbys" to research the forums first, but I haven't quite seen what I'm looking for. I am trying to figure out the most versatile cold weather clothing that will serve several purposes. I have a 22' C-Dory (cabin cruiser) along with a Hobie i11 Mirage drive inflatable Kayak, and a Sea Eagle Explorer 300x inflatable Kayak. I am planning a trip to SE Alaska's Inside Passage, and also like to extend our seasons here in the Midwest. My Kayaking consists of protected waters, mostly to get back and forth to shore from our anchored boat, or to enjoy some exercise, nature and wildlife in protected bays and streams. What I'm looking for is some kind of outer wear clothing that would keep me dry and protected in case of short term immersion in cold water, but that could also be easily worn or stripped off for short hikes. So in short, I don't think a wetsuit would meet my desires, and am probably leaning more towards a dry suit. However, I've come across a combination Fabric Wader and Dry Top from NRS that I think might fit the bill. And wondering if any of you have experience with something like this or suggestions? Specifically these two items from NRS:
    https://www.nrs.com/product/22520.02/nrs-freefall-dry-pants
    https://www.nrs.com/product/23153.02/level-six-duke-drytop

    I'm 6' and average weight of 230 lbs. Sizing suggestions are helpful as well. Thanks for any input.
     
  2. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Others will have more "wet gear" experience/advice than me. So I want to remind you that having dry clothes to put on is very important; don't forget the comfort clothes too. Like maybe a set in a dry bag that only comes out after an unexpected immersion.

    Also, if you have never worn a drysuit, know that depending upon the zipper placement, and your flexibility, you may have a challenge putting it on and taking it off by yourself - at least in the beginning. I still recall when the NRS drysuit arrived at work (didn't want the package to sit on my front porch). and I tired it on during lunch. That's when I discovered I might not get it off. I was shaking around like Houdini trying to get out of a straightjacket. For a while, I thought I'd have to spend the rest of the workday behind a closed office door dressed in bright yellow. But I relaxed and slowly was able to move the zipper down and finally worked my way out.

    So if you are going to do your trip alone. Don't just buy new gear and take off. Get it early and spend enough time in it so getting in/out of it is all muscle memory.

    One last note - if you haven't bought clothing from NRS before - I've found their sizes run small and I have to order a size larger than for anything else I wear. On the plus size, they are pretty good with returns (or ordering two sizes and keeping the one that fits best).
     
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  3. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

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    I haven"t used the specific items you selected, but in general mating dry pants and dry top could work, but the gap between the two will only be waterproof if you seal it properly. If the waist tunnel is only pulled up into the tunnel area of the dry top, it won't be waterproof in a swim. Probably won't let a a lot of water in, but it would let some.

    Some of the 2 piece (pants and top) systems are made where you roll at the connection. These are more waterproof, but also a bit more involved to put on.

    If you do go the 2 piece system, I would always wear clothing under which would still keep you warm should you take that swim. Fleece, wool, polypro or the like are all good. Especially do not wear cotton. And once you go this direction of having good "even when wet" thermal protection base layers on, you maybe could save yourself some money (though the Level 6 jacket you picked looks pretty inexpensive, so perhaps you won't save in this case) and go for a more comfortable neck of neoprene instead of latex.
     
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  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    You've gotten some excellent advice.
    A couple of thoughts:
    One thing that seems to be typical with dry pants (unlike all drysuits I've seen) is that they don't have a 'relief' a.k.a. 'pee' zipper. With the high-waisted dry pants that are designed to go under a drytop tunnel (or roll-seal with a drytop), it could be quite inconvenient. The drypants will be under your PFD as well, if they are the high-waist style. I sold my Kokatat dry pants for that reason, and replaced them with a pair of LevelSix pants that just come waist-high. But, those drypants aren't for swimming, just to keep dry when launching and paddling. For the cost of good drypants and drytop, you are getting into the price range of a drysuit on sale. A farmer john wetsuit and a splash top might be a cheaper alternative.
    Also, have you practiced capsize and re-entry into your inflatables?
    Will you be paddling solo?
     
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  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Those two items both have two tunnels, perhaps not easy to see when you hit the link. I use a double tunnel drytop mated to my sprayskirt, but with a Farmer John underneath. I imagine MCS plans to mate the double tunnel garments about his waist, hoping to form a "dry" closure, perhaps with a sprayskirt over both.

    I have no experience mating double tunnels. Will this be drier than a double tunnel top mating with a simple dry pant, such as John Ambercrombie uses?
     
