Gearing up for cold weather/water

I have cabin fever bad this year. Next year I want to get geared up for cold weather paddling. I know I’ll need a dry suit, and I have some cold weather gear, Under Armor, fleeces, etc. Is there any trick or special item I may need to make winter paddles safe? Hands and feet seem to be my biggest obstacle. Trying to figure out how to protect them properly.

Thanks in advance.

I Agree. A Reliable Roll is #1
For your hands, these mitts that jsmarch introduced me to are great. I’m fixin’ to go get mine wet in a couple of hours.

Try to paddle when it is about 25
degrees or warmer, and not windy. The wind is killer on your hands. A good neoprene hood with a draw string and neck apron is also something I like. I like paddling in the ice flows, but I have to admit they also scare me too. The guys I paddle with took me out to the St. Clair river in early January and we spent a fair amount of time “IN” the water working on rolls, self rescues, and assited rescues. This experience helped me gain confidence in myself, and they in me. Pick a safe spot and spend significant time “IN” the water with experienced paddlers who can advise and assist if needed. You need to know how you handle these conditions in a controled environment, “BEFORE” putting yourself into this situation. I am no expert, but this is my opinion. I love winter paddling, it is invigorating; the water is crystal clear, and you have the water all to yourself (minus the ducks,swans, and geese). It gives you a small taste of kayakings actual heritage. I force myself to get into the water each time I go, and I usually gain something from it when I do. Have fun!