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Cold Waters Do Not Mean Giving Up Winter Kayaking
Have you ever thought about Winter Kayaking?
Winter can bring it's own set of challenges.
But it doesn't mean it's time to put your kayak up and retire until spring because skiing and snowboarding are the only sports in winter.
With the right gear, proper body conditioning and a focused mind set, you can enjoy, winter kayaking as well.
Get motivated, get your wintertime outdoor gear out of storage and get into shape. The change of seasons is just another another opportunity to enjoy the best (and agreeably, sometimes the worst) that Mother Nature can throw at us.
If you notice below, I've even shown you a couple of really great Kayaks.......
Winter Kayaking -- It Can Be Cold
You just need to prepare
But the way, to really enjoy the outdoors, regardless of the seasons? I have a motto:
Plan your trip and plan your gear, plan your exit. In my blogs and several other articles, I have talked about all manner of harsh weather gear, such as tents, sleeping bags and ground cover's, etc. How about talking about the clothing required to enjoy winter kayaking or even wind surfing?
Take another look at the picture in the opening paragraph. See the drysuit? THAT....is what this article is all about today. See the ice buildup in the background? How long do you think I would survive in waters like that in winter if I were not wearing a drysuit? About 5 minutes or less.
Now, we all know that when the water is cold, the weather is cold. Right? OK... but.....the river is fast. Or how about windsurfing when that wind across the water is calling? We'll try to cover all sides of that today.
But first, before going any further.....A Reminder.....any winter water sport can be dangerous and you must plan the gear that is right for you and for the conditions you head into. Not only that, but you must be in tip top condition to even consider being out there in the first place.
I'm going to cover some ideas to aid in your search for the right gear for your sport in winter weather. Cold water can cause hypothermia in minutes, so it makes sense to have the right gear to prevent that, right?.
Grab these books before you go winter kayaking to form a plan for what YOU need to do to stay safe out there.
Winter Kayaking--Is it safe?
I love kayaking and running the rivers the year round, (when there is no ice of course)
One of the ways I stay warm and dry despite the weather, is with a good dry suit (see below)
A couple of things to remember.......YOU...the user...must determine what is safe. That determination is based upon the weather, your physical conditioning, your equipment and YOUR SKILL LEVEL...
Ever attempting winter kayaking or any other sport for that matter, regardless of the time of year. You need to be healthy, and well conditioned..
Winter kayaking is not for everyone and requires much more than even summer kayaking. I find winter to be a challenging and fun time of year to get out there, but....there are some simple steps I take to protect myself in this wintertime sport. Choosing to use these ideas today, in no way guarantees your safety, as these suggestions are just my observations from my own use.
YOU, the user, are the one to ultimately decide what equipment and/or sport is best for you. Then YOU must endeavor to learn all you can, before getting involved in any sport. Regardless of whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall. Like I always say: "There are lots of manufacturers out there who claim to make the best "this or that", I only recommend products I use and trust.
Take this information today, and decide for yourself.
Try a Dagger Green Boat
In addition to their inherent speed qualities, long boats are also more forgiving when it comes to down angles. I love and use a Dagger Green Boat Kayak for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason, is it's speed. The bow will actually deflect and resurface before the stern has landed, thus giving me more forward speed as I drop and pull away from the curtain. Now, what more could anyone ask for?
This kayak is great for white water tripping as well as pool drops, or just about anything you can throw at it, including Ocean kayaking. If where I'm going has Class III's, IV's or even class V's? No problem. A Dagger Green Boat punches holes through them like a missile. It's 'built in' knife like design leading the way. The Dagger Green Boat cover's a broad spectrum of the kayak world, including all categories of kayaking with ease. Whether going upstream or down, beginner or an expert, there is no other kayak that performs as well as the Dagger Green Boat.
Check it out and by the way, here's what they look like.....
Here's something I found and use, that many people overlook, a hydration pack while Kayaking? The Gregory Tempo 3 is just such a pack. So lightweight and comfortable.
Evaluation: You will hardly know it is there, and your body warmth will keep the water from freezing. You need to stay hydraterd especially in the cold. This bag is NOT made to carry much, so it is the perfect Kayaking hydration pack,
Winter Kayaking Gear for those extreme days
The NRS Extreme Drysuit
First up, an "extreme weather" kayaking dry suit....NRS's Extreme Drysuit. I start with this suit, because for Wintertime Outdoor Kayaking Gear, I like it the best. The company says it is built tough. Tough? What's that mean exactly? Is the suit stiff but protective? Can I slide down a gravel embankment and not tear it or what? No, the suit is not stiff, in fact you will find it has an excellent range of motion. Can you slide down a gravel bank? Probably not, nor would I recommend that you do so. Suffice it to say, this suit resists tears and scrapes from coming into contact with a lot of the things we encounter in the water such as rocks and logs, etc
For those of you who like to get out there in the most challenging weather and water, this suit will keep you dry. We stay dry, because the suit is built well. We wear a suit like this, on those days when winter kayaking the water is freezing, the wind is up slightly, but that river? Man, that river is calling. That's the kind of a day for this suit.
