Kayaking or paddling is one of the best outdoor activities to enjoy, especially during the summer months. In the winter, it is also fun, but the weather can be a distraction. The low temperature can make you uncomfortable. It can put your health at risk and you might have a hard time concentrating.
Yes, it can be more difficult to kayak in the cold season but that does not mean that it is impossible. All that you need is to arm yourself with the right knowledge. From what to wear to the essential gears, learn about the must-haves in the rest of this brief article.
1. Wear a Personal Flotation Device
Even if you know how to swim and you are confident about your skills, do not go paddling without wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). This is crucial to help you stay afloat if the kayak capsizes. This will minimize the need to tread on water, which allows you to save your energy. The PFD also provides an additional layer of insulation to keep your torso and core warm when you are in the water.
The right choice of PFD is crucial. Make sure that it has several adjustments so that you can customize the fit depending on the size of your body. There should also be a reflective material, which will make you more visible.
2. Dress for the Cold Weather
To ensure a comfortable and safe kayaking experience during the cold months, it is also crucial that you dress appropriately. In this case, one of the first things that you have to consider is the temperature of the water. When it is 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above, you can wear normal clothes for the weather. If the temperature range is from 55 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, on the other hand, you will need a wetsuit or a dry suit. Wear a dry suit if the water temperature is from 45 to 54 degrees.
However, it is not enough that you just wear a dry suit. Especially when the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, a dry suit will not suffice. Your clothing needs additional layers of insulation, which will keep you warmer, especially once you are in the water.
When it comes to what to wear when kayaking in the cold, avoid cotton at all costs or any other material that will keep or absorb moisture. They will make you cold. It will act like a sponge that absorbs water.
From the pants to the shirt, pick clothes that will add warmth to your body. Before you wear thick materials, keep in mind that they can be heavy. They will also make it more difficult for you to paddle and to rescue yourself in case you get into an accident.
Don’t forget about the head. Wearing a wool hat or any other protective piece will help to keep the body warm.
You also need to have neoprene gloves. You can choose other materials that you are comfortable with. The important thing is for it to provide insulation while being flexible, which will allow you to move your hands easily.
3. Bring a Dry Bag
One of the must-have gears in your kayak is a dry bag. This will keep the things that you won’t want to get wet. The most important item to have is a dry set of clothes. This will give you something to change after you get wet, which means that you won’t end up shivering because you are feeling extremely cold. The dry bag is also a good place to keep food and power snacks, which will keep your stomach full and will give you the energy to tackle the cold weather.
4. Bring a Warm Drink
Aside from your clothes, another good way to regulate your body’s temperature and to stay warm is to bring something hot or warm to drink. It will be wise to invest in a Thermos or any similar gear. This should keep your drink hot for hours. When you are already cold, take a sip and you might end up being surprised what it can do to make you more comfortable.
5. Inspect and Maintain Your Kayak
To minimize the chances of mishaps that can end up being more exasperating because of the temperature, keep your kayak in a good condition. Inspect it thoroughly before you head to the water, making sure that there are no damages. The least that you would want is to end up in a disastrous situation that could have been avoided if you only paid attention.
Aside from the kayak, you also have to pay attention to the paddle. Make sure that there are no problems.
6. Be Physically Fit
If you have the time to plan for a winter kayaking trip, it is also important that you are physically prepared for the demands of the sport. Regular exercise is important. Work on your core and arms, making sure that they have the strength necessary to propel your movement on the water even when it is cold. When you are physically fit, you will have more energy to tackle the cold and your body won’t easily feel weak. This minimizes the likelihood of an injury.
7. Learn Basic Skills
Anyone who is interested in winter kayaking should learn a set of skills, especially those that are related to safety. For instance, you need to know the self-rescue techniques, which will allow you to get yourself out of the cockpit and return back on the top of the water if ever you kayak flips. You should also learn how to help others who are in need. By equipping yourself with the right knowledge, you are putting your safety above others.
8. Know Your Limits
At the end of the day, the most important is to be safe than sorry. This means that you should be honest about your limitations. Especially if you are new to kayaking and if you easily get cold, just avoid kayaking in the winter. If you really want to, limit the time that you are paddling. Also, always do it with a buddy or as a group so that someone will be immediately available if ever you will need assistance in any way.
In sum, while winter kayaking or cold-water paddling is a fun activity. It can be unsafe and uncomfortable. To prevent these things from happening, pay attention to the things discussed above. From wearing a personal flotation device to bringing a hot drink, it can help you to concentrate paddling while enjoying the highest level of comfort.