The Jamestown marina stops renting kayaks when combined air+water temperature is below 100F. A worker there thought that should be raised to 120F. When I was in my 30’s, I’d camp in snow and once flipped a canoe in frigid water with no ill effects other than my “tallywacker” shriveled up to nothing. Now that I’m in my 70’s, the 120F air+water temperature rule is my guide. Bottom line, per Clint Eastwood, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
There is a reason I live in central Fla. Kayak year round. The dead of winter is when I can get my best wildlife pics, after the leaves on the trees have thinned out.
Fishing is a little slower, but I have developed a simply irresistible dry fly, so I still find several when the water is low enough.
I lived in the mountains of Arizona, where it does get down to the teens often in the winter. We paddled year round. One of my favorite things was to paddle when there was a thin layer (about an eighth of an inch) of ice on the lake. When the ice gets over a quarter inch thick it is time to quit.
Welcome aboard, jkbrandau! This is a great place with so many knowledgeable people!
You made me crack up laughing with the mention of “tallywhacker”… LOL… It reminded me of that hysterical scene from the 80’s movie “Porky’s”!!!
I live in western Norway, and here we paddle all year, but we also use a drysuit most of the year.
So the only reason not to paddle is if the water has become solid, but dressing for the watertemp is important.
Welcome aboard, oyvindbl!! Paddling around Norway has to be so amazing! Wow!
My hands are as whimpy, if not whimpier, than yours. I’ve been using these for the past couple of days, moving firewood and garden/leaf cleanup as a winter storm is about to drop eight inches of snow. Found them at a farm supply store. They’re 70% PVC and 30% cotton (liner). Wish I knew the brand. With a thin pair of woolen gloves as a layer, my hands were warm and, more importantly, dry in wet conditions. While I haven’t tried paddling with them, I did test them air paddling on land and had no issues as the gloves are pliable. Hope to do a water test in the next couple days, weather permitting.
Didn’t realize there’s a season but I live in a pretty warm place. Just need neoprene or a drysuit most of the year
I’m curious to hear what you think of them paddling.
Based on previous comments, I’m planning on getting a pair of .5mm NRS HydroSkin gloves, NRS Toaster Mitts, and the NRS Mamba Pogies. The more options I have the better! Seems like the .5mm gloves would fit inside of the ones you are trying out…
First, this is Kayaking, layer up for clothes, use waterproof gloves to keep your fingers warm, and omg. Stay in the boat people. All this talk about rolling and cold water should not effect a person who knows how to kayak in normal. Rivers , lakes, and calm bays.
This is not a go swimming event in cold water conditions, you are out to paddle, stay in your boat upright. If you cannot do this, you should not be in the water ever by yourself until you have basic skill to get in, paddle, and out of your boat.
Too many people buy narrow sea kayaks and end up sideways in rivers and lakes. It’s all. About skill and balancing your body to handle a current, wave or quick maneuver to avoid debris.
If I wanted to stay upright, I would have picked a canoe! Being happy in a kayak is being upside down half the time!
Wow… I admire the guys that flip all around in the chutes, wearing a helmet, PFD, etc… and barrel-roll (eskimo roll) and right themselves back up! Tremendous skill! I can’t/won’t even think of that in my Cayman SOT fishing kayak! It’s impossible.
Now thinking of “fun” back in the 70’s I remember a good friend of mine would go canoeing with me up in the Adirondacks in the summertime. We’d purposely flip the aluminum canoe, swamp it, go swimming next to it, etc… Then, we’d heave it up out of the water, draining most of the water out, and then he’d get in on one side, while I held the other side. Then I’d get in while he held it balanced. Laugh our butts off… Repeat… Repeat… Crazy teenagers we were!!
Edit: Getting back on topic… I really like the idea of the heavy duty waterproof gloves. I have a pair of them somewhere, with some of my outdoor gear in a sealed tupperwear bin…
I notice that the OP is retired coast guard and in VA. I’m guessing he knows a thing or two about the dangers of hypothermia from coast guard training. But it should be noted, dressing for immersion for him (and in late fall - not full-on winter) is probably a bit different than it is for many of the rest of us. It really could be dangerous to apply all answers to all places and seasons.
