Cold Weather/Water Clothing Revisited

The most recent posting on cold weather clothing got a little sidetracked. I would like to see some more focused answers on what others are wearing for canoeing in chillier conditions.

In order to keep this a little more focused, I accept: (1) Dress for the water temp 40-65 degrees F; (2) Assume I will get wet at some point during the outing; and (3) I won’t be out there alone.

Also, assume that I am touring/cruising for a day as opposed to racing/working-out for an intense period.

Starting at the skin and working outward, what do you wear? Brand names would be useful.

my cold gear
Two-piece breathable Bomber Gear dry suit (with tunnel on the pants to mate it to the top), under that I layer polyprolene or polypro and wool long underwear (depending on temps), Chota mukluks and my PFD. Yep, gotta figure in the insulating qualities of the PFD, otherwise I find myself overdressed and overheated.

Canoe apparel
The reason you’re not getting a reply is because, unfortunately most canoeists wear street clothes for the conditions you ask about - assuming they will never be in the water. If I were in your shoes and plan to canoe those conditions reguarly, I would get a 3/16" farmer John at a paddle shop. Some FJ’s have more material in the back allowing for the seating position. From there you you want wicking underlayer and polortec layers beyond that. They dry quickly vs cotton which holds moisture forever.

Look for underclothes and polortec at Sierra trading post or Caballas on line. There’s no magic to it you just need some kind of water protection and the FJ won’t cost too much for your intended use. Just be careful and don’t go changing seating positions in the middle of the lake. Always carry extra dry clothes in the canoe in a dry or plastic bag. Always wear the PFD.

See kayaker but here’s my $.02

– Last Updated: Oct-25-06 4:38 PM EST –

a light snug inner layer is a help. Keeps the skin dry iven if you sweat a bit. I use silk or light capilene fron patagonia.

I had to get a one piece drysuit to do what I do. Kokatat gtex front entry. Goretex piities and relief. Hitec barracudas cover the booties to keep them intact. Fluffy socks (smartwool mountaineer) necessitate the removal of the footbeds and keep me warm.

I use various polartec to stay dry, and patagonia 100 r1 and rr2 fabrics are extra good. if genuine polartec fabric is used the performance will be there. I use much of the same gear for winter outdoor activities. I have a polartec 200 bib that I really like. No cold spot when the to comes untucked and I can wear it over (or under) a jacket when the water (or air) is really cold

Need bombproof? get Nordic blue gloves or attach gaskets to atlas lined gloves. (os systems offers sized wrist gaskets. Your hands will stay warm, period.

A balaclava made from polartec aquashell (velour type) is warm and windproof, but does not protect that well in the water. Sew your own or google to buy. You can wear a tight lightweight urethane hood under it for more protection, I love the rapidstyle survival hood for that purpose.

It’s a tough question since ideally
you should wear a drysuit or at least a wet suit in those conditons, but I just layer and wear my paddling pants and jacket when tripping. If I was running whitewater then it would make sense or was pushing the envelope, but I paddle cautious when tripping so don’t expect to swim. Having just said that, I did take a swim in cold conditions in a glacier fed river up in BC a few week ago while on a trip. I was Ok once I changed clothes and got a fire going. I was very happy that I had my Sawvivor (a buck saw) and a axe for spilting firewood. With out those two items, it would have been a lot harder to get a fire going. I bought a Watershed drybag since then because my packing system didn’t work as well as I expected. I put my clothes in big plastic zip lock bags, but had water problems because I got careless since they can be hard to get to seal correctly. I met a group of other paddlers while on the trip that include a couple of paddlers that owned a paddling store. They had great equipment and I was impressed with the Watershed portage pack which is a big zip lock bag. Navy seals use them. Anyhow, almost as important as what clothes you wear, is how you pack your equipment. Changes of clothes don’t help if they get wet. I had lighters scattered in various packs but had trouble getting one to work since they got damp. The swim caused me to change the way I look at packing.

IR thick skin union suit
Stohlquist bPod-t…

Why “number 2” ?
canoes don’t tip over, people tip them over.

Or are you talking about getting rained on?



In cold weather I wear a layer
or two of polypro underwear, thickness depends on temps. Nylon pants, fleece tops and a shell of some sort. Fleece or wool gloves and an appropriate hat. On the feet are wool socks and Chota Mukluks. I use an Extrasport Volksvest in cold wx cause it really provides warmth to the “core”. If I go swimming, I get wet! Then I wade to shore, strip, get out my complete set of duplicate/spare clothes and redress, fast!. The spares are packed in really hd ziploc bags and placed in a 5 gallon bucket with waterproof Gamma Seal lid. The majority of the water I paddle is waist,knee or ankle deep and not open, big water and I probably won’t be out in the canoe if it’s below 30 degrees. Depending on what I’m up to, I might build a fire, dry the wet stuff and camp, or finish the trip with wet spares. I won’t be alone either!

