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Winter Paddling Clothes For Bellingham, NRS Rodeo - check, but VCold???

12/5 Tues run
Reivers Dustin

12/05/17 #22285

Three of us chased boat wakes around the bay this morning. Cool, clear and flat. Not used to seeing more than a mile or so. There's mountains around here. We paddled into Whatcom waterway and stared at some new boats in there. They stared back.

On the way back to MP here comes another hard core OC-1 paddler. But wait, that's not right. They were talking with Heather's voice. It was her. So here's another one going ambidextrous. As Slim Pickens said, “What 'n the Wide World o' Sports is agoin on here?!!”

Ordered some of Josh's favorite booties. Maybe should have got the 7mm. Water is cold.

How about best neoprene pants? My NRS Rodeo's are about to give out. They were good, but NRS is changing the style. I've done really well at MEC in Vancouver, cheap, you can try before buy - and excellent quality. Open to ideas for this cold season.


Cyril Derreumaux <cderreum@…>
12/05/17 #22286

Hi Rd,

This is Cyril from Tamalpais outrigger CC, also owner of

I can fully recommend the Vaikobi VCold pants. Best there are.

The whole range of Vaikobi is available on my website and in stock.
I’ll be at Mike’s Paddle in Alameda this Sunday if you prefer to see in person and try them on.
You can also meet me at my tiny warehouse in Sausalito if you prefer.

Aloha, C.


Carl Tessmann

12/05/17 #22287

Re-Paddling pants:

Our local retailer here on Vancouver Island sells Sharkskin paddling clothing, which is pretty incredible for winter paddling – but not sure where you would find it over there.

And yes MEC is an option, but so is Deep Cove Outdoors and the Vaikobi VCold product line, which I hear is very good too. There you can try before you buy and have the luxury of Bob’s charming company while you shop in Canadian funny money. I think he has some good XC gear deals on too while you are at it. Go buy your own Christmas present, Reivers, and pre-emptively avoid the ugly tie and coffee mug.

Hope you are all doing well!


Nicholas Cryder <nicholas.cryder@…>

12/05/17 #22288

Hey Cyril,

I mean no disrespect, hope you do well and I am sure you mean well - but be careful with the “ads”. You'll get called out for being a carpet bagger and there is some sensitivity to things getting too commercial on Whatcom paddlers…



Larry Bussinger

12/05/17 #22290


I have a pair of the VaikobiVcold pants and would not even consider going in the water with them this time of year. I will wear them when the air temp is over 65.

I wore a 3/2 wetsuit (Pro Motion) today with paddle jacket and overheated on the way back. I’ll probably not layer that way again. I also wore it in the water a couple of weeks ago for about 10 minutes without getting too cold. [ Or maybe I was, as I was focused on other things. But I did paddle for another four miles.] Larry B

John Rybczyk

12/05/17 #22291

Vaikobi makes great stuff, but this is some dangerous advice from Cyril. I own those cold storm pants (a lot of us around here do), I like them, but they are not enough for surfing these waters at this time of the year. Maybe…big maybe..if you're racing and/or if you're 100% bombproof in your surf ski, but otherwise….hell no (this does not apply to the OC paddlers who wear shorts and no shirt year round).


Larry Bussinger

12/05/17 #22292

I looked up the website, it looks like “gone diving” carries it in Bham. Or at least some of it. Larry B

Nicholas Cryder <nicholas.cryder@…>

12/05/17 #22293

By now you all know that I'm OCD when it comes to paddling…. and I've had a few bad races where I dressed all wrong, and either over heated or was right at the line battling cold. It's hard to balance what we do clothing wise, and I just can't bring myself to dress for heat exhaustion so I created a small chart for myself so I wouldn't ever have to second guess my clothing on race day or otherwise:

Above 50º / High Wind (20mph +) .Vaikobi V-Cold pants / compression shirt, no gloves or socks.

Above 50º / Light Wind (20mph max) Vaikobi tights, or shorts and compression shirt, no gloves or socks.

Below 50º / High Wind 1.5mm Hydroskin pants and top, compression shirt, .5mm gloves and 1mm socks

Below 50º / Light Wind 0.5mm Hydroskin pants and top, compression shirt, no gloves and 1mm socks

Above 43º / High Wind 1.5mm Hydroskin pants and top, compression shirt, 1mm gloves and 2mm socks

Above 43º / Light Wind Vaikobi V-Cold paddling tights and a compression shirt, .5 hydroskin gloves and 2mm socks.

Below 43º / High Wind 3mm Farmer John or equivalent, 2mm gloves and 3mm socks.

Below 43º / Low Wind 1.5mm Hydroskin pants and top, compression shirt,1mm gloves and 2mm socks

Below 33º / High Wind I don't paddle (we only have a handful days this cold, but the risks are very high).

Below 33º / Low Wind O'neil Assault hybrid drysuit, 3mm gloves and 7mm socks.

