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Warmth in True Wetness
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Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Warmth in True Wetness on 10/22/2013 20:28:30 MDT Print View

I am not a Tough Mudder, Warrior dash type of guy; However, there is a Worlds Toughest Mudder every year that is a 24 hour race.
Now that interests me.

So it's in the middle of November in upper New Jersey.
This means being in freezing water with freezing night temps for a full 24 hours.

About 90% of all the starters stop or quit their forward process because they are too cold.

So my question would be, what is the best way to stay warm (layers) in true wetness.

Here is a picture of what the winners wore.

I get the wet suit, but think a dry suit with better layering would be a much better way to go at this???
Of course you have to worry about a break in the suit and having water seep in ending your battle, (unless you have a spare wetsuit).
Also, even the winners say they were freezing the entire time, so wet suit may not even be a good option?

Any other thoughts on what would work even better?
This is for 24 hours.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/22/2013 20:53:33 MDT Print View

Look at what winter canyoneers wear.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Why? on 10/22/2013 22:27:56 MDT Print View


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/22/2013 22:33:43 MDT Print View

Look at Andrew Skurka's report for his hike in the Nation's Icebox.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Drysuits, wetsuits, and more on 10/22/2013 23:45:33 MDT Print View

Based on my experience with winter/spring whitewater rafting:

– Drysuit plus fleece/polypro can be much warmer and more comfortable than a wetsuit. But you need some time to get used to being constricted by the seals at neck, wrists, and possibly ankles, depending on design.

– Don't trim too much off the drysuit seals hoping for more comfort. Trim a little at a time, wear it for a while (like an hour), then think hard about the next trim. Trim a little too far, and you get to replace the seals. Not cheap or easy.

– Drysuits are relatively fragile. Put a hole in a drysuit body or seal, and water & air gets in & out, and your warmth drops rapidly. For Tough Mudder, consider buying the toughest drysuit you can find, not the lightest.

– Most drysuits are terrible for regulating temperature when you heat up from sun or exercise. If you open the zipper, you risk getting wet (and cold), and jamming the zipper with mud.

– Some people carry a short length of 3/4 to 1 inch diameter plastic tubing. Wrap around your neck in a circle loosely, then roll the neck seal over the tubing, to allow heat and sweat to escape for a while. Helps to get the drysuit on and off, too.

– You will sweat inside your drysuit, and the sweat will pool near your feet. Goretex and similar miracle fabrics help, some, at considerable extra cost.

– Drysuits with built-in feet can be a little warmer, but the sweat pools at your feet, which can cause problems. Drysuits with seals at your ankles result in water pooling around your ankles, which is relatively easy to drain by tugging on the seal.

– 24 hours? You definitely want a drysuit with a "relief zipper" designed for your current gender. Getting in and out of a drysuit is hard work, time consuming, and risks tearing the seals.

– Get a drysuit with covered seals, typically cuffs with velcro. Seals are the weakest link.

– A dry top plus dry pants might be a good option versus a one-piece drysuit. Easier to regulate your temperature, easier for waste management, but won't keep you as dry, because sealing around your waist is difficult.

– A wetsuit will be much tougher than a fabric drysuit, but not as warm.

– A reasonably thick wetsuit will make it harder to run and climb. Practice.

– Watch out for wetsuit chafing and rashes behind knees, at groin, inside elbows, and armpits. Consider lubricating those areas before starting, and having more lube available during the race. Don't use petroleum-based lubes! (Where have we heard that line before?)

– In theory, you warm up the thin layer of water inside the wetsuit, and all is well. In practice, stay as dry as you can as long as you can. Cold water is still cold water, and it doesn't stay put when you are active.

– Wetsuits with a fabric outside surface are much tougher than "raw" smooth neoprene. However, the fabric retains water, which evaporates, which quickly chills you. That's why windsurfer wetsuits are raw-smooth on the outside. Inside, you need the fabric to get the suit on and off in under an hour.

– I've used a "splash jacket" or "paddle jacket" over a wetsuit to help keep water out, and act as a windbreaker. You can add and adjust warmth with fleece or polypro between the wetsuit and the splash jacket.

