Newbie questions- jacket, wetsuit, etc - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-11-2012   #1
Nassau, New York
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 5
Newbie questions- jacket, wetsuit, etc

Hi! First post!

I'm in training as a whitewater guide, and had some newbie questions for the community.

1. What's the difference between a splash jacket and my gore-tex technical shell? Is there any practical reason I should purchase a specific paddling jacket?

2. Is a dry suit worth it? I was comfortable in the upper Hudson last weekend in a farmer John and jacket. I'm guessing that's as cold as its likely to get each season, so I'm guessing I won't need it.

3. Is $100 reasonable to spend on a pfd? There are pretty nice $200+ pfd that seem really comfortable, but is it worth it?

Thanks guys!

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Old 04-11-2012   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,833
Welcome to the Buzz.

1. I don't know which "Gore-Tex technical shell" you have, but the main difference is probably going to be that a splash jacket doesn't have a zipper down the front to allow water in, and will generally have some kind of neoprene around the wrists and neck to keep splashes from getting inside the jacket.

2. A drysuit is absolutely "worth it", but may not be necessary if you're only going to guide during the summer months. In Colorado, for early and late season paddling it is basically a necessity.

3. $100 is a good price for a pfd. Training to be a guide you may want to invest the extra $ to get a safety vest. The added features will make certain rescue and extraction type situations easier and safer.
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Old 04-11-2012   #3
Nassau, New York
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 5
Thanks for the response.

I wear an arcteryx stinger sv jacket. It's goretex pro shell with a waterproof (actually sealed, not flapped or anything) front zipper. The cuffs are a good point, but I'll probably see how the first day wearing it goes.

I was inclined to agree with you on the dry suit and pfd. Most of the guides I'm training with wear rescue vests and dry suits. Argh... So expensive!
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Old 04-11-2012   #4
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,493
You will destroy your technical shell using it in the water. Which is to say it will still be usable in the water but will start to smell like the wet suit barn and you won't want to wear it anywhere but on the river.

Customer wetsuits will get you through until you pony up on real gear but they are uncomfortable and you will be the obvious rookie. We had a couple old guys at my company who wore the custie wet suits for years and years though, so if you are super cheap...

I would think for your first a year a good a long sleeve dry-top a short sleeve splash jacket and splash pants should carry you through fine. I heard of an epic a year or two ago with some friends of mine rafting the hudson and under dressing. It might not get any colder or it some cold snaps might make you wish you had better gear.
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Old 04-11-2012   #5
Nassau, New York
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 5
I had definitely not thought of smelliness... Good point.
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Old 04-11-2012   #6
Emmielou's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 106
Guide stank - the true mark of a professional. When your shirts start melting off your back, you know you've made it.

See if your company can get you a pro deal on a PFD. The NRS guide high floats were $60 on pro last year and I know a lot of people on the Colorado that bought them. That said, I paid up to get an Astral PFD that fit me well and I could swim in comfortably and it's lasted 6 seasons. If you can find a cheaper one that you feel comfortable in, there is no reason to pay more to be in the cool kids club. Par example - I don't know any river guides (that aren't kayakers*) that have ever used their Astral Green rescue jacket that they paid a pretty penny for.

I love my dry suit. It was a worthwhile purchase - I wish I had it for my winter Grand trip but used it plenty this year on early high water trips. See if you can find one second hand or get a pro deal - kokatat is pretty happy to set up a seconds account for warehouses.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”-Ed Abbey
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Old 04-11-2012   #7
North Bend, Washington
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 476
I'm one of the fill in trainers for our company and I'd say the best bet is to wait until you've had a few days to see what equipment is out there and what you really want for what you plan on doing. For example- it'd be a shame to get a drysuit without a kayak skirt if you plan on eventually kayaking. Borrow gear until the end of training if you can. But for the sake of the custys- get your own by the time you do your first trip- don't wanna look like one of them do you? Besides by then if you get hired you may be able to get a prodeal and save some $.
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Old 04-11-2012   #8
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 86
I found I preferred wearing my lightweight rain jacket (Marmot Precip) as opposed to the splash top I bought. It packed small so I could store it in my drybag and with the velcro cuffs I could stay pretty dry. I always kept extra clothes in case of a cold swim here in CO.
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Old 04-13-2012   #9
Atlanta, Georgia
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 4
FEBREEZE!!! It does great on river funk and doesn't just cover the smell with perfume. Great on booties, PFDs, wetsuits, etc. As an added bonus it is available in the grocery store and cheap.

(not a paid spokesman).... <but I would take the money if offered>
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Old 04-13-2012   #10
k2andcannoli's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 939
If you don't get cold easily and only paddle when the ground isn't white, you don't need a dry suit right away. It's not like your river was snow a few days ago. Get a good helmet, pfd, IR fleece guide shorts, and be a man. Acquire the rest of your cold gear before October.
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