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Survival Suit Or Not?


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O/k, all you rufty-tufty winter sea dogs. I hear tell of cod and cold weather coming and wonder what is the best option for clothing. Is it to be a survival suit or another warming option and a lifejacket for safety? Are survial suits really warm? what layers does one need underneath? Are they sweaty?


Currently I have a warm winter outfit (Imax) but am wondering whether to go the survival suit direction for added security.



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I currently use a Penn 2 piece floatation suit. This i find warm and not to restrictive. Underneath I wear thin layers of clothing and as yet havent felt cold although admitedly the last 2 winters have been mild.


Prior to this I had an older one piece floatation suit and although good was not a patch on the new suits. Personally I prefer the two piece versions as if its warm you can loose the coat.


Remember that although they are called floatation suits they are only classed as a buoyancy aid and do not replace a life jacket.



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My thoughts based on the fact I get very cold, very easily.


Always go 2 piece. You get a double layer around the mid section and the flexabilty is a bonus. Often during autumn / spring Ill wear the salopettes and a fleece.


I have the Imax suit also, and tend to use it when it is very cold as it is a very warm suit. Sure, you can sweat a little as it is not breathable, but when its 5c or below it is pretty good. Also they are relitivly cheap so I dont mind getting it covered in cuttle ink etc...if it lasts 2 or 3 seasons then it has been worth it.


Secondly I have a set of Musto waterproofs that are worn for offshore yachting. They fit much, much better than the floatation suits are 100% waterproof and are breathable. I can wear these all day without getting the slightest bit sweaty. I wear a life jacket over the top if I deem nessasary and it is still not as bulky as the floatation suit. Downsides. They are about 3 times the price of a floatation suit. They get dirty easily and due to the nature of Goretex (or smiliar - HPX in Musto) it gets ground it and even a washinf machine struggles to get it out - they therefore end up looking rather shabby of not taken care off. They also require a decent level of undergarmets if it is very cold.


Basically I chop and change depending on the conditions. The breathable gear comes on the boat all year round as it is so small and light, the Imax gets used cold winter codding.


Lastly - my feet are the worst for feeling the cold. Skee Tex - no matter what anyone says, I have tried them all and nothing beats these. If Rannaulf Feinnes thought they were good enough to go to the pole, them they are good enough for me. Superb cold weather boots.



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I have one of the new Fladen one piece suits and the fladen thermal one piece under garment (cant think what they call it)


Not used it in very cold weather yet.


Like Adam I get cold easily but when I have tried it found it warm and not sweaty at all.


There are some good prices to be had at the moment if you look around. In fact I think someone in the club or forum use to sell Fladen suits at a good price.




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Isn't there a difference between floatation suit and immersion suit? I think BFM did a write up on it last year, you can survive with an immersion suit in icy cold water for a couple of hours or something.


Personally I wear my Fladen 2 piece floatation suit, yellow and blue. Definitely need an undergarment to keep me really warm. I wear a biker set I use when I ride my motorbike in the winter, they are really warm.

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I think my dad must have been a polar bear, or at least thats what my fellow mobsters used to say down south, Ive worked in harsh conditions down in the south atlantic, with wind chill of minus 47. Layers are the answer here, in dry weather. When the weather becomes wet, its a different story. The outer layer must be 100% waterproof, then thin layers of NATURAL materials, or pateneted thermal providers. I use silk socks, but i must admit the new sealskinz socks and gloves are second to none.


Floatation/survival suits are a must for open boats during winter months. My primary consideration is how long can I survive if I do go overboard. Even if you went in today, sea temperatures being at their possible highest for the year , or just dropping, you will only survive about 20-30 minutes before hypothermia sets in, so in jan or feb, you've got about 10 minutes before you go groggy! Not long to turn a boat around in what could potentially be a building sea, get a throwing line, coil it, throw it, miss, re coil re throw etc.