– Consider a custom wetsuit. A wetsuit that's too large in major areas (arms, legs, torso) is almost useless, because the cold water flows right through. Too small, and you constrict breathing and blood flow, generally Bad Ideas while exercising hard in cold weather. If you can find an off-the-rack wetsuit that fits really well, go for it, but don't settle for OK.

– Wear only the thinnest polypro under a wetsuit, or nothing but minimal underwear. Fleece or thicker polypro under a wetsuit holds more cold water next to your skin, and it can't evaporate.

– You need to keep your hands, feet, head, and face warm, too. Don't assume a warm body will keep the rest going. Those temperatures are in the right range for frostbite, chillblain, and trench foot. Under those conditions, you want neoprene gloves or mittens, socks, and a full hood that covers your neck.

– Running shoes or water shoes over neoprene socks work well, you'll need larger shoes than normal. I've never found an insulated shoe that worked well – usually bad fit, traction, comfort, or all of the above.

– Choose shoes or sandals that hold as little water as possible. More water is more weight and more cold.

– Difficult trade-off between "sealed" shoes or shoes + gaiters to keep dirt and stones out, or more open designs that make it easy to dump the dirt and keep moving. I've settled on Chaco sandals plus neoprene socks, with lots of practice balancing on one foot while dumping stones from the sandals. YMMV.

– Ice rescue suits, survival suits, and immersion suits are really expensive, tough, and warm. I have never seen one, no opinion.

Hope this helps.

-- Rex

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/23/2013 07:23:07 MDT Print View

looked at the pictures, and neither is wearing any sort of eye protection. hmmm ....
so : it must have been REALLY wet !

if peter was going to go and get cold soaked to the bone, and comfort was not an issue, he'd run stout nylon pants, manzella windstopper gloves, a long sleeve polarstretch100 zip top with a collar, and on top of that a 200wt fleece vest, along with a poly balaclava. (assuming not much wind, just wet and freezing)
if that was too warm, you can always throw away the vest on the march.

when cold and sweaty, it's better to be 100% covered, but not enough ... than too much here, and bare skinned there.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/23/2013 15:20:18 MDT Print View


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/23/2013 15:22:52 MDT Print View

+1 for wool, as long as you get stuff that doesn't stretch out when soaked. Wool kinda sucks for full submersion.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/23/2013 15:24:02 MDT Print View

Also, running tights are awesome for getting wet, especially the thicker fleece lined ones.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/23/2013 20:04:17 MDT Print View

Good stuff.

I really want to be able to "run" without chafing or being completely soaked in way that I will be freezing the whole time.

In a way, a dry suit may be a no-no for that reason.

I'm wondering if a 2-3mm one piece wetsuit with the crotch cut out, front and back (one cut) and a tight fitting drysuit over this may work?
This way I don't have to worry about getting wet and since I won't be wet all the time, it will give the wetsuit a chance to warm what water is there from the physical moving???

Even a 2 piece wetsuit could work, but do you dare ware a light pair of wool under the wetsuit to keep it from chaffing?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/23/2013 20:11:45 MDT Print View

Personally I would go with neoprene socks, thicker running tights, and a wetsuit top. I wouldn't bother with neoprene on my legs, too much chance of chaffing and keeping your legs warm isn't as important.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
sweat on 10/24/2013 00:55:32 MDT Print View

despite the temps and the wetness ... i suspect you may have issues with OVERHEATING if you try to keep too warm

in winter overheating is a serious issue ... not only will you get dehydrated, but youll also soak your layers even more... are drysuits breathable?

the only way to tell is you to sign up for it and try a "better" system ... proof lies in the results, not on the intrawebs


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: sweat on 10/24/2013 01:01:42 MDT Print View

"in winter overheating is a serious issue"

In winter, you don't want the warmest clothing, you want the most flexible/adaptable clothing.


Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: sweat on 10/24/2013 06:21:49 MDT Print View

Okay, so wet suit top with warm insulation on the bottom with a dry suit over and neoprene socks.

