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Personally I would recommend a drysuit over a wetsuit....but I guess it depends on how cold you want to get, and what the weather is like in Arkansas. Drysuits are mandatory to boat in Colorado in the winter.
 

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Wetsuits are only good for warm still water, like scuba diving. Cold water scuba (like 50 degree water in monterrey) requires a min 7mm wetsuit which is too bulky for most boating activities

The theory behind a wetsuit is it allows a thin layer of water between you and the suit, which your body warms. The suit helps trap heat and thickness provides insulation

However, outside of the drink, a wetsuit will get wet and hold a lot of moisture instead of shedding it like a drysuit. Wind will cause evaporation, which loses heat at a rate considerably faster than contact with water alone

This is the reason if you are a diver it is best to get out of your wetsuit asap when you surface

General rule of thumb is to add air temp plus water temp and if its less than 130 degrees F you will need to protect yourself against hypothermia
 

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You definately dont want to be chilled before even making direct contact with the water
 

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I use a farmer john and a dry top.....But I'm not in Colorado, and I don't kayak when it's sub freezing.

I wouldn't do a wetsuit at all. Seems like a waste for kayaking. You need to be dry atleast up top (taking temperature into consideration of course).
 

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I see from from the login stuff the original post comes from Arkansas. Here is an actual story from that state, happened many years ago but still illustrates the original question's feedback requirement.

My take on wet suits (normally a farmer john style with either a dry top or paddle jacket) is gonna be ok for most Arkansas winter runs unless you take a swim.

Some years ago a group of us were on a January float of Arkansas Big Piney Creek. Either freezing air temps or close plus or minus. A bud took a standard swim out of his kayak. Probably between 5 and 10 minutes in the water. Farmer John, paddle jacket, wool sweater setup. Rest of us got him out and on the bank. He was most likely close to the critical stage of hypothermia. Unable to take care of himself. We did not know much EMT skill set, but we did know we had to get him dry and warm. Every one pulled out what spare clothing we had (Thankfully a couple of open boaters along!), others made a very fast big time white mans fire (Thankfully Arkansas has plenty of brush on most creeks) and we got him dried off and toasting by the fire. Took a while but he came around and we continued on with the float. We got lucky on this one.

My take on the Farmer John Paddle Jacket combo is it is fine for warmer temps and especially good if you swim in a rocky area. But if it is really cold (your choice of what is really cold) a long swim in a farmer john wetsuit / paddle jacket combo can be deadly. The cold water will get into the wetsuit and take away body heat super fast and the evaporation rate if you do get on dry land it is still gonna be cold.

Winter boating is where it's at on many Arkansas Creeks. Bottom line tho is you need to dress for the swim. Many of us consider a dry suit and fleece bunny suit more as winter safety gear than just comfort gear.
 

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Red Beard
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As a former surfer.... Never, ever, EVER buy a used wetsuit. The chance that it was peed in it is extreamly high. That's how surfers stay warm on really cold days.
 

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Stick with non surfer brand wetsuits (ie NRS).....I'd like to think most kayakers don't follow the lead of surfers, but buyer beware (or have a good nose).

Time to remind my kids that when kayaking they should:

1. never pee in the kayak
2. never pee in the wetsuit

I'll now add this to the list: 3. Don't buy used wetsuits from surfers.......
 

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i wear spandex thermals, a wet suit, a hot chilies insulated shirt, a fleece, dry pants and a dry top when i boat in the winter time in co. i stay very warm.
 

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As a former surfer.... Never, ever, EVER buy a used wetsuit. The chance that it was peed in it is extreamly high. That's how surfers stay warm on really cold days.
As a surfer, I'm surprised that this would bother you. It's strange to hear that some people actually don't pee in their wetsuits. Used wetsuits can be had for a song on craigslist, though new ones will last longer and have better neoprene than older ones. If you want to, just rinse with soap and water. :)

My humble advice: If you're going to wear a wetsuit, get a surf wetsuit (new or used, your preference). The technology is fantastic today, and a good surf suit is extremely comfortable, flexible and warm. I R2 in my surf suit (4/3), it's great. If I swim, I want to be in a full suit...swimming in a farmer john in the winter sounds miserable!
 

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I wear a NRS farmer john drytop combo for winter and early spring boating here in Cali on the SFA. Water temp low to mid 40's, air temp 40's to 60's. Did a SWR class last spring where we were in and out of the water all day, my instructor made me do jumping jacks when I came out of the river so I would stay warm. I was OK in the water, but if you swim and don't want to do P.E. class when you get out, get a drysuit if you can afford it. The one thing that I don't like about wearing a wetsuit is that I feel constricted in the torso, have a harder time with my roll. Could be the added thermal layers and neoprene "squeezing" me. Drysuit is defenitely in my future. If you go the wetsuit route, get a pair of neoprene shorts as well, it will help keep the boys warm.
 

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SarahofTheWaves
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Agree on the surfer's wet suit. The technology is amazing. Surfing requires a great deal of mobility. The NRS wetsuits don't cut it. (Maybe ok for tourists on a raft.)
Look for sales online. 3/4 and flat seams that are sealed. Avoid folded seams.
Drysuits are best, but more expensive and the gaskets are fragile. With a little bit of care (keep sand out of the seams, rinse and let dry) a wetsuit lasts a long time. Avoid abrasion.
 

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I'm right 50% of the time
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This is the best thread of the new year. And yes, I pee in my wetsuit, in my splash pants, in my raft and in kayaks. When in whitewater and the need to pee arrises, I pee. All of said cloathes and craft wash. Pee is sterile. Clothes / wetsuits can be washed in vinegar and hung n the sun. We use cloth diapers for the kids, at first a service and the got some nice ones with some of them previously used. Nothing wrong with a little pee, but you still couldn't get me to drink my own even if I was on a desert isle.
 

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Who needs a groover? Just wait for a Kayaker to break for lunch
 
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