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Thread: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

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  1. #1
    pl
    Mar 2008
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    Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    I purchased an excal II last winter, and am going to hit the surf this summer. I was just wondering what everyone is using and would recomend for hunting mainly Chicago beaches in Lake Michigan where the water maybe gets to the 60's?

    I know a lot of people will say to stay away from chest waders, as they can fill up with water and make it very difficult in a tough situation.

    I've read that farmer johns? are good, but have no clue what those are.

    With water being cold, I've heard a dry suit....But may cost upwards to $600.

    I think I am going to purchase the Beach Brute sand scoop for the digging, unless someone recomends something better.

    Will a 3mm wet suit work well enough and keep me warm?

    Also, what kind of shoes would one consider buying?

    Thanks for any advice and input.
    -L4S/ Jon
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  2. #2
    us
    Director-Search & Recovery Team of Oakland County.

    Aug 2005
    In Michigan now.
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Waders are OK in fresh water where you have no big waves to knock you down, but a wet suit is still better for a lot of reasons. Farmer John's are wet suit pants like bib overalls and can be worn by themselves or with the wet suit jacket over them for extra warmth. I never thought the jacket an pants were necessary just for wading and mostly just the jacket which has short legs and either long sleevses or short.
    (get the long sleeves) Most jackets don't come with chest pockets, but they have kits where you can add a pocket if you want as they are handy. Sometimes the sun can warm you up a lot but it is easy to open the zipper if in front to let in cooling water. Wet suits are also good if you need to take a leak.

    For the summer wading you can get a thinner 3 mm. shorty jacket which keeps your upper body warm and protects from the sun too. It is always best to buy from a dive shop as you will need to try them on. Zippers come either on front or back and you might prefer one over the other. It is important to not have it to loose in the fit as water will move around to much to remove body heat. They sell dive boots or you can get buy with a pair of Croc's in the summer. I wear those and fishermans wader shoes, howerver they have brass nails which set off my Excal and I go on "point" till I remember what it was.
    Hope this helps, anymore questions you can always PM me or email.

    Sandman
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  3. #3
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Farmer John's - are two piece wet suits, pants and jacket. Pants come up to your upper chest and over your shoulders (kinda like waders do). Then the jacket goes on over the pants, this gives you double coverage on your abdomen and chest. When purchasing a wet suit take the time and try on many different brands and sizes it is important to get one that fits you and your body type (not to loose, not super tight). My suggestion would be send the money on a good suit (taped seams, fits you properly, double stitching), gloves and socks. Take good care of it rise with clean fresh water, let it dry, keep it out of prolonged sun. This will provide you years of use! Hoped this helps.
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  4. #4
    OBN
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    I use all three for hunting different locations, conditions, and seasons. There are a few questions I have for you. Do plan to hunt deep in the water {chest} or shallow {below the waist}? How old are you and your physical condition? Are they for the summer only, and can you handle a little chill? What is everyone else wearing while they are hunting in your area? Can you swim? And can you handle something tight around your neck, or body, and with a wet suit, if you have a little gut, it will look like a big gut in a wetsuit and would that bother you if so? And two of the three are time consuming to put on and can be difficult also. And I guess last would be, 60 degrees..how many people are in the water and how deep are they? These are just a few questions to fine tune your answer....Joe
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    I have a pair of Farmer Johns, as well as 2 shorties, one is short sleeve and one is 3/4 length sleeve.

    The Farmer Johns are great when the water is cold, if I'm not going over waist deep I don't wear the tops, if I am going to be chest deep I do. I use them till the water temperatures get above 75, then switch to the shorties. Once the water temperature gets above 80 I don't usually use any unless the jelly fish are real bad....

    Wet suits make hunting in cold water very comfortable... They are a great defense for jellyfish as well.

    I use a pair of dive boots with arch support till summer is here then like Sandman I use a pair of Crocs..........

    Unless we know what your water temperature is, it is hard to tell if 3MM is enough...
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  6. #6
    us
    Director-Search & Recovery Team of Oakland County.

