kitting out new sea kayakers

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
on the rocks
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:55 pm
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 5 times

kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by on the rocks » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:21 pm

Hello. After decades of climbing at South and North Stack and Pembroke sea cliffs and the occasional chat to kayakers while on belay duty I've recently discovered the joys and adventures sea kayaking via a weekend course around Anglesey for my 60th birthday present from my better half. It's a long time since I did some basic white water as a student. BH has previously done lots of high grade white water kayaking but a long time ago. On the weekend I did well and the Instructor recommended a week's intermediate course, which is now booked for August, in the meantime we are doing a one day rolling clinic. The aim of this training is to become self sufficient enough to enjoy and be in control of our own trips, coastal and weekend camping etc. Ideally BCU 3 star??

Next step then seems to be for both of us to spend a lot of money...… Kayak wise I enjoyed the NDK Pilgrim but looking forward to trying a Romany next time; I'm wondering if the Pilgrim may be a little too agile for my top heavy 67 kg? BH is heavier and enjoyed the Romany - I'm also keen to try a Rockpool Isel which I've heard may tick the boxes for me being well suited to my weight, forgiving for a relative beginner but capability to develop (comments please)?. However first priority would be to get some gear to wear rather than use the centre's gear, at least this would make demos of potential kayaks practical.

So one question that comes to mind is: Would it be sensible/beneficial/cost effective in the long run to forgo a longjohn wetsuit and get a basic drysuit straight away? The attraction of a drysuit for occasional camping or even kayak accessed rock climbing seems good, go for a whole suit or just the trousers and a separate cagoule (get wet rolling)? However I guess a wetsuit would do for most of the time?

Many thanks

Chris Bolton
Posts: 2963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:33 pm
Location: NW England
Has thanked: 26 times
Been thanked: 90 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:16 pm

If you can afford a full drysuit I'd go for that. It's much more comfortable to paddle in and easier when you get off the water, particularly if camping. I have never used separate dry trousers and top as I'd be concerned that they'd leak at the waist - the benefit of a drysuit for me is that you can spend time in the water if you need to without getting cold. If you're in the water you'd need both halves, and it will also allow you to practice rescues, etc, so that you can be more self sufficient.

charleston14
Posts: 179
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:22 pm
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by charleston14 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:46 pm

My suggestion is to invest in your hobby because life is too short not to.

It’s personal preference but I’d suggest you Get a full drysuit with latex wrist seals and a neoprene neck for comfort. Neoprene lasts better than latex generally, and Unless you’re doing loads of rolling you will appreciate the added comfort and heat ventilation of a neoprene neck during extended sessions. Not as watertight, but if I’m intentionally practicing loads of rolling I’d probably just wear a wetsuit that I have or wear a thin neoprene base layer under my drysuit so that a bit damp=still warm.

Very happy with my peak UK adventure drysuit it’s not the most fancy, but really comfy, was £400 and I only get a bit damp through the neck when the neoprene gets fully saturated (if I’m doing loads of swimming during extended rescue practice sessions) , a relief zip is a plus too. You’re also supporting a British company.

Last night I did an hour of rescue drills and self rescue stuff, I was still dry.

Not tried the half and half options so can’t comment

Mrstratos61
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:16 pm
Has thanked: 19 times
Been thanked: 20 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Mrstratos61 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:16 pm

I've done both. A good cag trousers combi and spraydeck barely leaked. Gave seasonal versatility. However got drysuit for cold sea paddling. It's too hot now for inland day trips though. Thermal and wicking base layers have equal importance. Excellent design on Typhoon drysuit.

on the rocks
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:55 pm
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by on the rocks » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:01 pm

Thanks everybody, rolling class on Llyn Padarn was 100% successful! Full wetsuit was very helpful, gravitating towards separate drysuit trousers and cag. After finding the Pilgrim a little too twitchy the Romany felt too big and baggy, Isel may be the answer looking forward to demo.

Sean_soup
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:17 pm
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Sean_soup » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:21 pm

My experience differs from some of the above - I don't think separates are any good if you're likely to be swimming. (So no good for me, as I'm *always* likely to swim at some point.) ;-)

For me it's drysuit when it's cold (or when just the water is cold, and there's any chance I might be in it longer than a *very* short time), or 'farmer john' wetsuit & cag if it's warmer.

If you'd like to try before you buy, I have some PeakUK dry trousers you'd be welcome to borrow. I'm half again your weight though, so they're most likely way too big unfortunately. I bought separates when I started, looking to upgrade from a cheap Decathlon longjohn wetsuit, and regretted it. Bit of a waste of money really, since then I've just very occasionally used them as waders effectively.

The cag I bought at the same time was well worth it, as I often use it with the wetsuit. (The cheap Decathlon one upgraded to a Palm Quantum longjohn.)

PlymouthDamo
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:31 pm
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 38 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by PlymouthDamo » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:59 pm

My experience has been the same as Sean's: I was determined to make a 2-piece solution work so that I could mix and match according to the weather, but even though I bought some very expensive Kokatat stuff, it's still not completely dry. The other problem with 2-piece kit, is that you need to have a big overlapping area around the waist where it seals, and this means it's going to be uncomfortable on hot days. (Especially mine, as the trousers are 'bibs' so they come right up to your chest.)

