Embarking on a winter kayaking adventure is not for the faint of heart.
But for those seeking a thrilling escape into nature’s icy grip, the reward can be immeasurable.
Picture yourself gliding along frozen rivers, surrounded by a winter wonderland.
Before you embark on this exhilarating journey, however, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the proper cold weather attire.
In this article, we will dive into the essential gear and precautions needed to navigate the chill and conquer the elements with confidence.
Choosing The Right Gear For Winter Kayaking
Winter kayaking can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to have the right gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure. When venturing out in very cold weather, where the air temperature is less than 50 degrees or the water temperature is less than 45 degrees, it is crucial to wear a dry suit. Dry suits are designed to keep water out and maintain insulation, making them ideal for winter kayaking.
In addition to the dry suit, layering clothing is an effective way to provide insulation and protection from the cold. Begin with a base layer made of non-cotton sports bras and underwear or a swimsuit. These materials are quick to dry and will help to wick moisture away from the body. Over the base layer, consider wearing a rashguard made of polyester or nylon blended with Lycra® spandex. Rashguards provide an additional layer of warmth and protection from the elements.
To keep your head warm, invest in a neoprene balaclava or a winter beanie hat. These accessories will not only shield your head from the cold air but also help to retain body heat. Remember, the dry suit is designed to keep water out, so it’s crucial to wear warm, insulating clothing underneath to maximize its efficiency.
When choosing a kayak for winter paddling, opt for a sit-inside kayak with a spray skirt. This combination will provide added protection from the cold weather and prevent water from splashing into the kayak, keeping you dry and warm. Furthermore, consider using kayaking gloves made of neoprene with a warm fleece lining. These gloves will provide insulation and protect your hands from the cold water.
Safety is paramount when kayaking in winter, so it’s recommended to paddle with a partner. This way, you can look out for each other and provide assistance if needed. Prior to your kayaking trip, plan your route and leave a float plan with someone you trust. It’s also essential to check the weather forecast before heading out, as winter weather conditions can be unpredictable.
Lastly, always wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when kayaking. In cold water, cold water shock and hypothermia can occur rapidly, and a PFD will help keep you afloat and provide much-needed warmth. Additionally, consider carrying emergency supplies such as a thermal foil blanket, a dry bag with thermal layers for changing into dry clothing after a capsize, and warm drinks or soup in a Thermos for quick warming.
- Wear a dry suit in very cold weather and cold water to keep water out and maintain insulation.
- Layer clothing with a base layer of non-cotton sports bras and underwear or a swimsuit, and a rashguard over it for added warmth and protection.
- Invest in a neoprene balaclava or winter beanie hat to keep your head warm and retain body heat.
- Choose a sit-inside kayak with a spray skirt to prevent water splashing and keep yourself dry and warm.
- Wear kayaking gloves made of neoprene with a warm fleece lining to insulate your hands from the cold water.
- Paddle with a partner for safety and assistance.
- Plan your route and leave a float plan with someone you trust before your kayaking trip.
- Check the weather forecast to prepare for unpredictable winter weather conditions.
- Always wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device (PFD) to stay afloat and provide warmth.
- Carry emergency supplies like a thermal foil blanket, a dry bag with thermal layers for changing into dry clothing, and warm drinks or soup in a Thermos.
Dressing For Cold Weather: Dry Suits And Insulation
In winter kayaking, dressing appropriately is key to staying warm and comfortable during your paddling adventure. As mentioned earlier, a dry suit is the go-to gear for very cold conditions. Winter paddling in the northern half of the USA and many southern states often requires a dry suit for both warmth and safety. However, in warmer regions such as Central or South Florida or Hawaii, a dry suit may not be necessary.
When choosing a dry suit, ensure it fits properly and allows for freedom of movement. Remember, the dry suit is designed to keep water out, so insulation comes from the layers worn underneath. Therefore, it is crucial to layer clothing appropriately.
Start with a base layer, such as a swimsuit or non-cotton sports bras and underwear suitable for this purpose. Over the base layer, consider wearing a rashguard or water shirt made of polyester or nylon blended with Lycra® spandex. These materials provide insulation and will help keep you warm in colder conditions.
For added insulation, a mid-layer is necessary. A fleece jacket or other warm, synthetic mid-layer is a great choice to trap heat close to your body. Quality waterproof/breathable jacket and rain pants can serve as an outer layer to protect against windchill and keep you dry in case of splashes or rain.
When it comes to footwear, neoprene paddling booties or any footwear that protects your toes and the bottoms of your feet are recommended. These will keep your feet warm and protected from the cold water.
Lastly, don’t forget to accessorize accordingly. Hats with wide brims or capes are recommended to protect your face from the elements. Consider using a cap leash to secure your hat in case of strong winds. Additionally, wearing a beanie can provide extra warmth in cold conditions. Paddling gloves are essential to protect against blisters and blustery days. Another option to consider is using pogies, which protect your hands while allowing direct grip on the paddle. To prevent losing your glasses, use glasses retainers that float and are always attached.
Essential Winter Kayaking Accessories
In addition to the dry suit and appropriate clothing, there are several essential accessories to consider when winter kayaking. These accessories will enhance your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment during your paddling adventure.
Carrying a suitable Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is one of the most critical accessories for any kayaking trip, regardless of the weather. A PFD will keep you afloat and prevent cold water shock and hypothermia in case of an unexpected capsize.
