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Wetsuit Advice

PostPosted: Feb 10, 2014 2:04 pm
by GroundquestMSA
Big Sissy whines about The Cold.

I'm planning a kayak "ridgewalk" down a VA river, and need some help keeping warm. We have already found two wet caves along the river that need to be surveyed, and I expect to find more. There's also a good chance that we'll get wet in the river itself.

I've caved in a wetsuit only once, on a wet survey trip. On our first try at surveying a long stream crawl, we had no wetsuits, and wore a bunch of clothes. After a 9 hr. trip, we were a bit cold, and our clothes weighed 472,000 lbs. The next time, we wore wetsuits. This trip was only 4 hrs., but by the time we reached the beginning of the survey and dug open a near sump/constriction, I was so cold that I only recorded 72' of mostly illegible data before getting a little panicky and slithering toward the entrance. The ectomorphic properties of my frame allowed a bit of slop in the chest of my wetsuit. I don't know if that was a factor. The suit is about 1/8" thick.

What, do you think, is my best option?

1. Find a better fitting wetsuit. (is this possible?)
2. Alter my current wetsuit. (is this possible?)
3. Buy a thicker wetsuit.
4. Put thick polypro under the wetsuit. (does this help?)
5. Quit being a pansy and tough it out.
6. Wait 20 years and hope I get fat.
7. Avoid wet caves entirely and continue to cultivate a reputation of hopeless sissification.
8. Buy some newfangled suit that, by virtue of its incredible expense, will automatically solve this and all of my other caving problems.
9. Die of hypothermia and spare the "online caving community" any more of these stupid questions.


Re: Wetsuit Advice

PostPosted: Feb 10, 2014 2:49 pm
by Chads93GT
Wetsuits should be skin tight. If yours isn't then cold wwater will pool inside your suit making you cold as hell. 7/5mm wetsuit will keep you plenty of warm. If yours is as thin as you say it is, that is a major problem as well. Ive done more survey in a wetsuit than I have without and I have only gotten cold after prolonged lying in the water without moving.

Find a dive shop and start trying on sizes and different types. Farmer John's. or 1 piece. Ive always had 1 piece suits, never a farmer john but lots of guys i cave with have farmer john's so they can use them in caves where they wont be fully soaked. In those instances i have a shorty I wear. It was a long sleeve suit at once but I trashed out the knees and elbows so i cut it off, making it a shorty.

That being said< I wear underarmour under my wetsuit just because. You shouldnt have room for a thick fleece under your suit because then its too baggy. WEtsuits work best when skin tight.

Re: Wetsuit Advice

PostPosted: Feb 10, 2014 3:06 pm
by GroundquestMSA
I don't know what the actual size is, but it's all tight except the chest. I'll try to find a place to try some on.

Re: Wetsuit Advice

PostPosted: Feb 10, 2014 3:08 pm
by Chads93GT
Thats the biggest issue is finding one that actually fits....... I think thats why most go for farmer johns. becase you can get the bib overall portion that fits you, then find an overcoat portion that will fit you. 1 piece wetsuits tend to be 1 size fits all "generic" sizes if you know what i mean.

Re: Wetsuit Advice

PostPosted: Feb 10, 2014 10:04 pm
by captnemo
A good fit is very important, also most wetsuits are designed to keep you warm IN the water not out, for what youre describing you may want to check out drysuits or kayak specific clothing. When training as a rescue swimmer I got very cold sitting exposed on the boat between swims, a pvc raincoat really helped.

Re: Wetsuit Advice

PostPosted: Feb 12, 2014 8:31 am
by jbhubbell
A lot of "cheaper" wetsuits out there are solid neoprene, but if you look for one with spandex mixed in that will stretch and fit better. I have the ultra john from, it is a farmer john with "4 way stretch", built in kneepads, and its 3mm thick. I plan to get the jacket someday, but it would only be neccessary on a long survey or a wet multidrop because i cook in this thing already. Nrs suits are expensive but i highly recommend checking them out.