View topic - Flat Water Trip in Algonquin | Early November | Dry suit??

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2020, 7:07 am 
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Hi all,
I'm going on my first November Paddling trip this year and I'd like to know what the community thinks of this. I've paddled almost year round, especially in my white water kayaking years, and in those cold months I always wore my dry suite.

My upcoming trip in early November will be the first time I go on a multiday trip this late in the season and on the safety side of things I was wondering if it is common practice to bring a dry suite for a flat water portaging trip?

Thoughts?

Cheers,

Marty

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2020, 8:52 am 
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Good question., Père extrême. A drysuit is especially good if you're at risk of capsize. I have rarely used mine in portage-heavy trips in Algonquin. When I did use mine on a 10-day ice-out trip on the Nipissing River a few years ago, my results were mixed.
The Good:
1) great when hanging around multi-night camps in constant drizzle. Much dryer inside than any of my rain gear. Can spend the day fishing in miserable weather.

The Bad:
1) not good for portaging: others will surely disagree, but if you tend to sweat moderately or profusely, you will quickly soak whatever underlayer(s) you're wearing. Remember, the concept of the drysuit is to dress for immersion, not for air temperature. Portaging will then require 3 or 4 extra merino wool or polyester underlayers in your gear pack because once wet, they are uncomfortable and possibly dangerous to wear, difficult to dry out in cool, shoulder-season temps, etc.
2) You still require a wind jacket or rain gear in certain conditions because drysuits breathe to some extent and, dry as you might be when not deeply exerting yourself, cold wind still passes into the interior
3) you can portage while wearing one by unzipping and freeing your torso from it, but you'll still sweat inside the legs
4) Portaging will add wear to feet sections and legs depending on roughness and vegetation on trails (climbing over downed trees, etc.

The Ugly:
2-3 pounds carrying weight that will probably spend considerable time in your pack

Conclusions:
I've stopped bringing mine on flat water ice-out Algonquin fishing trips. There are other strategies to use to stay warm and dry. My answer would be different if you were running big volume moving water, i.e. the Petawawa R.
On the other hand if you're base-camping for a multi-day stay on a site 2-3 moderate portages into the interior, I'd say go ahead and bring it. Hope that helps.


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2020, 10:16 am 
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Thanks for your reply Martin!

I guess I should have added the goal of this trip.

So we will be out for 3 days (Friday morning - Sunday night) and probably planning on travelling 20km per day with portages. So depending on each portage we will be probably doing anywhere between 1k to 5k of portage per day. Our intent is definitely to cover ground.

I was leaning on leaving it at home to be honest and plan a route with 2 or 3 alternate out routes (Since the weather moves fast and can be unforgiving at this time of the year). Take smart decisions by staying close to shore and not to venture in white caps to do crossings.

I guess I didn't know if there was a consent or a hardline most paddlers would recommend.

cheers,

Marty

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2020, 12:23 pm 
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Martin's answer was really good. The only thing I might question is the quality of his rain gear since decent rain gear should be as dry (assuming you aren't swimming in it) and more breathable.

I haven't been out quite that late in the fall, but we have often been out within days of ice out in the spring. Dry suits have never been an option for us, but proper layering, staying close to shore, keeping the group together, always having a full change of clothes, and making smart decisions about when to stay off the water are all part of our standard safety plans. The only soakings anyone has had have been getting in and out of canoes at the shore.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2020, 2:09 pm 
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No doubt you’ll get mixed opinions.

The main issue is probably what happens if you find yourself in the water? If the water temperature is cold, what is your chance of survival? For me, November would merit a dry suit. In general, unexpected immersion is summer is inconvenient, in cold water it’s life threatening.

I agree that a dry suit offers superior rain protection.

There are ways to mitigate portaging sweat. Breathable dry suit, less exertion/move slow, open zippers, remove top half, choice of layers, carry lighter loads, no hat, take breaks, remove dry suit, etc. and even route choice—fewer portages/shorter portages, camp near portages so that you don dry suits after portaging, etc.

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2020, 9:53 am 
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Thread Hijack: Not specific to drysuits but perhaps useful. One of the ways we used to mitigate the risk of cold water immersion in Scouts was to carry a small barrel (30l or so) that (only) had items for a quick rewarming. It usually contained a sleeping bag or two, space blankets, extra socks, and bundle of firewood/kindling including a tube of the Coghlan's fire paste! It also had two cans of that self heating soup. The theory was that if anyone dumped we could get a fire going in no time.

Used it once and I can attest that having all those items in one spot was well received by the two that dumped.


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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2020, 3:53 pm 
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I have paddled in Algonquin in November. Be careful in planning your route, the small creeks freeze first. Have a way to get out using lakes.
I have never worn a drysuit so I cannot comment on that, but your safety plan, stay close to shore, don't take risks, is what I have found adequate. On portages I have found even gortex rain gear not breathable enough. I get soaked from the sweat.

