Author Topic: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold  (Read 6957 times)

Offline surfivor

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the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« on: October 01, 2008, 06:38:39 PM »

 I was thinking the other day that my wetsuit is getting old and with the economy and all, do I want to rush out and buy a new one ? Then today I was out surfing and thinking about this scenario:

Suppose you where trying to flee from an urban or suburban area to get someplace else that you had planned, you have a back pack and are possibly carrying food, money, weapons or whatever that other people might want and society is in a state of total chaos. You could stay off the main roads and travel by compass. Suppose you came to a major river like the Delaware, Hudson or whatever, it's winter and cold out, so how could you cross ? If you take a bridge that could be a big risk as there could be alot of people around the bridge. Then I realized that in some situations when it is wet & cold, or where you have to swim or whatever, a neoprene wetsuit like the kind surfers wear, with booties, gloves, hood , or whatever is the ultimate survival suit for that type of situation. I could easily swim across a major river in winter wearing such a suit and the buoyancy of the neoprene causes you to float in the water a bit, especially the thicker suits. These suits come in different sizes from lighter (and cheaper) summer suits to winter suits that I have used in 38 degree water in February with, spring suits, etc. Even a summer suit would be good in an emergency. The kind of suits surfers wear are thinner and flexible in the arms for easier movement. The important thing also is a snug comfortable fit. This would also be the ultimate survival suit where you have very wet and cold conditions, a flood, a boat that is sinking, etc. They are also windproof and warm in general, and you could probably wear a suit underneath a jacket even, though they are not quite as comfy as regular cloths and taking a leak can be a nuisance on land.

 








jeremya

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2008, 09:11:33 PM »
I think a Dry Suit would be better than a Wet Suit in that scenario because once you are wet you'll need to stop and get dry again especially if it's cold.
Not to mention the dangers of crossing a river that may have a swift current. You'd also want to have all your gear in dry bags as well or it would be all wet.

If it was me I think I would find a minor crossing that is less crowded.

-- Jeremy


Offline surfivor

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2008, 09:25:36 PM »

 One thing about dry suits is if they puncture anyplace, all the water will come into the suit. A wetsuit doesn't have that problem. If you tear or rip part of your wetsuit, the suit will still keep you fairly warm. A surfer I know who owns a surf shop said that he punctured a dry suit in the winter one time and almost froze instantly.

You could walk around on land in a wetsuit after getting out of the water in 30 degree air temps and probably still be fairly warm or at least you would not get hypothermia, you wouldn't have to dry out immediately, though  if it was a really light weight suit like a 3 mil it wouldn't be as warm.

There are some excellent dry bags made by sea to summit that are very lightweight stuff sacks and totally water proof.

 I have some Pelican micro cases that I use to put my digital camera in on white water canoe trips, they have purge valves and come in various sizes and are supposed to be good for water proof storage of electronic gear.


Offline Stein

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2008, 12:38:38 PM »
I would second the drysuit option.  I dive in very cold water regularly in WA, BC and AK and they are the only ticket if you want to stay warm and dry.  Although they can pucture, most quality suits are incredibly tough.  I have snagged mine on wrecks, coral and all sorts of sharp things without any problems.  Plus, I have full fleece and wool on underneath which provides warmth even when wet.

I can comfortably wear the suit all day and function normally and dry.  With a wetsuit, you are always wet and you can only stay wet for so long before you need to dry off.  For my diving, I would need a 6.5 mil wetsuit as well as a farmer john over it, pretty much michelin man time with respect to freedom of movement.  Outside the water, wetsuits require some type of wind cover or the heat loss is rapid.

The big drawback to a drysuit is cost and the skill level needed to operate them.  Plan on spending $1k + just for the suit.

I would use mine if needed, but certainly wouldn't buy one just in case.  Of course, this assumes you aren't in southern CA or the tropics where a drysuit is not really common for obvious reasons unless you are deco diving deep.

Offline BigDanInTX

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2008, 01:03:03 PM »
Surfivor...  As far as I am aware, the way a wetsuit keeps you warm is that the water near your skin heats up to a temperature near your skin temperature.  It takes a while because water has a high specific heat capacity.  The wetsuit traps the water near your skin and keeps it there (mostly) with some variations in body movement, current, etc.  However, once you leave the water, the water next to your skin begins to drain.  Now, a wet suit since it doesn't actually "absorb" any water (from my recollection), once the water drains, you are then somewhat exposed to the elements because the water will be replaced by air.  The wetsuit isn't designed to keep air trapped, but it's used to trap the water when in the water, and let you dry off faster once you get out of the water.  Because the cold air would be on your body, you really have to be on top of your game when it comes to peeling off the wet suit to avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold.

Am I overthinking this?

