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Discussion Starter #1
So as an owner of a "Mini-Cataraft" (Outcast Pac 1100 11' cat tubes) I'm slowly pushing the boundaries of what my cat and myself can do. Nothing crazy or insane, but just baby steps and I want to be prepared more so as I climb the ladder. So I'm at the point where I will consider buying personal protective gear that basically says I am prepared to really go swimming if something happens (flip, etc.). So I'd like your input. A Helmet, and Class 3 or 5 PFD is obvious (already own and use a Stohlquist drifter, going to buy a Helmet soon). But I'm torn on the drysuit versus wetsuit, as well as other things I should consider getting along these lines. I obviously also never drift alone either, and my drifting partner(s) will be prepared in the same fashion as myself. I usually only drift rivers to fish, so a drysuit might offer easier movement in this regard, but it's more expensive. I'm not talking a full drysuit, more like what your average Kayaker would wear made of Gore-tex. The only thing I don't like is they seem to have gore-tex feet which aren't as durable in wading boots. Also, I've talked to one guy I know who knows whitewater and he suggested a dry top over my waders. I may consider going this route as it should work if I go for a swim to keep me completely dry and allow me to use my waders with neoprene booties which stand up better in wading boots for fishing, plus allow easier movement as I cast/fish.

I've heard it suggested that some prefer wetsuits for the "bulkiness" actually offering a level of padding if you are in the river and bounce of rocks, etc. Thoughts? Also, if you get a wetsuit, do you neccessarily need to get a 7 mm? Would a 3 or 5 mm do? It would be colder water - potentially down to the Mid 30's at the worst, but usually late 30's to early 40's.
 

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You cant beat a drysuit for safety from exposure related issues.

I use a farmer john style wetsuit, but never boat water below the high 40s. I do a.few things to prepare for cold day runs. First I wear shorts and a tee, drive without heat and a window down. Secondly, I dress for the river and go for a swim, pull you wetsuit away from your chest and allow the water to flow in. Finally, I get my boat ready and prepare to depart; by this time if you aren't cold you'll be fine.

Aren't waders a death trap in deep swift water. Won't they fill with water even if you've got a drytop over. Sounds risky!
 

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Drysuit, drysuit, drysuit. It sounds like you plan on floating and fishing at many times of the year at different water levels in different weather, and if so the investment in a drysuit is absolutely worth it. Make sure to get one with a relief zipper. Are you planning to get out occasionally and fish from the bank? If so, then I don't see any reason why you couldn't wear rubber wading boots over the goretex socks. Otherwise just get a good grippy pair of water proof shoes. Just my .02 cents....
 

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As k2 and lmyers said, I'll say it, too. Ya gotta go with the best concept you can afford. Drysuit, not a wetsuit, with a couple of layers between it and your skin. Good thermal underwear and a fleece layer. This isn't where you want to penny pinch on your gear. Spend your dimes and get what will work good in a bad situation.
 

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Here is another vote for a dry suit. Once you have one you will never go back. It also will extend your fishing season by months compared to a wet suit.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you guys for your responses, that's what I thought. The only issue I have with a drysuit is a durability one (I looked at several different models) -specifically, the feet - the goretex feet. I own a pair of Simms Gore-tex Waders with Neoprene stocking feet (they only sell them with neoprene booties, no goretex feet/booties). The feet are neoprene for one reason - durability. When you wear wading boots, there is some very minor chafing that occurs overtime between the feet and the boots. Also, even though we wear "gravel guards," (to prevent most of the gravel intrusion into our boots) some gravel or sand always finds it's way into your boots and neoprene feet can easily stand up to it where as I'd imagine straight goretex feet won't. I am strictly shuttle type of river drifter, I don't usually fish out of my craft. I park the boat, get out, and walk/wade/fish a run, then hop in the boat and drift down to the next worthwhile looking run and repeat.

