Cold Water Canoeing

splashjacketFor most paddlers winter is the time of year to take a break from paddling, but for a few paddlers, winter paddling is as much fun as any other time of the year. I’m not one of those January and February cold weather paddlers but I know a few and they are usually very well prepared with the proper equipment. But occasionally I meet up with a goof who does something really stupid like going winter paddling in his blue jeans or hunting clothes.

There is something to be said about actual real life experience. If you haven’t had the experience of a cold water incident then you likely don’t understand what a dangerous situation you might have put yourself into until it happens. Of course training is very important and certainly increases your chances of surviving a threatening situation, but buying the right gear is the proper first step.

The first rule of thumb is that you should just forget about wearing anything cotton on the water. Cotton has no insulating qualities when wet and it doesn’t dry in cooler weather. This includes bluejeans, socks, t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts. Instead of cotton you should be looking at synthetic clothing like nylon and polyester. The advantage of these materials is that they dry quickly and wick moisture away from you body. You can purchase this clothing in shirts, shorts, pants and windproof jackets. Cover it up with nylon splash pants and a nylon jacket and you should be good to go on a cool but calm water paddling trip. Another option is Gore-Tex outer shell. Gore-Tex is a waterproof fabric that was developed for space flight but found its way to the consumers back in the 1980s and is now available as a high performance fabric used in a variety of extreme condition clothings. And the best part about buying this type of performance clothing is that it can be worn all throughout the year. Because of its wicking qualities it will help to keep you warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.

To get started shopping for cool weather paddling gear you might want to begin with the CoolMax shirts. The 100% polyester shirts are quick drying and have the ability to wick moisture away from your body keeping you dry and warm. And there are plenty of sizes and colors to choose from. Choose a few long sleeves for the winter months and short sleeves for the summer. These shirts also are great for other recreational activities because they will wick the sweat from your body. Once you find your shirts you’ll need some CoolMax shorts. Try this link for CoolMax running shorts they are great for paddling.

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