What do you wear on a canoe camping trip in October (Central Virginia) ?

Hi all,

I’ll be doing a canoe camping trip of two nights on the Upper James River in late October, and if you live in Central VA you know it could be 80 degrees and sunny, or 40 degrees and rainy. My canoeing has always been during warm or hot sunny days, so I am wondering what to wear on a trip like this. Not at camp, but on the water.

Thanks in advance,

Eric Zwicky
Richmond VA

Bring rain gear and multiple layers of synthetic clothing. Wear as many layers as conditions require.

Don’t forget that a full rain suit provides other options besides protection from rain. It provides great wind protection on cold, windy days, and even add a lot of extra warmth to your standard clothes to the point that often it’s feasible to avoid bringing along a warmer jacket. If it’s warm and rainy, wearing nothing but synthetic long johns under a rain suit works well.

Besides the usual synthetic clothing, don’t forget socks. I wear a synthetic liner sock under a light wool sock for most paddling, but the liner sock is mainly to keep the wool sock clean for a longer time.

Speaking of wool, wool pants and shirts are tough to beat (SO much more comfortable in damp weather than the jeans and T-shirts I wore before I figured out this stuff). They are terribly expensive to buy new, but sometimes they are still available through military-surplus stores at bargain prices. I always wear synthetic long johns under wool, mainly to keep the wool clean longer.

Thanks guys. I wear wool long underwear, could this take the place of synthetics?

like the idea of layers, nice thing about synthetics is that they dry quick, two pairs of footwear- dry (at camp)and wet (on the water) pile jacket for evenings, it is ichilly in the va mountains, some sort of shell or paddling jacket for added weather, wind/ rain protection- can get by with same shell for in camp or on water , if you find yourself cool around camp you can always continue to wear your pfd for extra warmth over the pile and shell

@Eric Zwicky said:
Thanks guys. I wear wool long underwear, could this take the place of synthetics?

Yes, absolutely. As amazingly good as synthetics have gotten in recent years, it seems that wool is still the standard they are compared to.

Awesome, thanks again for the quick replies!

I really like my NRS paddle pants (breathable material shell with adjustable neoprene waist and ankles. Worn over fleece or wool they are comfortable for paddling in all conditions and a range of temperatures and are easy enough to slip on over other pants that I use them for rain gear. And they dry fast, important on a multi-day trip.

For headgear, I find the Seattle Sombrero from OR that has the lightweight fleece lining is super comfortable for chilly wet weather.

Just a follow-up for the sake of clarity. As far as wool long johns taking the place of synthetics, yes, they take the place of synthetic long johns. I wouldn’t suggest that they eliminate the need to avoid things like cotton worn over the top of them. While it’s true that wool long johns will help reduce the problems you get with damp cotton outer clothes, better still is to have either synthetic or wool outer clothes too. You probably “get” that part, but it’s best to make sure.

Yes that was clear, guideboatguy, but thanks for reinforcing. I have a good pair of rain pants and rain shell, so I think I will wear them over my wool long johns. And maybe also take a look at the NRS pants as willowleaf describes.