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post #11 of 22 Old 03-06-2013
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

For a wet suit to properly protect one against heat loss, which is the point of wearing one, it has to fit very tightly to limit the amount of water that lies between your skin and the suit. Your body will warm a small amount, but too much will become a heat sink. Therefore, they are both uncomfortable to move in and difficult to don. They are, therefore, impractical for wearing continuously or for donning quickly.

There are many different types of dry suits. Some intended for surfing, as Chef points out. Others for diving, with the ability to add and extract air from within, to compensate for the pressure of depth. Diving suits often require the user to wear insulation beneath them. Some are made from crushed neoprene, providing some warmth. These are all very expensive and unnecessary for use as a survival suit.

If I were going to wear a dry suit in anticipation of ditching, I would want an aviators anti-exposure suit. More flexibility, but still restrictive, and they typically have relief zippers for using the head.

However, I don't think the odds are good enough that one would always anticipate the need to have these on in advance. Therefore, getting in quickly is the relative advantage of a gumby suit. Although, you should give it a try sometime, it still isn't simple.
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post #12 of 22 Old 03-06-2013
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

My shorty scuba diving wetsuit will be the first thing that I put on if I have to abandon!
I sail in the tropics so warmth is not as important as high latitudes... But movement is.

Steve Calaghan in Survive said he was so badly bumped around in the liferaft and had so many bruises and cuts that wouldn't heal. A wetsuit would protect from those sort of injuries.

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post #13 of 22 Old 03-06-2013
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

We carry "Gumby" suits for the need to "abandon ship". Practicing with them is almost fun. The grandchildren sure enjoy watching. We also have Mustang suits with harness that we can sail in if conditions require that kind of protection. The Mustang suits are warm and float. With their built in harness they provide a lot of security and comfort in rough conditions. Collars and cuffs will keep water out but if I were expecting to be bobbing around in the north Atlantic I would rather be in the "Gumby". Having the other things you would need for survival in pockets or attached to either suit is almost as important as having the correct suit.

We do not carry a a life raft when cruising within 75 miles of shore. Survival times should allow rescue in either of the suits. Having a radio, a PLB of some sort along and flares are essential, too (all waterproof and floating)! When we paddle in the open ocean both paddlers are equipped with them and we are wearing farmer john wet suits. Those exploits never get very far from shore. The canoe is equipped with floatation and we practice self rescue in that, too.

I can imagine hurrying to put on a wet suit in difficult conditions. NOT! The "Gumby" is the way to go if you are ditching.

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post #14 of 22 Old 03-06-2013
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

Yep. The really big advantage that the gumby suits have over the others is the ability to get into them quickly and easily in a panic situation.
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post #15 of 22 Old 03-06-2013
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

We also carry the gumby suits for emergencies. They are the only thing that you are going to have a chance of getting into in a hurry. Getting into my 7mm one piece wetsuit is almost a two person job even when warm, dry and on a stable platform (if I lost some weight it might be a little easier, but you get the drift). You can quite often find the gumby suits on craigslist for around $100-150 in very good condition (most are never used, just practice on/off). They take up a bit of space but are flexible so they conform to weird compartments.

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post #16 of 22 Old 03-06-2013
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

I participated in a survival course that included jumping off a boat and swimming ashore and spending the night on an island in the southern Puget Sound. That made me a believer in the gumby suits. Also, as previously mentioned I was surprised to learn that a wet wetsuit hindered me keeping warm when out of the water. We did two night dives in Hawaii a few years back. I was a little chilled after the second dive and kept my suit on during the ride back to the harbor. I kept getting more chilled and the dive master recommended taking the wet suit off. I did and it was instant relief from the chill of the wet wetsuit.