Dry suits are great, if you will use them enough to justify the expense. (And military surplus suits are sometimes available affordably - but make sure its NOT a “survival suit” made of heavy waterproofed canvas. (They are too stiff to swim effectively in and are even hard to paddle in. Don’t ask how I know.) Wet suits are fine to a point especially if worn under polypro clothing, but they really aren’t that warm unless you’re working pretty hard. Even straight up layered synthetic outfits work, for day trips, but always with a good dry bag containing a warm change of clothes and materials to get a fire going QUICK - and no cotton underwear. Again, don’t ask. An immersion event isn’t over when you get to shore. You still will need to paddle out and get home.
But what leaps to my mind, as one who used to paddle (canoe) in the cold and will again when I can trust my legs after so medical things I’ve faced over the past couple years, is that what matters most isn’t the season but the particular conditions at the time and place.
Canoe or kayak, situations where the water is too thick to paddle and too thin to walk on are to be avoided at all costs. I’m thinking, for example, of the shelf ice that one finds on a river where a deep fast current hits a deep pool. You really don’t want the last thing you ever see to be the underside of a skating rink. I’ve encountered similar situations, sans current, in late season on BWCA lakes also - like approaches to landings in deep water where the shade from shoreline trees causes ice to form in a lake that is otherwise quite paddleable. Too thick to break, not able to support a person’s weight, and too deep to wade if it gives underfoot. Don’t risk it, find a work around. Pnet has lost members to cold water.
Canoe or kayak, trying to steer while pushing large chunks of floating ice to one side with your bow and the opposite with your stern is not a long term sustainable situation. I’ve also learned that some canoes, like a Prospector or even a Grumman standard are fairly good ice breakers - they ride up on the ice until the ice gives and bow breaks down evenly. Flared bows can corkscrew on objects, like ice, that are reluctant to move. I don’t know what the equivalent bows in various kayaks might be but if you’re going to experiment with it, do so in shallow water with a warm place to dry out nearby.
True enough, kayaks and a person who knows how to roll arepretty well suited to cold weather paddling, as native Americans did, but the dangers of thin ice and current apply to anyone out there,no matter what you’re paddling or wearing. Be safe. This is a recreational activity. There’s no need to make it a life and death epic survival struggle. Besides,that would be uncomfortable.
I have a pair of NRS Fuse gloves (1mm) as well as Neff Ripper snowboard gloves which are both warmer than my Glacier gloves, but none are waterproof. Those orange gloves are. I’d probably use the Fuse gloves if I need a warmer under layer; 1mm is more flexible than 5mm. Now just waiting for a break in the wind and snow so I can test them (as well as my leaking paddle).
Good afternoon… That is correct. I joined the Coast Guard right out of high school, served a career as a Yeoman, and retired. I learned a LOT during bootcamp back then! The most intense out of it all (Well… Two areas of training were really tough):
- Swimming and basic water survival skills, complete with uniform on, boots on, and other gear. You quickly learned how to tread water for hours on end, while taking your boots off so they no longer weigh you down. You take your pants off, tie the ends in a knot, flip the pants up over your head (inflating them), and you have a twin “pillow” with the inflated pants legs. Repeat as necessary. On top of that, you swam and swam and swam and swam, so much so, that you thought you were going to grow gills!
- Firefighting skills, where they had a massive oil tanker that was about the size of a giant round swimming pool, 6 or 8 feet high (if I remember right), and they hit a button (ignition) and the whole thing exploded in a massive mushroom cloud and fireball. You and your platoon squad had to put it out with various hoses and techniques that they taught you!
Getting back to kayaks, boating safety has always been with me since around age 10. It’s probably why I chose the USCG out of the other branches of the military!
If the water temperature is between 60 and 70 and you are in shallow water and/or close to the shoreline, you can get away with a 2-3 mm farmer John style wetsuit. If the water temperature is 60 or below, however, you are in serious danger of experiencing cold water shock if you capsize and that can be fatal if your head goes under and you experience gasp reflex and inhale water. So, when paddling in cold water, ALWAYS wear a dry suit with suitable layers underneath, a PFD, neoprene booties, gloves, a HOOD and EARPLUGS. The hood and earplugs are extremely important in preventing cold water shock. It’s always best to paddle with a buddy, but if you’re alone, be proficient in self-rescue techniques, carry a paddle float, VHF radio, cell phone and a personal locator beacon, AND KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.
If you can stay in the boat upright, you are doing it wrong.
Dry suit and glacier gloves. If the water turns solid, mope, find pool sessions, and take your oldest beater kayak “kayak sledding”
Well, I’m laying here with a cup of coffee delaying getting up. It’s 45 degrees outside . I’m looking at the kayaks on the truck thinking it will be warmer when the sun gets up. Then this song and this thread comes to mind…