Cycling clothing for cool weather

As I think of getting on the water again for my second season of paddling, I’m considering adequate clothing for cool weather paddling, with water temperature above 50 degrees. As a cyclist, I have plenty of wool and synthetic clothing that could be layered. Is there a distinct advantage to having something made out of neoprene or the like? I’m considering hydroskin separates for ease of going to the bathroom since I’m a woman. Early season would be limited to lake paddling.

Also have cycled

– Last Updated: Mar-25-15 8:24 AM EST –

At water temps of 60 plus, you have a lot of flexibility. But IMO neoprene or dry wear is a minimal requirement for swimming in water temps in that next 10 degrees down. Remember that water removes heat from the body 25 times faster than air does.

Neoprene separates with a biking layer under it should work fine for what you describe in a swim as long as you are a solid swimmer and you aren't trying to cross an entire lake. The one caution is about cycling tops - things like seams and short zippers might be in a place that creates chafing from paddling motions. This is not a design consideration for biking since the arms aren't moving a lot.

But you need to take a swim to be sure - no one here can tell you a 100% correct answer. If you have some fat layers it is one thing, but if you are a lean mean rider you could get chilled more easily. You might need to get a couple of pieces that are heavier - literally two items - for earlier season paddling.

The other thing you need is a wind blocking layer for your torso at least, for ex if you get caught in rain then a wind comes up. The newer hydroskin does have a layer built in to help with this, but if you are paddling alone that extra layer is a prudent idea.

Overall what you already have should be pretty close with just a couple of neo separates. There is just more of a difference between 52 degree water and 60 degree water for skinny and smaller folks than most people realize.

I figure you have winter paddling gloves, but if they are like mine you'd have a better grip on the paddle if you got a pair of basic neoprene paddling gloves for chilly days.

Celia is right but
Not for all situations.

Most of the time if the water is warmer I will paddle in cycling clothing. Wicks away moisture very well.

When the water temps drop I’ll add a neoprene Farmer John and put on over that a Kokatat breathable semi-dry top. So the cycling clothing still is the base layer(s) depending upon air temp, the dry top gives me the extra protection and yet it still wicks away some (not much) moisture so I’m not swimming in my own sweat.

Neither neoprene nor non-breathable dry suits will let your body moisture escape contact with your skin, where it also will chill you.

At some low water/air temp combo there will be no substitute for neoprene and later for a dry suit, as hypothermia is deadly once dunked.

YMMV, of course.

What temperatures?

– Last Updated: Mar-25-15 9:20 AM EST –

I was specific about water temps under 60, and I think I was pretty clear that above that above that things open up. The context the OPer set up was water temps.

Obviously colder water and warmer air is always more of a challenge. We can spend all day on that one but it isn't what I was responding to here. I did say neoprene with cycling wear under it should be fine for 60 and up water temps, just watch seams and zippers.BTW I did try bicycling clothing myself when I started paddling, and I found the seams on some of my tops chafed for that use.

So I am not seeing where you said anything that runs counter to what I said. I call 60 and up warmer water temperatures. Especially since I vacation in Maine and that's as good as it gets.

50s is pretty cold

– Last Updated: Mar-25-15 10:32 AM EST –

I'd add a wetsuit at a minimum. A dry or splash top and a farmer jane would work. But the best way to find out is to try in controlled conditions. Low 50s water temps can sap your energy pretty fast. Also - consider your head and feet.

I wear my old cycling shirts for paddling, under the wetsuit (farmer john), they're thin and light and dry quickly.

You'll be more comfortable on the water knowing you won't end your day in a shivering mess if you do capsize.

Celia is spot on
I fully agree. Water under 60 really requires some sort of water-related thermal protection, like a wet suit or dry suit. A unexpected swim in these temps and you will loose use if your arms and legs quickly, unless you have thermal protection. No use of arms and legs means you can’t get back in nor swim.

My guideline is if water is under 60, I always use wet suit or dry suit. Above 70, very rarely. if water is between 60 and 70, then I loo at other conditions to decide whether to wear wet or dry suit - things like air temperature, chances of swimming, distance from shore, etc.

Those biking layers, so long as they don’t have weird spots that chafe in kayaking motions, would be great for layers with the neoprene.

Another factor
I agree with others that with water in the 50s and 60s you want something that’s going to protect against cold water immersion, be it a wetsuit or dry-wear.

For warmer water, synthetics are generally fine, although if you plan on getting wet (i.e. practicing rolling as opposed to a freak unintentional capsize), you might want to consider picking up something like an NRS hydroskin, as I find that a lot of non-kayaking base layers will become droopy and uncomfortable when heavily immersed.

Thanks for the replies. I didn’t really think about special gloves. Suggestions?

Glacier gloves
I’ve got a pair of these and they are comfortable for cold water paddling (also pretty reasonable price.)

did you get a bigger kayak?

– Last Updated: Mar-25-15 6:36 PM EST –

I noticed in your profile you mentioned getting a bigger kayak to upgrade from your 9 footer. Did you do so? Only asking because there is a great deal near you (York PA) on a kayak model that could be what you are looking for. (I'm also a 60'ish female paddler in PA and the model is the same one I have owned for 5 years).

