wet suit or dry suit?


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Any advice for spring sailing- water temps around 50 degrees F? Debating whether to buy a dry suit or a wet suit.
Dry suits are a lot warmer when you wear lots of layers underneath them, and obviously keep you dry.
Wetsuits are warm depending on what type you get. If you want to be warm in a wetsuit you will need to buy a steamer, and then wear thermal layers underneath.
If you want my opinion, I hate dry suits. I use a steamer wetsuit with two thermal rash vests underneath and a thermal spray top over it all.
(When it gets really cold i.e. snowing, I wear fleeces below my spray top.)
In New England, where the water temperatures can get well below 50 degrees, dry suits are pretty much de rigueur. They are mandatory for high school sailing in the spring. I very much prefer them because you stay dry and you can vary layers based on conditions. If you ski, you probably already own a good selection of synthetic underwear for just that purpose. The only downside is that to need to be attentive to its care and maintenance.
I find that drysuits restrict movement when sailing and I always find I get wet regardless because I sweat loads in a drysuit
I sail in new england....and when frosbite season is in for laser i just wear the ZHIK superwarm pants and top with 7mm surfing booties and that keeps me nice and warm.....but when the spring comes around i am required to wear a drysuit for the first three of weeks of high school sailing.....personally for the laser drysuits are not the way to go.....the zhik superwarm gear by itself takes me from 30degress all the way to like 50 degrees...even when its like 50 i change to their microfleece hikers....
I think jeffers once summed this subject up quite well by saying that the person that has been for a swim in a wet suit is less likely to want to go out after a lunch break than someone who has been swimming in a dry-suit,
Both have there place & eight out of ten times I would use hikers & a aquafleece, but there are times when a dry-suit works well especially when I've a cold or not feeling 100%.


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Or look at one of the 'layer' type systems that are on the market.

Personally I wear 3/4 length hikers and layer up/cover calves as required.

I am lucky in that is is only a few minutes from shore to club so can easily switch gear if I am in the wrong kit.

I do always find that I get too hot wearing a drysuit and it restricts movement so will always layer up rather than dry suit. I also hate wetsuits, my full suit has not been used for the past 7 years but I keep a shorty in my bag as some days it works well.

For your situation i would say air temp, how likely you are to capsize and how close you are to shore is likely to dictate your choice. Cold air, away from shore then drysuit is probably a better options. warmer air and closer to shore then layering/wetsuit is probably the way to go.

May be best to speak to other sailors who are about on the water you are intending to sail on and see what they recommend as they are likely to be more expert than anyone here.
50F can go either way depending on the wind and air temp, I would suggest get a drysuit first then get a wetsuit, get a front zip drysuit with neoprene neck/arm seals cus they are way more comfortable, I switched to a frontzip 3 years ago and it was well worth it, ideally you want a drysuit to be a little big so that you're movement isn't restricted, if anything is tight on you get the next size up, or try another manufacturer, if you dress right in a drysuit you'll always be comfortable
definitely wet suit. Dry suits constrict you motion and affects you performance and can also be easily shredded from rubbing against your deck. If you can afford it, buy the zhik super warm gear. It is as warm or warmer than a dry suit and it doesn't constrict your movement.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a total wee-knee when it comes to cold water. Given that, I justified the expense in my little brain and broke down and bought a Kokatat front entry dry suit. I can't complain. It's been great. I don't feel uncomfortable wearing it at all and I can't say that my movement is restricted in any way. Actually I don't notice it at all after I've been on the water for awhile. *It's great hopping off of my boat in waste deep water to launch/recover and feel nothing of the cold. It's also wonderful NOT feeling the waves splash up over the rail and down my back. If you decide to go the drysuit route, get a good one. Trim the gaskets to your liking, "burp" the extra air out after you're suited up and you'll be a warm-happy-dry camper. *OK... now the fine print... I've never worn a wetsuit and I only bought the drysuit based on my wifes brilliant recommendation. I had no clue. Right again she was... at least on the drysuit. More fine print...The other fine folks posting on your question may be more informed, sounds like several of them have experienced both wet and dry suits. I can only comment on my experience with a drysuit. Hope that helps.


I have the Zhik top and bottom super warm suit gear, and it is not as warm as my dry suit. The only discomfort I have from my drysuit is the tightness around my neck. And you're pretty much stuck with that in order to keep water out.
I have the Zhik top and bottom super warm suit gear, and it is not as warm as my dry suit. The only discomfort I have from my drysuit is the tightness around my neck. And you're pretty much stuck with that in order to keep water out.
Do you wear both? If so, what air & water temps do you stick exclusively with drysuit?


Cold water (below 50*), warm air, breeze -- dry suit
Cold water, cold air, breeze -- dry suit
Cold water, warm air, light air -- shorts and T-shirt
Cold water, cold air, light air -- dry suit or wetsuit or probably layers of fleece

Cool water (50*-65*), warm air, breeze -- wetsuit or fleece layers
Cool water, warm air, light air -- shorts and T-shirt
Cool water, cold air, breeze -- wetsuit or dry suit
Cool water, cold air, light air -- fleece layers

I tie a dinghy smock or nylon jacket to the back of my hiking strap to have something to cut the wind if I'm wet.