Warm When Wet

Inland paddling
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davebrads
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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by davebrads » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:50 pm

The above is totally opposite to my experience. Neoprene is dreadful when it is wet, my guess is that it traps the water against your skin so that it is able to absorb any warmth whereas fleece (or at least the right kind of fleece) quickly wicks the water away from your skin before it has a chance to absorb any heat. A simple demonstration is to take a garment made of the right kind of fleece, the kind with a smooth outer surface and a fleecy inner surface such as Reed's Transpire or Polartec's Power Stretch , get it wet and then rub your hand over the fleecy inner layer. It feels warm and dry, even though your hand will still pick up a bit of dampness. Do the same with neoprene and it feels cold and clammy.

Worse still you don't even have to fall in to get cold in neoprene as it will hold your sweat against the skin. I learnt the hard way years ago when modern fleece fabrics weren't available and neoprene seemed to be the only answer.
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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by Franky » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:16 pm

I can only agree with Dave B. I don't know about the physics, but before I bought a dry suit I paddled in temperatures of < 5 degrees with a fleece top and fleece trousers and was pretty comfortable. Wet or dry, fleece traps heat from your body. This seems to more than offset loss of heat through evaporation of the water on the outside of the fleece. Two layers of fleece work even better.

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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by Mini2 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:49 pm

Any one tried snow boarding gear ?
I noticed LIDL and ALDI Have them in from time to time at a reasonable price .
I've often thought about it .
Not sure if it would work if your completely submerged
Thanks to every one sharing their experience and opinions on the subject


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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by Strad » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:08 pm

andynormancx wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:25 pm
A fleece top isn't very useful for keeping you warm when it is wet.

Water in contact with your skin conducts heat away from you at something like 25 times faster than air in contact with your skin.

Fleece is warm mainly because it traps lots of against your skin and also inside the fleece material itself. Once fleece is wet you are basically wearing a jacket made of water. Wet fleece won't keep you warm.

Neoprene in comparison keeps you warm because the material itself conducts heat a lot slower that water, but also because the material contains lots of trapped air bubbles.

When neoprene gets wet it doesn't soak up water, the air bubbles are still there. I keeps you warm even when it is wet.

If you are concerned that your wetsuit isn't warm enough for the conditions, get a thicker wetsuit, not a fleece.
Completely dependent on the fleece, some are very quick at wicking and drying, I often use wetsuit / fleece / cag combo in the surf as I find salt water / neckseal combo causes irritation.
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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by andynormancx » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:56 pm

I'm really talking about when you end up in the water, trying to get back into your boat. Your fleece isn't going to wick or dry and is not going to keep you warm when you're in the water (which is when you really need the protection from loss of body heat).

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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by davebrads » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:41 pm

You will find fleece is surprisingly effective at keeping you warm in the water, not as good as neoprene on its own, but when combined with half decent waterproofs it still is probably warmer than the combination of neoprene and waterproofs. I did my WWSR wearing fleece and separates which involved a lot of wading around and swimming in the Dee in November and didn't ever feel too cold despite a little seepage through the seals. It is actually far more important that you stay warm when you're in the boat and on the bank, I think you will lose heat faster on a cold and windy day than you ever will in the water.
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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by andynormancx » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:14 pm

davebrads wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:41 pm
I think you will lose heat faster on a cold and windy day than you ever will in the water.
This is a dangerous myth, it isn't true. Because water conducts heat away _so_ much quicker than air you are always going to lose heat a lot faster in the water.

This is why it is stressed in safety and rescue training that even if you are only able to get part of yourself out of the water, you are far better off then than staying in the water.

Water conducts heat 25 times faster than air, this is not a small difference !

Next time you are out paddling on a cold windy day when the water is cold, see how long you can stand to hold a bare damp hand in the air compared to how long you can stand to hold it under the cold water.

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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by davebrads » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:20 pm

I really don't think this is true, it certainly doesn't fit with my experience.

