Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Emergency Preparations

the ultimate survival suit for wet and cold

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surfivor:

 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:
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

surfivor:

 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.

Stein:
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.

BigDanInTX:
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?

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