Select Page

Photo: Matthew Sam photography

If you know me then you know I am a fan of kayaking any time I can get on the water. It doesn’t matter the season or weather, if there’s water I am there. These are five things that I do every time I go kayaking in cold water to get the most out of my sessions, especially freestyle.

Tip 1. Get dressed inside ALWAYS.

When I go kayaking in cold water, I put on all my gear — from base layers and socks to drysuit and actual kayaking gear—before I leave the house. Doing this ensures I stay warm from my house to when I put on the river. Putting my gear on inside allows me to save body heat rather than fumbling around outside risking getting cold…while you are at it inside: stretch. Save that heat for when you are in the water, you can paddle longer sessions each time!

Tip 2. Wear a hood.

I have a neoprene surf hood that I wear at all times during my winter kayaking. My hood covers everything except my face and gives me several benefits by keeping the heat in. It is a great way to have fewer brain freeze moments, shields you from the wind chill out in the middle of the river, and helps keeping your ears dry/warm adding some protection from that super annoying ‘surfers ear’ which has gotten me too many times. Why not wear a hood that makes you feel like a stealth ninja moving through the water and extends your sessions… think of all that progress you can make.

Tip 3. Eating more food.

Sometimes even after I had my union suit, wooly underwear, long johns, nano puff pullover stuffed under my drysuit like the Michelin man, I found myself still cold. A simple thing that has helped me is eating more food before kayaking…I don’t know the science behind it or which foods work best (check google) but try it!

Tip 4. Don’t pour hot water on your hands.

No matter how tempting it is to pour hot water on your hands to warm them up, resist that urge, the juice is not worth the squeeze here, your hands will thank you! When I started kayaking a few years ago in the winter I fell into this trap. I came to regret it as my hands hurt and cracked from the hot water. Instead, I bring a hot beverage with me to drink instead and hold. Hands, body, and mind are satisfied.

Tip 5. Keep a move on it.

As soon as I walk out the door to go kayaking, I keep it moving. If I am doing freestyle sessions at a feature I usually break my sessions into 30 minute blocks and get out in between. I like to keep a jacket and a towel on shore to put on/wrap around me while I am hanging out with my friends or refueling/recharging myself. Being able to put on my jacket on and wrap myself in a towel helps keep my body warm and ready for the next 30 minute block. Once you get cold, it is really hard to recover from to keep kayaking comfortably with max progression.

These tips really help me stay as warm as possible to extend my sessions. If you can’t do all of the tips above, I highly recommend doing Tip #1. You will find you get a lot more days on the water in the winter and be able to keep your progression going strong! SYOTR!