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post #17 of 22 Old 11-08-2015
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

As a sailor and a diver, I considered using diving suit as an emergency option in case (like abandoning the vessel to the liferaft). There were three of us divers on a board of a sailing boat in a trip to the icy Svalbard. 1stmate had super-duper dry suit with frontal entrance and integrated hood. Mine (skipper) dry suit was of a back-entrance unfortunatelly, which means you need a third person to done your zip, difficult in escape scenario. 2nd mate had diving wet suit as I remember (or dry neoprene suit). Actually these suits helped us a lot when taxing on a local base RIB to diving locations, as the locals are ribbing only with full HH drysuits on. We did not put our diving suits when on on-board small dinghy, but there were only short distance trips to the shore or to visit that seal next to you ;-)
There are 3 types of diving drysuits: neoprene, crashed neoprene and trilaminate. Neoprene is the warmest one, but bulky for storage and travel. Trilaminate needs sound thermal base/midlayers in cold water, crash is said to combine advantages of the two former.
If I go to the Southern Ocean one day, hoping to dive in Patagonia, Terra del Fuego, Antractica, I would exchange my back-entrance diving drysuit for that trip with the front-entrance one to keep it as an emergency suit to be able to done on my own, just in case.
Diving suit does not have an oral inflator, at least I don't know any. Reflective tape strips can be easily glued I believe.

There was a pair of Swedish windsurfers rescued in Baltic Sea by Polish yacht 'Polonia", I guess the sea temperature was 13-15C, two boys survived whole night in their windsurfers' wetsuits, tried to be on top of the buddied boards.
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Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
I think you need to look at terminology a bit, dry suits are made to be worn with under clothes and they provide the warmth, the "dry suit" provides the barrier to the water, thus keeping you dry. Wet suits are the neoprene ones in 2-10mm thickness that count on the body and the neoprene to keep the water between the two "warm". Even the good ones will only keep you "relatively" warm. 7mm wet in 55-75 degree water will become quite cold in a matter of hours, and you will perish if not removed from the water in due time. Some folks will pump hot water in to the space between the skin and the wet suit (ala bering sea gold style)

a good dry suit with correct clothes under will keep you dry and warm, thus alive - MUCH longer than a wet suit. I have done full days of diving with a dry suit and never gotten cold. And only my head wet. Or suffered chills and such after a long day diving. Pee breaks can be a challenge or using the P-valve, especially for the female amongst us.

And when used correctly, dry suits can allow pretty good movement and activity. Gumby suits are for survival use only, very restricted movement, walking and such is nigh impossible for any length of time. However, IF you can get in it before you hit the water, you can gain several hours survival.

Getting in on dry pavement is a chore. Getting in, panicked, tossing deck, water or wet clothes, could take 10 minutes or so.

Last edited by Jac; 11-08-2015 at 09:33 AM.
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post #18 of 22 Old 11-08-2015
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

a. We are comparing dive-style dry suits with sailing style dry suits. Not apples to apples at all.

b. While Goretex doesn't make any much difference to surfers and divers, for a deck suit it makes a huge difference. Many kayakers wear Goretex dry suits in the winter while under heavy exersion. Racers wear dry suits. I've worn one as foul weather gear many times. No trickle of water down the neck. However, this only makes sense below ~ 55F, depending on the amount of spray. Above that foul weather gear is better.

c. Bright colors and SOLAS tape are available on some models.

d. Some deck suits offer supplemental ventilation (they can be worn with the neck seal off) with a built-in jacket over.

e. 10 minutes to put on? I don't think it takes much over 2 minutes (the CG requirement). I'll have to time it next time. And there is no reason to be doing this wet, in a rush. You should be wearing it if conditions are like that. Will you have 2 minutes to find and put on your gumby suit with the keel falls off or the boat is rolled? No.



(this has a hood, I'm just not wearing it)


Certainly there are differences, compared to a conventional immersion suit. One is that you will actually be wearing it when you go over.