    Aug 2005
    In Michigan now.
    Excal 1000, Excal II, Sovereign GT, CZ-20, Tiger Shark, Tejon, GTI 1500, Surfmaster Pulse, CZ6a, DFX, AT PRO, Fisher 1235, Surf PI Pro, 1280-X, many more because I enjoy learning them. New Garrett Ca
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    I should add that even with a wet suit I wear a auto inflatable PFD when wading. You never know when you may need one.
    (C) Sandman, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
    "TIME IS THE ONLY THING YOU NEVER GET BACK, WHY WASTE IT SWINGING A DETECTOR THAT ISN'T UP TO THE TASK."

  7. #7
    OBN
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Excellent Advice for everyone Sandman!

    Effort is Important, But knowing where, can make all the difference!





  8. #8

    Jul 2004
    S.W. Michigan
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    How about wetsuit & waders

    I hunt Lake Michigan also in sw mich. water temp can vary anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees. Once summer is here we get nice warm water when the wind is out of the west, but let it come out of the north or east for a day and water temp drops like an anchor. Only the very top layer of Lake Michigan ever warms up so if that top layer moves COLD water replaces it very quickly. I've seen the temp. go from 78 degrees to 48 degrees in 1 day with a stiff east wind.

    Heres a site to help with water temp http://www.coastwatch.msu.edu/michigan/m5.html

    So I use a conbination, farmer john bottom 7mm, then neopreme waders 55mm, then farmer john top over waders when water temp is below 60, waders & farmer john top 60 to 70, farmer john bottoms & top 70 to 80 and farmer john bottoms when water temp is above 80. I spend hours at a time in the water so some kind of protection is required.

    When I have the farmer john top over the waders its basically like a semi dry suit. If you go in over the waders and don't stay long no water will enter the waders, if you stay for prolonged period then its like wetsuit with booties attached.

    I have purposely flooded my waders and still float like a bobber! With the wetsuit on you can practically lay on top of the water.

    Just my experience.

    Steve

    Persuaverance is the only true talent!

    KaptainKosmic

  9. #9
    us
    Aug 2008
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Don't forget the boots. Get some good quality 6 mm diving boots that zip up the sides with plastic bottoms. Makes for warm feet plus digging with the scoop is a snap. Keeps the sand and mud off my feet too.

    I use in Florida a 3mm shorty wet suit that I got from Dick's. It was under $70.00. Still works great after 5 years. I was in water of 60 degrees and it kept me toasty.

    I also have a 6 mm wet suit I use here in Ohio for early spring and fall hunting. It is a farmer john and I have both the 6 mm top plus I can also use the 3mm shorty with it.

    I have been in water as cold as 45 degrees and stayed warm with the 6mm....but not at first.......the first infusion of water is a cold shower situation. But the trapped water soon warms up.

    Chest waders are a problem in that you will bend over and the water WILL get in to the top unless you get a navy survival jacket to wear over it. I have been in waste deep water and had to bend over where my neck was getting wet. Chest waders are for fishermen.

    The dry suits are a problem in that they are pretty pricey. Many times they are not totally dry unless you spend big bucks. The rubber seals around the neck and arm areas can be very tough on the skin and sometimes very stiff. Dry suits are nice if you want to spend the money. Used dry suits are available but be warned. Many used ones leak and that is one reason why they are up for sale. The rubber seals in many instances has to be replaced. That can get expensive.

    Your best bet is a new wet suit in a 3mm and also a 6mm. Get a 3mm shorty and a 6mm farmer john complete. That will cover you for most of the hunting season. When the water gets too cold, head to Florida.

  10. #10
    us
    Jul 2008
    Raymond, WA
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    I think the wader danger of drowning is a myth!!

    When in the surf I always wear an inflatable PFD. Don't get the auto inflate as the first time you get it wet it will activate.

    Check this You Tube video and look as some of the others about waders, hipboots, and their relative danger.



    It's a myth! It's a myth!

    Still...any venture into the water without gills requires a little planning ahead. jim
    If you think you can or if you think you can't...you're probably right!

  11. #11
    us
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandman
    I should add that even with a wet suit I wear a auto inflatable PFD when wading. You never know when you may need one.
    Exellent Idea!
    I'll just follow you with My E-trac, Sov GT,or GoldBug Pro.

  12. #12
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    I've used a wetsuit a few times now, and I just tried using 3.5 mil neoprene chest waders, and I have to say that the chest waders were WAY better. I know there are dangers with chest waders, so certainly extra diligence is required, and I would never use them in an area that I was unfamiliar with.

