Cool weather paddling

I paddle rivers
so yes I can get out on some of em year round. Live in N. Lwr. MI and there are always a few rivers open. Got out last winter twice during Jan. and once in Feb. -8 degrees. Dang cold, but still fun.

A good dry top will not fill with water…when properly worn :o)

Yeah, famous last words!

If you’re in the water, it will leak
Water WILL come in around the wasteband. Slowly, yes, but it will leak.

If you think a wetsuit is adequate…

– Last Updated: Aug-25-04 8:52 AM EST –

...for winter conditions in MI, you're deluding yourself. Try wading out into 40 degree or colder water sometime and see what happens. That's by far the best test for immersion gear. If you can't wade out in the water you're paddling in and stay there for at least 10 minutes, your clothing is inadequate.

I re-read the subject paragraph

– Last Updated: Aug-24-04 2:12 PM EST –

and I am not convinced by your argument.
If the water is cold, Brian is correct, you have no business being on it, if you are not dressed for immersion. What is close enough to shore, particularly if the water is cold? 100', 50', 25'? The distance is meaningless if an impromptu swim triggers cold shock.
Earlier this year I went paddling with my brother in 50 degree water and 70 degree air temperatures. I was dressed in my dry suit and he was wearing a 3mm neo farmer johns, fleece top and a paddlng jacket. He capsized. The assisted rescue was not a big issue, but ask him what he thought about the water temperature or if he wanted to do even a 25' swim. He always felt he was properly dressed, but he could not believe how cold the water actually felt. A dry suit is now tops on his shopping list.
Want to know if your clothing will be effective, just wade out into the water you intend to paddle. Could you tolerate that for several minutes?
YMMV, but you are bucking the odds if you are not properly dressed when paddling in cold water, regardless of air temperature.

Safe Paddling,

Let me ask you all this…
This weekend I took part in the Ladies of the Lake Kayak Symposium in Munising, MI (Lake Superior). We were in shallow water so the water temperature was fairly warm. In fact, the water felt warmer than the air temp. I had on a 3mm farmer jane wetsuit, a midweight polyester top and a paddling jacket. Two of the days I ended up in the water — one class on purpose (beginning rolling) and the other not (oops!). I was fine paddling around in the water to finish classes, but once I was standing around on shore it was different. I was fine where the wetsuit covered my body (legs, torso), but my arms were freezing because the polyester top was soaking wet (it was very windy). My question is, would a drytop keep my arms dry enough in conjunction with a wetsuit to prevent this? Or would enough water leak in to soak my arms. The paddling jacket/insulating top combo just didn’t cut it for warmth once the top underneath was wet.


– Last Updated: Aug-24-04 9:50 AM EST –

Scoop, yes a DryTop or even a semi-dry top would have helped because the latex gaskets on your wrists would have kept water out of your arms and a latex neck gasket on a dry top would surely keep water out so in those temps on Lake Superior in the summer a drytop and wetsuit is a good combo. I noticed alot of guides/instructors wearing that same combo at the Inland Sea Sympo in Washburn in mid-June.

So how was the 1st Ladies of the Lake Symposium anyway?

for what I do
I get by. Still have to get out and start a fire if one of our group dumped in the river. Yes a drysuit would be better. I wear a med. about size 40 chest and am about 5-10 if ya wanna buy me 1 .LOL.

Thanks for the response. The symposium was great. I had an awesome time and learned a lot.

Cold question in August?
I miss NY!

Anyway, I’m here sweating like a dog with shorts and tanktops in August and someone ask about cold weather gear! :o)

For those of us living in the “milder” weather, “winter” or “cold” is a relative term. The water in some of my neck of wood stay around 60 degree year round. So no need for wet suit for us, never mind dry suit.

Personally, I have a ton of cold weather gear from my NY days, so I wear them when the air is cool enough not to cook in them. But neccessary? Not.

You know, he’s got a point there.
Maybe we should take our gear out this winter to the Manistee, get a good fire going FIRST, and give 'em a test. I’d actually like to know the protection factor that they provide in sub-freezing conditions would be. Hot cocoa at the ready, warm water thermos for test purposes, spotter standing by at the ready and taking notes for posterity…could be a real riot! Watcha think Northman?

And people call me psycho!!!
You gonna be the test dummy? I’ll be the spotter!!! Gee, look at the pretty birds :wink:

Can’t build a fire in sugar snow… HAHAHAHA!!

Paddle easy,


O.K. - Unsafe Jack,
who paddles all year long has fun and is not from Bryan’s school of perfectionists.



Ladies of the Lake was a wonderful experience! Next year, it will be near Isle Royale.(spelling?)

Don’t tell me you’re gettin’ soft!
Just trying to get you going man. Seriously, it would be nice to find out what we need to do different when a fire’s already going and trucks are nearby rather than half way through one of your “three hour tours” if you know what I mean. I know it’s usually less than waiste deep in those headwaters, but you never fall out feet first. lol Sure, I’ll be your guinea pig, and yes you’ve got it in writing.

No Jack, it’s just common sense.
Take whatever risks you want personally, but I’d suggest you be more careful in your recommendations to others. They may not want to assume the same level of risk you do and they may not be experienced enough to make that judgement for themselves.

As for having fun, being properly dressed makes paddling a LOT MORE fun, since I can do whatever I want without being concerned about the dangers of hypothermia should I unexpectedly end up in the water. It also makes it comfortable to roll around, try new strokes and braces and generally explore the limits of my abilities without concern about a capsize.

Assumptions, assumptions…
From your earlier post:

This is going to sound a bit harsh, but if you’re not willing to dress properly for the conditions (wetsuit or dry suit), do the paddling community a favor and stay off the water when it gets cool. <

The guy is in North Carolina, for god’s sake! Which part of NC, I don’t know. But for the most part of coastal NC, “COOL” is exactly the precise term. It never gets really COLD down there. “Dress for proper conditions” does NOT neccessarily mean wet or dry suit, even in winter.

It’s not just “a bit” harsh. It’s gross over-generalization. I think you can equally do the paddling community a favor by NOT preaching everyone from Florida to Taxes to California to wear a wet/dry suit, even in “winter”. There’s such a thing call “heat stroke”, which happens frequently in certain part of this vast country, you know.

LOL! But do you dare test your…
Digital cameras functions and abilities while it is still under warrenty???

Your willing to risk health & life but not your camera? Just giving you shit bro. And it was supposed to be only three hours :wink: but there were some… set-backs involved… lol.

Ok, I copied & pasted this into a file so when the snow is flying in February…

Paddle easy,


Wet suit will work also
As a diver that dives in the winter in New England I find that my wet suit is fine. If you can afford a dry i do think its better but a wet suit will work also. As was said by someone else in New England the water has not really cooled off much.