Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:30 pm

Something that has vexed me; is what to wear on hot sunny days in spring when the water is still very cold.

Take this day for example:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...sound5.jpg
April 18th, baking hot sun, wearing T shirt and shorts. Water temperature 7 degrees centigrade!

Later that afternoon a strong thermal wind got up: sea very cold with cool dense air which rushes onshore funnelling up the glens to replace hot thin air which rises over very warm mountains, (it hit 28 degrees in Glen Brittle that afternoon).

We had to round a major headland in a wind against tide situation with a 90 degree swell just to further add confusion. I certainly was not taking photographs.

If we had capsized we would have been in deep trouble.
Falling into 9 degree C (50 degree F) water without thermal protection, 50% of 50 year olds will be dead within 50 minutes if they do not move and 50% will be dead by the time they swim 50 metres (the 50/50/50 rule of the US Navy rescue divers).

See also Essentials of Sea Survival, Golden and Tipton Human Kinetics(2002) and
www.wavelengthmagazine.co...coping.php

You might say "well I would recover and get back into the kayak as soon as possible". Oh yes? Sudden immersion in cold water seriously compromises motor function. Many shipping deaths are caused because swimmers cannot get themselves into nice stable life rafts with grab loops and foot loops.

Cold water (<9degrees centigrade) kills in three ways:
1. near instantaneous cardiac arrest due to cold shock.
2. very rapid drowning due to the gasp reflex and inhalation of water during hyperventilation (over breathing).
3. hypothermia.

Common sense says don't fall in, but we experienced everything from glassy flat calm at 2pm to a 20 knot wind with confused seas at 4pm. That unpredictability is what the sea is all about, particularly in the strong tides and mountainous parts of the West coast.

So do you dress for the sea temperature? Well in winter I use thermals with a breathable dry suit but that is much too hot for sunny days in spring. A farmer john wetsuit, and breathable cag top is sensible but pretty uncomfortable for a long paddle.

In the States and many parts of Europe "Aquashell" has just about replaced neoprene.
www.atkenco.com/catpg/cat...=131#prods

and
www.kwark.de/index2.htm

It has three layers. An outer stretchy nylon/lycra layer, A windproof breathable waterproof layer and an inner fleece layer.

It is comfortable, breathable and warm wet or dry (equivalent to 2.5mm neoprene). While it won't provide the warmth of a 5mm wetsuit it sure is better than a T shirt and shorts in 7 degree water.

Can we get it in the UK? Well the only manufacturer was apparently Peak. I phoned them up this afternoon and although they had experimented with it last year there was apparently little demand and they have now got a line of stretch fleece garments that are wind but not waterproof. What a shame!

So are there other manufacturers using Aquashell, should we create a demand for Aquashell garments in the UK, do others have better clothing suggestions or am I being a wimp and should carry on with macho T shirt and Shorts?

Douglas

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13497
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton

Re: Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by Jim » Thu Jul 10, 2003 6:23 pm

Yep, that is a tricky situation.

Personally I find that I don't lose heat much from my legs, I also don't overheat too much down there either - so I generally don't worry too much about what I wear on my legs - chillcheater trousers a lot of the time, with dry trousers (since Easter) if I expect to be getting wet.

For on top however I tend to go with layering thermals - short sleeve ones at the bottom so I can get down to just paddling in a t-shirt if I need to. Obviously this requires keeping extra warm clothing somewhere handy and dry(ish) to put on if it gets colder or rougher (i.e. chance of swimming increases). In fact I rarely change my thermal layer but alter my cags! I use a short sleeved cag if it's nice, if the wind picks up a leaky long sleeve cag goes on over the top or instead, or if it's going to be bad my dry cag goes on - again either instead of or on top of whichever other cags I'm wearing. I managed to use all 3 cags in one day at Easter!

As for the very real danger of catching hypothermia even with all this kit on, I never give this much attention (not enough you could probably correctly say). Conditions have to be very severe to get me out of my river boat - they would have to be much worse to get me out of my sea boat. I'd like to think (and again I might get caught out one day) that if conditions were getting that bad, I would find somewhere to find and make a shelter before it came to swimming.