That looks like it would work.
The course won't get you too muddy so having an easy opening zipper to open in regards of overheating is key.

Thanks for all the very helpful replies.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Worlds Toughest Mudder on 10/24/2013 18:00:11 MDT Print View

A friend of mine competed in the Worlds Toughest Mudder a couple years ago and dropped out because he got too cold to continue. He took note of the other competitors that were doing well, and told me they wore a base wetsuit and then added a SECOND wetsuit on top of it for certain sections. My friend took a similar approach and placed third last year. PM me and I can try to put you in touch if you want.

Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F
Warmth in True Wetness on 10/26/2013 07:51:50 MDT Print View

I've bee eyeballing this event too. Not for participating but for interest in the gear, as I like to do similar kind of on/off water stuff in Finland (with less mud but sometimes similar temperatures).
I've found that while it's ok with a thin wetsuit, or even winter tights and kayaking thermal shirt for the first hour, the game changes after that. First I can shiver the cold away but after running out of quick energy that kind of clothing is just totally insufficient. So test your gear selection for two hours continuous mudding at least.
Thick wetsuit sucks to run in, so I would start with few fishnet polypro base layers under a sockless tough drysuit (sacrificed). Fishnet warmth doesn't change much when wet if there's a fully closed shell over it. Also temperature regulation is easy by opening the zipper just a bit. Do you really find wool warm when completely soaked? I don't. Neoprene socks and tough trail running or orienteering shoes. Neoprene gloves and hood.
If the drysuit should tear I would be literally in deep sh1t. Therefore I would take also the double neoprene option to the pit stop area. If allowed maybe set up a standing height heated tent, although it would be hard to leave it after a break :)
Towels to dry your skin or suit before taking care of cuts, chafes and blisters. Gorilla tape plus flexible super glue and patches to repair the drysuit.

What type of animals live in that kind of conditions? Maybe you should get some brown fat to look more like a seal? Fat doesn't get soaked.

Edit, ps:
And neoprene surface jersey can be rubbed full of silicone (bathroom sealant type works but is not probaly optimal), to make it fast drying and more durable. And heavier of course.

Edited by akuusist on 10/26/2013 11:03:42 MDT.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 10/30/2013 19:17:06 MDT Print View

You got me thinking.

I'm wondering if a homemade bottom and top with 2-3 layers of 5 oz insulation under a very waterproof and seam sealed material would work?
Lighter and more comfortable to run in with a just warm layer against the skin.
it would be similar to an immersion suit. If you don't get it wet, it would retain its loft and keep you warm .
If necessary, a zipper could be added for venting.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Support crew on 10/30/2013 19:29:07 MDT Print View

I would lean toward a trimmed wet suit. But, this isn't exactly my sort of type 2 fun. However, since this is halfway close to me, let me know if you need a support crew. I am up for that!

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Worry about electrical shock, too? on 11/24/2013 23:23:20 MST Print View

Ran across this today:

ER doctors warn about 10,000 volt wires in mud runs.

Those muddy obstacle course races everyone seems to be doing lately can be dangerous, especially when they involve obstacles charged with 10,000 volts of electricity, emergency physicians say.

Doctors confirmed this in a series of case studies looking at the injuries that happened during a Tough Mudder event in Philadelphia earlier this year. Of the 38 racers treated in the emergency department over that weekend in June, about half suffered electrical injuries.

That's because this particular event features two obstacles that require runners to brave their way through electroshock

Not sure a wetsuit, drysuit, wet wool, or any combination, will protect you from those obstacles!

-- Rex

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Warmth in True Wetness on 11/25/2013 06:31:16 MST Print View

I know nothing about Mudder events except what I saw on YouTube - it's designed to wear you out.

No insulation in the world is going to keep you warm if the furnace isn't fueled and running. No different that an ultra-hike in PNW rain in shorts and a T.

Is "phood" available throughout the event? If so, you need to keep your intake constant, and at Your optimal rate.

Are you fit enough to keep moving during the event? Meaning, between the challenges you are running in place, doing crunches, doing jumping jacks, just to generate heat (as needed).

Best of Luck.