I like a few other members have a Penn flotation two piece. Purely as it was the least pricey, but gave the features I require. As adam says, you can wear the salloppettes alone with a fleece and they also double the insulation around the trunk, while still allowing manoeverabilty. This works for me.


Another consideration is the science behind which part of the body loses most heat, the head loses around 20% of total body heat, thighs are another big loser with figures around 30%, so a hat, and decent thermals under ure salloppettes are the answer in extreme cold. Fighter pilots wore stockings under their flying suits during long winter missions, im not advocating cross dressing here, but again, its layers! wink.gif


Hope this helps...Rich

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We always advocated natural fibres in the mountains years ago but the development of efficient thermal base layers has virtually rendered them redundant. We also used to wear tights as a lower body base layer and these were incredibly efficient. Not sure which denier.


In the winter mountains, my usual is Helly Hansen base layers which are totally efficient and non constricting. On top of this, I wear Buffalo gear which is Pertex breathable outer and a fleecy inner. Nothing else needed down to about minus 20. The main difference, of course, is that one is normally on the move, which helps to keep the vital juices flowing to the outer limits. This is not an option on a small boat, unless someone can come up with some calisthenic exercises whilst tackling a large cod (I should be so lucky). Rich is quite correct when he says that if you are feeling cold, the first move should be to don a warm hat. The secret is not trying to generate heat within the body, this can only be done through food, but to preserve what you have got. This is why those awful silver thermal blankets are only of use to stop the loss of body heat. Put them on somebody who is already cold and they will stay that way!


Sorry to go on, but this subject is one of my special interests when training mountain leaders. When working out your warmth producing tactics for the day's fishing, don't forget your choice of food; this is what produces the inner warmth. But that's another topic.

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Spag Bog, excellent choice; bags of carb for immediate enegy, i.e., warmth and protein from the bog sauce for longer lasting sustenance. Top up with tinned treacle sponge and you've cracked it. Sod weight watchers.


Not so sure about the lashings of hot sea, though. I realise it's cheap but there must be limits to even your parsimony, Adam.

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Would a jakuzzi be over the top?
- yes, but it might double for an excellent livebait well!


Re flotation suits etc, as already mentioned the water temperature through to early Jan isn't that much colder than July so by that argument you should wear one year round!


Generally a good number of layers as designed to keep you warm out of the water will act well as an insulation in the water too - a good high vis lifejacket that keeps the head clear as much as possible being the real lifesaver in our usual conditions.


That said I usually wear a 2 piece Sundridge in late Dec/Jan because I have one.


Food wise pot noodles have a lot going for them in a small boat - can even be made up from a flask of hot water effectively.

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I also use a two piece Penn flotation suit and because I assumed ( incorrectly ! )that most of the family would want to go out in winter I have three suits, handy for crew who dont have flotation suits.


In winter the flotation aspect of the suit and the design to prevent circulation of water through the garment ( rubber on ends of sleeves ) are a definite plus, since survival times are short in cold seas.

I also have a skiing jacket I bough th in the sales, which is great for keeping warm - windproof/waterproof but would be next to useless if I fell in.


PS: No hot sea to drink on Neo ( thank god smile.gif )

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You're not wrong about the pot noodles but so much better when you take along sun dried tomatoes and peperami to slice up into it to make a more balanced snack. And if you want a pud to fur your teeth up, how about Mars bar melted into a hot chocolate drink. That comes courtesy of Oxfordshire Duke of Edinburgh's Award kids. They really will eat anything if they're hungry enough!

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'Sea' obviously meant 'Tea'


T and S arent even near on the keyboard!!


The survival course the club ran last year was superb. Read here for the details:




It is well worth attending, and we learnt more in the day that you could ever write about in the forum.


Basically whatever you wear on a small boat during cold weather matters little when you hit the water. We spend about 2 hours in a heated swimming pool (32c) and I was cold when we got out - I had a full floation suit on and a lifejacket. When they made waves it was struggle keeping my face dry and getting into the liferaft was near on impossible.


Try that in a F8 with 5c seas!!

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