Getting on to your point - I've never heard of this aquashell you mention so I've never thought about using it - maybe I would maybe I wouldn't. It makes good sense but you should see the amount of kit I have laying about the place already..... :-)

JIM

User avatar
andy
Posts: 172
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 6:00 pm
Location: Next to Border Esk, Cumbria

Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by andy » Thu Jul 10, 2003 8:25 pm

I have recently returned to the UK after 5 years working in North America. Cold water is treated much more seriously there and if Douglas had been on a club outing there he would have had to dress for immersion regardless of air temperature. All the big clubs, Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo Paddlers have recently passed resolutions to this effect.

I can talk from experience, spring 2 years ago I got hit by a williwaw off Kodiak island. Air temp was 20 sea temp 7 wind about 4 mph went up to about 50 air temp down to -5. I was wearing nylon paddling shorts, fleece jacket and cag with latex neck and wrist seals, pfd but no head gear. The cold water hitting my head completly disoriented me, despite having a good grade 4 WW roll, I do not think I even tried to roll. I got the gasping and choking then despite my dry cag my legs and crotch got so cold I seemed to be paralysed from the waist down. I couldn't do a rentry coz I couldnt feel or move my legs. Both mates had failed to roll but both managed reentry rolls once the williwaw passed because they were wearing full dry suits and skull caps. By this time I was passing out with the cold, I do not remember much till they got me ashore and warmed up. I always go dressed for imersion now.

Aquashell is wonderful, I wonder why they dont have it here. I have an Aquashell farmer john which I use with a fleece top and thin breathable cag for cold water. As it warms up I have Aquashell shorts and short sleved top. It is highly breathable, warm and waterproof and strchy and comfortable. so no matter how warm the air is you will not be too hot wearing it. It is made by an American company Malden Mills who also make polartec outdoor fleece.

Here are some links from North America about cold water.

www.capital.net/com/nckay...ety_p4.htm

www.capital.net/com/nckay...nks_p5.htm

www.seagrant.umn.edu/tour...ermia.html

Cheers Andy

Steve B
Posts: 5699
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 2:36 pm
Location: Taunton, Somerset

Re: Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by Steve B » Fri Jul 11, 2003 10:46 am

One of the benefits of neoprene is that if it sustains damage, the rest of the garment still works. It doesn't suffer from 'leaks'. How well does Aquashell perform when damaged, e.g. a long john with a hole in the knee?

Steve B.

User avatar
andy
Posts: 172
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 6:00 pm
Location: Next to Border Esk, Cumbria

Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by andy » Fri Jul 11, 2003 11:07 am

Because Aquashell is elastic and stretchy it is close fitting so like neoprene very little water would get in so both have an advantage over dry suits in this respect.
Andy

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13497
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton

Re: Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by Jim » Fri Jul 11, 2003 11:31 am

Does aquashell stay warm when wet? That is the benefit of neoprene (which I don't use much of) and is partly true of most synthetic thermals (so I'm expecting a yes answer). Old fashioned fibrepile (I don't have any) is supposed to be one of the best things to wear when wet, wool stays warm but does tend to be rather more hygroscopic than is desirable.

At the end of the day anything genuinely thermal is going to be too hot while you stay upright, the only solution is to add layers before the situation changes too far for the worse - which can be difficult with the rapid changes of weather we experience in Scotland and elsewhere.

JIM

greg
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2003 3:10 pm

Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by greg » Fri Jul 11, 2003 3:10 pm

G'day from Oz!
Forgive an intruder butting in but I came across this site searching for places to paddle in Scotland as I am over here for the "summer".
What everyone has said about Aquashield is true but it is also cool in hot sun! In Oz and NZ it is known as sharkskin and is sold for its SPF (sun protection)properties! We have hot sun and cold water too, even penguins in Tassie.
Sharkskin suits, shorts, tops, farmerjohns are really popular because they are so breathable, cool in hot sun (reflective silver is a colour option) yet eqivalent to 3 mil neoprene in cold water.
www.backpackandkayak.com....akkegs.htm
I am amazed you guys do not have it here, in the Far East it is also very popular and called fuzzy rubber, but whatever it's called I think it is all made by Polartec. Get yourselves some.
See ya,
Greg

