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Old 07 September 2006, 10:28   #1
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Dry suits

I imagine at least some of you use dry suits when ribbing - what are they like to wear for a prolonged period from the point of view of:

1) getting too hot and sweaty on a reasonably warm day

and/or

2) being impervious to wind chill on a really cold day (without wearing other stuff on top)

I've never even worn a dry suit, its an expensive thing to buy and I know nothing at all about diving kit, but I'm thinking about getting one and just wondering what the pros and cons are compared to just wearing ordinary clothes and waterproofs, it would obviously make launching and recovery easier if you did have to get wet, I don't really intend to fall out of the boat so it's not really required for that, I just wondered if being environment-proof was a benefit worth the cost....?

Opinions please
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Old 07 September 2006, 10:35   #2
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There's really three types of drysuit - one for diving, with air dump, etc, a commercial immersion suit which leaves you about as mobile as the Michelin man, and the more usual overclothes drysuit as used by RNLI inshore boats.

The more normal types are now available in goretex, so are fairly breatheable, but are never going to be wonderfully cool when it's hot. Also, a drysuit has no thermal properties itself, so for colder weather a "woolly bear" type undersuit is of use.

Try Polar Bears for diving drysuit, Typhoon, Crewsaver or numerous others for "normal" drysuits.

I'd recommend going for one with boots attached though, it prevents the feet from getting really sweaty and is a tougher, easier option than the lates "socks" used by many.

Make sure you correctly measure and adjust the latex seals on wrist and neck though, otherwise they'll either let in water or cut off circulation to your head!
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Old 07 September 2006, 10:36   #3
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My other half swears by her drysuit and woolly bear-keeps her warm in allsorts. The woolly bear undersuit is a wicking material so keeps sweat off too.
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Old 07 September 2006, 10:37   #4
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Stephen,

They are good for the not so warm periods of the year and if you have to get when launching etc.

They have no heat retention properties and you need to wear warm clothing under them if the water is cold. They are a bit of a pain to put on but the breathable ones don't sweat that much.

The worst thing about them is that once on you are stuck with them. I think Ravenspring do a wader type bottom with a sealable waistband. Probably the best way to go if your not going to do lots of wet work.

But I do like the Drysuit during the winter months. Gives you a sort of smug feeling when wading/swimming ashore in November.

I've never been to the Falklands but if I ribbed down there I should imagine I would alsways wear a drysuit. The major issue with them is when you want to go into a bar or restaurant. You really need to take it off then. If you take one off in public you look a right dork stretching it over your head.

If you wanted to be really safe though I guess we should always wear a Drysuit. Just doesn't seem right during the summer months.

You say they cost a lot. I got my son a nice Typhoon Drysuit for about £170. Its a nice bit of kit. Only missing the boots. My Ravenspring cost over £300 is not much better than the Typhoon but at least it has the boots fitted.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07 September 2006, 10:46   #5
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Course, you could buy one of these...
I bought a couple of them VERY cheap on ebay (£10 each for used ones) for when mates come out with me and they've got no proper waterproofs. They work ok and keep you warm and dry over normal clothes. They've got integral gloves too that tuck away though the gloves aren't waterproof. The neck seals aren't fantastic but are better than a slap in the face.

I hope my mate in the pics doesn't see them!


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Old 07 September 2006, 10:56   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BogMonster
I've never even worn a dry suit, its an expensive thing to buy and I know nothing at all about diving kit, but I'm thinking about getting one and just wondering what the pros and cons are compared to just wearing ordinary clothes and waterproofs
Get one. You won't regret it.

DO get a breathable one, DO get one with a fly zip, DO wear it even when you don't think you'll need it.

When things get horrible, a drysuit is the only way to stay really dry. You can layer underneath to suit the conditions - some people have all in one "woolly bears", but I prefer jeans, t-shirt and a fleece. You'll feel hot getting the boat ready and starting off, but you'll soon feel the benefit. If it gets really cold you can wear a windproof jacket over the top for extra warmth.

