winter paddling and car topping a yak

Its getting cold here. Cam straps along with my Thule glide and set rack don’t allow for a quick-in-pleasant cold weather techique of putting on, taking off the boat.

What are your winter techniques for not freezing while putting on taking off your boats?


Dry suit
The dry suit doesn’t come off until the boat is strapped down, and I also often pull on my emergency oversized jacket over the drysuit when I am out in the air and not paddling.

And a good bit of the hot tea is for that part of the trip rather than on the water.

I can’t address the strapping/unstrapping question but yesterday I tried readying the boat before loading it on the vehicle. You could do this in the comfort of your own garage. For a day float there isn’t much in my boat, so I preloaded all the stuff in the hatches and sealed them. I also got my top and sprayskirt on. Then I drove to the put-in. At that point there was a lot less to do. Get the boat to the water. Get the few items that go in the cockpit and on the deck. Put on my PFD. I was in the water in under five minutes. This might be a good approach for a frosty morning.

the fingers are the issue
… I guess I should have clarified. I got frostbite in the adirondacks a few years ago. That, coupled with my genetic makeup to have “pope hands” makes the hands cold quick.

I wear the dry suit at home ( like 4 miles from water), and take almost nothing with me on the water. Its more that those straps are not that easy to put on with really cold hands (and gloves just don’t help much either).

Some people talk about using rope instead of cam straps. I don’t know how to use rope to tie down the boat …anyone got any drawings?


I don’t have a garage! (nm)

One way is to trailer it
No, it doesn’t actually make things warmer. It makes fumbling around with cold hands/body a lot safer for you, the boat, and your car. ESPECIALLY if it’s windy, something that happens a lot in fall, winter, and early spring here.

Rack 'n Roll makes a folding trailer that can be stored indoors. I don’t have one but know someone who does and really likes it. Only downside is price (about $2000). There is at least one other dedicated kayak trailer that costs about $1000 (Sports Rig??? can’t remember the brand).

This could save your fingers a bit - maybe. Not having tried it for really cold weather I’m not sure. The basic three knots that’ll be most helpful in tying down a kayak will be the Trucker’s Hitch, the Bowline and something like a half hitch to seal the deal. I can’t give you a reference for drawings of how to combine these three with your rack system, but a good knot book may have enough illustrations for you to put it together.

Do you know anyone who climbs? Static line that is too used for climbing but still in good shape makes great boat tie-down rope.

Cold fingers
Sometimes, we just have to work through a few minutes of cold fingers (well worth the bother to enjoy a nice paddle!). I keep a pair of warm, yet thin bicycling gloves in my car, and when my fingers are really cold after coming off the water, these will help a bit while strapping down the boat.

In any event, it really does take me just a few minutes to tie down my boat (even if I’m dealing with two boats), so as I mentioned above, a good paddling session is well worth a few minutes of cold fingers. :slight_smile:


My garage is for boats, not cars! nm

chilly fingers
Try the Thermolux liners sold at REI. Amazingly warm for their thickness, $8 last year. Thin enough for you to feel the straps and your tiedowns.

When loading/unloading/reloading they go on under my half fingered gloves. You could try leaving them on while you paddle or take them off before taking out.

Preloading is a good suggestion.The night before the pump and hydration pack go in the cockpit with a small bag of repair & firestarting items (3L drybag) atop that. A paddle leash and paddle float on deck. done for the night.

My PFD always carries a whistle, nose clips, chapstick and a couple of power bars, with a scullcap in the same pocket and my usual paddling gloves.

My last tip is to have a head lantern handy for

hands free operation during darkness putting in or taking out. Whatever saves you time saves you chill.

Chemical Hand Warmers?
I’d look at these…

It is not coldhere yet, but in previous.
years, I would put the boats on the vehicle roof in the warm afternoon sun the day before the paddle.

At the put-in I would use light weight gloves for unstrapping and unloading the boats.

The worst part is in the late afternoon when you return to the take out.

Number 1: keep the car running with the heat on.

Number 2: use the light weight gloves to load up and tie down- then jump in the warm vehicle and curse a LITTLE BIT UNTIL YOUR FINGERS THAW OUT.



Can’t you just wear gloves?
I bought a nice thin/warm pair at REI for hiking and I think they would work fine. I have not had the need to wear them but with you having had frostbite they might do the trick.

Found a decent web site that helped me.


Kayakpro rack
Kayakpro EZVee racks have a bungee tie-down system that goes on in about 30 seconds. I’ve used it without a problem for 2 seasons now. I usually add some NRS straps after the bungees, but if my fingers were freezing, I might let it slide for a while until they warmed up. A very good feature is that you can throw the boat on the rack, attach the bungees and get in the car to warm up without worrying about the wind taking the boat for a ride. There are pluses and minuses to the system, but it works extremely well for me. You can just make out the bungees in between the straps in this picture:


Winter golf gloves
Thin enough to work the straps,but still really warm.

I agree that for a particular boat you might be able to set up a few bungees of the correct length that you could hook very quickly. The same could be said of straps – if they have been cut to the right length they will be easier to deal with.

Ez-Vee KayakPro
No problems in winter. My review of this rack system: