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Let’s face it, kayaking doesn’t just happen in the warm summer months. Here on the west coast we are very dependent on snow melt and winter storms for our water supply, and some of my best days on the water have been in the middle of February when ice fills the eddies and icicles hang from my helmet. So, if you don’t want to miss the next high water “rain on snow” event, it is important that you have good winter kayaking gear.

Footwear: Warm feet will make you or break you on the water. When I am in my playboat I like to wear wool lined surfing booties. They don’t give you much support, but they fit perfectly in my playboat. When I am creeking, I layer wool socks under the booties of my drysuit with fleece socks over everything. I definitely have a pair of five tens that are on the big side to accommodate all those layers.

Handwear: My favorite thing to wear on my hands are wool lined neoprene mittens. I find mittens are better than gloves because you get the warmth of having all your fingers together. Make sure you get the right size mittens because sometimes they can feel bulky and you may not get the best response from your paddle. Plus, over-gripping your paddle can lead to injury. Another option are pogies. Great option of you like the feel of the paddle in your hand. I have been known to layer pogies over mittens on those blizzard days.

Baselayers: I love capeline and fleece. Yes, after a couple years the smell is bad enough they aren’t allowed in the house, but a layer of capeline under fleece is so toasty. I prefer having a separate top and bottom for those emergency pees, but my fleecy one piece union is a close second.

Head heaters: Surfers and Divers have found pretty amazing equipment for keeping their head warm. Check out your local dive/surf shop for a high mm neoprene dive hood that will also wrap around your chin for extra face warmth. Plus they will fit under your helmet nicely. I also find myself reaching for my Immersion Research helmet liner with the chin strap for the quick backyard runs.

Outerwear: When I am in my playboat I love having a drydeck and dry pants. They drydeck helps keep the water out of my boat and the dry pants make for easy changing in the parking lot of the whitewater park without needing help from a friend to unzip my drysuit. However, if you plan on any winter creeking or river running, a drysuit is a must. A swim without a full drysuit on in the winter will lead to not only an unhappy day, but possible hypothermia.

Hope this helps get you on the water every month of the year!!!

Jessica Yurtinus