I had mentioned folding kayaks to you in a dicussion last Fall. I do love my folders but I probably use the Easky 15LV more often around here. I know you were concerned about hauling larger boats too, but I have had no trouble loading and hauling it on a Subaru wagon and atop my ex boyfriend's Honda Civic coupe.

New boat
I have seen the info for that boat, and it is a great deal. I’m not sure if it would be too much boat for me, in the sense of it being so long. Would I be able to handle it, and get it on my Dodge Caravan.

I am going to Paddlesport in NJ this weekend to check out what’s new. I’ve thought of a 12’ LL Bean Calypso, since I have paddled it and can move it. But it has just one bulkhead. I have gone round and round about the issue.

I recall seeing an ad for a 12’ Wilderness Tsunami last year. When I called to inquire why she was selling it, it was because it was too heavy. She wound up getting a 12’ Perception Tribute.

For many people, breathability matters. That’s all I was referring to, Celia.

Those used to cycling clothing are usually referring to the wicking of sweat away from the body in order to retain heat and to keep from feeling uncomfortable. It that matters to the OP, up to a certain temp where a serious dry suit or full neoprene will be necessary, a combo of cycling and some neo and semi-dry breathable will be preferable, IME.

A couple of thoughts
One bulkhead can usually be fixed with a float bag up front, as long as you can figure out how to secure it by tying off to the foot pegs or something. The things will pop out if they are just jammed in there if the boat actually get wet.

But I am more concerned about you restrictions on moving boats. Granted I do some work to stay in shape, but at 63 yrs I can still cartop a 55 plus lb full length sea kayak myself with the aid of a decent cart and a set of rollers to slide it over the edge of the roof and onto the rack. A hatch/station wagon type vehicle - it’s been decades since I had any use for a sedan. But I have seen peopl manage the slide on and off with a sedan as well, just slightly different tools and techniques. The point of all of this is that I am never carrying more than half the weight of the boat.

And of course the cart handles the stretch between the car and the launch.

It is actually easier to do this with a boat that has perimeter rigging, gives you more to hang onto sliding the boat around.

So how are you trying to move and load your boat? I wonder if you should consider a better cart and something to help cartop it (the rollers I have aren’t the only choice available) as part of the cost of upgrading.

Which is what I said
"Neoprene separates with a biking layer under it should work fine for what you describe in a swim as long as you are a solid swimmer and you aren’t trying to cross an entire lake."

Hence my past and remaining confusion about your posts.

Longer boats are actually easier to load on taller vehicles because of the leverage point being farther back. Since longer boats are typically narrower they weigh pretty close to the same as many wider and shorter boats. The Easky only weighs 46 per factory spec (mine is actually 44 lbs per my weighing it.) I used to load it on my ex’s Caravan and on the Hyundai Santa Fe I had before.

By the way I will be 65 in June, am 5’ 5" and, though fit, am hardly an Amazon. As recently as last Fall I loaded a 65 lb 17 foot kayak onto my Subaru single-handed. I used a cart to haul it to the car, laid it on the ground behind the vehicle, lifted the nose onto a homemade roller on suction cups stuck to the top of the lift gate, then went to the stern, lifted it up and walked it onto the car. This technique is harder with a 9’ boat (I know because I had a creek boat that long.)

I had also recommended that you look at folding kayaks if you want lightness – Pakboat (in New Hampshire) has had some good deals on some of their discontinued and demo models from 12’ to 15’.

roller loaders

– Last Updated: Mar-26-15 1:14 PM EST –

example of roller loaders. You just stick them in the top of the minivan hatch door and slam it shut. Holds the roller in place, you lift the front of the kayak and rest it on the roller, then walk back and lift and shove. Most of the weight of the boat is resting first on the ground and then transfers to the loading spool as you lift it.

Since you're a cyclist, you've got strong legs - that's all you really need for loading. I also carry a small folding stepstool in my vehicle to make it easier to get the straps on the roof rack. I loop them over the bars before I load the boat.

Easky on Caravan
That’s encouraging, that you could load that. Right now I just grab my Otter and stash it in the inside of my Caravan. I don’t have any carts or rollers or anything like that. I have a 2003 Grand Caravan right now but at some point will get a newer one, probably 2013. It would be nice if the rack solution could work for both vehicles.

you go celia and willow
Those posts made me smile. Age and weight are mere numbers.

use it or lose it

High roof but still doable

– Last Updated: Mar-27-15 8:16 AM EST –

If you only go to 12 ft and several inches, would that still fit inside with everything folded down? Measure it to see. Just make sure that the boat and you are so sharing the front seat that it'd go thru the windshield in a sudden stop, or is is anchored inside against that risk.

That said, you get more reliable safety features and a long enough boat to slide onto a taller roof at 14 ft.

For that roof height you definitely want something like the roller loader. As to racks, usually the worst that happens between older and newer model years is that you need to get new towers because they changed the width of the slot that everything anchors into. But if you have the front to back rack and you are only talking one boat, you might be OK with a roller to get it up there, foam blocks and good strapping. You can get a bow line by putting a loop on the hood bumpers and tying off to that.

The equipment for that would be the roller, a kayak cart and a stepladder to reach the top to strap down. The cart would have to be one of the taller ones, more like a canoe cart than a couple of dinky wheels, to get the height you need to help prop the boat off the ground. But long term you'll be happier to have a cart like that anyway, because it'll bear enough weight to toss your stuff into the boat and carry it all to the water in one load.