Cold water paddling

Posted by Robert N Pruden on Dec 8, 2004

Chris, consider hwo I dressed to stay warm before you go.

I wore a Kokatat dry top with all cords cinched tight. Under that I had two long-sleeved nylon shirts with long neck zipper-uppers and a short sleeved fleece pullover. For the legs I wore two layers of running tights, one of them heavy weight winter tights and the other medium weights. They keep my legs warm. I fell into the river back in Febrary and the tights kept my legs warm in -5 C weather once I got outta the wet. I had to stop the trip at that point but I stayed reasonably warm, no risk of going hypothermic as long as I went straight home. I will eventually buy dry pants so that I don't have to end the trip if I spill. Incidently, the dry top kept my torso and arms perfectly dry during that spill.

I wore double-lined hiking socks in my knee high neoprene booties, not to cold and idea. Wool socks would have been much warmer on the toes. I wore Gill neoprene gloves with leather palms and over those I used a pair of Brooks pogies. The pogies kept my hands so warm that my hands were totally comfortable. I also kept my hands as dry as possible; they never got wet except for my thumb, which warmed up nicely once I started to paddle. I wore a sheep skin hat complete with ear flaps for head protection.

My dress choices are not intended for complete immersion after which I could keep paddling. If I had dumped I would have had to walk out of the river and sought immediate warmth, which is never far away in this city.

I lined my cockpit with 1/2" closed-cell foam for added heat retention but I'm not totally convinced that it helps much.

Under calm conditions, this type of dress is very adequate for a few hours of great cold weather paddling. I would not go out during this time of year if I thought wind and wave would cause me to dump. Ice, that's another matter but there are those who question what I get off on. Hee! Hee!

You could also consider bringing along hot chocolate or soup (very effectively warming) and those chemical hand warmers, they work well.

With that in mind, if you still have open water, what are you waiting for? Cold weather paddling, especially in the presence of ice pans and snow, is a very difference and enjoyable experience. That is why I do what I do; I absolutely love being out there in the frigid peace, no one else bothers to go out there but they don't know what they are missing. I always bring my cameras because the beauty of a quite moment is more easily caught out there during this time of year.

Robert N Pruden

In Response to: Re: Where are you? by Chris on Dec 8, 2004