What to wear?

Good afternoon, I’m new to packrafting. So new I didn’t even open my box yet. I’m looking to do trips in spring, summer and fall. These trips will be calm water to level 2 at most. My packraft is already equipped with a full skirt. Any ideas on what I should get to wear? Shorty wetsuit, full wetsuit or drysuit. Any information you share will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

It all depends on your own personal preference as well as where you live and what type of water you will be paddling. If you will be paddling glacial run off up in Montana then I would assume you would want to wear a dry suit. If you will be paddling monsoon run off in Arizona, then you could get away with a dry suit or a splash top depending on what time of year and temps.

Hello Peppa:

If it’s hot, sunny, and there’s little to no chance of swimming in numbingly cold water I usually wear a long sleeve baselayer top that drys quickly from splashes and light weight pants. No matter what type of water, I always wear clothes that allow me to swim well.

If there is a chance of swimming in numbingly cold water I’ll wear a Stowaway drysuit or a wetsuit. If the air is cold I’ll add baselayers under the drysuit.

A colleague once took a nasty “swim” in a paddling top. The wrist and waist gaskets were tight but the neck wasn’t. The top filled with water and he couldn’t effectively move his arms to swim. Another member of our party finally caught up with him after a 1/2 mile and got him to shore - all this in the Moab Daily - a pretty tame run. Since then I’ve been leery of any garment that could trap water.

Hi Peppa, let us know where you’re at, where you’ll be paddling, and we can give you a lot better recommendations. I’m super new to packrafting as well (although I’ve been a boater for over 20 years) I’ve taken my packraft out of the box but it hasn’t gotten wet yet. Soon…

It depend of the air/wind temperature and water temperature. Get dress for the coldest of the two. Then it is easy to remove gloves or hat for your comfort.
In summer, when the air and water temperature are mild, and if you float on water you describe, you can wear anything you want as long there is no cotton in the fabric. You can find synthetic clothing that are comfortable enough for packrafting and nice enough to go to restaurant after your floating day.
One thing i always wear when i’m on water is a PFD.
Have fun with your boat!

A double bladed paddle can be a wet experience. Depending on conditions etc, dump the skirt. Carry a good bail sponge and possible ziplock bag to bail with also. Wear a 55 gal garbage bag kilt or rain pants.

But over class II, you gonna get wet! Keep the skirt!

I have found a full-body wetsuit to be perfect for me during the Winter/Spring – most of the time I don’t even put on a drytop. I’m in the mid-Atlantic/Southeast and it gets hot and humid here during the Spring, so as a compromise I just head out early in the morning. The main advantage of the wetsuit vs. drysuit is that the wetsuit doesn’t need to work at 100% efficiency like the drysuit does to be effective but the trade off is you remain always a little wet. If a drysuit’s gaskets are not properly maintained or there is a tear in the fabric, you will get soaked and potentially deal with hypothermia (swimming becomes an obstacle as well). The wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water next to your body, which gets warmed up, keeping you warmer than the surrounding water. The cost savings could also be more than 3-4 times. I bought a solid full-body wetsuit for $80, and best of all they are not high maintenance – unlike a drysuit. Ultimately, it still comes down to your preference and frequency of use. I will probably get a drysuit one of these days as well and who knows, maybe my opinion will change. I like the wetsuit for the sake of minimalism.