I like the outdoors. I sail year-round, and I can endure as much heat and cold as my passions demand. But whether it is summer or winter, I just cant abide cold, wet feet. There is something about damp socks that chills me through. If my feet are warm, Im warm.
Regarding your recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post Drysuits vs. Survival Suits, I raft the Colorado river in Grand Canyon where water temps are around 50 F, even in the summer. The whitewater down there is furious and sometimes dangerous. I wear a 3 millimeter neoprene wetsuit under a full drysuit. If the drysuit rips, the wetsuit should slow down thermal loss. The problem is heat buildup in the sun. The solution is to jump in the cold water now and then to keep from over heating. On a sailboat that would be harder to do. There have been a few times sailing solo when I wore both garments, but it was pretty clammy inside. There is no perfect solution, just reasonable compromises by which to stay alive. Something to remember is that once a drysuit rips, it will take on hundreds of pounds of water. A high flotation PFD is mandatory, at least 26 pounds I would think.
Whether you want to cruise the higher latitudes or extend your sailing season this winter, youll need to think about clothing. Over the years, Practical Sailor has published a number of tests and reports on garments that we can count on to keep us warm when the wind chill dips toward freezing. In this report, well take a broader look at the essentials, focusing on the first principles; under layers, accessories, how to wear them, and what materials stay dry.