cold weather paddling gear?

-- Last Updated: Jan-18-06 10:27 PM EST --

I want to buy some clothing for cold weather paddling in Ohio. I will be paddling lakes mostly. My kayak is a Dagger Specter. It looks like there are some things on sale now. I searched the achives and l learned that neoprene is warmer than hydroskin so I think that is what I want. A dry suit is to expensive. I found a link to N.R.S. that had some things on sale and I ordered the "toaster mits" for my hands but what do I put on my feet? They had "wet socks" and "booties", do I need both? Do I need anything special for my head or can I just wear a warm fleece hat.

I know I am not suppose to paddle alone but I am very anxious to get out. I always wear my PFD and would be paddling close to the shore. Is it really so bad to paddle alone? Thank you for any advice you want to give me.

Google Cincinnati paddling …
You should really try to hook up with some experienced paddlers in a local club. Spring is generally considered the most dangerous time of year to paddle because of warm air temps that lure you out to the water, but very cold water temps that can kill you. Please don’t go out paddling alone in cold water until you have mastered some skills and fully understand the potential consequences of your action.

Here is a useful website with information on dressing for immersion:

Have fun and stay safe!


Dry suit is worth it!
For paddling in winter in the northern US you NEED a dry suit. You don’t have to spend $800 to get one. Example: I bought a Canadian military surplus Gore-tex drysuit on eBay for $60, put in new ankle gaskets for $55, and have a distinctive looking, highly functional, breatheable drysuit for under $120. Or you often can find nylon (non-breathable) dry suits used for less than $200. Your life is worth at least that much. You can find surplus or used diving hoods on line for under $20. Neoprene fishing gloves from Mal-wort or similar stores can be had for under $10. Winter paddling is great fun. Doing it on a tight budget is possible, but it takes some “creative shopping.”

Glen Michaels

Plattsburgh, NY

Neoprene may work fine
for you, but do look at the used drysuit route too. I know NRS has new drysuits on sale for under $300 and I have seen new drysuits for $200 elsewhere. Do check Ebay. I purchased a new breathable drysuit with booties for my wife for about $150 last year off Ebay. For headwear, I use a fleece lined neo hood over a fleece cap. That is good for 2-3 consecutive rolls before I start getting brain freeze. I will invest in a neo dive hood. For gloves I use fleece lined neoprene Aleutian Gloves( $20 at Sportsman’s Warehouse) unless it is really frigid then I use nordic blue dry gloves. The Aleutians are more flexible and offer a better paddle grip than the Blues. Good to about 20deg air temp. For feet I wear NRS rodeo socks over fleece lined neoprene socks. I do like Chota Mukluks but I can not get into my Nordkapp with them. What does not work for me… Seals waterproof gloves are not. I found the NRS mystery hood to mysteriously useless.

thank you for the information
I have found three paddling groups in my area so far. They seem like a good source of information but maybe not for paddling companions. One of them paddles only white water, one of them does more talking than paddling, and one of them seems to do mostly local rivers that are too advanced for me plus they do lots of out of town trips. The out of town trips are the kind I would like but I cannot go out of town very much on my budget as I am getting married this year so I have lots of other expenses. So I cannot seem to find a group that paddles lakes in my area. Everyone seems to think it is too boring.

The group that talks a lot did paddle a lake last weekend and one person had a photo of a deer she saw swimming in the water, that was neat. Wish I had been there but I need to get the apropriate gear first. I will check out the things you all suggested and I guess I will have to wait until warmer weather because I do not have any “skills” yet. If I flipped over I would not know what to do at all. Yes that sounds unsafe. I have read a little bit about hypothermia and it is very dangerous, I do know that.

Check for pool sessions
Check with the groups or local paddle sport speciality shops to see if there are any local pool sessions this winter, such as beginners classes or practice sessions where someone might be able to help you get started. It’s very nice to do your first wet exit in a warm, clear pool. You will also get an appreciation for how easy/hard it is to re-enter your boat from the water. Plus, it’s on water time - even if you can only go a few feet!


I paddle Ohio’s Caesar’s Creek lake…
…in winter, and I have found that fleece socks, waterproof sealskinz socks and my water shoes keep me dry and warm.

I’m still down for parts from a shoulder surgery, but give me a shout if you decide to

paddle that lake, maybe i can get out, although

I’d need help loading and unloading my boat.

Chota Mukluks

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 8:49 AM EST –

Knee high Neoprene boots...Getting into and out of the boat without getting you feet and legs wet during cold weather is a must......Chota's rock!

Dressing for Cold Weather Paddling

Look at Semi-Dry Suit
Before you buy, take a look at the Kokatat Super Nova Semi-Dry Suit. Your life is worth that investment.

I used to use a farmer John wet suit, but I perspired terribly in it if the air was the least warm. (remember to dress for the water temperature, not the air temp) You need a dry top with that, to keep your upper half warm. Remember you can get hypothermia in water as warm as 70 degrees!

The Kokatak Super Nova Semi-Dry Suit is the breathable water proof cloth, with sewn in water proof booties. It has latex around the wrists, and to make it a Semi-Dry Suit, it only has Neoprene around the neck. But this is a lot more comfortable. My buddy and I bought one at the same time, and we are very happy with them. I like the warm dry feet too! With the neck neoprene adjusted snuggly, we only get a few drops of water in. The relief zipper it has is great too. :slight_smile:

If you are flat water paddling, and the chances of getting dumped is not great, I think you will be a lot happier with this suit, over a wet suit. I got mine for under $400.00 at

I love the suit!

one group did post a pool session
and I asked about it but was told it was filled up and also it was a practice session, not a class. Someone e-mailed me about some classes in the spring thru Sierra Club and I will probably take the river kayaking and sea kayaking classes. My b/f (fiance) wants to get a boat and take the classes with me, that should be fun for us both. Until then I will read alot and buy gear to get ready for next year.

yes that was where
the woman saw the deer. Aren’t you in that group? I think I have seen you post there.

this will take me some time
to sift thru all the info and links you all have given me. I have also had some e-mails from people that have been helpful so thank you to everybody. I am sure I will be back here with more questions soon!