Wetsuits Advice...

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LachlanB
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Wetsuits Advice...

Post by LachlanB » 13 Aug 2018, 16:53

Hi everyone,
I was wondering if I could get some advice on wetsuits, and what type of wetsuits people generally wear canyoning.

I'm thinking of getting a wetsuit for caving, after a few very wet and cold caves over the last year. I would like to get something that can be used canyoning as well. I've only done a little bit of canyoning, so I'm fishing for advice on something that is probably a very newbie question. :D So (when you do use wetsuits at all), what sort of thickness is generally acceptable without sacrificing too much flexibility? And is there any particular style best suited to canyoning, or is top only/spring suit/steamer suit mostly just a matter of personal choice?

Also, I assume that as any canyoning wetsuit is going to get trashed, it's best to buy the cheapest, most standard option there is, and save the money for a replacement when it eventually dies?

Anyway, sorry if I'm asking a pointless question, or one that is really dependent on personal choice!



tom_brennan
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Re: Wetsuits Advice...

Post by tom_brennan » 13 Aug 2018, 21:57

Everyone is different.

A 3mm steamer will get you through pretty much all the canyons around Sydney in the summer months, and they are usually quite flexible.

Some people will get away with a 2/3mm spring suit, but for some of the longer swimming canyons (eg Bell Creek), it can be rather chilly.

I've seen other combinations (top only) so it does come down to a matter of preference.

I'd recommend either
- spending as little money as possible, since they do get somewhat trashed (this is the approach I've taken)
- getting a canyon-specific wetsuit, which will have reinforcement in the wear areas

Australian canyons are pretty warm, so if you're going overseas, then a 3mm steamer is probably a starting point.

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T2
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Re: Wetsuits Advice...

Post by T2 » 14 Aug 2018, 10:54

Lachlan,

I'm very firmly in the camp of people who think wetsuits are unnecessary in most Blue Mountains canyons. I pretty much only use a wetsuit if doing something in winter or if I know a trip will be quite slow moving due to photography / large group size / lots of beginners etc. I usually take a couple thermal tops (a thin merino and a thicker polypro) so I can add and remove layers as needed. If you move efficiently through the canyons you generally stay warm. I also find that, particularly in windy conditions, wetsuits actually make you colder when out of the water. Even our wetter canyons generally involve only occasional swims.

As for your question, I'd avoid spending too much on wetsuits for canyons or caves as both environments are harsh and will chew them up. Plenty of people are more than happy using something simple from Aldi or similar.

Personally, I have an old spring suit that I rarely use anymore (I find if conditions are warm enough for a spring suit then they are warm enough for me to simply use thermals instead). I also have a 4/3 steamer (this one: http://www.store.canyoneeringusa.com/in ... ry=2490773) for the rare occasions where I do want a wetsuit. The use of a high stretch neoprene makes it less constrictive. This is what I wore through Whungee Wheengee at FreezeFest and it was warm enough even in the middle of winter.

Do make sure to wear a pair of shorts over the wetsuit to protect the bum (that's the highest wear point in most of our canyons). Overall, as long as you are careful with how you move, you should get a reasonably long life out whatever you purchase.

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LachlanB
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Re: Wetsuits Advice...

Post by LachlanB » 14 Aug 2018, 22:53

Hey, thanks for the thoughts!
I'd gathered from reading both of your websites that wetsuits aren't always popular...

I think I'll take your advice- buy more thermals and get more experience in canyons before lashing out on something that risks not being used because it doesn't quite suit. :D

Hadn't thought of shorts over the bum to protect from wear. It's a great idea though. :idea:

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Bron
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Re: Wetsuits Advice...

Post by Bron » 15 Aug 2018, 21:13

I am someone who tends to get quite cold in canyons, but I too have stopped wearing wetsuits most of the time. For me the things that make the difference (over my thermals +/- thicker merino jumper) are a fleece neck warmer, woollen beanie and a cheapo plastic raincoat - all for keeping the cold breeze off and warmth in. The non-breathable plastic also acts as a sauna - stinky but effective, while being lightweight and flexible.
Another tip is to have enough flotation in your pack that you're sitting up a bit higher in the water during swims. Keeping all of your neck out of the water makes a huge difference. Keeping hair dry too obviously.
With using the above items, I have been just as warm as when I used to wear a thick fleece lined wetsuit - and it is so much easier to move around!

chunderfuzz
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Re: Wetsuits Advice...

Post by chunderfuzz » 16 Aug 2018, 21:12

I quite like using my old ocean swimming wetsuit, fairly tight fit but made for movement so a bit thinner around the shoulders. Helps you float too as it’s buoyant. I don’t always take a wetsuit, depends on how I feel, functionally wise I’d probably just buy more thermals if I didn’t already have the wetsuit.

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