Until recently, I'd just resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't dress both for immersion and for very hot weather. I ended up using tee-shirt and tracksuit bottoms when it was roasting. However, I've recently managed to get some very cheap, lightweight goretex drysuits and I've been comfortable in these during the recent extremely hot weather - with the occasional cool-down roll.

swagstaff
Posts: 546
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2006 6:59 am
Location: Oban & further west
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by swagstaff » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:23 pm

You could also try the P&H Cetus LV which weighs about 22.5 kg for standard construction or the Northshore Atlantic LV or the Valley Sirona 16.1 .
I do wear bibs & a Cag most of the time and try not to go in the water. If I am playing at the Falls of Lora I would use a paddlesuit (ie with a neoprene neck).
Perhaps a trip to Oban to enjoy the West coast of Scotland & enjoy demoing or rent for a longer period some other boats & some great sea cliff climbing on Mull . Check out the Inner Hebrides & Arran guidebook.
WHITEWATER ALL YEAR LONG

on the rocks
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:55 pm
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by on the rocks » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:53 pm

Thanks all those look interesting but I think the Sirona 15-10 may be a better match for me than the 16.1. I’m really keen on Oban and Mull etc but for demo/ buying purposes would need somebody closer to Sheffield, probably North Wales (but I am vulnerable to temptation) With cost of a boat the drysuit might have to wait for a bit , and go for long John wetsuit and cag for now

richb250
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:49 pm
Has thanked: 2 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by richb250 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:03 pm

The drysuit vs seperates question is a challenge - most of us have ended up with both, as it really depends on conditions. If it's cold enough that I feel the need for a neck seal and a thick thermal, I'll put the drysuit on. For most paddling in the summer months, I find the versatility of dry trousers plus an open-neck cag works better for me. It's also a lot cheaper!

With boats, trying as many as you can before buying is standard and excellent advice. In North Wales, I can recommend https://www.summittosea.co.uk - on Anglesey - with one of the widest selection of boats (and demo kayaks) in the UK, helpful advice and honest customer service. Having said that, if you can get down there, AS Watersports in Exeter is the only place I know of where you can try a range of boats on flat water next to the shop - which is invaluable for whittling down your list of options.

Finally, take care - I suspect that you will find this new sport an addictive pastime...

Chris Bolton
Posts: 2963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:33 pm
Location: NW England
Has thanked: 26 times
Been thanked: 90 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:43 pm

I'm the opposite to richb250 above; I can't see why I'd ever find dry trousers useful - I'm in the boat from the waist down, and if I fall out of the boat I'm in water over my head. If it's cold, or I'm at significant risk of a swim in circumstances where hypothermia would be a problem, I'll wear a drysuit. If it's warm, and swimming is unlikely, I'll wear non-sealed cag and trousers, unless I'm likely to roll or go though big waves, when I'd wear dry-cag and non-sealed trousers. I'm not saying don't buy dry trousers, it may be just me that doesn't see the point!

Sean_soup
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:17 pm
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Sean_soup » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:52 am

Chris Bolton wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:43 pm
I'm not saying don't buy dry trousers, it may be just me that doesn't see the point!
Not just you - at the very least it's me too. When it's too warm for the drysuit but too cool for just a rashy, the cag can be worn with a longjohn wetsuit, shorts or Ron Hill tracky bottoms.

I suppose the dry trousers do give you dry feet and a dry bum in spite of landing and launching, even if there is a borderline wade. But if there's a chance of a swim I'd much rather sit in a wet wetsuit than marinade in 'dry' trousers full of water.

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8063
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by MikeB » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:57 pm

Back in the day, we used to wear sandals with overtrousers, accepting that we'd have wet feet / lower legs. This is fine when it's nice and warm. Or, wellies, thus keeping dry below the knee, assuming of course ye didn't overstep the mark as regards the top of the wellies! Still, nice dry feets.

And now we can have nice comfy sallopettes, with in-built fabric feet. So you can wade / step out of the boat and be lovely and dry. What's not to like?

This, together with a cag, is my kit of choice unless it's absolutely baking. I use K/tat kit, but don't bother doing the joining thing. If however I'm going to be doing some "wet" stuff then it'll be a full drysuit.

But for someone starting out, having a suit and also a two-part set is going to be seriously expensive. Perhaps the two-part is a decent compromise, assuming of course you're starting in semi decent weather.

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13904
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 44 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Jim » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:33 pm

I used to wear dry trousers in my sea kayak because there is/was a fair chance of having to wade getting in or out and it was nice to keep my legs dry, even if I was going to end up paddling in just a t-shirt (& BA) because it was a warm windless day. I er, haven't replaced my last set and probably won't. When its warm I just paddle in shorts now, bare legs dry pretty quick once in the boat, feet will fester either way.

To the original question, in relative terms drysuits (or separates) are so much cheaper than they used to be that I would recommend anyone starting out to skip the wetsuit phase and go straight for dry kit. I am sure that people develop their skills much more quickly these days because they can be using comfortable kit from the start and not struggling in restrictive wetsuit gear which is always either too hot or too cold and distracts from learning to paddle.

on the rocks
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:55 pm
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by on the rocks » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:40 am

This is an update and thanks for all of the helpful advice for us newbies. After trying a number of boats we both got new Rockpool Isels and very pleased with them too. I bought a Peak Adventure drysuit which again has been great, other half went for the sperate dry trousers and top but found waist seal not perfect and also a lot of faff to overlap the various layers. We both scraped through our 3 star assessment last week and looking forward to lots of consolidation and enjoyable trips over the months and years ahead. Swagstaff; Scotland does sound very appealing, maybe a week from Ullapool for next summer and will probably be in touch

User avatar
Chas C
Posts: 1796
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 9:12 pm
Location: New Forest
Has thanked: 19 times
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: kitting out new sea kayakers

Post by Chas C » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:35 am

Ullapool is a good destination, if the weather is good you have the choice of the summer isles and some nice coastal / estuary paddling, if the weather is not so good then the inland loch's provide a nice paddle too. Take a hat with a drop down net to protect from the midges, the summer isles can at times be uncomfortable without some face protection.

Post Reply