Your test isn't meaningful, a damp hand will soon dry on a windy day, wet kit will take a lot longer to dry out.

When you are immersed in water the water next to your skin is not moving, or at least not very fast, and as water is very poor conductor of heat (despite being 25 times quicker than air) you will not be losing heat excessively quickly, the problem is preventing the water that is warmed by your body from escaping and transporting that heat elsewhere. Conduction is not the problem, convection is. Air is very efficient at transporting water, and it has the unfortunate preference for taking the warmest molecules, leaving the coldest ones behind.

If they are stressing about getting out of the water quickly it can only be in situations where the air temperature is significantly warmer than the water which is not the case in the UK at this time of the year. I must say that I've not come across it before.
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Re: Warm When Wet

Post by Jim » Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:22 pm

I think you would need to do proper controlled experiments over a range of water and air temperatures with varying current and wind speed. And when you have the results, it is going to be difficult to distill them into simple advice that anyone can remember!

From experience I tend to agree with Dave that I have often when paddling or sailing ended up in situations where the evaporative effect of cold wind made me feel much colder above the water than in it, but whether that experience was completely accurate or not is another matter. Although it certainly feels much colder to be wet in strong wind, I am not necessarily sure that we can feel our core temperature dropping as easily as we feel the temperature of extremities dropping? If we do, there may still be a complex relationship between water and air temperatures and flow speeds that mean that sometimes it is better to stay in the water and sometimes it is better to get out.

As far as the original question of what to wear, you can get wind proofed neoprene, most isn't. Therefore when you sit exposed to wind in wet neoprene you can start to feel cold much more quickly than if you are completely immersed, which is what it is designed to protect against. The problem is, that this is based on the assumption that if you wear neoprene you are not also wearing a windproof layer (or wearing wind proofed neoprene), whilst it would be assumed that if wearing ordinary thermals that they would be coupled with a wind proof outer layer. I am fairly sure that exposed wet fleece in a cold wind will feel just as cold or colder as exposed wet non-windproof neoprene, and that neoprene worn under a cag will be almost as warm as thermals worn under a cag - except that it can feel clammy against the skin and won't wick that moisture away.

For a revolutionary material that keeps you warm when wet you need to step back a few levels of technology and look at natural wool. Damp wool will actually generate heat. I don't think the wool itself does this, but wool is natural and full microbes and is it microbial action when wet which can lead to wool physically warming up. It is a recorded phenomenon that large piles (like a barn full, not just a laundry pile) of damp wool can heat up enough to spontaneously combust. The effect of the microbes in something the size of a jumper is going to be much less, but it does mean that damp wool will keep you as warm as any synthetic fabric, perhaps a little more. Obviously in this day and age we have Merino wool, which is much more comfortable to wear than sheeps wool and makes really good thermal clothing, my reccomendation is to select Merino thermal layers with a wind proof over layer.

I don't like fully dry cags, the neck seals are horrible, so when I am training I wear a semi-dry top with a neck that leaks, it is also a cag deck so absorbs a bit of water through the deck part, and one of the sleeves has developed a leak which i need to look at - I quickly end up fairly wet underneath. but wearing a merino thermal (or 2) I am fine in the coldest air, and water temperatures, at least whilst I keep moving. I tend to wear neoprene shorts for extra cushioning against my seat, they usually end up damp on top due to the water that seeps through the deck over time, and on the bottom if I get the seat wet getting in and out, but even damp because they are inside the boat, they keep me warm enough. I sometimes wear trackie bottoms if I am going to be standing around out of the boat a lot because they are warmer for that, but usually the bottom of the legs gets wet and makes my ankles/calves cold in the boat because they stay damp, where my bare leg will dry off quickly and then not bother me any more.
If I was expecting to swim and/or get very wet I would just wear a dry suit with Merino or fleece underneath, maybe not in a race boat, I did once do a C1 slalom race in the snow in my drysuit but the straps wouldn't grip the drysuit and I was sliding all over the place!

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