I have been soaked to the skin several times in below zero temperatures. I have found that a wicking base layer and wet wool mid layer has adequate insulation, and is actually quite comfortable. The best way to get warm is to move, paddle hard, or portage hard, or get firewood from the bush. I have never needed the fire to get warm once I had the wood. It is almost impossible to dry out clothing near a fire in November. The best drying technique I know is to wear the wet clothes with no outer windproof layer and engage in strenuous activity. Your body provides the heat and the wind carries the moisture away. For example if your wool socks are wet, wear them on your hands like mittens as you paddle. They will dry in about 4 hours in November.

As for swimming in cold water, my only experiences are a few days after ice out in the spring. The worst was a dump in a small rapid. There was no "cold shock" at all. I had on the wicking base layer, wool mid layer and outer layer of gortex rain gear. The multiple layers seemed to act like a wetsuit. I held onto the canoe and floated through a bunch of standing waves into a pool. Swam the canoe and packs to shore for about five minutes. Never felt the water was cold. When I got to shore I did not put on dry clothes. I just portaged the canoe and then paddled hard for about five minutes. I took off the rain gear (it had stopped raining) and after about three hours of paddling and portaging my clothes were just damp when I camped for the night. The other cold water swim was when getting into the canoe. Foot slipped and I fell into deep water. Got fully soaked, but just carried on with my day and was dry by the end of the day.

Conclusion: I don't recommend a drysuit

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PostPosted: October 8th, 2020, 12:16 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your answer.

I guess my question of knowing if there was a ''Right'' way to do this was answered.... No. lol

Conclusion, I will go out without a drysuit and just appropriate layering system and make safe decisions to mitigate the risks as much as possible.

cheers,

marty

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2020, 12:42 pm 
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MikeD wrote:
Thread Hijack: Not specific to drysuits but perhaps useful. One of the ways we used to mitigate the risk of cold water immersion in Scouts was to carry a small barrel (30l or so) that (only) had items for a quick rewarming. It usually contained a sleeping bag or two, space blankets, extra socks, and bundle of firewood/kindling including a tube of the Coghlan's fire paste! It also had two cans of that self heating soup. The theory was that if anyone dumped we could get a fire going in no time.

Used it once and I can attest that having all those items in one spot was well received by the two that dumped.



good tip Mike.
I used to do that when taking certain groups out in spring. Throw in a thin tarp and some (pre-tied) line for flash shelter. All in a drybag attached to short leash with loop on free end. (Flat water). I used in 60ml white gas (nalgene HDPE jar) for flash fire + some slow burn stuff. The advantage of this is not that significant for the average capsize but it can be quite nice, as you say.


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2020, 12:47 pm 
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shearjoy wrote:
I have paddled in Algonquin in November. Be careful in planning your route, the small creeks freeze first. Have a way to get out using lakes.
I have never worn a drysuit so I cannot comment on that, but your safety plan, stay close to shore, don't take risks, is what I have found adequate. On portages I have found even gortex rain gear not breathable enough. I get soaked from the sweat.

I have been soaked to the skin several times in below zero temperatures. I have found that a wicking base layer and wet wool mid layer has adequate insulation, and is actually quite comfortable. The best way to get warm is to move, paddle hard, or portage hard, or get firewood from the bush. I have never needed the fire to get warm once I had the wood. It is almost impossible to dry out clothing near a fire in November. The best drying technique I know is to wear the wet clothes with no outer windproof layer and engage in strenuous activity. Your body provides the heat and the wind carries the moisture away. For example if your wool socks are wet, wear them on your hands like mittens as you paddle. They will dry in about 4 hours in November.

As for swimming in cold water, my only experiences are a few days after ice out in the spring. The worst was a dump in a small rapid. There was no "cold shock" at all. I had on the wicking base layer, wool mid layer and outer layer of gortex rain gear. The multiple layers seemed to act like a wetsuit. I held onto the canoe and floated through a bunch of standing waves into a pool. Swam the canoe and packs to shore for about five minutes. Never felt the water was cold. When I got to shore I did not put on dry clothes. I just portaged the canoe and then paddled hard for about five minutes. I took off the rain gear (it had stopped raining) and after about three hours of paddling and portaging my clothes were just damp when I camped for the night. The other cold water swim was when getting into the canoe. Foot slipped and I fell into deep water. Got fully soaked, but just carried on with my day and was dry by the end of the day.

Conclusion: I don't recommend a drysuit


Excellent post, thanks for sharing


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PostPosted: October 26th, 2020, 7:41 am 
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Just be aware . Most capsizes occur in good weather. Inattention to ones body position relative to the canoe is the major cause. I do have a dry suit and would never consider leaving it at home in Nov.


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