Subsequently, that is why I threw the idea out there that a dry top over a set of chest waders might be a decent alternative to a full on dry suit (your opinion please?). Since the waders are effectively waterproof up to my chest (or at least being submerged to that level), if I wore a wading belt cinched around my waist, and then put a dry top over top of my waders which goes down to my waist as well, it should in theory act almost virtually the same as a drysuit assuming the dry top prevents water intrusion, in a satisfactory manner. The advantage of this arrangement being capital cost (I"d only have to pay for a dry top since I already have the waders), feet durability (neoprene), breathable (assuming I buy a decent breatahble, preferably goretex dry top). I would be wearing a proper Class 3 PFD (Stohlquist Drifter), and helmet obviously.

Another thing - for those of you that own Gore-tex Drysuits - what kind of construction do they have (I realize I may have to go look for myself too). My Simms Gore-tex waders have 5 layer material in the main wear areas around the knees and lower portion of the legs (which is damn near bullet proof), and 3 layer material everywhere else.
 

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I cant see a functional difference between drypants/bibs and a drytop and waders and a drytop (with the exception of something like the kokotat whirlpool bibs that improve the waterproofness of the pairing). People who have used the combination, then switched to a drysuit overwhelmingly say the drysuit is far superior, but I have a hard time seeing the waders as being a huge safety risk- no more than a combo using dry pants.
 

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Dry pants usually don't have sealed feet, wader's do which ups the "water anchor" factor when they fill up. Neoprene functions poorly in the wind. In a cat you will be wet constantly. I vote dry suit with appropriate foot wear. Also as you push the limits of the mini cat - make sure you have extra oar locks. A friend with a dave scadden sheared several of the smaller NRS oar locks in class 3/4 water before finally reaming out the hole for bigger oar locks.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
WILL a decent quality Dry top effectively prevent water entry at the neck, cuffs and waist, if it fits and is worn properly, should I go for a swim?

Catwoman, can you elaborate on the "water anchor" factor a little bit - how does water weigh more if it enter my waders,, than the water that would be on the otherside/outside of my waders?
 

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WILL a decent quality Dry top effectively prevent water entry at the neck, cuffs and waist, if it fits and is worn properly, should I go for a swim?

Catwoman, can you elaborate on the "water anchor" factor a little bit - how does water weigh more if it enter my waders,, than the water that would be on the otherside/outside of my waders?

Drytops will form effective water barriers at the neck and wrist. I've never experienced a drytop that doesn't allow some water to seep through the waist when dunked. Adding a bib and understanding a swim will mean you get wet but probably not soaked will allow you to make smart decisions about other layers. A dry suit stays DRY and you can dress much more comfortably since during and post immersion layers are dry.

I think it's been shown a snug fitting pfd is enough to keep massive amounts of water out of waders. Nevertheless there is group think that waders are dangerous full stop. That said assuming you have gaping waders you essentially have a parachute allowing for moving water to act on a much larger surface area without any added buoyancy. Eddy line whirlpools, down currents in holes and underwater pillows all become much more dangerous than swimming without the waders. Also that aside even if you are in lake like flatwater the added water in your waders is water you must move. Though it won't pull you down it will prevent you from moving forward. In a whitewater swim scenario that means swimming up after a dunking happens slower, and getting out of the water/danger happens slower.

All that said, the 2 garmet systems work but the drysuits are excellent. Addressing the durability question Kokatat offers factory servicing at reasonable prices and the gore-tex portions are covered in a lifetime warranty.
 

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Well - if you are wearing a wader belt and life jacket and a dry top then hopefully it is just a little water. If it isn't little water, and more like a lot of water, then it will be more challenging to actually swim (instead of float). If it is a lot of water, getting out of the water will be more challenging because of the loss of neutral buoyancy as you exit. Getting out of the water can be hard enough in faster moving water (or maybe that is just my lack of fitness speaking).
 