Other benefits:

Not faffing around trying to keep dry when you're launching and retrieving makes everything easier, quicker and safer.

If you do happen to eject yourself from the boat when you're at sea, a drysuit (with suitable clothing underneath) is more likely to protect you from hyperthermia than "waterproofs" are.

Downsides are price (but they're not much more expensive than a decent set of "waterproofs") and comfort (some people just don't get on with the neck seals).

A seach through previous discussions here should turn up a fair bit of information and opinion!

John
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Old 07 September 2006, 11:17   #7
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Gul make the best drysuits if you are going to be reasonably active as they are cut and have wear patches etc. to suit dinghy sailing. I'm not sure what the current ones are called as they've just changed them but we have a number of them that have served on boards, dinghies and ribs and are still breathable, dry and not badly worn!!!

Match them to a decent thermal underlayer (breathable again) and a good nylon thermal base layer (all the manufacturers do them but we stuck with Gul) and you won't believe how warm and comfortable you can be WITHOUT looking and feeling like the l'homme Michelin!

Purple Marine are always worth a look for deals.
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Old 07 September 2006, 13:14   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kennett
Get one. You won't regret it.

DO get a breathable one, DO get one with a fly zip, DO wear it even when you don't think you'll need it.

When things get horrible, a drysuit is the only way to stay really dry. You can layer underneath to suit the conditions - some people have all in one "woolly bears", but I prefer jeans, t-shirt and a fleece. You'll feel hot getting the boat ready and starting off, but you'll soon feel the benefit. If it gets really cold you can wear a windproof jacket over the top for extra warmth.

Other benefits:

Not faffing around trying to keep dry when you're launching and retrieving makes everything easier, quicker and safer.

If you do happen to eject yourself from the boat when you're at sea, a drysuit (with suitable clothing underneath) is more likely to protect you from hyperthermia than "waterproofs" are.

Downsides are price (but they're not much more expensive than a decent set of "waterproofs") and comfort (some people just don't get on with the neck seals).

A seach through previous discussions here should turn up a fair bit of information and opinion!

John
I could not disagree with a word of that. I for one am prepared to put up with neck seals etc as the benefits outweigh the hassle, I use a Ravenspring breathable one and the folks there at Ravenspring couldn't be more helpfull, although I know a lot of the folks here on Ribnet prefer a WOSS. Above all else, get a fly zip, ooooh the relief .... without having to take the whole thing off
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Old 07 September 2006, 13:31   #9
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I have got gull too,The lightweight dark blue and more heavy duty red and blue with wear patches and pockets which can be handy.I dont regret getting them with socks as i bought six so your not restricted to who in the family wears them as they grow very quickly.I also find you can wear trainers so when you call for lunch somewhere just slip off suit and put trainers back on.Down side as pointed out before your feet can sweat more than in fitted boots.
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Old 07 September 2006, 13:35   #10
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The other thing you could consider For 99 pounds is a floatation suit great warmth and wind protection but dont go padling
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Old 07 September 2006, 15:01   #11
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I have a Musto HPX drysuit which is excellent. They are very expensive new, but very reasonable second hand on Ebay. There are usually great bargains after a round the world sailing event ends & the crews dump their used Musto gear on Ebay.

Mine is a little battle hardened but at I think reasonable value at £120.

One think you may like to consider is the position of the main zip. Mine is at shoulder level at the back. It's virtually impossible to zip up on my own, but much more comfortable when done up than the ones with a zip at the front.

I agree with the other comment made - go for a breathable material if you can & have a "comfort" zip. Absolutely essential after a few breakfast beers work their way through your system on a long trip
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Old 07 September 2006, 15:07   #12
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floatation suits are the way forward ! i work in one when it gets a bit bad ! go for a two piece then you can all ways take your jacket off i have a one piece and if the sun does ever get out you end up with sweaty ollops !!!!! if you shop around you will get a set of boots thrown in as well . Hope this helps ? .
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Old 07 September 2006, 15:44   #13
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Depends on your intended useage.......