User avatar
sub5rider
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2003 4:38 pm

Re: Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by sub5rider » Fri Jul 11, 2003 6:29 pm


Sounds like Chill-Cheater's stuff doesn't it ?
Nigel, aka Sub5Rider, Onioneer

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Jul 14, 2003 9:51 pm

I managed to get some end of line Peak paddling shorts in aquashield. Definitly not same as chillcheater stuff which I have also got. On Sunday paddled for 1 hour in neoprene shorts, yuk! Then 1 hour in aquashell, great hardly knew they were on very breathable and cool. Then spent a long time in the water (14 degrees C) practicing reentry rolls, the shorts were warm and comfortable..including out of the water afterwards.

Next task is to get a long john for winter use with a cag top and a top for use on its own in summer.

Lotus designs by patagonia do a long sleeve and short sleeve "water heater" top, but I am not sure if you can get them in the uk.

www.lotusdesigns.com/html...nsul.shtml

At last year's Laser world Championships the UK sailors were all envious of the Americans in Aquashell so Steve Cockerill from Roostersailing has started to make a long sleeve top in the UK. He calls it aquafleece rather than aquashell.
www.roostersailing.com/me...Code=therm

The seriousness behind this thread is illustrated by the recent tradgedy that befell a 3 generation family in Loch Ryan, SW Scotland on Saturday. 5 people were thrown into the water when a 16 foot fishing boat capsized. They had life jackets but no immersion protection, water temp was 14 degrees. The grandfather and friend clung to the boat and were rescued several hours later and survived. The father and two sons were separated from the boat. One son is lost and the other two were picked up shortly after the older men but died shortly afterwards in hospital. I think this tradgedy illustrates the seriousness of being in even relatively warm water.

At 10 degrees centigrade without immersion protection and if you survive the immediate cold shock, the body's ability to do useful work is only 10 minutes.

I think dressing for the conditions is always a gamble on the sea. Take the Solway on Saturday, I went out on a glorious hot 26 degree day, the forecast wind of 8 knots was just a gentle ripple. Within 20 minutes we had a fierce thermal wind of 28 knots, wind against a fast flowing 7 meter ebb tide, a Wayfarer dinghy capsized and wrecked on the rocks ( I have sailed a Wayfarer since 1971 and Never come near to capsizing.) I was glad to paddle back to the shore then had a really good blast on the windsurfer (29.3 knots max speed on the GPS!)

Still thoughtful
Douglas


Ross C
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2003 3:34 pm

RE: Immersion wear for hot days cold water

Post by Ross C » Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:40 am

So what is the difference between aqushield and chillcheater. I am definitely interested in getting some gear of this kind so a comparison would be useful.

Jonathan Theobald
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 3:43 pm

Aqua Shell - where to buy

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Jul 16, 2003 1:35 pm

Patagonia was the only outfit I could find who manufactures and sells Aqua Shell. They do long and short sleeved tops which they call water heaters www.patagonia.com/za/PDC/...5085&pg=1. They don't seem to manufacture shorts or anything else in Aqua Shell.

Here's the reply I had from Patagonia -


Dear Jonathan,

I'm afraid we don't distribute kayaking and paddling gear in Europe.

If you want to place an order, please contact our US customer service directly, since they can handle international shipping. ( please be aware that prices shown on the website are VAT free, and you'll be charged for customs & shipping).

While our site is not set up to handle orders with international addresses, you can give us your order for non-sale items by phone (00-1-775-747-1992) or fax(00-1-775-747-6159) and we will be happy to ship it to you; we cannot take the order via email because it is not secure.

