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Bowling Green Canoe and Kayak Message Board › COLD WEATHER PADDLING


Powell A.
user 32370582
Group Organizer
Bowling Green, KY
Post #: 30

General: Cotton can be your friend in hot weather since it holds moisture and slowly evaporates it, losing heat and moisture to cool you. BUT THAT IS BAD IN COLD WEATHER!
Wool (any type), synthetics that wick well, and wool/synthetic blends are preferred in cool/cold weather.

Clothing: Unless you know you will get wet (whitewater), wearing several good layers that wick (inside), insulate (middle), and protect (outer) will be all you need. Wearing 3 to 4 lighter layers lets you adjust to the days changing conditions: high and low levels of exertion and taking breaks, sun with no wind, no sun with wind, etc… Several layers are good: you can go with four layers on top and three on bottom, with none being heavy, and all but the base layer next to the skin having openings, preferably zippers. This lets you regulate airflow and core temperature better than heavy layers that don't unzip. A base layer that wicks well (mesh is great), followed by a light to medium layer, a medium to medium heavy layer, and then a wind and/or or waterproof layer will keep you protected and warm, but not hot and sweaty if you can unzip all but the base layer as conditions and exertion change. (Don’t get hot and sweaty while exerting – when you stop you will get cold! It’s better to be a little cool than to overheat and get wet inside.)

Gloves: Bring more than one pair of gloves. They will get wet due to water and/or perspiration, so bring two or three pair. A dry lightweight glove is better than a wet insulated glove. Hands being slightly cool are better than overly hot sweaty hands as they will get cold when you stop moving!

Socks: If you are in a pair of shoes/boots all day, wear wicking base layer socks under your main socks. Feet being slightly cool are better than overly hot sweaty feet as they will get cold when you stop moving! (Wear footwear that will keep you feet dry when getting in and out of your boat!)

Headwear: A wool or synthetic fleece stocking cap or beanie that covers your ears is always good to have. If you are cold natured or it is going to be windy, you may want one that also covers the back of your neck, or a balaclava.

Many people like to use either a wetsuit or a dry suit while kayaking in cooler weather. The wetsuit is the much more affordable option and likely all one will need, especially if you are a recreational kayaker. The dry suit, one piece or two piece, though a very handy piece of kayaking apparel, is really only worth the money if you are a hardcore kayaker (cold weather whitewater). With either, wear a good wicking base layer.


F. Powell Andrews, III
QA Manager, Russell Outdoors, Russell Athletic, Fruit of the Loom
John B.
user 7671064
Bowling Green, KY
Post #: 111
Thanks for putting this information in a more readable and usable format.
Katherine F
user 8793267
Pegram, TN
Post #: 47
Tonight I read an excellent article in the Dec. 2012 issue of Sea Kayaker. The article, Dockside Capsize, accounts what happened to an experienced kayaker when he "swam" while trying out his new kayak in cold February water.
The excerpt below is taken directly from that article.

It is important to know that cold shock responses reach their peak intensity in 50*F to 60*F water, which means that loss of breathing control is as severe in 52*F water as it is in near freezing water. Colder water does not provoke a greater shock response because at 52*F your body is already responding as forcefully as it possibly can.
Never break the golden rule of cold water safety. If you value your life, always dress for the water temperature-no exceptions.

Katherine F
user 8793267
Pegram, TN
Post #: 53
There is a good article in this week's edition of Paddlenews from It is found under Top Stories. The name of the article is Testing Your Immersion Ensemble.
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