Warm clothes for rafting - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-27-2016   #1
Awesome, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 105
Warm clothes for rafting

I'm looking to pick up some warm layers for high-flow spring rafting (class IV stuff) here in Colorado. I'm thinking of getting some sort of wetsuit combo; I'm just not sure what the best option for me would be. In particular, I'm waffling between these:

1) NRS 2.0 Farmer John Wetsuit
2) NRS 1.5 HydroSkin Pants + NRS 0.5 HydroSkin Jacket

I'll most likely be wearing a splash jacket along with either of these. Are there any major pros and cons with either of these setups? Since in a cataraft I'm looking for a system that'll keep me warm from splashes and in case I take a swim; I'm thinking a full drysuit is a bit overkill for this...

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Old 10-27-2016   #2
Minturn, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 257
For my first runoff season in Colorado, I ran the hydroskin 1.5 pants, and a 1.5 top. My thought on the 1.5 top was keeping my core warm in the event of a swim, or a major soaking. It worked well for that, but can be a bit warm once the water goes down and the temps rise... I have since upgraded to a drysuit.

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Old 10-27-2016   #3
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1960
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 241
Being a person who lived in and rafted many CO rivers as well as WA and ID rivers there is no substitute for a dry suit, even a semi dry with the neoprene gaskets vs. the latex is a huge step up and will keep you warmer and dryer than a wetsuit with any kind of layering. Before my drysuit I had really good splash gear and a semi dry top which was much like the semi dry suits. There are my pennies for you Best of luck! Renee
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Old 10-27-2016   #4
Portland, Oregon
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 183
I started out with splash gear, moved up to drytop / drypants and eventually graduated to a drysuit.

Hindsight being 20 / 20 --- get a drysuit. Splash gear / dry tops are great until you swim.

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Old 10-27-2016   #5
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 168

I would recommend a drysuit as well. The runoff in the spring was snow about 24 hours before in my area of Colorado, and is difficult to dress for with a wetsuit because you need a lot of insulation if you swim, but wont want it most of the time while paddling. Wet suits are nice because they provide a little impact protection, but have a much more limited ideal temperature range when compared to a dry suit and layers.

When I was starting out I used a nationwide craigslist search, and found 4 Kokatat drysuits for about $20 each in different areas. I bought them using paypal, and used them for a few seasons before upgrading and passing them along to friends.

I prefer a wet suit for in water activities because the water temp is usually pretty consistent so it is easier to stay comfortable than sports where you are mostly out of the water. I also find wet suits easier to swim in.

Most wet suits force you to remove them, or stew in your own if you have to pee, so that is another thing to consider.
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Old 10-27-2016   #6
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,466
NRS has drysuits on closeout right now.
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Old 10-27-2016   #7
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 92
I agree with all the sentiments in this thread. Go with the drysuit, unless you for sure know that this will be a 1 and done season and you are never going rafting again.

The tend to hold some value if you decide you don't like it and need to sell it.

They do require some level of care though, you don't want to ruin the booties by slamming them in car doors or walking around without shoes. And you will also want to consider how well your shoe size would fit on the booties!
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Old 10-27-2016   #8
Awesome, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 105
Cool, thanks guys. Lots to consider here. Drysuits are so dang expensive!
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Old 10-27-2016   #9
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,822
Originally Posted by climbbd510 View Post
Lots to consider here. Drysuits are so dang expensive!
And worth every red cent when you get that first bucketfull of ice water hitting you in the chest or go for that spring runoff swim. Start putting away $100/month now for a spring purchase.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 10-28-2016   #10
lncoop's Avatar
little rock, Arkansas
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 464
Also, keep an eye on Boatertalk. You can set up an alert that will email you every time someone posts one on the gear swap, and since a drysuit can be easily shipped it won't matter if the seller is in the southeast or somewhere else that's not where you are. Keep an eye on fleabay too, and most important, keep up with Kayak Academy's inventory. They often sell gently used or even new drysuits at significant discounts and they're very nice folks. I bet you'll find you can source a drysuit for only marginally more than a complete set of Hydroskins. Happy hunting!
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