Winter Kayaking: A Cold Adventure That Requires Preparation

kayaking in winter

Winter kayaking can be a thrilling experience for those who are prepared to face the cold. While it may seem intimidating, with the right equipment and knowledge, you can safely enjoy kayaking even in the coldest months. So, when is it too cold to kayak? Let’s explore some essential considerations to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

Safety First: Understanding the Risks

Kayaking is generally a safe activity, especially on calm waters and good weather conditions. However, it is crucial to recognize that any time spent near water carries some level of risk. Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) significantly enhances safety, but there are limitations. When the water temperature is dangerously cold, even with a PFD, the risk of hypothermia and other cold-related hazards becomes a significant concern. It’s essential to be prepared for emergencies that could potentially lead to unexpected immersion.

kayak in the snow

Determining Water Temperature Safety

According to the National Center for Cold Water Safety, caution is advised for any water temperature below 70°F/21°C. Once the water temperature falls below 60°F/15°C, immediate life-threatening conditions can arise due to the risk of “cold shock.” Symptoms of cold shock include loss of breathing control, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and impaired cognitive function. However, it is possible to kayak in extremely cold water if you are appropriately attired.

Dressing for Cold Water Kayaking

To safely enjoy kayaking in sub-zero temperatures, it is essential to dress appropriately. Take inspiration from AquaBound ProStaffer William McCluskey, an expert winter kayaker from Norway, who has shared valuable tips for braving the cold:

  • Layer thin wool or fleece garments under a drysuit to maintain body heat. Your layering requirements may vary depending on your climate.
  • Keep your feet warm with wool socks and waterproof, insulated paddling boots. Don’t forget to protect your head with a wool hat.
  • Use neoprene gloves for moderate cold conditions. For extreme cold, consider wearing Pogies with lightweight wool gloves underneath.
  • Invest in windproof outer layers to shield yourself from chilling winds.
Further reading:  The Advantages of Kayak Fins: Improving Stability and Course-Keeping

william mccluskey kayaking in winter

Additional Safety Tips for Cold Weather Paddling

In addition to appropriate attire, William McCluskey offers some further suggestions to ensure a safe kayaking experience in winter:

  • Always carry a dry bag with at least one change of dry clothes and emergency items, such as a fire starter, mylar blanket, etc. It is particularly important to consider the availability of help and the remoteness of your location.
  • Prioritize proper nutrition and hydration by eating well before your kayaking excursion and drinking plenty of water. Your body requires additional fuel and hydration in cold weather.
  • Develop a contingency plan in case of unexpected weather changes. Staying closer to the shoreline and practicing rolling techniques in very cold water can enhance overall safety.

Remember, it’s essential to have the right gear to keep you safe and comfortable in the water temperature.

kayaking at sunrise

William McCluskey has written a comprehensive article about winter paddling on his own website. You can click here to read it and see more stunning photos of winter kayaking. For more expert advice and answers to your paddle-related questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly Customer Service team at 715-755-3405 or [email protected]

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