Kayaking in the Arctic Ocean


Ok; I'm sold on the dry suit concept. I'm in.

Now what's a good but very reasonably priced dry suit for up in the Arctic Ocean (in August if that makes any difference)? I'm not going scuba diving so I don't need all the valves and such.
Kokatat hydrus angler suit is a good entry level paddling suit. You layer under the suit for the water temp, not the air temp.

Angler/paddling suits have neoprene neck cuffs instead of latex neck gaskets. With the elastic cord at the top cinched up, if you get submerged you’ll get a squirt of water inside the suit initially, but your PFD will float the neckline above the surface once you stabilize.

Because your own perspiration will get moisture inside the suit, it is imperative that everything you wear underneath be breathable and insulating even if wet. Synthetics, wool, silk. Absolutely no cotton.

I have sit on top kayaks, and on hot days I’m scooping water onto my lap or sticking my legs in the water to cool off.

With the right layers on, you can safely be in the water a long time. A couple years ago we had an angler get separated from their kayak in the Cook Inlet and spend about 4-6 hrs in ~40F water before getting picked up.

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-Arctic water is painfully cold in July/Aug. Do a search for Cold Shock and Cold Incapacitation. I've experience with people that have dumped. Even in a suit some people do nothing to save themselves.

- Water is shallow. The conditions (standing waves) are similar to a lake.

Paddler Ed

Paddling dry suits don't have valves and stuff - I purge the air out of mine by curling up in a ball or walking into the river and just opening the latex neck seal a bit.

Had a quick look at what the options are and prices seem to have shot up! I certainly didn't pay £500+ for mine - I think it was nearer £300.

I used to use a Typhoon Multisport (https://www.typhoon-int.co.uk/products/surface/drysuits/other/100140/multisport-4/ - the latest version) and they were very popular when I was paddling a lot.

I like a twin tube cag or dry suit, as that means that the spray deck tube is sealed nicely between the outer and inner layers of the cag/drysuit, and keep a lot more water out the kayak.

Features I'd look for:
  • Latex neck and wrist seals
  • Booties
  • Convenience zip (also useful for getting to the carkey pouch you have inside your drysuit - I always paddled with my keys and phone inside my drysuit in a waterproof pouch)
  • Twin Tube
Now, some of these are more whitewater spec, but it does give you a good drysuit to start with, for whatever direction your paddling goes.

Lucky j

The difference between spring and summer up there is not really water temperature, but is ice or no ice on the water. Much harder amd dangerous to manouver around ice patch and blocks than open water. You do not push on ice block with a kayak and since your but is at water level, you dod not see really far to plan a route.

To get an idea of extrem ice, here is a link. Sorry, link is in french.

And btw, none of those guys were dry or wet suit, but they are moving in a canoe and will never stay long in the water if they go in and they have close backup from each other. :)

Lucky j

A two piece non roto molded cheap kayak has absolutely no business in those waters.

But since Kayaks were invented there, I say go for it.
Well, first, he did not mentionned that he was planning an expedition, but my understanding is that he was going more for a winner circle lap. So this could technically be done in a canoe, weather permiting.

Second, in my book, a kayak is a sit in boat, not a sit on, that you can have a water tigh skirt around your self so water can very hardly come inside

And third, you are right, for a sea kayak, rotomolding is the minimum quality that should be mentionned when talking about a kayak. Fiberglass, kevlar and carbon being higher grade and also wood. Some of these can still be fragile to impact.

But I do not think that he is planning for an helicopter drop in the middle of the ice field during a storm. But all thing consider, we all have our threshold and commond sence. A friend of mine was white water kayaking the zambeze during the world rafting championship and would jumps water falls ( one of the main rider for Riot Kayak) but my gf would not get her sea kayak on the st-laurence river on a mild windy day. I am somewhere in the middle. Lol

But for sure, if I would carry my kayak all the way to tuk, I would want to put it in, taking water and weather condition into acvount.

But would I carry them all that distance for a winners lap, i really dought it. But would I jump in the water on the beach, more than likely. :)


They are about 2-3 hours north of me.


This is about three times what I paid for the kayak. Looks nice though.

Again, what’s your life worth? If you can’t/won’t afford the price of entry, don’t f@ck around with cold water. How far do you think you can swim in 30F water? It’s a much shorter distance than any fun victory lap that’s worth doing. This isn’t a lark on the local lake in the summer time. You’re an inexperienced kayaker talking about going into water that will kill you if you let it. Some experienced paddlers have given you advice about what you need to do this safely.

Do yourself a favor, forget the kayak. Bring a speedo and swim cap and do a polar bear plunge instead. You’re a lot less likely to end up dead that way.

