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Old 12-15-2008
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drysuit/environment suit tips?

Hi all,

I need to buy a dry suit for an upcoming kayak trip north of the Arctic Circle. As such, I was thinking something along the lines of what the drysuit tab at this place has on offer - Sea kayak lessons and kayaking instruction courses, dry suit and kayak sales and rentals, Greenland paddling strokes school

In order to help justify the cost, I am curious, are these the type of things that people have in mind for cruising sailors in the event of a sinking boat and heading for the life raft or is it a different kind of product? The reason I ask is it would be a lot simpler to justify the cash if I thought down the road it might be part of the gear inventory for sailing.

Regards and thanks for any opinions on the subject.
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Old 12-15-2008
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Yellowducky-

those should work fine provided you have a hood or hat to prevent heat loss from your head. A majority of heat loss is through the head.

A drysuit works pretty well for a coldwater survival suit for a sailboat, provided it is fit properly and the seals are maintained. Otherwise, its a really good way to drown.

You do need to wear insulating layers, like fleece under a drysuit in colder weather, since it has no real insulation value itself.

However, I'd highly recommend trying them on in person, since getting them to fit is a neat trick, and not really possible via internet or mail order.
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Whats the difference between a drysuit and a survival suit then?

Gee, never thought about that drown part - a rip/hole and its all over; makes a wetsuit seem almost potentially a tad more prudent. The water up there will be 2-3C mind you which is why I was thinking dry!

Hmmm, cold but not going to sink to the bottom or dry but could in worst case be sinking to bottom. Not a great decision set really!
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Survival suits are usually heavily insulated and often have built in flotation. The gloves, feet and hood are usually integrated into a survival suit.

Dry suits are not usually insulated, made of lighter material and have no built in flotation. The material for drysuits is generally pretty tough, but the seals--at the neck, wrists and sometimes feet, are made of latex or PVC and need to be cared for so that they'll seal tightly without constricting your breathing or circulation. Often, drysuits do not have gloves, hoods or socks.

This is a survival suit:



This is a drysuit:



Notice, no hood, gloves or socks..
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Last edited by sailingdog; 12-15-2008 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 12-15-2008
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Good explanation, Dog.

Y-Duck; where are you going above the circle? I spent most of this summer above the circle, so I'm curious.
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SD is correct in stating that dry suits do not have built in flotation. A dry suit that fits correctly traps a substantial amount of air within the suit causing it to be quite bouyant, which is clearly visible in the dry suit photo in your link of the man in water. When entering the water the air will fill the suit all around your arms, chest and neck. If it fits well there will not be a bunch of air escaping around your neck.

I spent quite a few hours over the course of two days in a dry suit in Alaska. As SD wisely suggested, wear fleece type clothing in layers under it. It will be damp inside the suit as soon as you do anything. Kayaking expends some energy and you will sweat inside your drysuit. That sweat will not dry until you take the suit off. Try not to over exert yourself early in the day. Fleece type wicking clothing will retain much of it's insulation value when wet and will dry quickly when given the chance. I find it nearly impossible to maintain a comfortable temperature in a drysuit. Always too hot or too cold. It is no treat trying to alter clothing layers or answering the call of Mother Nature. Plan accordingly and unless you are really twisted...skip the beans. It is very strange when removing your dry suit at the end of the day or even for a shore lunch to wonder "What is that awful smell?" and realize, the stench has been lingering for hours waiting to escape.

Have fun.
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Try these people they are in Washington State and specialize in cold water kayaking. NRS - Kayaking Gear, Rafting Supplies and Boating Equipment
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Ah, first, sorry, I probably should have stuck this thread in Gear but didn't see it (or brainfarted).

So, clearly a survival suit is not going to work very well as a kayaking suit - that guy in your pic sailingdog is likely going to have a hard time moving let alone paddling! Do people wear dry suits on boats while in inclement weather or different gear - like suspenders/overcoat type getup - generally speaking? I would think in bad weather, envisioning the worst case, you go over with suspenders and you have a quick trip to the bottom but if you go over in your dry suit you are in pretty good shape (all things considered).

Good tips on the dry suits though. Yea, beans will be an 'avoid'. Already have the layers prepared, polartec 100 and 200 as layering based on the temps.

Ajaribonten, I will be doing a tad over a week in northern Baffin Island. Should be very exciting.
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