I think it’s tougher for a canoe paddler
than a yakker to decide what to wear. In general a yakker expects to be wet or push the envelope as would a sea yakker would away from shore. I wouldn’t hesitate to wear a dry suit if needed, but I have eczema and being too hot is really an ordeal. I don’t find that there is a really a good answer for a canoe paddler unless he/she paddles whitewater. Paddling smart, a canoe shouldn’t be too far from shore so that they couldn’t change into dry clothes within a reasonable time. I think for paddling a canoe you must think of what you would do/when you go for a swim. You need dry clothes and a possibly a warm fire. I think the yakkers have it easier since they expect to be wet. I haven’t read any books on canoe trippers going to the far north and using drysuits, or at least not unless it’s some exteme tripping.

Devils shoals
will tip you over unless you are within a foot of the center of the haystacks. Only class 2 plus.

Class II has nothing to do with …
my question?

I am asking why he is assuming that he will get wet during some part of his trip, (his no 2 comment)

I always assume that I am going to stay dry, but I do have plans in case the unlikely opposite occurs.



Holy crap !!!

– Last Updated: Oct-26-06 6:50 AM EST –

You mean there is someone else out there that dresses the same as I do for cold water/weather paddling.
You can expect to get comdemned to the frigid depths by all the folks who only ware $500 one piece wet suits.

We do dress a tad different though. I wear NRS boundary shoes, and a light weight pair of loose fitting gortex paddling pants over my fleece long pants.

I also will venture a little (just a little) deeper than you do in the water.

I wear the same weather I am canoeing or kayaking

Jack L

But the real problem is…
I paddle both a canoe and kayaks (long, fast on flat; short, squirelly on moving). Temp ranges air: 20F-100F; water: 35F-75F; at 5,000 ft in Wyoming; small local puddles, streams to the monsterly frigid Yellowstone. Male, age 66; intermediate level. I have yet to flip unintentionally on flat water. WW…well…

My original outfit for colder conditions was: 3mm FJ with polarfleece and drytop, poggies or gloves or both, and headgear.

THE PROBLEM WAS: never failed, suited up, paddle 20-30 minutes and then had to piddle!!! (Don’t get old!) FJ had no well located relief port. Two options: land, debark, undress (completely except for headgear; cute!)… or just add to my warmth in the FJ… and disrobe in the shower at home. It was a no brainer.

Beginning of the 2006 season (March), I switched to NRS Hydroskin pants with waterproof (but not water tight) pants and top. Works better: can pee in bottle (easier in canoe than in kayak) but landing… with out having to undress at all is much, much nicer! But not as cute.

Yes, I am testing by wadding out to waist deep. At 46F water and 27F air, it would be a very unpleasant, survival swim. Ergo, keep the swim short. I’m $ure that a good dry $uit i$ what I $hould get!

George in Cody, WY

Dry Boaters?
Never understood 'em.

I go boating, I get wet, sometimes from the river, lake or ocean , sometimes just from sweating. Don’t matter. Wet is wet. I like to play. I like to paddle hard. I hate to think I’d like to try something but I might get wet so I won’t.

To go out in a small boat and base your well being on not getting wet is plain foolish.

The original poster made no mention of air temps or how handy the shore is so I’ll say I wear anything from swim trunks to a 3mm Farmer John wet suit over swim trunks and a polypro T, maybe put a drytop over that, maybe add wind pants, maybe switch to fleece pants, polypro top all under a drysuit as things get to the colder end.

Oh Yeah and a hat, fleece cap, neoprene beanie. Nothing better to fine tune my comfort.

Buy REI Stock Today
I want to thank all of you for your advice and information.

On Sunday we invested several additional hours in further investigation at our local REI. After burning out three different sales people we settled on our base (Anchor chose silk, of course; I have prop), middle (fleece) and wind/rain jackets (Anchor needed to be color coordinated, of course).

I realize that this will seem REALLY excessive/obcessive to some of the denizens of this site. But, we learned the hard way that you need two sets of warm clothing when you are out on chilly days. Now our old (and outdated!)stuff can be the back-up.

I have several observations about the purchasing experience:

  1. It can be really hard to convince a ‘type A’ salesperson that canoeing isn’t necessarily about speed and sweat.

  2. I don’t look good in form fitting fleece. It’s not a pretty sight. Would someone please pass on to the fashionistas that a little looser fit would appeal to a good “chunk” of the market.

  3. I got into canoeing believing that the expensive part of the sport was buying the canoe. Wrong…!

    The only thing we still need are boots. I think that has to be a catalog buy.

    We figure we’ve extended our paddling season to Thanksgiving. There is something very appealing about a “warm” Turkeyday Paddle.

    Thanks again.

Full price outdoor gear seems absurdly expensive these days. Luckily there’s Sierra Trading Post, Campmor’s sales, and reioutlet . com

I bought merino wool long johns on sale
at REI not long ago. Reflexively. When I got out on the street and looked at the price, I nearly fell over! It was still more than I allow myself, even at half price!

(Have to say I love that marino wool, however, toasty! even if a tad scratchy)