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#5357 - 04/09/02 07:52 PM Poopie suit vs dry suit

Neoprene survival suits are generally made in the "one size fits all large persons" mode. They are too big and uncomfortable for any person smaller than XXL. They are also too bulky for the general aviation cockpit. I have a diver's dry suit that, except for the tight gasket at the neck, is quite comfortable to wear and which, combined with insulation, booties, gloves, and neoprene cowl, should provide protection equal to, or greater than that of the survival suit. I have not asked the "authorities" whether such a rig would be legal for over water flight. Nor have I seen any data comparing such a combination with the standard survival suit. Any comments, criticisms, etc?

#5358 - 04/09/02 08:28 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
"to big and uncomfortable" I've heard that phrase ( or similar) applied to motorcycle helmets, steeltoed boots, athletic supporters and prescription glasses. During my Coast Guard service we had kapok lifepreservers ( some dated 1945), standard wet suits , Bell motorcycle helmets and a survival belt with issue ( and inadequate) gear which we augmented. The first float coats were immediately authorized as substitute standard for private purchase ( represented by todays excellent Mustang system) and survival suits were virtually unknown. Does your dry suit have reflective patches, a flotation collar to keep your face above water in case of unconsiousness, rapid donning and how long have you used it in hypothermic conditions? Ill take an uncomfortable survival suit anyday.

Edited by Chris Kavanaugh (04/10/02 06:11 AM)

#5359 - 04/10/02 04:54 AM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit
Doug_Ritter Offline


Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1961
Hosteen,<br><br>First off, you are not exactly correct that traditional neoprene anti-exposure (exposure, immersion, poopie) suits are one size fits all. In fact, there are four standard sizes that fit a wide range of people from small to extra large. Custom suits can also be had. Having said that, they are even at best somewhat oversize since they are designed to be donned quickly in an emergency, over your regular clothing. SOLAS spec / U.S. Coast Guard approved suits incorporate a number of features that you won’t find in a conventional dry suit used for diving. Foremost among these is that via a pillow or other means they will support your head out of the water. Some are designed with full face covering, even standard designs have partial face protection. Both are important. They will support you prone in the water, not sure the dry suit will do that, and they are an enclosed “system” approach. <br><br>Typically, pilots using such suits wear them rolled down to the waist in flight. In an emergency the idea is you will finish donning the suit during any descent to the water. That usually works out, but may not be easy, especially if flying solo. In any case, they are still not comfortable to wear for long periods and are awkward to fly in. The dry suit you will need to wear the entire time and I suspect will become quite warm and uncomfortable, but that’s just an educated guess based on wearing other non-breathable suits for long periods. I have no idea how the authorities will view a regular dry suit instead of a proper exposure suit. That would be pretty much strictly an issue with the Canadian authorities whose rules must be followed when departing from their territory for North Atlantic flights.<br><br>A down side of any of the neoprene exposure/dry suits is that they could inhibit your egress from a ditched aircraft due to their inherent buoyancy.<br><br>The best solution, though hardly the least expensive, are the modern aviation exposure suit designs (Multifabs, Mustang, etc.) that incorporate Goretex fabric, providing a dry suit that breaths. They do generally require auxiliary insulation (long underwear, etc.), unlike neoprene foam they are not self-insulating, with a couple exceptions. They also require separate floatation, an inflatable life vest. As such, they won’t create a problem during egress.<br>
Doug Ritter
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation

#5360 - 04/10/02 02:26 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit

<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>"to big and uncomfortable"... athletic supporters <p><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>I've always found them somewhate too small and uncomfortable!<br><br>;^)

#5361 - 04/10/02 09:21 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit

Doug,<br>Thank you for your thoughtful comments. My limited search only yielded suits of one size (XXL) and when I tried one in the cockpit I discovered that the baggy legs and booties interfered with rudder control and the torso portion impinged on the yoke. I was willing to sacrifice some USCG designs (e.g., head support) for something that would fit my situation. I have worn the dry suit for extended periods of time (both in and out of the water) and, although it is a sauna, I can put up with the discomfort with the knowledge that it is a protective device. My only experience in an icy environment was in the Tasiilaq Fjord of East Greenland where I spent some time in the water just to see how much protection it provided. It provided plenty.<br><br>I will check on the aviation designs. It sounds as though there are similarities to the dry suit concept.<br><br>Thank you for your help and thank you for the product reviews you provide on your site. I have already added several recommended items to my kits and I'll keep lurking in the wings to glean more information from the members of your group.<br><br>Dan