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I'm going to be writing an article comparing dry suits and immersion suits to the CG standard this winter. Any one in the Annapolis area want to play in cold water in January? Or just bring your immersion suit and watch someone else test it while you recline in a heated cabin? PM
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

pdq-
You might want to take a long look at materials and longevity. Diving suits tend to come in three types, none of them GoreTex.(G)
The least expensive are calendared nylon, i.e. cordura cloth with a waterproof plastic layer hot-rolled onto one side, sometimes with a third protective layer over that. In five or ten years, used or not, the waterproof layer delaminates and you start leaking. Not what you want for a survival suit.
Then there's "neoprene" aka "foamed neoprene" like a typical wetsuit. With glued and stitched seams, it is much more durable. Except, if the neoprene has been foamed with chemicals, it tends to contract and shrink as it ages. In five years a Large can become a Medium. The better stuff is nitrogen-blown, the bubbles are formed by expanding nitrogen gas as the neoprene cures, and that stuff is stable. And about twice the price.
And then there's "crushed neoprene", just as durable but less buoyant, which is not something you'd want in a float suit. Or plain solid rubber, like Viking brand dry suits, also not something you'd want (no insulation, great durability, easy repairs) in a float suit.

For a gumbie suit? Nothing will compare to a good nitrogen-blown neoprene suit. The materials simply are all different, horses for courses. For a kayaker, GoreTex is great. For a diver, worse than useless.

I'd suggest there's really very little to compare, aside from brand quality choices, of the appropriate material.
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post #20 of 22 Old 11-08-2015
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Re: Gumby suit vs. Wet or dry Suit

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
pdq-
You might want to take a long look at materials and longevity. Diving suits tend to come in three types, none of them GoreTex.(G)
The least expensive are calendared nylon, i.e. cordura cloth with a waterproof plastic layer hot-rolled onto one side, sometimes with a third protective layer over that. In five or ten years, used or not, the waterproof layer delaminates and you start leaking. Not what you want for a survival suit.
Then there's "neoprene" aka "foamed neoprene" like a typical wetsuit. With glued and stitched seams, it is much more durable. Except, if the neoprene has been foamed with chemicals, it tends to contract and shrink as it ages. In five years a Large can become a Medium. The better stuff is nitrogen-blown, the bubbles are formed by expanding nitrogen gas as the neoprene cures, and that stuff is stable. And about twice the price.
And then there's "crushed neoprene", just as durable but less buoyant, which is not something you'd want in a float suit. Or plain solid rubber, like Viking brand dry suits, also not something you'd want (no insulation, great durability, easy repairs) in a float suit.

For a gumbie suit? Nothing will compare to a good nitrogen-blown neoprene suit. The materials simply are all different, horses for courses. For a kayaker, GoreTex is great. For a diver, worse than useless.

I'd suggest there's really very little to compare, aside from brand quality choices, of the appropriate material.
Good points.

1. Yup, GoreTex has lifetime durability limits, thought they have come far from the early products. I have not had 3-layer GoreTex fall apart in well over a decade, so I'm not sure whether that concern is still valid. I would also counter by stating that used on a regular basis sailing and kayaking, 10 years is an eternity and you got your moneys' worth. On the other hand, the Gumby suit will never be used. Replacing the drysuit, well used, after a decade is a far better value.

2. GoreTex for dive suits is rather silly. Agreed.

3. Foamed neoprene is durable--I have some ancient wet suits that are fully functional--but as a deck suit material it is useless.

4. The "no comparison" statement is simply bold, unless it applies only to dive-type dry suits. Dry Suits and Immersion suits are obviously related, and some have evolved to be virtually identical, since there are jobs that require survival protection you can work in.

There are 3 core questions:
1. Is a dry suit practical as cold weather deck wear? Many professional sailors feel the answer is yes.
2. Given the budget choice between dry suits and gumby suit, which makes more sense? Gumby suits are a little cheaper, but a drysuit is far more likely to save your life (MOB seems much more likely than sinking, though I have no measure of how much more likely). You can, of course, take both.
3. How do dry suits compare, according to the CG criteria? Some things will be failures (1 size fits all, durability in diesel), some will be passes (water exclusion, mobility), some will be conditional pass (wear a PFD, shoes, gloves, hood), and some would be interesting to see (righting, buoyancy, warmth--I'm just not sure, not having worn a gumby suit).

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