Cold Weather Gear & Tips to Keep You Paddling Year-round

By Beverly Hill.

When the icy fingers of winter descend many paddlers wind up retiring their canoes and kayaks to the dark recesses of the garage until spring, but with the proper gear it’s possible to paddle all year long and stay warm and dry in the process. The key is to dress for the water temperature and possible immersion rather than dress for the weather. Hypothermia and cold water shock can reduce survivability considerably.

Spray Skirts, Drysuits and Wetsuits

Sit-in kayaks are easier to weatherproof than sit-on tops and canoes simply because fitted spray skirts are readily available for purchase. The spray skirt is designed to keep the spray from wind and waves from entering the cockpit, thereby keeping the paddler dry. Spray skirts also make it easier to perform an Eskimo roll in the event of a capsize, a skill especially useful for those who sea kayak. In addition to the spray skirt paddlers will want to wear some of the gear suggested here.

For sit-on-top kayaks and canoes the easiest solution is to invest in a drysuit. These can be expensive, starting around $500 depending on brand, but are very effective in keeping the paddler dry and warm.