What's too cold to paddle?

I’m new to drysuit paddling. If you are on movung rivers, class 1-2, what is your personal "it,s too cold to paddle water/air temps?

for me
It’s hard to have fun below 20 degrees F and between 20 and 30 I like to have some sunshine. If there is zero wind that helps. True bliss starts around 40.

When de Spam freezes
.0000000000000000000001 above absolute…


We paddled at 9 degrees
With wind, it was also our shortest trip. At that point I think it was as much for bragging rights as for having fun.

One thing we didn’t plan for, my hatches froze shut. Had I needed my dry or emergency gear it would have taken longer to get to.

Be careful and enjoy, remember below freezing there’s a good chance it’ll be mosquito free ;o)>


used to be 22 degrees F
This year I’m going hiking instead unless we’ve got 30 plus and sun.Can’t for the life of me recall why I termed this a “nice day.”


Seems like most of my paddling albums are taken during cold weather. Got to admit, it is special; no fishermen,newbies, drunk renters, just self sufficient nut cases…

When my face hurts…

– Last Updated: Jan-18-09 12:11 PM EST –

its too cold to paddle. Wind has as much to do with it as the air temp. 30's if its windy, 20's if its not. You know its too cold when you feel it.

Self sufficient nut cases....I resemble that remark ;-)

By the way - how do you like the new WW boat?

10 below’s my limit
for predicted low of the day. However, it needs to be daylight, little wind, and no precipitation. Much below that and I worry about damaging the boat while transporting it. But I think you have the right idea with your question, what’s a personal limit. If it’s too cold, no matter what other people are doing, don’t go. I love winter paddling so I’m out often.

I have a wetsuit,
so I have higher standards (so to speak). I need water in the 40s and temps in the 50s with at least some sunshine.

With the right gear, you can certainly go a lot lower, but in the south we have so many good paddling days that the law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty early.


50 Degrees
I find around 50 degrees F to be a good temp to start or end kayaking. I put a warm shirt under my vest and I’m good to go. I take along a pair of warm gloves if needed.

As already stated, cooler temps will have you finding less boat traffic, and it can be a good time of the year to see migrating birds if you are in an area for that, spring and fall.


If I didn’t paddle below 50
I’d only be able to paddle a few weeks a year. I have paddled when the air was 18F and the water 33. It was calm but it was cold, Ice formed on the deck and sprayskirt from drips/splashes. I often paddle in the upper 20’s with little or no breeze. I did my first roll of the year again on New Year’s Day, air temp 27F water 34, three rolls.(btw I’m 67)

Trial and error by feel has
established 25F’n air-degrees with

no wind, as my absolute bottom line

for winter paddling frigid 1-2 rivers.

(And since 25 is half my age,

this seems reasonable to me in

some foolhardy way.)

Your results may vary.

Just a side input here
No matter what the temp I would not paddle if there were any ice shelves along the river. For me the temp would be mid 20s if mostly sunny.

Around 25 - 30 F
Saturday was too cold to paddle – it was -9 F when I got up, so we went XC Skiing. Yesterday was a balmy +12 F and snowing in the AM, so I went snowshoeing and then shoveled the driveway.

Freshwater has been solid for a month, so we’ll paddle saltwater when it’s too warm to ski unless the harbors freeze. That happens about 2 years out of five.

Usually, I’ll paddle down to about 25 degrees if there’s no wind, and if there is wind, the rule is 35 by noon, or I don’t go.

when the water is frozen solid??? You find geese frozen in the ice?? Couple of good indicators,maybe??

My personal coldest paddle with moving non- frozen variety water was 22degrees. Even went for a swim and the water felt warmer then the air. Had Dry suit on but feet got cold just after getting back in the boat.Quick thinking paddling pal saved my feet with an old pair of wool socks to put over dry suit booties and inside my Muckluks. Lesson learned,pack extra socks.

billinmd & apple

Cold Weather Paddling
To all of you paddlers that can handle the cold weather, kudos to you. I could not. I get cold very easily. I’d have to have way too many pieces of apparel on, and would therefore not be able to paddle:)

If I lived in an area where it was cold most of the time, I probably would not have gotten into paddling. I give you all credit for not letting weather temps stop you from enjoying kayaking.

It’s going to be 45 degrees today, and I was ready to paddle, but there is too much fog on the Puget Sound, has been like that for the past few days where I could barely see down my street as I live a few minutes from the Puget Sound.


Liquid nitrogen.

When there’s no open water…

– Last Updated: Jan-19-09 8:29 PM EST –

We usually paddle year 'round - it helps justify the expense of dry suits etc... I usually refrain from voluntary rolling once the water temp is much below 50F, though to check out my best insulating system i did once roll in something around 40F water.

In reality , I rarely paddle when the air temps are below 20F.

I took this photo of George on November 30 of 2006:

Too cold to paddle
Well, if there are no mosquitos, no swimmers, no sweat bands and no bikinis, it is too cold. Luckily here in central Florida we can wet a paddle almost any given week.

too cold
It’s too cold to paddle if you have any issues taking a swim before you even get in your kayak. This is also the best way to prove that your gear is adequate.

Paddle when it feels right to you.
I don’t worry too much about the temp, as long, as your breath is not leaving your mouth and falling to the ground. Just dress warm and put your supply of safety gear on board.

But use some common sense unless your like me and just don’t care about the weather and you go paddling the day after New Years on Lake Michigan in blowing snow and breakers.