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  6. dut

    dut Paddler

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    I use the Kokatat paddle jacket and pants system. It is similar to the one you are proposing except it uses a velcro closure at the neck. I think the one you are proposing has a latex gasket.

    The Kokatat system is based on rolling (folding) the jacket flange (is that what it is called? over the pants flange. This looks to me like it will work if it is carefully rolled. I use a neoprene spray skirt and I make sure that the spray skirt tunnel further holds the rolled flanges together. You can search for a video on how to do this on You Tube. Search "Kokatat Whirlpool Bib Demo".

    I like this system it is very comfortable. I think NRS says the neoprene belt will keep the water out, personally I wouldn't wear the pants alone on the water, since there is no seal the potential to fill with water exists.

    I have never capsized or otherwise jumped in the water to test. I know, I know I must get around to testing it. If I'm training I use a dry suit.

    Incidently my Kokatat dry pants have a relief zipper. I spent three or four days in camp wearing this top and bottom combination. It was miserable on the west coast and I was warm and dry.

    Good Luck
    Barry
     
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  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    My bad. Rechecked the pants. Single tunnel. Not a double tunnel.
     
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  9. MCS

    MCS New Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far. A little more background. I'm about as inexperienced as you can get. I share this, as many of the terms I'm hearing are new to me, and I usually go research them to see exactly what is being talked about. (Gaskets, spray skirts, etc.) My Kayaking experience is pretty basic and simplistic. I.E. Very protected waters, and just starting out. Past experience included renting a tandem at Nicolet Bay in Fish Creek Wisconsin (in well protected small channel area of Lake Michigan's Green Bay), that my wife and I managed to overturn (summer time, thank you), and a solo Challenger II (I believe) we bought off of Amazon and used a few times. Neither felt very stable. However, I think the inflatables Hobie Mirage i11 and Sea Eagle Explorer 300x we have now are much higher quality crafts and quite a bit more stable than those in our past. I have not practiced any rollovers or reentries with our new inflatable Kayaks (other than entering and exiting them from the boat and/or shore), but remember it was a bit of a bitch getting my wife and I back on the tandem in the middle of the bay. I am slowly learning about all this various wear, and so far the waist high fabric waders or dry pants combined with dry tops, or some Mustang tops and bottoms I'm hearing about in another forum, seem to interest me the most for my use. And the idea of easy access to biological relief is appeasing as well. I appreciate hearing about the rather difficult solo egress from a dry suit, as I do a lot of solo trips on my boat. As I read more and more, it sounds like the separate pants/top combo is more to my liking, so looking now for how to make such combination as dry as possible in case of accidental immersion. No doubt I need to find a shop that carries all this stuff to get into and try the various things out. But haven't found one in my neighborhood, thus why I'm looking for so much info on the forums.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  10. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Good luck on finding a well-stocked shop.
    My advice: Find a place with excellent return policies and order lots and return the unused unsuitable items.
    In Canada, Level Six provides a prepaid mailing label with every order - just repack unused and unwanted items, slap on the label and drop the package in a mailbox.
     
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  11. dut

    dut Paddler

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    MCS, I am of similar dimensions to you and I started off with a one piece dry suit. We like to complain about them but getting in and out is not a big deal. But get one that fits. I wear a Kokatat XL, it is comfortable and manageable to get in and out of. What little hair I have is very short I can't say what it would be like if you actually have hair, but plenty of women are managing too. If I am going to be in the water practicing then I definitely wear the dry suit.
    I only have the two piece system because I collected the pieces over the years not because of any dislike for the dry suit.
     
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  12. MCS

    MCS New Member

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    "What little hair I have is very short I can't say what it would be like if you actually have hair," Okay, I'll come out and say it. I'm a bit rotund and bald. lol John I'll have to check out Level Six as I've heard it mentioned by a few folks. And perhaps my American dollar will go a little bit farther. ;-)
     
  13. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I don't know if Level Six ship to their US customers from a US location - quite a few Canadian companies do that.
    It would be a good idea to phone/email Level Six in Ottawa to get clarification on how cross-border returns are handled, if you may be ordering different sizes for 'trying on'.
    BTW, the LevelSix sizing/patterns are different than Kokatat's, and I think (not confirmed with LevelSix) that the patterns/model sizes are different for the new Fjord drysuit than for my older Triton drysuit. So, some experimenting may be needed.
    Another Canadian company to check out is Ocean Rodeo:
    https://oceanrodeo.com/drywear/
    Something like this might suit you:
    https://oceanrodeo.com/drywear/sporting-drysuits/heat/?b=90860
    And they have a good range of sizes available also.
    A friend has one of their drysuits and uses it for paddling, and likes it a lot.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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