    I know it is a personal choice, but for me, I just don't like the idea of having to strip out of a wetsuit at my car, and be wet and cold and have to towel off and put on dry clothes. It was way better to simply take off my tennis shoes, leave my jeans on, and slip into the booted chest waders, which kept me very warm (warmer than the wetsuit did) for a few hours, and then take off the waders, hop in my car and go.

    Again, a lot will depend on the surf. In the rough surf of the west coast, I'll stick with the wetsuit. But for calm wave days on the east coast, I'll be in my waders for sure.

    Jim

  13. #13
    us
    Jul 2008
    Raymond, WA
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    The chest wader myth, even though perpetuated far beyond it's merits, does have some validity. Ever try to wear just the bottoms of your wet suit without the tops on? That would be similar to neoprene boot waders. If they fill they will not drag you down. They will, however make it difficult to float face up. All that flotation is down around the lower part of your body and when submerged and you dont' have the lift neutralized by a vertical body position, you will float with your legs high and if not on your feet, when your feet are high your head is low. Again, without gills, that is not a good position to find yourself. The test is all of us who have tried playing in the water with just our wetsuit bottoms on and no weight.
    Neoprene chest waders are half of a dry suit. If you have ever used a dry suit you can get in and out of the water, after being totally submerged for hours, just as dry and comfortable as you can getting out of the neoprene chest waders that you kept from being flooded. The neoprenes are warmer than the light breathables but both styles have their place in the water hunters tool chest. But...all of this is just so much BS if you wear your inflatable when wading. jim
    If you think you can or if you think you can't...you're probably right!

  14. #14
    us
    Jul 2008
    Raymond, WA
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Maybe somebody should do a complete investigation and find out the official cause of the tragedy! Sorry to be rude, but if he was wearing an inflatable PFD nobody would have to apologize to anyone. I'll bet there isn't one water hunter in ten, who is not diving with a BC, that wears a PFD.

    I am truly sorry that somebody's life is lost while participating in their hobby, but after watching some of the You Tube videos showing that flooded waders are not the threat perpetuated, I would hope that the true causes be published so drowning doesn't keep occurring while everyone thinks it's flooded waders and could easily be something different about which one should know.

    Anything caught in moving water that has any size to it, a raft, a canoe, a coat, etc., that gets pushed up against something like a root ball or a partially submerged tree, a strainer, will hold that object and what's attached to it tightly against whatever is working as the strainer with little hope of self rescue. Moving water is potentially more dangerous than water not moved by wind such as in a calm lake. In strong tidal currents or in a flowing river, the forces applied are almost unbelievable. I don't remember the formulas anymore but ask any swift water rescue person and they can tell you.

    It might be wise before many jump into, "it's the waders" scenario, to really know what caused the tragedy(s). My guess is that for whatever reason some were knocked off their feet, were not good swimmers, had their faces in the water, had a hard time seeing, became disoriented, wouldn't, couldn't, or hesitated jettisoning their detector and/or scoop, and the waders floated the persons lower body higher than upper portion as there was no flotation there. Struggling ensued and unless the person knew how to get their feet back under them to counter the flotation of the lower body or could activate a PFD a safe recovery would be difficult.

    Being cynical now, but after all, a good inflatable PFD that does not restrict you movement while detecting, might cost as much as good pin pointer. jim

    If you think you can or if you think you can't...you're probably right!

  15. #15

    Jul 2004
    S.W. Michigan
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    Re: Wet suit, dry suit or chest waders?

    Grumpy,

    I agree that there was probably some other contributing factor to the fellow drowning besides the fact that he had on waders. Its my understanding the fellow that drowned in Saginaw bay was in water you could stand up in.

    I disagree that neopreme waders or wetsuit bottoms cause floatation issues other than they float! I frequently hunt in my farmer john bottoms and quite often lay back in the water to cool off, never had any issues! On the same note as stated above I have intentionally flooded my waders (neopreme) to see what the results would be and they were I got wet, period! There was no issue with trying to maintain position or upright orientation. I've done this in calm water (first) and then 3 ft swells in Lake Michigan same results.

    I'm not trying to start an argument, I am simply stating my own personal experience.

    Steve :-)
    Persuaverance is the only true talent!

    KaptainKosmic

 

 
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