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Old 05-16-2016   #1
fishingraft's Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 129
When to wear dry suits, wet suits, waders?

Hi all,

I'm new to whitewater and have a question about dry suits and wet suits. I've always just rafted in my waders when fishing, but that wasn't through more than class II, and usually less.

Now that spring is here, I'm I Colorado, and air temps are warming up, I'm not sure what to wear. Back in the Midwest I'd be wet-wading soon. Colorado rivers are obviously not the same, and I'm not quite sure how to prepare, especially now that I want to raft for fun instead of a means to fish.

I'm floating and fishing the Arkansas near Buena Vista in the coming weeks with my wife. Air temps will be warm, but water will obviously be cold. Should I get a dry suit to go through the rough stuff? More importantly, when I bring my wife along does she need a dry or wet suit? Or with warm temps should we be ok without?

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Old 05-16-2016   #2
2kanzam's Avatar
Charleston, West Virginny
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 461
Ive heard some people use this as a general rule with some variation:

Add the air temp and water temp (in F) together...120-130= wetsuit of some sort. Much below 120 = drysuit.

Of course there are many variables with the type of water (a lot of splash/ a little splash) or the amount of risk involved in a swim and how comfortable you want to be. IMO the water temp is the biggest driver. I know my GF is not comfortable without a wetsuit until those "rule of thumb" numbers get into the 145-150 range.

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Old 05-16-2016   #3
fishingraft's Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 129
Thanks for your response. I think it'd be a no-brained if the air temps weren't going to be in the 80s.
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Old 05-16-2016   #4
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,133
Dress for water temperature, not air temperature.
Buy your wife a drysuit or really good two piece dry (not splash) gear.
Passengers always get colder, and a warm/dry wife is a happy wife.
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Old 05-16-2016   #5
Paul7's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 781
There is no magic formula, the one mentioned above is a reasonable starting point but in reality it's never that simple. I'd say most important is the character of the river. How long will a swimmer be in the water? Is it continous or is it short spurts of whitewater followed by slack?
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Old 05-16-2016   #6
fishingraft's Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 129
Realistically, it'll be pretty mild stuff. I'm just starting out with whitewater. Have used my raft exclusively for fishing up to this point and haven't taken on anything bigger than IIs. Risk of swimming is very low. I'm happy in waders so I can jump in and out and fish. My wife will just be doing the same. I don't want to make her uncomfortable, but also don't want her to be unsafe.
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Old 05-16-2016   #7
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Where are you going to be float fishing near BV? The only stretch that is mild is the Milk Run. Any other stretch and I would recommend a dry suit....or just go downstream to the Salida/Bighorn Canyon area. Lower elevation, warmer water and a lot more class II. Everything north of BV is at least class III.
GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 05-16-2016   #8
nastysauce's Avatar
SeaTown, NW
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 97
Have you floated these rivers before? Have you ever recovered a flipped raft? Do you have z-DRAG KIT?
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Old 05-16-2016   #9
Quiggle's Avatar
Summit County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 92
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 90
wear what you would be comfortable performing a rescue in waist deep water.
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Old 05-16-2016   #10
gringoanthony's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 115

Waders are not a good idea in whitewater.

Officials identify man who died in Boise River |

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