The shipping cost varies with the weight of the package and the method: Federal Express (one week, expensive) or Postal Service (one month, less expensive). Visa, MasterCard, Discover and AMEX are all fine. If you are going to order by fax, just select your items online and print out the "Shopping Bag" page; please be sure to include your shipping address, billing address, credit card number and expiration date, and any second choices. Prices for products shipped internationally may be different from those shown on our website. Please contact us by phone or fax for pricing information before placing your order.

I remain at your disposal if you need any further information.

Best regards

Ga%lle
Patagonia Europe Customer Service
gaelle_chevalet@patagonia.com



>From: "Jonathan Theobald"
>Sent: Friday, July 11, 2003 7:12 AM
>To: EURO.CUSTOMER.SCE
>Subject: Query re UK stockists


>Would you kindly give me details of UK suppliers from >whom I can buy a water heater top, which I want for >kayaking?

>And does Patagonia manufacture shorts and trousers >in the same material?

>Many thanks

>Jonathan Theobald

Steve B
Posts: 5699
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 2:36 pm
Location: Taunton, Somerset

Re: Aqua Shell - where to buy

Post by Steve B » Wed Jul 16, 2003 1:57 pm

The link doesn't seem to work but this one should do it:

www.patagonia.com/za/PDC?OPTION=PRODUCT ... &sku=85332

Looks great, I'm just not sure I can risk $130 plus international shipping on something I've never seen. But it does look superb. Mmmm.

Steve B.

Jonathan Theobald
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 3:43 pm

Re: Aqua Shell - where to buy

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Jul 16, 2003 3:34 pm

And here - I hope is - the link for the $95 short sleeved version.
"www.patagonia.com/za/PDC?...sku=85344"

I'm tempted, too, but dislike being unable to try before I buy, particularly as sending stuff back to the US is likely be expensive (what chance customs duty and sales tax there and back again?).

Their size chart seems to cater for blokes built like Charles Atlas - big chest and no waist. Me, I'm a bean pole which could mean I end up either with something that's flapping round my top or strangles my middle.


User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Rooster aquafleece

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Jul 16, 2003 5:00 pm

I have just bought a Rooster "Aquafleece" long sleeved top from
www.roostersailing.com/me...rchant.mv?
cost £57 quid.

It is not made from USA Polartec AquaShell but UK made (Manchester) Aqua fleece.

It looks the business and I will let you know how I get on with it.

Unlike Chillcheeter it has a fleece lining and like Aquashell is supposed to be as warm as a 2.5-3 mm neoprene wetsuit when wet. Also chillcheeter have waterproof seams while Aqua Fleece does not.

Unlike Aqushell, Aquafleece seems to have a woven outer membrane covered with a very thin neoprene so it might not be so breathable as my Aquashell shorts which were really excellent that way.

I will keep you posted, but it looks very promising,

Douglas

Jonathan Theobald
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 3:43 pm

Aqua Shell

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Jul 16, 2003 7:15 pm

Seems this stuff is available in the UK after all. It is sold by Fourth Element as thermocline, costs less than Patagonia kit, and is available in more styles.

"www.fourthelement.com/summer/technical/"

Anyone tried it?

Steve B
Posts: 5699
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 2:36 pm
Location: Taunton, Somerset

Re: Aqua Shell

Post by Steve B » Wed Jul 16, 2003 7:46 pm

Can anyone tell me the point of the bikini top and briefs? Apart from the fact that they look grrrrrreat on the models, of course.

Steve B.

Albert Ross
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 9:38 pm

Deja vu

Post by Albert Ross » Wed Jul 16, 2003 9:38 pm

Can't help thinking I've seen this picture somewhere before www.fourthelement.com/sum..._image.jpg

C Lyons
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 10:03 pm

Deja vu

Post by C Lyons » Wed Jul 16, 2003 10:03 pm

There does seem to be an uncanny resemblance between that picture and this one. www.guidebook.free-online...arklnf.jpg

I wonder if the subjects are by any chance related? I think we should be told.

Jonathan Theobald
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 3:43 pm

Re: Deja vu

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Sat Jul 19, 2003 3:27 pm

Fourth Element delivered the shorts and vest I bought from them next day, so full marks there. And Aquashell fabric looked the business - thick fleece with a shiny outer surface that promised to be very windproof.

