Updated: Mar 20, 2021
(Note: Blog is much more visually appealing on a desktop site V mobile; hoping WIX improves their mobile editor.)
The summer is ending, the fall is here and soon it will be winter! BUT, you don't want to stay off the water and don't know how to dress.
No worries. When you are done reading this you will know exactly what to wear. Dressing for the cold isn't cheap. If you love your sport and want to continue using all the equipment you already invested in, the cost isn't going to stop you. However, we do want to mentally prepare you!!
One rule you must follow. Do NOT wear cotton. Let me say this again, do NOT wear any cotton. Zero cotton. Cotton will absorb moisture and this will make you cold fast. If you sweat it will absorb it, if you get water in your dryuit the cotton will absorb it and actively cool your body. "Cotton kills", it can absorb up to 27 times it's weight in water by trapping the water in its fibers.
1) Drysuit: You aren't going to find a lot of color choices with dry suits. If you want the best dry suit money can buy you want one that has GORE-TEX in it. The reason is it's breathable and will allow moisture to escape. If you want something a bit less expensive that is ok too. It's all about what you are willing to tolerate. I don't mind wearing a drysuit without GORE-TEX, I expect to sweat in either suit. Regardless if I am out for recreation or rescue, my body is working hard. If you aren't sweating, are you even trying?
2) Base Layer: Should be moisture wicking. Think Under Armour. Anything similar will work. There are several less expensive brands on the market than the Under Armour brand.
3) Mid Layer: Should be fleece, wool or polypropylene. The perfect solution exists from NRS, it's the Kokatat Habanero dry suit liner. You can find similar products on Amazon if you aren't looking to pay this price. You'll basically want to search for fleece jump suits or onesies. I personally own and use a pair of cycling pants for my mid layer, which I love and purchased for $33.99 on Amazon. My top is simply the oldest fleece I could find in my closet.
4) NRS Storm Hood: You want this!!! Don't skimp on this. You want a warm head. This provides great protection from the wind and cold winter air. This hood contains titanium-laminate to help retain heat, and is constructed with a quick drying material.
5) NRS gloves with titanium: These gloves have a lot of features and are used by rescuers. NRS knows rescuers need top notch gear which is why they made these gloves with titanium laminate in them to help retain heat. You have the use of all your individual fingers as opposed to a mitten, and the palms are made to withstand rope work and other tough jobs. These gloves are purpose built for harsh environments, it's hard to go wrong with them.
6) Boots (See NRS Footwear blog). Note: You don't want tight fitting boots for the cold winter weather. Tight boots will give you cold feet. You are going to have to size up, especially to fit the drysuit booties in the boot and the sock layers you will be wearing. You're going to want a base layer sock that is moisture wicking, with a wool sock on top.
7) Last but not least, your PFD. This can and will save your life. If you are in Pennsylvania you are legally obligated to wear a PFD on the water from Nov.1st through April 30th.
For more safety tips please look at the PFBC Water and Ice Safety page.