So far my kayaking experience has been at the lake and a nearby river on warm sunny days. Most of the time i get in from a dock and when entering directly from the shore it has been nice and warm. I read with interest the late fall early spring kayaking and would like to try that next. My questions are what do most people wear on their feet and what is the best way to get in without bringing in the cold water?
Some will wear
just plain water shoes. For winter wear I use the NRS paddle shoe. Neoprene with a zipper and it goes above the ankle. I can step into the water briefly without getting my feet wet. Proper entry with a paddle braced upon dry land can be accomplished without even stepping in the water. Just don’t put all the weight on the paddle itself.
Go to the knee and will fit over my wetsuit if I am wearing my full length one.
NRS Boundary shoes
See the link below...
One of my best purchases for cold water/weather paddling!
Someone whose a better writer than I can tell you how to enter and exit while using a paddle for support in shallow (4 to 6 inches) water.
Mountain Equipment Coop in Canada sells a boot very much like the Chotos for less.
I love mine for flatwter paddling, but I am hesitant to wear them in surf. They might fill with water if your really get worked…
I second the NRS Boundary shoes
Both my wife and I have them, and used them in Alaska and through out the winter here.
As a matter of fact they got a workout today in 45 degree water.
definitely Chota Muklaks
These boots are the greatest. They keep your feet dry & toasty and are so comfortable, you’ll forget you have them on.
Check them out at:
Chota Qucklace mukluks
I wear 'em nearly year round. The laces, when done up, keep most of the water out so you can swim without kicking them off.
Chotas are fine in the surf
Have gone “swimming” many times in rescue practice in and out of surf. No problem with the Chotas filling up.
Read "Winter Gambling"
There is a lot more to consider in extended season paddling than warm feet and getting in your boat. I suggest you read this recent article by Jay Babina.
Don’t know where you are located, but water temp gets pretty cold here in the NE in fall, winter and spring. Also, we have a lot of problems with hard water this time of year as well :). Fortunately, the water is very soft most of the year.
Happy and safe paddling.
I second that emotion
I have worn the Chotas and yes, sometimes they do not fill up with water. Don’t count on it. If they fill up they very heavy and if you also do not have a cold water roll, and even we who do know it will not always work, consider how hard if not impossible it may be to get into the boat with water in the Chotas. Yes, low probability, but high lethality. And to have to kick them off, may lose them and then having to walk on ice or on the bank, cold feet, etc.
Spring is THE deadly season for kayakers and canoeists. Frigid water, warming air. Like a sweet lure for insects into the trap.
The Babina articles are top notch for not patronizing or condescending to you. Check them out.
I use the Chotas only for cold but not very cold water, over 50. Instead, I have a drysuit with booties and minimal neoprene boot. For the switch to wetsuit time, just add neoprene socks to it and good to go.
If you snug the straps a the tops of the boots, very little water enters. Even when fully flooded, they hold perhaps a half pint each, which is not enough to cause any hindrance to re-entries.
Which Chotas do you have?
The Quicklace hold very little water, as I said above, maybe half a pint, which would only add 8 ounce of weight to each boot.
I had one instructor strongly recommend intial wet entry.
If the water is so cold that you don’t want to get wet when you are close to shore and a warm car or cabin, you are kidding yourself to think it will be easier if your several miles away, being battered by wind and wave.
Gives you opportunity to check out your gear. Is wet suit adequate, or should I put on dry suit? Do I need a hood, or ear plugs? Did I remember bailing bucket, and is my electric pump working, battery charged and hooked up properly? Flotation in place? Paddle leash? Spray skirt on properly? Hot coffee?
I found that I tried to forget PFD one time, and did forget drain plug. Luckily the latter was just embarrassing, and I practiced the wet entry again after a wet exit to the car for PFD.
You get the point that your feet may be cold and wet, but the rest of the system is working, and your brain is working properly. Maybe even its telling you that you should be home in front of warm fire, planning that nice July paddle! TnT
Evans is right, there’s a huge difference in water temps from late fall to early spring.
For the joys of winter paddling and an idea of the precautions to be taken, read Nicolas Bertrand’s excellent article: http://www.seakayakermag.com/2002/02Dec/ice01.htm
Keep in mind the higher air temps and lagging water temps add up to extreme risk of hypothermia.
you could be right
You could be right! I do have those, and if tight don’t fill up much and perhaps they don’t hold all that much. I will have to check it out further. I was more concerned with them filling and pulling off during reentry, etc.
Surfing Answer -for cool water
I wear Oneil Wetsuit Surf Booties, you can wear polypropylene socks for extra warmth, feet never feel cold in water down to 50 F. Doubt they work for much colder water.
But the strapless Chotas…
… fill up with water as soon as you take your first swim, and then basically come off your legs and feet because of the weight of the water inside. Ugh. Make sure you’re getting the model with straps.
Anybody wanna a pair… cheap?. I am still mad at the outfit that sold them to me without telling me the drawback. Oh yeah, it comes (came?) with special patches of velcro that you could attach to a drysuit leg. That was supposed to grab the top of the boot and prevent it from coming off. Suuure. But the velcro was missing from my box, so I didn’t get a chance to say “hey, what’s that for?”
They all have the top straps…
…but the Quicklace have laces, too. It should be a relatively simple matter to add an instep strap to the mukluks you have. That should be all that’s necessary to reduce the volume and hold them on your feet better.