My cold water paddle end of year paddle experience.

Ok the coldest weather I have paddled in to date. Weather was 22° F wind stated at twenty + my guess is 10 mph max except for the later part of paddle. Light snow coming down now real sun. Never out below 35° F before.

Dressed was as follows. Kokatat Expedition drysuit with hood up. Kokatat balaclava and Kokatat hat on top of hood… Base layer silk weight top and bottom. Kokatat wool core top and bottom. Kokatat neo-core .5 mm top only. Kokatat polar-tec full bunny suit. Wool socks medium thickness. Chota high neo boots. Glacier curved neo gloves XL.

Felt little coldness in feet will add another layer next time. Slightly cold on back and shoulders. I was at 3.5 mph pace except when watching ducks a bit. Hands felt good in the beginning but later 35% of trip back half of hand felt cold towards thumb side of hand fingers were warm to tips. I think gloves are to tight where they got cold in back width as I have wide hands and short fingers. I have few sets of pogies not sure if they would have been better. Usually wear leather Warmers with no finger tips to about 35° F.

Paddled into some ice that looked real slushy. Ok mistake it was not that soft. It seemed about 4" thick and I could push paddle into it but difficult to pull.out easy. Sailed in about 24’ I guess. Could not go forward that easy and could not turn so I had to back out. It was not a bright or comfortable move I chose. Water was calm there but I was thinking being jammed in there with even 1’ waves would be bad situation never mind bigger waves… I learned to stay out of ice like boats on show “Deadliest Catch”. Later part of paddle as the sun was setting ice was forming on deck bag, deck, bilge pump, and neo spray deck. So I headed home. Spray deck was stiff to get off with ice.

Any cold water tips to share? Thanks.

Cool( ER) than I want to be.

I haven’t been out lately due to daytime air temperatures sitting around -15°C (5°F) or lower for at least the past week. My limit for comfort and enjoyment is around -5°C (23°F). Anything less than that and I get heavy ice build up on the boat and on me, making it both uncomfortable and unsafe.

It looks like you got some ice build up too. One way to deal with it is when you’re done, turn the boat over and let it float in the water a while. The liquid water is, by definition, warmer than the ice and will therefore melt it off the boat pretty quickly.

I have yet to find gloves that consistently keep my hands warm. Instead I’ve found I get temperature cycling throughout a paddle, from cold and numb to uncomfortably hot. I started using pogies last year - both with gloves and just with bare hands. They increase my comfort exponentially, and allow my hands to stay at a more consistent temperature.

Your feet might be getting cold due to lack of blood flow because of all the layers you have on. Adding another layer might make it tighter and thus colder. I’ve discovered that having less on my feet, as long as they’re inside the boat with a skirt on top, has resulted in warmer feet overall. Another trick I either learned or pioneered is to insert a hand warmer hot pack in the top of your sock above your toes just before you suit up. It stays out of the way and keeps your toes very warm, if not a little too much so. A light pair of socks followed by the hot pack, then another heavier pair might work better than having it right against your skin.

Not sure if I’ve posted this one before, but this is one of many lunch stops I’ve made on floating ice while winter paddling. It’s bad to get caught in pack ice, but at the edge it’s usually pretty safe. You just need to watch for wind direction changes.

FWIW, my winter mukluks are actually dry boots from the scuba side of the world. In general the scuba stuff is a mill thicker than the stuff made for paddlers, like the Chota boots. Costs the same or a little less. If you plan to make paddling in real winter a habit, you might want to check out sales in the scuba shops. They also have really good gloves, but I eventually found that when it is cold enough the only effective solution is pogies, to create a pocket of warmed air around your hands. And in stuff that cold always two socks, a really thin pair that wicks well then something thicker but not too tight on top of that. Finally a proper cag that can go over the edge of your combing, like the Kokatat paklight one. If you are out long enough and it is cold enough, the bit of moisture that builds up under your suit will start getting a bit chilly no matter what you do. Having one of those cags is enough to get you back home fairly comfortably.

Was a bit moist on chest. I have 2 sizes of CHOTA mukluks. Bigger size for heavier socks. I have troops and neo pogies. I was thinking of cutting finger tips on larger set of glacier gloves as they are long and hen using pogies also. Have to see how they fit my friend borrowed the larger set of gloves. Where fingers are long for me. So just I had on were about 80% or more wool. I’ll have to look for a thin set. Should I get another thinner wool pair or thin synthetic pair?

As you said I was thinking about a Kokatat Cag even for other times of year. Guess it would stop evaporation directly from drysuit surface and be an additional wind block. I do have large kokatat pac-lite jacket that would fit over my PFD.

