What to wear during brisk mornings?

When kayaking in the early mornings here is PA, I would like to wear something to take the chill off. I am looking at NRS Mens H2Core Lightweight Hoodie, but was wondering if there are less expensive options I should consider. Trying to save every dollar I can due to my better half losing her job soon. Everything I currently own is cotton, and I know that is a no no.

No law against cotton
Clothing needs to suit the weather and the activity. If you’re whitewater kayaking that’s a different matter. I often wear cotton blends for flatwater paddling, especially a sweatshirt or fleece. I try to avoid noisy materials for a jacket—hearing “swish swish swish” constantly can be irritating.

The danger of capsizing and having your fleece jacket absorb 20 lbs of water needs to be weighed against all the other dangers of paddling. I’ve only had one clothing mishap in many years of paddling (being stranded overnight with inadequate clothing).

I would not spend $65 on a hoodie.

I would NOT wear anything cotton…
on a chilly morning in PA.

This time of year the water temp is still pretty cold. Get that cotton wet, and you’ll be shivering very fast.

Wear layers of poly pro and maybe a splash jacket over them.

Jack L

Since you have to dress for the water
when the water is cold anyway, you start there. A wool or fleece hat is fine.

Add a paddling jacket for over your insulating layer. Any am breeze makes it feel much colder. This paddling jacket could be a simple pvc raincoat.

You are right when the water is cold and the air not warm cotton is best avoided.

I use cotton all the time when the water is around 70 and the temp in the daytime over 90. It gets that way in the North… its way hot when the suns rays are reflected off rocks. Then cotton is my friend. I can wet it down and it cools me by evaporation. Heat stroke is a real issue in the boreal forest or tundra.

The body craves a constant temperature.

Do you know the painting September Morn?

no cotton
I paddle in PA too. First off – no cotton, especially not sweatshirt fleece. Cotton absorbs moisture like a sponge, including the humidity of our morning mists, and it also evaporates it quickly which means it cools your body. In fact you can become hypothermic more quickly wearing wet cotton than you would be naked because of that factor.

You need not buy specialized costly paddling clothing though. Comfortable athletic clothing is available in lots of places that is adaptable to kayaking. Any off-price or discount store (like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, or, if you are in Western PA, Gabriels) or even thrift stores if your budget is really tight, will have 100% polyester polarfleece pullover tops and hoodies in the workout wear section. One of those, worn with some sort of windproof shell on top, like a nylon or polyester windbreaker, will keep you nicely cozy and dry. Nylon or poly stretch running tights or warmup pants work well for your legs. The Columbia stores in outlet malls can also be good sources for inexpensive cool weather paddling wear. One of my favorite warm tops for kayaking is a Columbia polarfleece pullover with a high zip neck and snug cuffs that come right down over my paddling gloves. The zipper goes halfway down the front so I can easily vent it when I get warmed up and it is very long so it goes far down my lower back to keep that warm. I paid under $20 for it at a TJ Maxx several years ago.

We used to row on the Schuylkill in
cotton sweats in the winter, but then once we were up to temperature, the cooling effect of the cotton may have been helpful.

I’m about to go down to the Florida panhandle for a bit of paddling, and I’ll probably wear a “retired” cotton dress shirt rather than a “wicking” garment to intercept sun and keep mosquitos a bit back from my skin.

Some advice

– Last Updated: May-19-14 12:53 PM EST –

1. No cotton. Synthetics have come a long way.

2. For clothing other than dry or wetsuits - keep away from NRS and other boating-specific manufacturers. Check Campmor.com and other multipurpose catalogs. For example, after shopping layering options in the NRS catalog I turned to running and biking wear, often the same materials at a lower price and greater range of options. On cool mornings I often wear a micro fleece lined 1/4 zip running shirt. Keeps me warm and dries fast.

If your budget is tight I would look online at say Sierra Trading Post for low cost fleece. I bought a both fleece pants Columbia and Fleece top again Columbia brand for very low cost. Forget cotton as others have said. Just because one guy never had a problem sure doesn’t mean its safe at all. You will freeze in cotton if you tipped over. Iam sure there are other online stores that have lower cost fleece. Also check ebay but only new stuff, no used clothing, yuck. Good luck.

Example: when I first started kayaking I got the low cost fleece like I said and for over that I got a water proof jacket on sale at local sporting goods for 20 bucks and it really is water proof. Now I have tons of gear but at first I kept it very low cost.

I’ve kept and treasured three
old polypropylene garments I bought long ago from a defunct firm called “Early Winters”. They have that wonderful property of true polypro that they absorb zero water and that if they do get wet, the water drips right out the bottom hem in no time.

Nowadays, many people say “polypro” to refer to many sorts of synthetic pile or wicking fabric. Polyester pile can be nice and warm, and polyester absorbs much less water than nylon or cotton. But a polyester pile garment can still get really sodden after a swim, and it doesn’t drip out the way polypropylene does.

good question
I have a polar fleece. I never really thought of the wet aspects of it, but it makes sense. I have a surplus lighter weight zip neck pull over in the bottom of my back pack that went in because of the weight and have used it in the mornings on the river.

Pants wise I like the quick dry nylon that I got from campmor.

Last year I ended up wearing a rain jacket for about 60 miles of a 100 mile canoe trip and was pretty warm, put the fleece on under it once.

Thrift store finds
Go to a thrift store like Salvation Army or Goodwill and look for synthetic top or jacket. Even Walmart has really inexpensive synthetic clothing. It will dry out faster and not leave you chilled like cotton will.

Try some long underwear and a wool sweater.

that’s backcountry paddling
Hopefully you didn’t spill any tea on your cotton sweats, you could get a nasty chill.

Merino Wool
Since you asked about cool mornings, I would go with a merino wool. Polypro would be my next choice.

The merino will insulate better than the polypro until it absorbs 35% of water. Then they are both about the same.

Another place to keep an eye on for cheap prices is Steep and Cheap dot com.

merino wool
Merino can be pretty pricy but the few shirts I’ve got are warmer when when it’s cold and cooler when it’s warm than the poly pro I have. If I’m moving I’m sweating so my insulation has to work when damp.

Keep an eye out for deals on merino wool.