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Old 12-12-2009   #1
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1
Winter Grand

I am new to white water (1 year) and will be doing a winter Grand Canyon trip. The trip begins at the end of February and lasts for 25 days. I am considering the options and/or the necessity of a dry suit. I have heard conflicting opinions on this matter so I thought I would throw it out there to the masses.
1) Dry suit, yes or no?
2) One piece or two?
3) Built in feet or no feet?
and finally; 4) Is a wet-suit enough?
Thanks for any all help regarding this matter!

ps Rodger is into warmth and safety!

Thanks, Rodger

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Old 12-12-2009   #2
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
1. ideally yes
2. ideally one
3. feet are nice to have for sure
4. probably not (at least get a drytop or good splash top).

you will survive and late feb can be pretty warm or pretty cold or a mix of both.

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Old 12-12-2009   #3
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Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1999
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I did a New Years trip last year and I'd consider a drysuit mandatory if you want to have any fun. One kayaker managed to get by with a drytop and paddle pants, but he stayed in the kayak almost the entire time (it's a bit warmer than a raft). I wore either my drysuit or down jacket at all times. The booties and relief zipper are not mandatory, but if you're going to use the suit more than once, they sure are nice. A wet suit would be a recipie for misery.
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Old 12-12-2009   #4
Pugetopolis, Washington
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 767
If Roger is into warmth and safety than you probably want one for sure.

Buy my like new XL Kokatat Supernova for ridiculously cheap on ebay. Plenty of room to layer too. I used the same model last march on the Grand and i'm usin the same (model) one this march too. All you need(footies,relief zipper) and its cheap.....
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Old 12-12-2009   #5
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 347
A drysuit on the Grand is as important as a condom in Tijuana.

Honestly, you will hate life for 25 days if you don't have a drysuit. Besides the fact that you'll be cold from the water during the day, if it gets below freezing during any night while you're on the river, your wetsuit is going to freeze from being wet. The next morning when you're starting out on the river and the sun hasn't quite reached the inside of the canyon, it will be cold as a witch's tit. At that point you're going to have to put on a full body ice cube, if you can even manage to get the frozen suit on at all. Depending on the weather, you could be repeating that entire torture hell for 24 straight days.
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Old 12-12-2009   #6
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
A drysuit on the Grand is as important as a condom in Tijuana.
HAHA! That is the quote of the year and very true at that!

It would be a mistake to get a drysuit without the gortex feet, and even more of a mistake to not bring a drysuit.
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Old 12-12-2009   #7
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
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Demo is right. yes a wetsuit splashtop will keep you alive and I did this on my first trip down which was during march/april - but its putting on the cold/wet wetsuit that sucks the most.

hopefully you will get the drysuit but be super careful with your gaskets - not an easy repair in the field.
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Old 12-13-2009   #8
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Yea, bring some duct tape with you for gasket repair.
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Old 12-13-2009   #9
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
For sure a dry suit with goretex attached sox makes for a much more comfortable trip. Here is another vote for you to take a good dry suit along.

Something to be careful of in very cold weather especially in the mornings is putting on latex gaskets on neck and wrists. If you can, warm the latex a bit, using what ever method you can come up with.

Cold latex gaskets have a tendency to split. Especially if they are brand new.

I have have seen on two mornings, wrist gaskets tear on mid June Middle Fork floats when we got a storm that hit during the night.

If possible bring along some spare latex gaskets and cotol to speed up glue cure time. You can make a neck gasket drying form from gray foam or Kayak Academy makes a packable units.

Duct tape can make a emergency repair, but it is difficult at best.
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Old 12-13-2009   #10
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 60
MY opinion is if your rafting, you can get by without a drysuit in late Feb. i have launched Mar. 1 on the heels of a snowstorm. First few days when the canyon walls are close are cold. Good rain, splash gear and fleece will work. Pants are the biggest item to consider. The wettest you will probably be is in the "roaring 20's". After that, not too many rapids until the inner gorge when it warms up some.Do short days and hike alot, you have 25 days. Nights might be cold. I suggest a pair of rubber boots while you raft. Get large ones to wear with socks and try not to get them wet inside. If you have lots of money, get a dry suit. I have dry pants and a semi drytop (neoprene neck with latex wrist gaskets) I also bring 2 sets of rain gear for most days on the river. Easy on and off.

HAve fun!

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