Only problem was that when I was bending forwards the shorts and vest hardly met. That may be because I'm 6'2", but I think it's more to do with Fourth Element not being very focused on the needs of kayakers. My Chillcheater top generously overlaps my Chillcheater trousers, and according to the Chillcheater website their vest also overlaps their standard, non-bent shorts by a good 150mm.

Fourth Element tell me they intend producing an all in-one body suit combining vest and trousers, and I think that could be well worth buying.

Meanwhile, I've returned things to them for a refund.






PaulC
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2002 9:13 am

chillcheater

Post by PaulC » Sat Jul 19, 2003 5:17 pm

Hi

Does anyone have experience of chillcheater at sea? If so what are its warmth properties like when immersed (floundering!) Is it part way to 2.5mm neoprene?

Cheers

Paul


User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13497
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton

Re: chillcheater

Post by Jim » Sat Jul 19, 2003 6:03 pm

I've been trying to gather my thoughts on this.

I think chillcheater used to make microfleece garments with a wind and waterproof membrane on the outside. I think this because I'm sure my friend was asking about it an an exhibition and was told the reason they stopped doing it was because they found it was impossible to wash the smell out.

Now given that chillcheater definitely are oriented to kayakers maybe people looking for this type of stuff should ask them about it - who knows if you can convince them you don't mind the smell maybe they'll start making it again!

JIM

User avatar
jayno55
Posts: 159
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: Sheffield

Post by jayno55 » Wed Sep 14, 2005 9:59 pm

After re-reading this thread I did a bit of (internet) surfing and found a UK based dealer for Aquashell clothing aimed at paddlers:

http://www.squarerock.co.uk/ms_aquashell.htm

Jayno

Owen
Posts: 2106
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:42 pm
Location: Nr Stirling
Contact:

Post by Owen » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:59 pm

I’ve just taken delivery of a pair of shorts from Forth Element Ltd made in their “Thermocline” fabric. Only to find that this is a very similar fabric to the one used by Nookie in their “Thermal Core” range; the Forth Element’s inner fleece layer is slightly fluffier.

I’ve been using one of the Nookie tops for about a year now and I’m very imprested with it. What I particularly like is that the outer Lycra layer can be wet but the inner fleece, next to the skin, stay dry. Even after a swim the fleece is dry to the touch within minutes. I spent about an hour and a half in the Firth of Forth last month teaching a friend to roll his kayak. I was wearing the Nookie top and neoprene trousers towards the end of the session I was beginning to get a bit chilly.

To compare this fabric with Reed’s “Aquatherm”.
The Thermocline/Thermal Core is a fleece similar to Polartec 100 with a knitted outer layer that has a high Lycra content which makes it hug the body. But it feels just like your wearing a fleece and it’s almost as breathable.
Aquatherm is a much thinner “micro – fleece” bonded to an outer that is a kind of very thin rubberised material; so it’s more of a very lightweight wetsuit. Aquatherm isn’t very breathable.

In the water the thermal protection of the two fabrics feels about the same to me; but that’s not a very scientific test. Last February I went for a swim in Loch Long wearing my Nookie top under an Aquatherm shirt this makes in effect a super wetsuit; I had neoprene trousers on my legs. I was swimming for about twenty minutes; I got out because I was bored not because I was cold.

I now have a pair of long pants from Nookie, these and the top under Salopettes and a cag will do for most Sea Kayaking in this country. In hot weather I can swap the long pants for the Forth Element shorts. In winter I can swap the cag for a dry top.

Nookie do a lighter weight short sleeved top called “Soft Core” I did order one of these weeks ago, when it was still hot, but it still hasn’t come so I’ve cancelled it. Perhaps someone at Nookie should get their finger out.

User avatar
jayno55
Posts: 159
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: Sheffield

Post by jayno55 » Fri Sep 23, 2005 2:40 pm

useful feedback Owen :-)

you might be interested in taking a look at the new thread I've just started re Merino Wool

jayno

Post Reply