5Mm wetsuit jacket or vest?

SZihn

Paddler
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
140
Location
Shoshoni Wyoming
Ok,-------- knowing that I am coming up in a few months on much colder waters I would like to buy a wet-suit jacket or vest in 5MM or maybe even thicker. I have a full sleeve jacket now, but it's only 1.5MM and when the water comes down in late fall time, or in the coming spring, it's going to be a LOT cooler than it is now.

My problem is simply that suits run small as an average, and I am short with short arms, but I am not "small". I have a 45 inch chest and a 38 inch waist and all the wet-suit jackets I see on-line which are made for men that are XL or XXL and have very long arms to match. I need one that doesn't have arms 6" to 8" too long. From center of my throat to the wrist and base of my thumb, I measure 25-26 inches.


Who makes wets-suit jackets to fit? Or do I just buy one that fits the body and cut the ends of the arms off?

Or if anyone made a vest of 7MM, I could wear it over the top of my existing 1.5MM jacket but I see none made.


What say yea?
 

AM

Paddler
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
953
Location
Vancouver
I can’t answer your question about bespoke neoprene garb, but let me offer some perspective. Very few paddlers wear any neoprene clothing apart from the Farmer John (FJ) style suit. There’s a reason is simple: neoprene on the upper body makes paddling harder and more uncomfortable.

And remember that we are paddlers first, kayakers second: the actual physical activity we do involves 1000’s of repetitions of a paddling motion every time we go out. So keeping the upper body comfy and free is really essential if you are going to enjoy this sport.

In your case, spend your money on a decent PJ (paddling jacket, preferably with latex wrist gaskets) and FJ. That’s what everyone who enters the sport does. If you really love it, you’ll consider a drysuit at some point. But PJ + FJ is the way to go for now.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
859
Location
Bend OR USA
SZihn, FJ means “Farmer John: It’s a style of neoprene wetsuit that doesn’t have arm sleeves. Think of denim overalls with straps that go over your shoulders. Sort of like what Farmers wear (on TV at least).

NRS (Northwest River Supply) has a size option they call Grizzly - as in thick, bear shaped torso - bigger middle parts, shorter appendage parts. That size option isn’t available with all their garments. Some of these outer garments vary radically, in fit, for a given letter size. I find NRS’s sizes run way small. I’m under 5’6”, not fat, and have to wear a size XL in grizzly just to fit in chest and thighs.

Some suppliers are okay with you ordering the same item in two sizes; keeping the one that fits best and sending the other back. I always check with the vendor first. It’s not a perfect system - you pay a little more for shipping because your package is heavier, and the vendor swallows the cost of shipping the one item back. But it works pretty good if you are dancing between M and L, or, L and XL.

I use my paddlng jacket most of all. It’s about 20 years old Gore-Tex from Kokatate. It is NOT a dry top (it doesn’t seal water completely out), but it does have wrist gaskets. So I can put my arm in the water and not have it run up my sleeve. On a hot day, when the wind comes up, even a little, I can feel it if I’m just wearing a “rash guard” shirt. I’ve left that jacket at home or in the car enough times, to regretted it, so now it’s an “always with the boat” item.

I always try to cover up my arms - I’ve had enough sun for a lifetime - and I wear fingerless gloves. The gloves serve three purposes: they protect the back of my hands from excessive sunlight, the full thumb part protects my thumb knuckle that sometimes bumps the side of the boat when paddling, and if I’m wearing pogies, the gloves protect my hands from any rubbing by inside seams.

Others don’t wear gloves at all - just a matter of choice.

Looking at the above post note that PJ is probably Paddling Jacket. So AM is recommending a Paddle Jacket/Farmer John (sleeveless neorprene) combination. I use that combiination a lot (especially in lakes and the Gulf Island area) with the addition of a rash guard shirt under the FJ shortie (not full length legs).
 
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CPS

Paddler
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
185
Location
BC
I find dressing for cooler weather is always a bit trickier for kayaking than other activities like hiking. It's not quite as easy to change layers when paddling, especially with a drysuit on.

Neoprene options do give you a lot of flexibility. Thin garments such as the NRS hydroskin line are good for when it's not too cold, and can be paired together to match conditions. They make shorts, pants, short sleeve and long sleeve shirts. Lots of flexibility there.

I usually wear thin merino wool layers with a windbreaker layer overtop for cooler paddling. That way I've got some insulation if wet and something that keeps evaporative cooler from being an issue.

Once it gets cool enough for the drysuit to be bearable I usually wear it. Makes it much more pleasant to practice rescues and stuff.

My wife uses an old farmer john and often pairs it with a synthetic hoodie. She doesn't do any very cold weather paddling, but the water is usually pretty chilly here.

As far as hands are concerned I'd heartily recommend pogies for when its cold. I have awful circulation in my hands and they work the best.
 

Peter-CKM

Paddler
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
637
Location
San Francisco, CA
Of course dry suits are an excellent way to solve this, but also expensive.

I'll second getting a farmer john style wet suit (either shorty or full length legs) and paddle jacket and layer these along with your current 1.5 mm jacket to allow you more options. The paddle jacket will keep you warmer in the wind (the neoprene of a wet suit does not do much when it is wet and it is windy out - a paddle jacket is the added layer to help).
 

Mowog73

Paddler
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
46
Location
SW Ontario
I too recommend the paddling jacket and farmer john. I used this combination for years, it was all I could afford when I first started paddling and it served me well for many, many years (I bought my first drysuit back in May).
 
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