John Rybczyk

12/05/17 #22294

Nick, I put you in the “bombproof” category.


Cyril Derreumaux <cderreum@…>

12/05/17 #22295

Dear all,

I have to confess that I am in your OC paddler category staying in shorts and t-shirt “almost” all year long. I find the first 10 minutes tough on cold weather, but then if I work hard enough my body acclimates or I just have to toughen up! haha. Or the shower after work out is just heaven! 😉

This being said, my strategy (not as developed as Nicholas) is in general to layer up and down rather than finding the perfect gear. That works for me.

I would like to apologize to the group if I came across as doing an “ad” for my website and gear. It is no denying that I am passionate about what I am doing, and the gear i'm selling, and that I am fired up. But I understand that you might have felt that way, so I am sorry for that.

Anyhow, hope to paddle with each and everyone of you, in the vessel of your choice, in the weather of your choice, on the water of your choice, as soon as possible!

Aloha, Cyril

Reivers Dustin

12/05/17 #22296

superb discussion. best thing is the exchange of ideas from very different views. Nicholas is pretty much bombproof, but his breakdown illustrates that the risks are quite severe in this area. Kathleen P. and those Vancouver island folks know all about it. She's a safety guru for many. Her passion for solid layers of safety is worth knowing about. It might get frustrating if your skillset is your safety, but knowing radio protocol, having solid gear and having high level etiquette when partnering should be “plan A”.

For me, pogies are my weakness. In the back of my head I know I've only got a few minutes to recover and get hands secured before loss of grip. At least in these waters when wind and cold are in play. I really notice Nicholas' weighting of the wind. That's huge. Today I dressed much lighter than my buddies because I knew wind chill was low impact. I've been on the wrong side of it where I got cold and there was absolutely no way to work hard enough to make body heat.

It's humbling to see the thought and passion as we all find our way in this somewhat new sport. I agree, the Viacobi gear is a problem for paddling at our latitude. It's not a quality thing, it's just that we are maybe fringe demographic. I got it. Get a Viacobi rep to do a kickin downwinder with Kathleen up there in Nanaimo. You'll burn a couple of Nanaimo Bars worth of calories for sure. Or get Carl T on this, he's even farther up North.


josh dyck
12/05/17 #22297

I should say I also use Patagonia’s R4 booties for a few months in the winter.


lori & beau whitehead

12/06/17 #22299

Not to keep beating a dead-horse, but I guess I will… The Vaikobi VCold pants are very well made, and fit perfectly, however, I think their idea of “cold” has to be South Africa or Australia-cold. Not Washington State Winter Cold. I will reserve these mostly for racing or paddling on calm days.
RD, if you are used to the warmth of the NRS Rodeo pants (my all time favs) then the Vaikobi's will feel like cotton leggings in the surf ski seat bucket.
On a side note, the VCold vest is an awesome layering addition that keeps my core very warm and allows for ample rotation and reach.

Carl Tessmann
12/06/17 #22300

I have been struggling with the balance of dressing for intensity and cold for a while now – dress to go hard and risk problems if you swim; dress for immersion and overheat. I haven’t come up with as exacting a formula as Nicholas, but I have learned some stuff.

Last year I was wearing my 5:3 surfing wetsuit on big days, but there were several sessions where I overheated/exhausted myself to the point I could hardly sit on my boat and would have to repeatedly jump off and flush my suit with water to keep from passing out (bit of an exaggeration but not far off). Then I’d dress in my sharkskin pants and tops, which is probably not much warmer than the V-Cold stuff, and depend on a quick remount. I’d hit the water, calm my hyperventilating, remount and start paddling hard to warm up again. I’m sure many of you are cringing at this because it is obvious that after a couple of failed remounts, the risk of a longer swim and hypothermia is pretty real, not to mention what happens if something goes wrong. I actually came off a couple of times on a run up around Campbell River actually got a little scared because I wasn’t sure that if I fell off again I’d be able to stick a remount. The water is VERY cold up there gets a wee bit crazy sometimes.

My saviour on crazy winter downwind runs this season has been the Kokatat Lightweight Paddling suit that I bought from Bob about a month ago. It’s a light Gore-Tex suit with gaskets at the wrists and boots, but a neoprene neck, which is comfortable and perfectly adequate, even if you come off at high speed and go right under. This suit is comfortable, moderates moisture and temperature well, doesn’t restrict movement like my surf wetsuit does… and did I say it’s comfortable?? It’s amazing the confidence that comes from not worrying about falling in and feeling comfortable. I feel like my paddling has hit a new level as a result. Here’s the suit…

I wear my Sharkskin stuff (Vaikobi V-cold comparable) on flat(ish) non-downwind days when I’m just on the water for a workout and layer with a wind shell if I need more. They do have a heavier weight top and bottom that may be worth looking at.

Seems my closet is filling up with paddling gear to cover all of my seasonal needs. Of all the sports I have done, I feel like paddling is the trickiest to dress for.