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See these threads for reasons to possibly not wear waders in your boat:
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f41/safety-of-fishing-waders-in-a-boat-42157.html
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f11/missing-boater-on-upper-c-25756.html
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f11/anyone-have-an-experience-with-this-28162.html

Get a drysuit. My husband and I have Kokatats and love them. Yes, the feet are thin, so I wear a pair of NRS river booties with a good sole on them over the built-in feet, and my husband wears neoprene socks and his Chacos. We have another friend that wears the NRS Workboot Wetshoes over his built-in drysuit feet. There are lots of nice water shoes out there that will give you durability and stability when wading, and offer the protection the built-in drysuit feet need. Also, you'd be amazed at how much additional buoyancy a drysuit will give you if you do go for a swim. Finally, Kokatat offers a lifetime warranty. A drysuit is worth the investment - it was a game changer for me; meaning I'm no longer a fair-weather boater since I can layer up underneath and be nice and toasty. Incidentally, we have a cat as well (although, larger than yours) and I spend 90% of the time wet sitting up front.

Personally, I just would never want to take the chance in waders if you went for an unintentional swim out of your boat, pfd/wader belt on or not. You will be dry, warmer, and much more appreciative of the drysuit if you do go for a swim. I realize that you most likely will not sink in an instant in waders and a wading belt, but in moving water I want to float as much as possible so that I can concentrate on getting back into the boat or on to shore, not being slowed down and fatigued by waders that may have filled with some water.
 

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can you elaborate on the "water anchor" factor a little bit - how does water weigh more if it enter my waders,, than the water that would be on the otherside/outside of my waders?
It doesn't while you're floating in the water. But at some point you're going to want to get out of the river and water in your waders will be much heavier to pull into a boat.
 

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Dry pants usually don't have sealed feet, wader's do which ups the "water anchor" factor when they fill up. Neoprene functions poorly in the wind. In a cat you will be wet constantly. I vote dry suit with appropriate foot wear. Also as you push the limits of the mini cat - make sure you have extra oar locks. A friend with a dave scadden sheared several of the smaller NRS oar locks in class 3/4 water before finally reaming out the hole for bigger oar locks.
If they aren't sealed with either feet or latex gaskets at the ankle, then they aren't dry pants, they are splash pants.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you everyone for the time you have taken to enlighten me, I really appreciate and value your input. Only issue is now it's probably gonna cost me, AND I'll be gawking at drysuits all day now trying to come up with some candy assed excuse to convince the wife to let me buy one. LOL- Are there charities that might help a guy out in my position? Drysuit-less in Canada?
 

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Didn't see you were in BC. In that case drysuit mandatory not just nice to have.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey come on! We're not all in igloos riding around town with our dog sleds! WE do have some warm water too (in the Summer!). Vancouver and area does have a relatively tempered climate for the most part but the rest of BC can be quite cold.
 

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Does it have more in common with Oregon/Washington's climate or the southern states? Point is a reasonably long season necessitates a drysuit.
 

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If they aren't sealed with either feet or latex gaskets at the ankle, then they aren't dry pants, they are splash pants.
The point of Catwoman's statement was that if the waders fill with water they will not be able to drain out the booties. Dry pants will burp water out the ankle gaskets if they somehow fill up. You won't find dry pants with built in feet.
 

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The point of Catwoman's statement was that if the waders fill with water they will not be able to drain out the booties. Dry pants will burp water out the ankle gaskets if they somehow fill up. You won't find dry pants with built in feet.
Kokatat Hydrus 3L Tempest Dry Pants with Socks at nrs.com

I disagree about dry pants burping past the latex ankle gaskets if they fill up. If they did, it certainly wouldn't be until there was some pressure from gravity, which means once you're standing up on dry land, if they happen to fill in the river, they're gonna stay every bit as full as waders. The only way to get rid of it would be to get a finger in the gasket on each side, and hold them open while out of the water. If they were full (lets say clear to the waist to make my point), and you were standing knee deep in the water but could reach down and pull the gaskets open, then the pants would drain to the knee. There is no burping that is going to help you while you're swimming.

I'm not saying a drytop is not the bees knees, but some of the arguments against waders dont make sense.
 
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