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Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
The difference between spring and summer up there is not really water temperature, but is ice or no ice on the water. Much harder amd dangerous to manouver around ice patch and blocks than open water. You do not push on ice block with a kayak and since your but is at water level, you dod not see really far to plan a route.

To get an idea of extrem ice, here is a link. Sorry, link is in french.

And btw, none of those guys were dry or wet suit, but they are moving in a canoe and will never stay long in the water if they go in and they have close backup from each other. :)
The Quebec race is very close to my parent's home. I have never done it but I have friends who have.

Here is a full website:


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Cool video (even if it was in French).

The purpose of our trip is to "run the Dempster" all the way to Tuktoyaktuk (and back). I want to call it an overlanding trip, but it is really more of a glorified road trip with camping and stops and such along the way. Just a bunch of guys and gals in 4x4's with gear taking as much time off from work as allowed and getting away on an adventure with a destination in mind. And just to make it more interesting/difficult/fun, we're going to bring kayaks with us and will put them in at Tuk, and paddle around a bit in the Beaufort Sea. We may never again be in a position to say we kayaked in the Arctic Ocean (Beaufort Sea... whatever). We don't want to let this chance get away from us. There may be other kayaking opportunities along the way to-and-from Tuk.

And if you look at the map below, there's also plenty of water to the east of Tuk; we don't really plan on going out into the large open water. If anything, we've talked that we'd rather kayak close to shore in the inner waterways and maybe see some moose or bear. Kayaking is a small part of the trip, but we're excited about the prospect. It is more than just a "victory lap", it is another thing we might get to do on this adventure that we would like to do. We might not be expert kayakers, but we own kayaks and enjoy kayaking. And bringing a kayak is not a requirement to go on this trip.

I appreciate everyone's input. I wouldn't have known about dry suits otherwise.


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Paddler Ed

My recommendation for a number of reasons is to just hire all the gear from an outfitter with a guide - I reckon it'll be a much better experience, plus not needing to drag the boats there with you (unless you're planning on putting them in elsewhere).


So to help close the loop, I went to the Kayak Academy in Issaquah and ordered a dry suit:


And yes; I understand I need to wear warm clothing underneath that is NOT made of cotton.
For a little fun reading, find a copy of “Kabluna in the Yellow Kayak” by Victoria Jason. She, often solo, kayaked across the top of Canada over a period of three years. Caveat, she is pretty vindictive towards one of the men that she started the journey with. It’s an interesting journey, from an interesting lady.


rnArmy, have you made a decision yet?

Like Low_Sky said, It might be worth just going for a quick swim rather than hauling your kayak and expensive gear all the way up there for a quick 'lap'. I have a fair amount of kayaking experience here in the Puget Sound and some whitewater, and even here a dry suit is necessary. Even if you are doing a quick lap, there are also other aspects to consider when kayaking in cold water aside from just a dry suit. Though it would be super fun, I suppose I would be hesitant on spending that sort of money for a one time trip unless you plan on future kayaking expeditions and trips, which would require a larger kayak. Its expensive gear to use only once, and it does have a lifespan that is shorter than you would think. I suppose my point is, personally, it's not a good financial investment (for a one time thing). Now if you were big into kayaking, and did so often (in cold waters), then of course. It would be an awesome trip for sure. I do like the previously discussed point of maybe just renting some equipment while up there. If that is a possibility, maybe the way to go, unless you plan other kayaking specific stops enroute. With the pic you showed, in the bay be cautious of tides as the change is bound to cause some pretty strong currents.

The fellow kayaker in me says to absolutely go for it - given the right conditions/gear/experience. But the cautiousness in me says, is the investment worth the return and riskfor danger.

Regardless, be very sure to know all forms of recovery well - its truly a matter of life or death. Pic of a place in Bowron Lakes for your viewing pleasure


Edit: oops....read your last post wrong. Suit ordered. Nice, be sure to post up some pics from your trip!
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Kayaking is just a small part of the trip; almost an afterthought. The goal of the trip is to take 18 days and go over 5000 miles round-trip and run the Dempster Highway all the way to the Arctic Ocean and back. Lots of driving, but lots of camping, beautiful scenery, adventure, etc.

And what good is going on an adventure if there isn't a little bit of nonsense or craziness involved? Not only are we going on this long road trip (we've got jobs we gotta get back to, so we won't be dawdling), but we're going to up the ante a little bit by saying once we get to the Arctic Ocean, we're going to do a little kayaking in the Arctic Ocean with kayaks we brought with us.

You know you want to come with us Chorky. PM me your email address and I'll send you the info. We leave 16 August out of Bellingham.