Just because summer has ended, that doesn’t mean you can’t still head out on the water and enjoy a fun day of kayaking. Many enthusiasts still spend plenty of time in their boats even through the winter. While it may be colder and take a bit more preparation and attention to your safety, kayaking is an enjoyable way to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air year-round. If you want to try out cold weather kayaking in the cooler months of the year but aren’t sure how to get started, you are in luck. Take a look at our 5 tips to make your winter kayaking adventures both fun and safe.
1. Wear Weather Appropriate Clothing
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to spending any time on the water in cold weather is to use gear that is appropriate for the weather. You definitely want to wear clothes that are going to keep you warm, but there is a fine line between being cozy and being too warm. You may be thinking that too warm doesn’t sound like it could be a problem but that is not the case.
If you find yourself in an outfit that is too warm, it could make you start to sweat. As you perspire, the cool temperatures cool that moisture off and in really cold temps can freeze your sweat and cause you to get hypothermia. A drysuit is a smart way to go as they will keep you nice and dry if you end up in the water. In addition to the drysuit, you should wear a warm outfit, wool socks, warm footwear, and carry extra pairs of gloves or mittens.
When cold weather kayaking, calf length waterproof boots are preferred. Sometimes it’s necessary to get your feet wet when entering and exiting (but not always), and a higher boot will keep your feet nice and dry.
TIP: It’s ok if you don’t have a fancy dry suit. Wearing a rain jacket and rain pants over warm clothing will keep you just as comfortable and dry.
2. Fuel up
It’s easy to think that since it’s not hot outside and you aren’t sweating as much, you don’t need to keep up with the water. That is not true. In fact, the opposite is true. One of the best ways to keep your energy levels up in an emergency situation is to stay hydrated and make sure you have food as well. It’s best to be firing on all cylinders in case you end up in a situation in which you could get hypothermia.
Packing a lunch and snacks for your journey will not only keep you full and comfortable, but it will also ensure that you have an adequate amount of energy stored so you can paddle all day and build a fire if needed. Some great snack and lunch items you can take are jerky, nuts, protein bars, sandwiches, and cheese sticks.
3. Follow The Buddy System
Boating in fair weather already poses enough risks in itself. When you’re cold weather kayaking, those conditions become potentially dangerous or treacherous, and the risks increase significantly. Bringing a friend, relative, or another kayaking enthusiast gives you someone that can have your back if needed. If you are taking a buddy with you, it is recommended that you take someone that is experienced with paddling, a strong swimmer, and someone that you trust to help you in an emergency.
4. Know The Area
One of the things that can vary greatly between winter and summer is the landscape. There may be an area that you have kayaked a couple of times in the summer but haven’t visited the area once the leaves have fallen and the growth has died away. If you are unfamiliar with the area in the winter, we definitely recommend that you scout your desired kayaking area in the winter so you know what to expect.
Another reason it’s important to know area, is that you specifically want to know what the shoreline is like at your entry and exit points. You want to avoid getting wet at all costs, which means that lower docks and shorelines are preferred. To work on this skill, check out these Tips For Getting In And Out Of A Kayak Or Canoe.
5. Have an Emergency Plan
No matter what time of the year you are planning on being outdoors, it is always necessary to have an emergency plan. If you are heading out alone, make sure there are at least two people that you can inform of your plans. Make sure to tell them a general timeframe that you plan to be gone, what area you will be in, and even the route could be handy. Let them know that you will contact them by such and such time to let them know you are home safe.
In addition to informing your emergency contact of your plans for the day, you should also have items with you that can help if you find yourself in a pickle. Extra food and water, fire starting supplies, and even some hand warmers you can get from the drug store are a good idea to have. Make sure you add a first aid kit, some flairs, and a knife as well. Have fun cold weather kayaking and stay safe!