Cold weather paddling, paddling pants? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-14-2006   #1
pnw, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Cold weather paddling, paddling pants?

I have in the past always worn hydroskin in the early season to keep my legs warm and be prepared for my next swim. My question is, does anyone use the paddling pants or splash pants at this time of the year? I know that in other areas many people have drysuits but I have only seen one while paddling in Colorado and I cant see wearing one for most of the season but this time of year its pretty darn cold if you take a swim. Uh...not that I ever swim but you know just in case. I find the hydroskin pretty bulky and only wear it at this time of year but still dont really like it. So does anyone have experience with something like the IR splash pant? Seems like a good flexible approach for cold weather paddling. Flexible in the sense that you can just go without the bottoms when the water starts to warm up and still wear your drytop.

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Old 03-14-2006   #2
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Englewood, Colorado
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Two of my friends love their IR pants, and say they let in little to no water if it's a short swim.

I was a drytop/neoprene guy for many, many years, but in the writeup on Paul Zirkelbach's death, Tim Kennedy (?) made the point that if you have to wade into a river for a prolonged rescue or even boat recovery, a drysuit is priceless. To me this is the best argument for a drysuit, that it is an extension of your other safety tools. I now creek almost exclusively in a drysuit (at least out here in the west) and save the drytop for playing.
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Old 03-14-2006   #3
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Caspian makes a really good point. For really cold water, the dry suit is the only way to go. The drawback is that it is bulky and requires early season boat retrofitting, which is a pain in the ass.

If you are hitting runs with lower consequences like playparks, and class III/IV stuff, you can't go wrong with the IR or Bomber Gear paddle pants. They're alot cheaper, and with neoprene gaskets and cinch closures let very little water in. Just be sure to wear polypro underneath for insulation.

If you do swim, water gets in - it's just the way it is. Make sure you release the water out the bottom, and I usually warm up pretty quickly as soon as I'm back in my boat.
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Old 03-14-2006   #4
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Boulder, Colorado
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I have both

I have Bomber Gear paddle pants. They cinch up nice, but they will definitely leak water in violent and/or medium-long swims (at least mine will). They make dry pants, but some peope worry that if they do start to leak your pants can fill up like a water balloon. Plus, by the time you layer them, they're just as bulky as neoprene pants. Personally, I find that the NRS hydroskins aren't bulky at all and quite warm. The pants are nice when you want something a little more than shorts to keep your ass dry, but hydroskins are overkill warm, or if you're not worried about a swim. Drysuit advantages/disadvantages are obvious.
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Old 03-14-2006   #5
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
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I love my IR splash pants. Under them I put a pair of those Patagucci boxers and fleece long jonnies and I'm usually pretty cozy. Of course you still get wet if you swim, but if you have synthetic fibers underneath you'll still be warm. A little bulky, true, but you'll be wishing you had something on when your cacknballs hit that water. And I hate how those grape smugglers look.

I've thought about investing in a dry suit but #1 I lack sufficient funds and #2 I have this thing against looking like a weenie. Hopefully I'll never regret it...but at some point I'm sure I will. I do love that zipper over the junk, though.
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Old 03-14-2006   #6
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Do not deny the sexyness of neoprene at any cost.
I never thought about smuggling grapes in them, so versatile.

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Old 03-14-2006   #7
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
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If you're thinking of a drysuit, you might want to first look into a Kokatat dry bib. They're dry pants (latex ankle gasket) that have a flap that can roll into the inner tunnel of a drytop. If you already have a drytop, this might be more cost effective than a whole new drysuit.

I haven't worn mine much lately except for a swiftwater rescue course a couple of years ago. We spent a lot of time in the water and I was fairly comfortable.
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Old 03-14-2006   #8
Seattle, Washington
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Sorry to cut in here, but I'll be in the market soon for either pants or a full on suit. I'm moving up to the Northwest this summer and am wondering if a dry suit is mandatory for creeking during the fall/winter months.

Does everyone have one or do enough people do ok with separate pants and drytop?
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Old 03-14-2006   #9
Engineer, Vail
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I just orderd the NRS rodeo pant from the boc (thier on sale untill sunday). It is just a neo pant 2mm. I will mostly be paddling at parks though the colder earlier part of the season. Do you think these pants will keep me warm. Even for a short swim.
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Old 03-14-2006   #10
Join Date: Mar 2004
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yonder, yeah you need a suit. almost everyone out in the winter has one. i feel that it is actually LESS bulky than a drytop/pants combo, and more comfortable with fewer tight things around your waist. you will be stoked if you bite the bullet and buy one. and you will never be cold. one layer is all you need underneath unless it is really friggin blizzard cold. the water temp is quite warm if you compare it to the animas (how does that shit flow anyway?) and some other classic cold-ass CO runs. i actually swim around a bit after i finish my session, sort of a zen thing, but i'm wierd. and get some of those thick nrs mittens. your hands will sweat.
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