Rock Gardening clothing

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by JKA, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. JKA

    JKA Paddler

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2016
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
    Hi Folks,

    For those who like rock gardening, a quick question about your choice of clothing.

    What do you wear on your upper body?

    I usually wear my normal paddling gear, which in summer here is a paddle jacket over polypro. I don't wear a drysuit except in winter as the water is generally too warm.

    I'm reconsidering that choice, given the fragility of the clothing - not to mention my body - and am thinking about wearing a wetsuit for added protection. I currently have a farmer-john, and would need to buy a long-sleeved top, but don't want to if it won't get much use.

    I had a discussion with the late Eric Soares about the Tsunami Rangers' evolution of protective gear, and it seemed that as their skill improved the level of protection decreased. That is perhaps a normal process, but I'm still at the "school of hard knocks" level when it comes to ocean white water.

    Thoughts?

    Cheers

    John
     
  2. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    501
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    The Tsunami rangers wore motocross style protective gear on top of their wet suits. They seem to be a bit on the extreme, and you don't see this too much now.

    For the majority of people, helmet and maybe gloves (to protect hands, should you need to push of rocks by hand) seem to be the extent of added gear they would wear for rock play, on top of whatever a person would wear for water temperature and other conditions.

    There is a concern with dry suits or dry tops that they will get ripped by a barnacle, muscle, or other sharp edge. Those worried about this wear a wet suit instead of dry suit (or wet suit under dry top). The wet suit also does provide some injury protection for the paddler, being a first skin to take damage should you scrape up against sharp stuff.

    The reality is that ripping of dry suits or dry tops seems rather rare. In my years of paddling rocks, I can't recall a time that it happened. Probably did happen once or twice to people I was with, but wasn't a rip bad enough to really cause issues for the paddler. Much more likely someone will rip their gasket donning or removing suit than rip the suit itself when paddling.
     
  3. JKA

    JKA Paddler

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2016
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
    Thanks Peter,

    It was tearing my drysuit/paddling jacket that was my main concern.

    Your experience suggests that this is unlikely, or not catastrophic, so that's a great data point.

    Cheers

    John
     
  4. Jasper

    Jasper Paddler

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2017
    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Portland, OR, US
    I read this thread a few weeks ago, and concurred it wasn't an issue. Then last week I messed up my roll during a surf session at Pacific City, Oregon and found myself being pulled by a lateral current into the rip and several exposed and submerged rocks. Hard as I tried, I could not swim out of the rip. A wetsuit might have been streamlined enough to allow this.

    Somewhere along tumbling through the rocks in 5-6' breakers I must have punctured the right leg of my drysuit. My fleece kept me relatively warm and my torso stayed dry. I was not in imediate risk of hypothermia. A buddy came in and tried to pull me out, only to capsize as well.

    We noticed my boat had drifted into a protected little beach in between the rocks, we swam for it and got out.

    As far as the clothing choices for rock gardening goes, I am happy to report that a pierced drysuit does not necessarily loose all of its insulation. However I will not consider it a non issue anymore and have since purchased a wetsuit to add to my options.

    For completeness sake: we left our safety gear (bilgepump paddle float, etc) in the car because "they are useless in the surf" and "the beach is right there". This made drifting out with the rip and re-entering past the impact zone not an option. Not a mistake I will make again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
    Astoriadave likes this.
  5. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Messages:
    993
    Location:
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    I have been known to wear a drysuit over a wetsuit, in very cold weather when I was worried about possibly capsizing. It definitely makes you feel like the Sta-Puf marshmallow man, but it's serious protection. :)
     
    Astoriadave likes this.