Preparing for cold weather kayaking

Zipping into a drysuit to enjoy kayaking on a cold day is the bomb. It is also a big investment.  Don’t let not having a dry suit deter you from enjoying a beautiful winter day on the river!  Here are a few tips from the North American Endless River Adventures crew (different than the crew that runs away to Costa Rica and Ecuador over the winter!).

  • Layering. Layering. Layering.  Make sure and have multiple layers of tops to keep your core warm.  It also allows you to put on/take off layers as the temperatures change.
  • Dry Top. If you don’t want to invest in a dry suit at this point, understandable.  But a dry top will go a long way in keeping you warm. And is actually more versatile than a dry suit because you can continue to wear it year-round long after a dry suit is too much.  Make sure the dry top is a breathable material like the Bomber Gear HydroBomb waterproof Bombtech 2.5-ply breathable fabric.  That way when you perspire under all your layering, the breathable material makes sure that the moisture does not build up inside your dry top.
  • Hydroskin pants or paddling pants.  Keep your legs warm with a good layering under your board shorts.
  • Skull cap. Your mom always told you to “put on a hat if your feet are cold.” She was right. Invest in a skull cap to wear under your helmet. It will make all the difference in the world.
  • Pogies or Gloves.  Your hands are going to get cold on a blustery winter day.  Having a pair of pogoes or gloves will really help out. Take some time testing out which you feel more comfortable using while holding your paddle because it is a really different feeling.
  • For your feet, adding a pair of neoprene or wool socks under your booties or shoes will really help keep your feet warm.
  • Warm beverages.  Pack a small thermos of hot tea or hot chocolate.  Another trick  is warm jello in a thermos.
  • Keep your runs shorter than you might in the summer. That way sunset does not take you by surprise half-way down the river.

Having all the best gear is great but it is an investment.  You can find many of the above items right here at the ERA Boater’s Store!! Or stop in when you are coming through the Gorge this winter to talk about options for staying warm on the river.   Don’t slow down your paddling just because you don’t have the latest. Use a little common sense and be a bit more conservative on colder days and you will have a great time out on the river!