Grand Canyon in December, dry suit: yes or no? - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 10-22-2014   #1
 
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 1999
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Grand Canyon in December, dry suit: yes or no?

I'll be kayaking the Grand Canyon this Christmas for my first time. I know a dry suit would be optimal but, has anyone done it with it have dry top/dry pants and good skirt combo? Trying to decide if I should spend the money or not on a dry suit. Thanks!

Charlie

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Old 10-22-2014   #2
 
Golden, Colorado
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I certainly wouldn't tell anyone they couldn't do without a drysuit. I mean, the Kolb brothers did it in winter of 1911-1912, and they were probably down there in their wool knickers and whatever primitive outer wear 1911 might have afforded an adventurer. I was on a club trip to West Virginia in March once and we had a bunch of newbs out in "Farmer John" wetsuits with splash tops on a day that the high was 39 degrees. That was just the gear we had. Everyone survived, but I wouldn't say that they were all enjoying it. A drytop/drypants setup would certainly have been an huge improvement over that.

I think it depends on where you draw the line on what you can tolerate, versus what you are comfortable with and will enjoy. I added a drysuit to my equipment inventory relatively early in my kayaking career and so I can't actually say where that margin is for me. When the weather gets rough, the drytop always gets put away and out comes the drysuit. I've gone on 4 winter Grand trips now, all in drysuits, and for me its really neutralized the cold water / cold air aspects of the trip. I even took a little swim down there this past February on a self support trip, and aside from the embarrassment, I was no worse for wear. So in my opinion, it has been a great expenditure of $600-$800. I use it a lot on class IV-V rivers too just for the added safety and buoyancy, in case I have to jump in during a rescue or something. But others certainly have gone with less.
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Old 10-22-2014   #3
 
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Lakewood, Colorasta
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well if you like being dry and warm, the magic 8 ball says. . .
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Old 10-22-2014   #4
 
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Golden, Colorado
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If what you have is a dry top/ dry pants combo, that should get you through. Sure, a dry suit would be optimal if it's anywhere near your budget, but as Ben says, plenty of cold runs have been paddled with less waterproof gear. I've done Westwater in February and was comfortable in a combo - but I didn't swim either.

That being said, I have a dry suit now and I'll use that up until late June
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Old 10-22-2014   #5
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
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Sell the pants and top on Mountain Buzz and buy a dry suit on sale. You will be sooooo glad you did.
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Old 10-22-2014   #6
 
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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You dont know fun until you have done dishes by headlamp in the big ditch while its snowing and you are wearing your dry suit.

After that experience, I'm pretty sure its the best luxury safety item you can have.

Edit : I see this is the kayaing form, not the rafting forum. Def get A GMER or Icon. Put a want ad in the buzz, quite a few on here recently. You take a swim and get away from friends and you will love your drysuit.
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Old 10-22-2014   #7
 
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Silverthorne, Colorado
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I did my first Grand trip in November with the dry top/dry pant combo. Just make sure you layer properly and have some spares incase they don't fully dry out.
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Old 10-22-2014   #8
 
Las Vegas, Nevada
Paddling Since: 2013
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I'm not sure if you guys are outfitting with anyone for food, shuttles, support rafts, etc. or not and it really doesn't matter if you are. If you wanted to save the money, I know that Moenkopi rents drysuits. Something like $10-$12 per day. That is still somewhat expensive, but it is an option worth looking at as well. Just wanted to throw that out there.

I used a dry top and pants last March, and while I was rafting, I swam twice in it, and it made a huge difference, and I got some water in near the cuffs, but stayed relatively dry. You will definitely have less sun in December though....

Have fun!

-Josh
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Old 10-22-2014   #9
 
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Lakewood, Colorasta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Flaco View Post
If what you have is a dry top/ dry pants combo, that should get you through. Sure, a dry suit would be optimal if it's anywhere near your budget, but as Ben says, plenty of cold runs have been paddled with less waterproof gear. I've done Westwater in February and was comfortable in a combo - but I didn't swim either.

That being said, I have a dry suit now and I'll use that up until late June
While it is true that lots of cold runs have been paddled with less waterproof gear, most of those runs I dare say were not 21 days. Dry + warm = fun. Wet + cold = not so fun. Not that a drysuit is necessary, but jeez why the heck not?
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Old 10-22-2014   #10
 
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Portland, Oregon
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You should look into buying a pair of Kokatat dry bibs. The gore tex ones are bomber and though quite expensive are still far cheaper than a new suit. The tropos ones seem to work just fine but won't last as long--plenty long enough for your trip though.

If you roll the bibs with your drytop you will be protected very well in the event of a swim. I actually prefer the bibs to a one piece on multidays because if it's raining in the morning, I can slip the bibs on in the tent and put my rain jacket over the top until it's time to shove off. I can do the inverse in the evening if it is inclement. This means I can add or remove layers under my rain jacket to stay the right shade of toasty warm and dry.

Thinking about it now, the Kokatat product line has probably changed a bit since I've had much experience so who knows about material details, but the philosophy is still sound. Definitely go socks over ankle gaskets if you choose this route.
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