So you’ve decided to paddle through winter. Excellent news! But you’ll need to bring along some kit to make your day more comfortable
Looking at what to wear that you have at home already that works best or stock up on some winter gear to hold back the cold.
With our paddling spring paddling sessions in full swing sessions we plan on short trips. These are there and back or short journeys so if we have a capsize to we can quickly get back to a warm car or finish point. Our longer winter tasters also have a break point mid paddle so having an extra layers to put on can make for a more comfortable experience.
Not only will you be privy to some different wildlife often only glimpsed over the winter, especially as our resident summer birds migrate to southern climes, but you will also be treated to some epic frosts and beautiful sunrise and sunset paddles at this time of year.
It really is worth braving the cold for such a different experience. However, you’ll also need to be prepared! To help you on the clothing front, we’ve put together a list of all the winter clothing essentials (and a few extra luxuries if you want to treat yourself).
Top ten items of winter paddling clothing from British Canoeing
- Layers. Let’s talk about layers. Winter temperatures vary in the UK, so layers are a brilliant way to stay ahead of the forecast! Thermal base layers are a game changer, especially when they can be layered so easily! The best layers are merino wool, but synthetic kit like jogging clothing.
- Pogies and neoprene mitts or gloves. Pogies are a paddler’s favourite as they can keep your hands relatively dry AND keep the wind chill off them, without compromising feel or performance. Some people also opt for neoprene mitts or gloves underneath too. Even a pair of washing up gloves can make the difference when it’s really cold
- Thick, good quality cag cag will keep the wind off as well as splashes. Cags are a little like waterproof coats, only they usually have waterproof seals on the neck, trunk and hands to prevent water getting in. This can be a real lifesaver in winter. Spray decks are brilliant for kayakers too for keeping the water out of the kayak. If you’ve already got this kit, double check it for holes and fix any tears or holes before you head out on the water. It will definitely save you from a surprise, especially if you end up rolling!
- Dry clothes for afterwards. No one wants to be driving home in soggy or damp clothes. Take a spare top in a dry bag or even simply double plastic bagged just in case you get splashed, your portages will often end up being messier than normal or you take an unexpected dip! Always better to be prepared.
- We alway provide a Buoyancy Aid (BA) but if purchasing these yourself look for a BA with pockets.You can use the pocket to store snacks for the paddle and your phone in a waterproof pouch or a zip lock dag May ( on a good day ) save you phone from damage. Remember you could be burning more calories in winter than you’re aware of, especially if it’s cold! So taking extra energy snacks or gel, fruit and nuts could be a good shout.
- It’s not all specialist kit in the list here. A warm, woolly hat could mean the difference between being freezing cold or actually quite comfortable. Even better on white water is a scullcap style hat – these are great and fit under a helmet and are a game changer when rolling in ice winter water.
- What do you usually wear on your feet when paddling? If the answer is nothing, you’ll want some thick winter wet boots.They’re relatively inexpensive but keep your toes from getting too cold and cramped! Take a look at our 5 reasons why you should wear shoes when paddling and what types work best by clicking here. Trainers are fine for a first session but it’s best to have wet boots or beach shoes particularly if you have bigger feet.
- If you’re planning on doing lots of winter paddling for years to come, or you need a way to spend any spare cash, a drysuit is a sound investment. Specific women’s fit drysuits are available from Palm Equipment too. They keep you warm and dry from top to toe. Brilliant for canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, making the paddle a lot more enjoyable especially if you’re planning a lot of water time!
- An alternative to a dry suit is a dry cag and ( for open boating as this combination means you can swap about clothing depending on the conditions or weather on the day as typically it’s less likely that you will be totally immersed in water, but to be able to wade through water when lining a canoe.
- A warm coat or Aqua Parka (waterproof changing robe) to keep you toasty when you get off the water. Gill’s Aqua Parka are a popular choice for paddlers because they’re so spacious and they can just be chucked on at the side of the river. British Canoeing members receive 15% off all Gill’s range of clothing and accessories, including their Aqua Parka.
After some more general tips and advice around paddling in winter? Take a look at our article here which looks at everything you’ll need to plan a paddle trip in the colder months of the year.
For those looking to purchase kit we recommend visiting a local paddlesport retailer A couple of our favourite kit suppliers are Above and below at LVWWC in Waltham Abbey and Stevenage and Nucleus watersports Clacton.
For all those summer paddlers think what you might be missing!