Wednesday, January 9, 2013


A little post on gear. If you go paddling in the winter (whatever winter means to you) and you look around, you'll see that at least 90% of the serious, dedicated paddlers are wearing drysuits. Why is that? Because drysuits work. They keep you dry, but more importantly they keep you warm. That's important.

It's not really about comfort - though drysuits are quite comfortable once you get used to the gasket. It's about safety. When paddling in cold weather you need to be able to handle it. You need to be able to handle it when things go sideways and you're out of your boat for longer than you hoped. When you're in the water, floating away. When you're helping your buddy who's bad shoulder has gone out again. That's when you need to be warm and functioning.

Drysuits are not the only way to insulate yourself, but there's a reason you see so many of them. They work. Well. They allow you to vary the layers of insulation. The breathable ones allow you to use them when the air is warm-ish and the water cold-ish. They're really nice. They're also expensive.

While there is a range in price of drysuits, breathable ones will cost hundreds of dollars. I highly recommend getting a Gore-tex suit - it breathes the best and comes with a lifetime warranty. Those cost around a grand. That's more than some boats. But it will last longer, it will make you enjoy your paddling more, it will extend your paddling season. It's worth it, and everyone I know who has ever made the purchase has told me the same.

Why is this topic on my mind? I have been without my drysuit for a couple of months now. I had one, but the Gore-tex delaminated (it happens). The nice thing is that it was a Kokatat suit and they always stand behind their equipment. I got a free replacement - a brand new suit. But my size was out of stock because of the holidays so I had to wait until the suit could be built and mailed out to me. In the meantime I've been using some old bibs, my wetsuit, extra layers of fleece, whatever I can hobble together. I've been paddling, but not as comfortably. It's been a little cold and a little wet. My drysuit is back, so bring on the winter.

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