Offline surfivor

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2008, 01:32:54 PM »

 That may be somewhat true, although the suits we wear fit very snugly and the warmer one's vary from 4 to 6 mil in thickness. It's not like you feel really warm after you get out of the water in the winter, but you don't feel that much colder than when you where in the water, though you may never have felt really super warm to begin with.  When I had had the right booties and gloves, I used to be able to surf for maybe almost 2 hours in the winter when the water might have been 40 degrees or something and the air upper 30's say. I don't surf as much in the winter anymore. I've surfed in North Carolina in late December several times, and it's warm enough down there that time of year to just wear a spring suit of 4 mil.

 If you wanted to get out of the suit, you'd could build a fire, then take the suit off. I often changed in my truck camper, some people change in the parking lot when it's 35 degrees out. 

 Most surfers wear wet suits, the winter ones cost around $300, spring suits a bit cheaper. I came up with the idea thinking about how I could flee an urban area in the winter under martial law like conditions when there where large rivers to cross and I might want to stay away from bridges to not attract attention. In that case, swimming seemed like an idea.


 A man yells across the river to me and says "How do you get to the other side of the river ?" I yell back "you are on the other side of the river"



Offline surfivor

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2008, 01:44:51 PM »

 Another way to describe this might be that in the winter, when you first get to the beach and you are walking towards the water, you may not feel super toasty, but once you get in the water, now you feel colder than before.

 Once you get out of the water with the suit on, you don't feel like jumping back into the 40 degree water to warm up, it does actually seem that the suit has warmth in the air, but of course the air and the water can be different temperatures, but it's not going to be as warm as a parka and all.

 The suit warming up in the water may be working under different principles than in the air since air is a gas, water is liquid, that's my best guess.


 

Offline BigDanInTX

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2008, 02:16:26 PM »
LOL...

I learned how to dive over in Saudi Arabia, where my step-father works.  We did our normal swimming pool dives, but our live dives were done iin Half Moon Bay.  For some reason, I felt compelled to bring a windbreaker with me when we went out and I am really glad I did.  Getting out of that water, with the wind blowing as much as it was, I was actually quite cold even though the air temperature was around 100-110.  I was diving with a shirt on, as I didn't own a wetsuit, so the water was trapped in the t-shirt, allowing the evaporation effect to drop my body temperature more than if I didn't have a shirt on.  With the windbreaker on, I managed to keep the water near my body temperature as it slowly dried out from the heat.  It got a little humid under the nylon windbreaker, but once the shirt dried most of the way, taking it off cooled me down to a good temperature to enjoy the outside air.

I'm curious how the wetsuit dynamics would work 1. In cold weather when you're trying to change into warmer clothes or to put dry clothes on (and keep them dry)...depending on the scenario you envision, and 2. how it would work if there's a good breeze blowing, and you have wind chill to deal with (does wind penetrate a wetsuit?).

Also, you say that you are putting this scenario forth as a way to avoid attention and propose the best way to avoid elemental exposure is to start a fire.  I'm curious how you can start a fire and not give away your position...
« Last Edit: October 02, 2008, 02:18:05 PM by BigDanInTX »

Offline Beetle

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2008, 04:49:47 PM »
In the Pacific Northwest when the rain is pouring and your working in the woods, it pays to wear wool. I also likeTin pants http://www.woolnstuff.com/fidotinpa.html to keep dry. For footwear Danners are a must. When it's not raining Carhartt Double fronts are warm and durable. Madsens saw shop in Chehalis Wa. is a great place to get stuff.
http://www.madsens1.com/.

Offline surfivor

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Re: the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2008, 05:35:41 PM »

Also, you say that you are putting this scenario forth as a way to avoid attention and propose the best way to avoid elemental exposure is to start a fire.  I'm curious how you can start a fire and not give away your position...

 Well, there are many possible problems. You get to this river, it could be really cold, so you might feel like waiting to see if it will warm up in a day or two. Maybe it's one of those cold days and it's 0 degrees or something, that is one cold day. Waiting around for it to warm up might not be alot of fun ..

 Another problem, you might reach this river at some spot where the river is flowing quickly, if you swim across what if there are rapids downstream ?

 or, suppose for some strange reason your matches and lighter get wet even though you though they where packed away in water tight containers ...

 Someone might see you swim across, maybe you'd want to do it at night, but then it's hard to see what's on the otherside, what's downstream.

 There may not be a fool proof solution. If you cross someplace where there's not alot of people, maybe a fire would not get noticed, maybe you could cross and walk for an hour someplace and then light a fire ..

 It seems like in any survival situation, there could be an element of luck involved. You got your gear and all, if anything happens to it, you can't replace it. Medical attention is not easy to find. Many things could go wrong, if your lucky maybe they won't. Ideally I would want to hook up with people at some point and find a community, or find someone to go with, but they might slow me down. I haven't thought about every possibility