This weekend I finally took the advice I have seen given on this site a number of times. I went for a swim with my cold water protection gear on. I use a farmer john wetsuit with a neoprene paddling jacket. Also have a merino wool base layer. All this equipment worked great, but my problem was my feet. They nearly froze. I have typically only used water slippers on my feet, but now realize I need something better. I was thinking of getting the neoprene booties that scuba divers use, but wondered if anyone had any other suggestions. Also wondered about suggestions for head gear for paddling in cold water. Thanks for your help.
Booties Will Help
The neo booties will help - but some designs tend to flood, which means your feet have to heat up the water. Merino socks are great, just like merino tops and longjohns. Best solution, of course, is drysuit with booties.
Try a pair of neoprene socks.
For the head, I like something not too bulky unless I am planning extended rolling on cold water.
I like this one:
in icy Michigan waters
(high 30s, low 40s, even now)
even being a little wet in the feet is majorly uncomfortable. Besides, toting a boat out of the water and back to the car to load it, all on numb feet is not a good end to my day.
For me it was drysuit w. booties. I wear a wool/capilene blend calf sock over my skin, then a thick merino wool ankle sock over that, tucking it all into the goretex booties w. Chotas over all.
Besides, once they are wet and resting on the bottom of your kayak, they are separated only by the hull (not generally a good insulator) so if the feet get wet early in the trip they tend to get colder as the trip progresses.
since you are a northern paddler too you could try a double sock method inside some full neo booties, the kind that come well over your ankle w. the wetsuit tucked tightly inside. Maybe that will seal out enough water to make it tolerable, realizing that everyone has different levels of tolerance.
Cold Feet Cure
I wear Chota mukluks. Before I put them on at the put-in, I insert foot warmers. No more cold feet. Note that my feet are dry thanks to the mukluks. Don’t know how water would react with the foot warmers. Before I discovered this, my feet were always frigid.
I Use 3 mm Neo Booties And 3 mm Socks
combined. I got no-name neo booties, one size up, for about $15. Socks were more expensive from NRS. Have used this combination all winter for surf paddling on a waveski. My feet are always exposed to the water and never cold.