Originally Posted by Fenlander
How do flotation suits work then? Do they have tight seals at all openings or do you need footwear that joins them.
Not actual seals. They usually have some sort of "cuff" or restiction that stops the water rushing on quite to quick - thus reducing the swearing (and potentially life threatening cold shock) when you fall in. It also helps to keep the water in the suit so like a wetsuit it warms up. I'm a big fan of flotation suits, I don't usually go as deep as you though - I seem to have perfected the art of going just above
my wellies! Every bloomin' time! Occassionally I'll need to go a bit deeper (usually if with the family) and even if I get mid thigh deep on launching the flotation suit keeps me warm for the rest of the day. There are some draw backs though, you'll be wet getting in the car (unless you get changed) whereas with some alternatives you'll just have to strip off the outer layer. Another is that on a warm day you are slowly steamed in your own juices. Finally when you take rain or spray over the top it can get down the neck so you aren't dry (but will warm up quickly).
For all weather Sibbing a drysuit is probably the ideal choice especially if you can afford a breathable one. I've never liked latex neck seals for more than an hour or so, and latex socks are very vulnerable to damage so for me these would push towards high end suits that can cost as much as an entry level SIB!
I use wetsuits for other activities and certainly for extending the season beyond shorts it would be an affordable choice. Beware though they can become a bit uncomfortable after several hours (I've never tried ladies hosiery!) and whilst flotation suits just look like hardcore oilies and so not totally our of place around most shore side villages/cafes you may feel conspicuous popping to get some icecreams or a pint of milk in your skin tight trousers!
I have a kayak dry top - I've always wondered whether the seal between dry trousers and dry tops was any good - I suspect spray/splash rather than swim resistant?