I have neo socks I wonder if thin socks and those under boots would be better than thin and thick socks? Head was great with all I had in it. Even pulling up the drysuit over my nose was good. Better than the balaclava over my nose. Noticed balaclava was dry on my head but moist on lower neck flange area. I had my mouth and nose uncovered for the trip except for a minute or two. I have another kokatat wool core shirt I think I’ll add when it’s below 30° F and windy. Cag would be good as it’s an easy add out on the water. I guess it has a bungee like a skirt in the base? How heavy is bungee like Snapdragon skirts I have?

Wish GoPro battery was bigger. it really puked about 20+ minutes earlier with the cold vs even 50°+ weather.
Thanks all.

I agonized about going out yesterday till two PM. Partner telling me don’t bother pacing and looking at snow on floaters. Then I decided and ripped off my close to get dressed. I knew I would have been mad for not going. Felt great after not going for 4 weeks to just glide along again. Last time I was out I fell from the floating dock at public ramp over the boat and into 18" of water. I injured my heel and was limping till that messed up my back. I think dehydration made my legs go out from under me at ramp. Felt slightly weak getting out. Then stood for a second and was down. Think I had enough sense to go over the kayak into water or it may have been luck. Didn’t drink enough so I didn’t have to stop and mess with drysuit. Next time I will drink more before departure of kayak maybe 20 minutes. It was a group paddle.

Colder today and windier but less ice in launch slip. Guess winds not letting it form.

With the Cag do you skip the skirt or it can go over neo spray deck? I see it had a pass through Pocket to access PFD. Does that have a zipper inside and outside? Sleeves neo cuff? Thanks

Over the regular skirt - the conditions you describe are pretty similar to those in a creek we used to paddle some years ago in the winter because it was one of the few spots with reliable open water. Air low 20’s before any wind chill and water as cold as it can be without being solid. We would drop in near a little bridge - at times slide in thus testing the pzip closure… then paddle up to where the ice pack coming down the lake ended. And ride a current back. I tended to find that by the time I had dressed warmly enough to paddle and pull onto shore for a snack near the edge of the ice pack, I needed one more warming air pocket to get back home comfortably. You are already wearing the skirt anyway and taking it off in those conditions, with ice freezing on your deck, starts presenting stowage issues anyway. Beat to just pop the cag over the top. Worst that happens is the sun comes blazing out and you have to loosen up the hood and the wrists to stay cool enough. Can’t say I recall the sun ever being blazing enough to make me take it off on a cold day in early February though.

The sleeves on the packlight cag are just velcro closures over some kind of lightweight rubber. Easy to loosen. It is huge and loose, I don’t know that I would call it a pass thru pocket but it is easy for me to get under it. Also has a pocket up front that you can transfer stuff from your PFD into to if you don’t want to have to bother.

What I am talking about is quite pricey, I admit. But so far I have found you can cram these things every which way into spaces like the day hatch etc and, as long as you air it out after every paddle, a few years later it is still fully sound.

By the way, one of those paddles included being flown over by a migrating flock of snow geese that were working their way back north (oops, first typed south) in late winter. We came around a corner and they hit the air over us. It was just gorgeous!

I went paddling on the town lake just for some exercise. It was too warm to even keep my float coat zipped up. I guess I must have overdone it a little, because this morning my back is complaining.

You old paddlers stay safe out there.

@string said:
You old paddlers stay safe out there.

Young ones too.

Ko> @PaddleDog52 said:

With the Cag do you skip the skirt or it can go over neo spray deck? I see it had a pass through Pocket to access PFD. Does that have a zipper inside and outside? Sleeves neo cuff? Thanks

Cag goes over everything.

We have one that rides in the hatch a lot…2 years I think.

@Overstreet said:
Ko> @PaddleDog52 said:

With the Cag do you skip the skirt or it can go over neo spray deck? I see it had a pass through Pocket to access PFD. Does that have a zipper inside and outside? Sleeves neo cuff? Thanks

Cag goes over everything.

We have one that rides in the hatch a lot…2 years I think.

Thanks even though I read link before the over part didn’t sink in thanks.

Cag is my favorite piece of gear, versatile and in cold weather keeps me nice and toasty!

The Kokatat cag looks interesting because I’m considering a Lake Superior symposium this summer and it might come in handy.

What’s bothersome is this description: “One size fits most (cockpit size L, jacket size XL)” I paddle a LV kayak and wear a size medium jacket so I can layer under it. I wonder if it would be like wearing a tent and having lots of excess fabric flopping around. Any smaller paddlers out there using one? Celia - I think you’re on the petite side.

I wear mine over my PFD, I know someone that puts his PFD over the cag, That tends to tighten things up a bit, Heres a photo of me in mine.


Thanks, Andy. It looks big on you.