Canadian Canoe Routes

Dry or wetsuit - Nahanni
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Author:  Bestiole [ June 28th, 2019, 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Dry or wetsuit - Nahanni

We will canoe the Nahanni from Moose Pond (including rock garden) on a month long trip next July. I hesitate between two systems:

Farmer john wetsuit with optionnal gore-tex paddle top (not dry) and pants in case of bad weather. I need to replace my paddle top anyway so I could go with either the weather protection of an anorak or the slightly better (?) immersion protection of a semi-dry top with a latex neck gasket (but they don’t come with a hood…). This set up would be more adaptable for warm weather and quiet sections.

Full dry suit. I already have one but I need to replace the gaskets and it’s very bulky (Kokatat expedition model).

So far I’ve done northeastern whitewater trips (Moisie, Delay-Mélèzes, George…) with the first option but never had to swim.

What would you recommend? Thanks!

Author:  Peter K. [ June 28th, 2019, 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dry or wetsuit - Nahanni

Choices depend a lot on how cold tolerant a person is. However, it is easier to cope with being too warm than too cold.

We did the Broken Skull-Nahanni on a three week trip a couple of years ago and found that the weather above Rabbit Kettle Lake was a lot colder than below it. Like the difference between early Spring and Summer. We also suffered through about 4-5 days of bad weather at the top with rain, mist and daily highs about 10C. Needless to say, we were all very happy to have our drysuits on this leg. Coming from the Moose Ponds there is also a non-negligible chance of a swim before Rabbit Kettle.

Below there probably any type of thermal protection would work.

I don't think you'll save any space or weight by going with a drysuit over your other options.

Author:  recped [ June 28th, 2019, 2:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dry or wetsuit - Nahanni

I'd rather go "naked" than wear any type of neoprene!

Neoprene is helpful if you swim and while you swim but once you are out of the water wet neoprene will suck the heat out of your body, if you don't swim but it's wet weather the neoprene would be horrible (but better than blue jeans!).

If the weather is hot, the neoprene will be unpleasant for sure.

If it were me I'd take the dry suit even if it's with disintegrating gaskets.

FYI - On most of my longer trips were there is cold water and Class III rapids I take a dry suit and semi-dry bottom & top (semi-dry = no gaskets), most of the time I just use the semi-dry bottoms but on a day when the weather is bad and/or I'm running a lot of big rapids I'll put on the full suit.

Author:  Paddle Power [ June 30th, 2019, 12:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dry or wetsuit - Nahanni

I did the moose ponds down a couple decades ago. Wore quick dry canoe tripping clothes. Some others in the group wore framer john wet suit and or semi dry paddling tops.

Lots to consider. The simple answer is to dress for immersion.

Is there a water gauge that gives water temperature?

We had below temperatures at night a couple of times.

On continuous steeper gradient rmountain style rivers a swim can be longer and rescue can take time so even once out of the river thermal protection can be important to your comfort as well as safety.

I’d now consider a lightweight paddling suit sans neck latex gasket because it’s very packable and comfortable while offering good immersion protection, but I wouldn’t dismiss a paddling wet suit, nor fuzzy rubber shorts/tights and top.

Author:  Bestiole [ July 11th, 2019, 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dry or wetsuit - Nahanni

I agree that carrying two kits (full dry and semi-dry) would be the best for the canoe portion but I’m afraid of the weight and volume in the barrels with food/hiking gear for a 4 weeks expedition. Wetsuits are bad for chaffing/eczema/smell on long-term expeditions, but I was able to use them (+semi-dry kit in bad weather) for 3 long expeditions by wearing them only on whitewater days. I still haven’t made my choice so big yellow drysuit was sent for repair. Thanks for your help!

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