paddling in the heat

Being in Florida, heat advisories are common in summer. I know the usual precautions, and I take them. I’ve been at the edge of heat exhaustion before, while on land, and it’s not fun. The question is, does the water provide enough of a cooling effect to take the edge off of extreme heat conditions when paddling on slow rivers? I wanted to know what people’s experiences are under similar conditions.

(extreme heat - index of 105+).

I roll a lot
Staying slightly wet seems to help.

I paddled in Florida once about 5 years ago in July. The water wasn’t cool enough to be refreshing, but at least I was wet and didn’t overheat. I had to roll about every 20 minutes to keep an even body temp.

If you’re not a roller, bring along a large sports drink bottle, and fill it with water from the river to pour over your head. It works almost as well.


Here in north Alabama
It depends on the river. The cold ones definitely cool the air above them. The warm ones can be really bad.

Only if you roll
Or scull or balance brace - anything to get your body including part of head into the water. At least in my experience. The second best option is to have a hat with a good wide brim that’ll hold water and stay a bit damp, so that you can scoop water regularly and dump it over your head. Of course in salt water that produces some crust after a while, so there may be a point of diminishing returns.

Granted temps don’t run as hot usually in the NE, but we are as uncomfortable in 90 plus as you guys down south are in 100 plus. And if anything, our water is a bit cooler. So comfort levels should be equally bad at the extreme edge of high temperatures.

Backwater effect on temps…
As Redmond can attest, Where the connecting stream enters the river, particularly the ones shaded by overhanging trees, you will find cooling breezes, due to the temperatures of the waters. Last Saturday, a group of us covered 16 plus miles on the Tennessee River below Guntersville Dam, and the breezes as we side tripped were a godsend…when you’re hot, look for the cool places to paddle and take your breaks.

My solutions for central Florida
Although the mantra elsewhere is “cotton kills”, in the heat of Florida summer if I am paddling quiet water that is not fully shaded (some rivers, everglades, mosquito lagoon, etc). I often wear a cotton or cotton-blend long-sleeve fishing shirt (Columbia makes a good one), swim trunks and a large brim straw hat. It’s not very fashionable, but it beats heat exhaustion.

The heat in protected water can easily get into the 80’s but you will stay cooler by keeping the hat and the shirt wet. The long-sleeves are good to fend off early morning clouds of mosquitoes, or blistering sun, and you can roll them up at other times.

For paddling off the coast where the water is cooler, and the wind is usually much stronger, I wear a synthetic shirt (see below) and a “foreign-legion” style or other hat that can take a strong wind. I roll, scull or throw water on myself to cool off.

Railriders ( ) makes some excellent synthetic shirts that work well in extreme heet. I use their eco-mesh shirt and eco-speed-t (or hydro-t). FWIW, I have no business arrangements with Railriders other than being a customer for many years.

You really need to monitor yourself in extreme heat. When it gets around 95 degrees plus, as it is now, I’d rather paddle in the early morning or evenings. You can get acclimated to the heat and paddle at any time of day, but give yourself time if you aren’t.

Greg Stamer

Ah’s a wimp

– Last Updated: Aug-07-07 11:08 AM EST –

can't take de heat at all - me starts a'sweatin' at 50 degrees, so wat ah' do is mostly hang up me paddles from early June 'till mid Sept (unless we have a cool damp rainy day - which hasn't happened this summmer yet). Bring on de cold weather, ah's say! If de water ain't solid, ah' goes a'canooin'....

Dis Global Warmin' is gon'na do me in yet....

A very grumpy Fat Elmo

agree with long sleeves
light weight liught color shirt like a dress shirt works well. keeps the sun off and if you keep it wet or take alot of swim breaks youll be ok. This is how I do it here in Missouri… we have had 3-4 straight weeks of 90+ degree temps, and the last week or 2 has been near 100. no rain, hell I dont think it has rained (besides couple short spot storms) for at least 2 months

rivers are low, weather is hot, but im still on the river every weekend lol. Try and get out in the early am before its too brutal.

around here some rivers that are largely spring fed are a bit cooler on the water, and seem to have more of a cooling breeze, but alot of them that arent the water temp is getting to be almost like bath water temp :frowning:

When it’s too hot on the water I’ve found that finding a breezy, shady spot with a lawnchair and a cold drink works best!

But then again, I’m one of those old curmudgeons that believe having a good time on the water is why we’re out there in the first place.

I don’t have a kayak…
Doesn’t help me much since I have a canoe.

Rolling in the canoe isn’t an option…

especially in alligator infested rivers…

ah…guess I gotta get a kayak now,



About The Same Here
We are also in the three digit temp with high humidity and heat advisories. About normal for these parts for this time of year. My summer duds include a light weight, baggy, long sleeve shirt and an all around brim hat. I drink extra water. I will dunk the hat occationally and Ill stop occationally for a swim.


I wouldn’t roll in alligator infested
waters in a kayak either. But that’s just me. I like my head and want to keep it.


Bow rescue
Still haven’t got a roll, but in the heat in the last couple weeks I’ve taken to flipping and pulling myself back up on a fellow paddlers bow. It is very refreshing, and I think it’s helping me get over my fear of flipping so perhaps learning to roll will be easier. In the meantime it really helps on those hot days.

The water itself gets warm too
and your energy starts going down the drain. Try to avoid paddling in heat. I paddled in 100 degree temps before, and its no picnic. Bring cold water, and pour it over your head, bring more water to drink, and bring some gatorade for electrolites.

who needs a boat?
When it gets really hot on the WIsconsin River (no alligators!) we leave the boats at home, and just hop in the river with our pfds and float downstream for the day, to our waiting bicycles. The fishermen in their fancy boats think we’re nuts. “Where’s your boat?” they always ask. I look at my husband, and say, “d+mn, we forgot the boat! I thought you were bringing it”.

The water’s temp does’t effect

– Last Updated: Aug-07-07 2:23 PM EST –

heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.

I paddled 11 1/2 hours a day for 2 days on Lake Walter F George(to Georgians) and Lake Eufaula(to Alabamans) during the 2 hottest days in 2004 with air temps over 104 degrees wearing only a bathing suit, no hat,no sunglasses & no shirt on my first extended kayak trip with no previous experience.

Keeping my body temp down was a major problem. I didn't have a hat and couldn't roll (didn't know rec kayaks could be) so I used a sponge frequently to sponge myself down and I ate only dried fruit and nuts and sipped gatorade for both days.

I believe paddling in full sun for the two previous weeks help me get accustomed to the heat.

The above story is an actual account and not an example for anyone to follow.


Paddle, swim, paddle, swim
Lake Erie is great just for that in summer.

Rolling in NE waters may be cooling
Rolling in hot S Fl water in Summer - not so much…

This is sort of my off season. Paddling really slacks off for me July/August. I can take the air temps with adequate hydration, but water gets pretty nasty. Rolling in hot salty bacterial rich soup is less than refreshing.

Rest of the year more than makes up for it.

Why do you have
stickers of logos on your kayak??

Because I’m colorful
Truthfully… in 2005 I decided to make a 512 mile 30 day trip and thought that maybe it could also be used to raise money for a good cause. The decals were my way of recognizing the sponsors and supporters of the trip The Georgia Diabetic Research Foundation received over $9,000.00

The decals are professional outdoor quality made by a sign company who recieved the art work and paid for by me.

A simple idea by me with rewarding consequences.

Now you know the story behind NASCAR kayak.