Have fun at the Christmas party. If it weren’t for the damn ferries I might just make like Cousin Eddie and show up with my RV.


Reivers Dustin

12/06/17 #22301

only dead horse is the paddler who thinks they have it all wired perfect. In all these years I'm still getting surprised. By weather, new gear discoveries, weakness or strength in skills, … this is a very live sport.

By the way, Carl touches on something: coming out of the bucket in a surfski needs to not be a fear. During a race, of course there's the time penalty. But for overall skill and technique, the fear element of a dump will haunt your proficiency. Morris said it years ago: it's just water. And we still see Roger L. just jump in the water for no reason except to keep the remount fresh and solid. I'm guilty of being lazy and “askaird”. Worse, I sometimes think of my reputation of being solid. As if that were important. The Buddhists talk of the “four kinds of horses”. The first kind is gifted in all ways, learns tricks the first time, all tasks are effortless. The fourth kind of horse struggles for everything. (I'm clipping this story severely.) It is better to be the fourth kind of horse because you will come to your “Buddha Nature” more completely. I think of this as being able to enjoy the water more.

So I've identified in myself a Vasana*, a false expectation. I need to quit trying to be so pretty on the water. I know. You guys don't think I'm doing that at all. Oh well.

Om Namah Shivaya

*more literally from the Sanskrit, a perfume smell.

Carl Tessmann
12/06/17 #22302

Regarding remount practice… I try to do this often, but it seems every time I do, someone on shore gets concerned. Not that long ago I was practicing off our main launch point and when I got to shore there was a very concerned group of folks watching me and trying to decide amongst themselves if they should send help or not. I guess it would look strange to see someone out in rough water mounting then going in repeatedly.

Seems people on shore equate swimming to trouble and it’s a fine line before the send in the cavalry to rescue you. Do you guys get a lot of unnecessary SAR or police calls on you because someone on shore spotted a perfectly happy swimmer? Last year we had the police show up at a regular downwind end point to check on us because a newer guy in our group fell in a few times along the way. Is it worth having a conversation with the local police or marine SAR groups? I chatted with a guy in marine SAR and he said it is probably best to have people call when falsely concerned rather than ignore it when it could be a real problem.

To make it worse, we had two deaths here last year so people are hyper-sensitive. Both cases were unprepared folks without any rough water skill, but easy to paint all of us with the same brush.


Paul Reavley

12/06/17 #22303

Speaking as a fourth horse kind of surfski neophyte…I second Reiver's observations and the previous comments about lighter workout clothing not at all being safe “in the winter water” gear in our area.

I don't know if many of the Bellingham paddlers use baggy drysuits here in the winter but I have been testing mine out lately in fairly benign conditions and find it considerably more difficult to remount my surfski in one. Maybe one argument against loose drysuits with surfskis or at least a reason to get more remount practice with any different equipment or clothing you use.

As far as practicing remounts goes, I try to make it obvious to onlookers that I am practicing by breaking up the practice with paddling away from shore a little then back in, fall in, repeat.


Tyler Irwin
12/06/17 #22304

What I've found that keeps me warm during winter paddling and still protected during the random huli is a 2mm full-length wetsuit with short sleeves. Throw a light wind-breaker over the entire suit during windier days and you're set.

Most of the major wetsuit manufacturers makes this “spring-suit” and they're available on Amazon for roughly $100+/-

Nicholas Cryder <nicholas.cryder@…>

12/06/17 #22305

Whatcom at it's best right here. Great thread.

Just to ad a little dimension: the conditions, boat choice, your route, skill level, objectives and the company you keep all impact what you wear. When I was an alpinist in my 20's, we used all of those dimensions to determine the commitment of the objective to make planning decisions practical and limit exposure in a place where silly humans just don't belong… a lot like the water during a gusty winter day. Being fast and efficient was a whole lot safer then slow and cumbersome, and a whole lot more fun. It doesn't take much in our sport to get in over heads, and once you cross that fine line getting out is very delicate (I say that as someone who has had and learned from close calls). Sometimes I paddle a V8 Pro for that very reason on burly winter days. A wide ski is a hell of lot easier to remount, is almost as fast as elite ski in huge conditions (faster depending on your development), and is way more stable / easy to handle if you need to help someone else in trouble.

I once did a paddle with an aspiring paddler, that was making the leap from solid flat water skills to downwind. So we went out on a 60º day, with 10 to 15 mph wind on the flood. Conditions were barely surfable, but choppy. She did really well, but as she fatigued she took a swim. Then another. ANnnnnd another. She was well dressed (3/4 farmer john wetsuit) but was starting to just fade from falling in and remounting…. I was in a V8 pro, and she was in a V8. I ended up doing a footwell raft to get her collected and out of the water, and we limped into shore at MP. High fives and a chuckle at the beach. Good experience, and not an emergency because all of those dimensions were accounted for.

vaikobi_vcold_bham_winter.txt · Last modified: 2020/12/30 04:20 by preavley