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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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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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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 :p
 

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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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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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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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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 :p
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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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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Go dry suit. I have a Kokatat Gmer and it's been one of the best purchases I've ever made. It's always summertime in a dry suit!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the responses! In 15 years of kayaking, my threshold for cold water has never increased especially being a south eastern boy. Good call on the bibs, I used to have a pair way back when. I will most likely opt for a dry suit. Sometimes one just needs a push from socials media for major purchases! I can't wait to be in the ditch!

Charlie


Sent from my iPad using Mountain Buzz
 

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You will experience many days where you will not see direct sun, and the water temp is cold enough to keep beer tasty during the SUMMER months. If you have any concerns about being cold, drysuit up! Keep in mind that your stuff doesn't dry out in cool shade, so plan accordingly. Bring a down coat for camp. Either way you will be working hard to keep warm, so stay ahead of the cold curve, and a dry suit is a good start.
 

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Personally i would go with the Kokatat dry bibs. I have a drysuit and i am about to get a pair because they are so versatile.

I have done three December trips. Two as a kayaker and one as a rafter. The last one was in a semi dry top and bibs (as a rafter). If you bring the down jacket and plan on having fires also bring a textile jacket to wear over your down clothing. The fires down there like to spit embers.

Kyle
 

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There is one other option. The Kokatat Whirlpool bib. The tunnel from this rolls into the tunnel on your top. I use it for kayaking and more importantly i have used it for SUP surfing in April. You stay dry and warm and its slightly less expensive than a dry top. Its bomber and what I use.
 

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So I just finished my first trip in my new NRS Crux drysuit . ( that I received for 55% off, or 450 dollars) it is the 2014 model. and its still on sale, jut not as good of a sale. )....

Man I could not more highly recomened having a drysuit for the Grand!!! Its gonna dry out faster at camp. and be bombproof comfort and safety for the trip...

I have never had a more comfortable day on the water than today, in October... on a snowmelt river...

I will never go back. Hooked on a drysuit... I will probably wear it most months of the year in Colorado.

Its simply amazing to finish a trip and be totally dry!!! wow!!!

Stoked on the Crux as well!!! I hear the 2015 has a new zipper and will be upgraded ... but the 2014 is on sale... and it was 100% dry on two swims and a few rolls today... :)
 

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There are some that run the Grand Canyon in dry top or paddle jacket and some sort of dry pants or a similar combo and do just fine. I know some raft captains that have made multiple runs in shorts and tee shirts. If a person is lucky and do not swim, it is a good thing. There are a few that swim (hopefully a short one and in warm sunny air temp) and emerge from the river OK.

Based on personal experience, a long GC swim in shorts and tee shirts even in warm sunny weather. Is not fun.

If a person wants to stack the odds in their favor, they will have excellent for them "swim wear" for the weather and the rapid. For some this will be something as simple as dry top and neoprene shorts. This combo is pretty easy to put on and take off in a raft for rapids and the flats. My opinion the best insurance especially in fall, winter and spring cold, rain, windy, overcast days is a dry suit or combo with what ever fleece that person needs to stay warm underneath. One benefit of a nice fleece bunny suit (or even just a fleece top) is they dry out fast during the unload activity and you have a really nice warm garment if it is a cold night. If a person is a raft rider normally they need more warm layers under neath an appropriate dry layer on top.

To me, it is a decision on personal (and group) comfort and safety. Getting in and out of a dry suit or even a dry top can be a bit of a hassle and a good dry suit or top costs big bucks. Floating the GC is for most of us a one time, expensive (even if it is a private trip) and depending on travel/trip length it takes up to a month's time. Renting a dry suit or similar set up for the colder months is just another good thing to do if you want to be warm on the Rio and one heck of a lot safer if you swim.

Bottom line it is a personal comfort decision most of the time, but can be a life threatening decision if things go really bad. Each of us who float the GC makes a choice.
 
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