To ensure you stay warm in cold weather, carry emergency supplies such as a thermal foil blanket. This lightweight and space-saving item can provide significant warmth when wrapped around your body. Additionally, a dry bag with thermal layers for changing into dry clothing after a capsize is essential. It’s crucial to have dry clothing readily available to change into to prevent further loss of body heat.
To combat hunger and cold on the water, carry warm drinks or soup in a Thermos. These warm beverages can provide quick warming and restore energy during your paddling adventure.
- Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
- Thermal foil blanket
- Dry bag with thermal layers
- Thermos with warm drinks or soup
Safety Precautions For Winter Paddling
When embarking on a winter kayaking trip, it’s vital to prioritize safety. Follow these safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Always paddle with a partner, especially in cold weather conditions. Having someone with you can provide assistance in case of an emergency and ensure that someone is there to take immediate action if needed.
Before heading out, plan your route and leave a float plan with someone you trust. A float plan details your intended route, estimated time of return, and emergency contacts. This information is essential in case you run into any unforeseen challenges or delays.
Stay informed by checking the weather forecast before your trip. Winter weather conditions can change rapidly, and it’s crucial to be aware of any potential storms or severe weather that may impact your paddling adventure.
Follow all safety guidelines and regulations, including wearing a suitable Personal Flotation Device (PFD). A PFD will provide flotation and keep you afloat in case of an unexpected capsize or accident.
Dressing For Mild Conditions: Tips For Kayaking In Warmer Regions
If you live in a region with milder winter conditions, such as Central or South Florida or Hawaii, you can still enjoy kayaking while dressing appropriately for the weather. Here are some tips for dressing for mild conditions:
Base layer: Wear a swimsuit or non-cotton sports bras and underwear suitable for kayaking. These materials are quick to dry and will provide the necessary comfort.
Additional layer: Consider wearing a rashguard made of polyester or nylon blended with Lycra® spandex. Rashguards are lightweight and provide protection from the sun while keeping you cool.
Alternative to rashguards: Water shirts are a looser option that offer similar sun protection and are suitable for warmer regions.
Bottoms: Opt for comfortable and quick-to-dry bottoms like board shorts or quick-dry pants. These will keep you cool and provide ease of movement.
Layering: In cooler temperatures, layering becomes essential. Wear a fleece jacket or other warm, synthetic mid-layer to provide insulation and warmth.
Outer layer: A quality waterproof/breathable jacket and rain pants can protect you from wind and rain if conditions become colder and wetter.
Footwear: Choose neoprene paddling booties or any footwear that protects your toes and the bottoms of your feet. These will provide the necessary protection and comfort.
Head protection: Hats with wide brims or capes are recommended to shield your face from the sun. Consider using a cap leash to secure your hat in case of strong winds. Wear a beanie for added warmth in cooler conditions.
Hand protection: Paddling gloves are recommended to protect your hands from blisters and provide a better grip on the paddle.
Hand insulation: For cooler days, consider using “Pogies”. Pogies are hand covers that attach to the paddle, providing insulation for your hands while still allowing direct contact with the paddle.
Safety: No matter the weather conditions, always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when kayaking. This is crucial for your safety, even when paddling close to shore.
In mild conditions, dressing in swimsuits, rashguards, and quick-dry pants is recommended. By following these tips and precautions, you can ensure safe and enjoyable paddling adventures during the winter season.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you keep warm while kayaking?
To keep warm while kayaking, it is essential to follow the principle of layering. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer that will keep you dry by drawing sweat away from your body. Over this, wear a mid-layer that will retain heat, such as a fleece or wool sweater, to provide insulation. Finally, top it off with an outer-layer that is waterproof and windproof to protect you from any splashes or gusts of wind. Remember to avoid cotton in all layers as it traps moisture, making you feel colder in the long run. By carefully layering your clothing, you can ensure warmth and comfort throughout your kayaking adventure.
What do you wear when you go kayaking?
When gearing up for a kayaking adventure, it is crucial to prioritize safety and comfort. To ensure a pleasant experience, it is recommended to wear a thick wetsuit to keep the body warm and protected from the water. Layering up with a fleece adds an extra level of insulation, keeping you cozy in potentially chilly conditions. Equally important is a kayak life vest, an essential accessory that provides buoyancy and ensures safety while on the water. Additionally, don’t forget to shield yourself from the sun’s rays by wearing sunscreen and a hat, as you paddle under the bright and sunny skies.
Do you wear a bathing suit while kayaking?
When enjoying kayaking, it is recommended to wear a bathing suit to enhance water absorption and minimize the impact on your regular clothes. Kayaking through rapids or experiencing brief submersion can result in getting splashed with a significant amount of water. In case you decide to opt for regular clothes, it is important to avoid cotton material as it tends to retain moisture and can be uncomfortable during water activities.
What should you not wear while kayaking?
When it comes to kayaking, it’s best to steer clear of cotton clothing. Cotton absorbs moisture easily and takes a long time to dry, which can leave you feeling uncomfortable and chilled throughout your adventure. Instead, opt for fabrics like synthetic polyesters, quick-dry nylons, or merino wool that have moisture-wicking properties and dry quickly, keeping you comfortable and warm on the water. By avoiding cotton, you’ll ensure a more enjoyable and hassle-free kayaking experience.