We often play with the knee board, inflatables and other toys, so tend to end up in the water a lot. I dont have a dry suit for use on my own RIB. I invested in a set of good wet suits - a Gul Shorty (Short arms and legs) for summer use and a full suit (Gul Steamer) for winter use, with a pair of good neoprean typhoon boots, neoprean gloves and a Typhoon neoprean balaclava - i look like the man off the 'because the lady loves Milk tray ad - except I look like I've eaten 'all' the chocolates........ for about 10 years!!!). (Stop laffin !) I've also got a Flaven 1 piece floatation, which cost me £65 which if I've been in the drink in the winter or when its really cold, I can put on over the full wet suit and be a warm as 'toast'.

I'm also a volunteer with Hornsea Inshore Rescue and we wear the woolly bear under full dry suits with boots, the helmet and all the gear and if you go in the drink with a dry suit on, and you're not used to the experience it can be unpleasant as the water pressure tightens seals around the neck, wrist etc.

Personally for leisure use, i find my own kit gives me greater movement & flexibility when dry, with equal warmth and comfort - and I'd only be in the water with the wet suit on, which again gives me greater flexibility and comfort. Plus if you get a hole in a dry suit when you're at sea, you've got a 'bag'. This is not an issue with a wet suit and floatation suit.

My advice is if you're a ribster - you're gonna get wet, and it depends on your useage, If you never intentionally go in the drink for sports / similar, you probably wouldnt ever buy a wetsuit, but a modern good quality wet suit is very comfortable, they let in very little water, when worn correctly and wont become a bag, if you accidentally hole it.

Try a few different types of kit - see which works for you.

Steve
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Old 07 September 2006, 15:49   #14
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My Brother in law swears by them he has a Gul came in handy when on the way to Aldnerney his prop got fouled by some rope, he had to get into the water to cut though it,
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Old 08 September 2006, 02:21   #15
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One crucial thing though - when you put the drysuit on, do everything up, then from a standing position gently hold open the neck seal, and crouch down to the ground.

This will expel much of the air inside, meaning you look less like something inflatable from Ann Summers.

If you do go in the water, quickly place a finger in the nexk seal (not letting water in) and try to put your feet under water - again, this expels air and will help you float in a more head-up position.
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Old 08 September 2006, 02:44   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havener
If you do go in the water, quickly place a finger in the nexk seal (not letting water in) and try to put your feet under water - again, this expels air and will help you float in a more head-up position.
Yeah, very important. The last thing you want if you have the misfortune to go upside down in the water is having all the air at your feet. Makes getting your head up again a whole load more interesting

Andrew
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Old 08 September 2006, 04:44   #17
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Many thanks, lots of info there

It will probably have to wait till next time I am over in the UK as it seems there are lots of different types and it needs to be something I can easily get on single handed, I hadn't appreciated that it can be difficult to get in to one without assistance so it sounds like a "try before you buy" may be required to make sure it is suitable, don't want to ship one 8000 miles and find it doesn't fit (I am a fat bugger) or I can't zip it up!

I'd thought they started at about £300 but I didn't realise you could get cheaper ones.

cheers

Stephen
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Old 08 September 2006, 06:56   #18
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Hammond for me every time now.
Made to measure so it fits even if your an odd shape, bit like meself.
Chris is very helpful.

As well as made to measure you can have all the extras fitted too...pockets, zip flies, range of boots etc.

They will be at SIBS for the first time this year might be worth a visit and a chat

Regards
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Old 08 September 2006, 10:50   #19
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Avoid neoprene diving suits unless you fancy diving in one that is, they are ok but are heavy to wear and a bit cumbersome to move about in. You sometimes see ex-mod goretex suits around, if cheap these are good.
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Old 08 September 2006, 11:02   #20
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One with built-in wellies is probably better as well. I have one with just "socks" and these are always getting torn. I've repaired it several times but it still leaves you with damp feet.
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