#5362 - 04/10/02 10:07 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit

Chris,<br>Thank you for your comments. It is apparent that you are an old Coast Guard hand and have good familiarity and experience with their equipment.<br><br>I do wear prescription glasses and could easily wear an athletic supporter in the cockpit. Steel-toed boots would probably work too but I think the motorcycle helmet might get in the way of ear phones and microphone. There is other protective headgear that is more suited for flying.<br><br>My dry suit does have reflective patches but no flotation collar. It would be worn during the flight so rapid donning would not matter (it does require some contortions to don). And, I've used it in iceberg-filled waters just long enough to determine that it provided adequate short-term thermal protection but did not do a thorough comparison with the tables (Tikuisis, P.: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 68:441, 1997). That was the basis for my inquiry.<br><br>Aboard ship, where one has more freedom to move about, I totally agree with you. I would prefer an uncomfortable survival suit too. I simply found it hard to fly with and was looking for an alternative.<br><br>Thank you for your rapid reply to my posting.<br>Dan

#5363 - 04/11/02 02:06 AM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
Dan, I hope I didn't come off as sarcastic. I served in the era of amphib helos and got to fly in the last Albatross that somehow remained in the inventory. Should I fly in Greenland waters again I will specify a big de Havilland beaver with floats and a international orange paint job ;^)

#5364 - 04/11/02 02:38 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit

Chris,<br>Not to worry. I know what you were trying to say. I am envious of you military guys who have all the expensive toys to play with. Most commercial operators in the arctic use DHC-6 and DHC-7, with a few new ATRs showing up. I'm just a working guy on a limited budget. I fly a very small single engine airplane. I have made a couple of flights in the arctic with it and have a fantasy of flying to East Greenland where I have friends and a minor business interest. It is important to equip oneself for survival (duh) but when one tries to fit all the essentials into a small 'plane it can result in overloading or a balance problem. We all joke about drilling holes in our toothbrushes to save weight but I am seriously experimenting with reductionism. Not being satisfied with the current situation is how improvements and advances are made. <br><br>I have found that carrying bivouac gear goes a long way toward assuring that you will have one and sometimes one has to realize that the difference is not always between being comfortable and being miserable. Sometimes the choice is between being miserable and being dead.<br><br>In flying, we train for emergencies and hope we will be prepared when (if) they happen. But, we have to assume on every flight that the engine will keep running and the wings will not fall off or else we would never fly. Everything is a compromise: a gallon of fuel, which you probably will need and for which there is no substitute vs. a sleeping bag, which you probably will not need and which you can probably improvise. The list goes on and the compromise is the same no matter whether you are walking, paddling, flying, on horseback, etc.<br><br>Suggestions from you and the expertise of the members of your forum is what I am seeking.<br><br>Regards,<br>Dan

#5365 - 04/11/02 02:55 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
Dan, www.wingsovercanada.bc.ca If you haven't seen this wonderfull show ( very limited ,but popular distribution so far) fly, don't walk to the webpage. They have a video simulating a downed aircraft with repair and maintenance tips and survival info. I have it on order, so cannot review it. What type aircraft are you flying? Ill never forget an alaskan flight in a supercub. strapped to the wing struts were snowshoes and a cased rifle with survival gear. I asked about it's location as we "donned" the cub. " You can't crash cubs son, sometimes in a wind I have to get out and push this thing. "

#5366 - 04/11/02 07:03 PM Re: Poopie suit vs dry suit

Chris,<br>Thanks, I have seen the website but none of the shows. I guess I did not know any of it was for sale. I will try to order the accident scene you describe very soon. It sounds very informative. <br><br>Ah, I guess I was hoping my specific aircraft type would not come up. It's the standard low-performance, underpowered, unmodified (except aux. fuel tank) 32-year-old C-172. I've got lots of hours flying over the Canadian bush (but make no claim to being a bush pilot) and have flown it twice to the arctic. The forum will likely think I'd be nuts to try to fly it to Greenland but the over water segment across the Davis Strait is the only part that seriously concerns me. The Canadian tundra is familiar to me and I've skied across the Greenland ice cap so I can deal with that situation. So far, making that flight is still a fantasy but I am getting the equipment in order so it may happen. Lest this dialog turn into recommendations of specific aircraft best suited for arctic flight, let me say that I fly what I own and I guess I'll always be just a Skyhawk driver. But, like everyone else I do enjoy talking about 'planes!<br><br>You metioned previously that you would insist that your Beaver be painted orange. I have been seriously considering painting the top surface of my 'plane blaze orange and embed reflective particles on selected surfaces.<br><br>I like your description of the Super Cub. Thankfully, they are so overpowered you can't overload them. And they fly slow enough to go backward in a stiff headwind. Most of my experience in AK has been in C-185 or C-206. They haul more of my heavy expedition stuff.<br><br>Dan

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