It's a 100% waterproof winter kayaking suit. It has a reinforced seat and knees, using CorduraÂ® for those spots. You want to know how good it is? Try the Deschutes River in central Oregon in December and even January. The Extreme can handle everything thrown at it. The wrist, neck and sock gaskets, keep water out and the warm.....in. As a safety measure and for increased visibility in low light conditions, they have included a reflective strip along the arm and shoulder seams. Trust me when I say, the Extreme Drysuit will keep you dry and warm for many years. How's that for talking about these suits and why to wear them?
Winter Kayaking "extras." - Stuff you know you need
A CampingmanNW Tip: When ordering from Amazon, consolidate your orders to receive FREE Shipping. It's NOT about being cheap, it's about shopping smart.
Talk about something that is important to have? An ear band is for sure, THE necessary element to add to your wardrobe choices for those Winter kayaking adventures.
Evaluation: While this is a really great product, it's also hard to pass up the FREE Shipping on this item while they last.
Since I already surf, I am a believer in and am a fan of 'tethers.' This rig is no different. It's a no brainer.
Evaluation: Never lose your paddle again. Buy one.
Last but not least Winter Kayaking Gear suit for today
PolartecÂ® Power DryÂ® Drysuit Liner
The men's PolartecÂ® Power DryÂ® Drysuit Liner will as we said, provide added warmth to your Winter Kayaking waterproof protection. This liner does that in three ways. First, the fabric used, breathes. Second, sweat is wicked away from the skin. Third, that sweat is then moved to the outside of this fabric to evaporate.
This process is designed to remove 1/3 more moisture from the skin than single-component fabrics. One Third! That simple trick allows the liner to dry quicker. Those same materials also help provide "any direction stretch." (sorry, that's my description) for ease of movement in any direction. Not to forget, it's comfortable to wear. Most all manufacturers today, use flatlock stitching and Polartec is no different. The reason is simple. Doing so, not only ensures a smooth and comfortable fit, but is less likely to snag.
This liner is designed, for unrestricted movement under your drysuit and it helps inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. When you want to stay warm and cozy on your next paddling adventure, then be sure to pack this Liner to wear under your drysuit. So....beyond all of the above, this is a liner that will not bind or bunch up under your dry suit. Not all liner's are the same, and that's where the Polartec rises above many of the others.
There you have it. A couple or three dry suits and liner's to look at for Outdoor Winter Kayaking. These are by no means, the only dry suits out there, but these suits are the one's I use and recommend. YOU, the ultimate user have the final say, as to choice, use and/or enjoyment of any sport. Be safe out there, get into, and stay in, good condition for any sport. Finally......learn all you can about your sport before making any choices.
Here's a couple more dry suit liner's for comparison.
Drysuit Liners and conditioner/seal saver. - Campingman recommendations
I learned years ago the value of an inner liner for warmth. Trapping my body heat while wicking away moisture. Today's suit liner's for cold water kayaking are far better and do the job with half the weight of suits made just few years back. Buy one, wear it..
Add that "extra Layer" of warmth, like I do. Even though I love being outside, I don't want to be cold. I wear one of these under my dry suit, and I am almost never cold.
Evaluation: Until you try one, you won't believe it, so go ahead, try one.
Winter Kayaking -- My Final Thoughts
Now that you've read about it some, time for a decision, yes or no?
The water run off in the spring is fast and really tough to miss. But again, conditioning and clothing protection are tantamount as well as skill. You must be in good shape to enjoy Winter Kayaking and you, must choose clothing that is for you. What I like and use may not be for you, so check out clothing choices out there on the market. In the winter, we all tend to get a bit lazy since it is cold outside, but you need to stay in shape if you wish to go Kayaking, so conditioning is even MORE important in the winter..
Kayaking as a sport has grown so much that it includes winter kayaking also. Today, with the introduction of the Dagger Green Boat in 2008 (commercially) Dagger has changed kayaker's thinking and views about the sport. The boat allows you to manage most any water condition like a pro, (even if you aren't). Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. That aside though, You must choose your time of year, based not so much on your tolerance for cold, but on your skill set. Navigating in fast winter or spring river's, creeks and streams, is a whole lot different than drifting your local creek in the summer or even handling class III's, IV's and V's. It's an entirely new game. But if you approach it properly, I am sure you will have a blast.
Winter sports such as kayaking are not for everyone, and I realize that. But what I wanted to do today, was provide some things for you to think about. Even if you have never considered it. Mostly, this post here is simply expressing my fun and my uses of equipment to continue to enjoy the sport. What you decide to do with the information is up to you. But if you decide to learn more? Then you will find out how much fun it really is.
So in closing, research the subject. Take a look at the books I've suggested and if you find Kayaking your local creeks and rivers is for you? Start small, do your homework, get in condition, pick the gear for you and work your way up.
Now go forth with your knowledge and enjoy. Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the water--CampingmanNW