Tips for Kayaking in the Cold Weather

Paddling is always fun no matter what time of the year it is. It is especially fun in the winter but you have to be wary of the cold water. There are very few kayakers ready to go out and paddle in the cold weather so it might be a little tough to find company but it is always advisable to paddle with friends. That’s because in case you capsize- which happens more often than not, you will need someone around to help you get out of the cold water fast.














Unfortunately, for most paddlers, the dangers of cold water are unknown to them and those who have never had their boat flip over rarely think they have anything to worry about. The truth of the matter is you need to know how to stay warm and dry during this time and also how to get other paddlers out of
the water in case it happens around you and your help is needed.

So what does it take to paddler in cold water? First off, we need to understand the dangers of near freezing temperatures and how they can easily turn your day in the water in to a nightmare. Then we will dive into best practices for cold weather kayak clothing – like your PFD, wet and dry suits, neoprene socks and more below.


Hypothermia doesn’t set in immediately you hit the water;it takes some time. Muscle incapacitation on the other hand occurs much faster and can easily take you from saving yourself to drifting off. It occurs in a matter of minutes and within 5 to 15 minutes, you may lose the ability to do some basic actions that
will get you or your friend out of the water like lighting a flare, using your VHF radio, turning your boat so that you can get back on it again or even calling for help. It robs you of your fine motor skills so you won’t move or even press a button to save yourself.

This is how hypothermia eventually sets in; you have been in the water for too long and the cold is starting to adversely affect your body systems. Dressing right for the cold waters is one way to ensure you have more time in the water to figure out your next move.

Water Shock

This is how your body reacts to the sudden and unexpected exposure to cold water. The gasp reflex is typically the first reaction your body responds with where you involuntarily suck in air to maintain oxygen levels while you submerged in water. It is the last thing you want your body to do when you are under water because it comes with a great deal of panic if you happen to gulp in some mouthfuls.

Proper clothing is yet again the key to preventing this from happening. Dressing appropriately keeps your skin away from the water even when your boat capsizes thus preventing this reflex from happening.

Always have your PFD on

The right kind of clothing we are referring to here is PFDs. You should wear your PFD all through the year. They are especially beneficial in cold weather. The PFD will keep you floating while you struggle to get yourself back on your boat. It can also keep your upper body warmer so it is better to have it on
than not .

You should know that you will be dressing up for cold weather when the temperatures are below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The risk of hypothermia is extremely high at this low temperature. Therefore, you should have a dry suit on with layers of warm clothing underneath.

The first rule of dressing for cold weather is to never wear cotton for warmth. You’d rather go with wool or other materials that do not absorb water. Cotton absorbs water in similar fashion to a sponge thus keeping you wet and cold even after you have gotten yourself out of the water.

What to go for between wet suits and dry suits

Wetsuits are made from a neoprene material that keeps a layer of water between you and the material. Your body warms this water thus preserving warmth. Wet suits come in different sizes and thickness. You can find a wet suit of thickness ranging from 0.5 mm to 7mm or more. Aside from the fact that they are easier to get in different sizes, wet suits are also the cheaper alternative.

Next up we have dry suits. They form a shell of breathable material around the body with lining around the neck, wrists and ankles. The lining could be neoprene or latex. Semi dry suits usually come without the neck lining. These types of water protection clothing don’t have any features to keep you warm so
you will need a lot of warm clothing underneath.

The choice between the two really comes down to your budget. They both serve paddlers quite well so it is all about what you can afford.

How do your head, hands and feet stay warm?

Anything that can serve as warm clothing for the head during mountaineering will serve just as well here. Get your wool hat or balaclava and make sure your entire had is covered from the cold water. Neoprene hats also work well in this case.

You should do the same for your hands and feet. Get woolen clothing to keep them warm and cover it with neoprene which ensures you stay dry. Pogies are great for your hands if you intend to go for some cold-water paddling and you could wear warm socks and neoprene booties for your feet. Some dry suits come with such booties so you might shop specifically for a dry suit with booties so that you have everything covered.

Have a change of clothes handy

This is very important in case you end up in the cold water and have to change immediately you get out. It also helps a lot in preserving your body temperature and keeping it from going lower.

You should always have some other items with you that will help you stay warm in case it gets too cold. Food items like hot chocolate and power bars are excellent additions to your luggage as well as a thermos flask of another type of hot beverage. It is also important to remember that phone batteries die
faster in cold weather so have a back-up plan such as a VHF radio.

Stay safe out there and as always enjoy your kayaking!


Keep It Simple Seakayaker!

K.I.S.S. stands for Keep ISimple Seakayaker! If you are interested in rolling I hope the following information will be helpful. Why roll? It builds confidence and is the ultimate in self rescue. Do you need to roll in sea kayaking? Not as long as you paddle with others, practice assisted rescues and are an expert in the next best self rescue, the paddle float re-entry. And don’t forget to bring your oxybenzone free sunscreen so you can enjoy the fun safely under the sun!

Rolling is a skill that just needs practice, so stack the odds in your favor with the following ideas. Look over some books on rolling just to get the basic idea. Then watch some of your paddling friends’ roll. OK, let’s Keep It Simple Seakayaker! The very first step in the rolling process is to get to work on your hip snap. A lot of people come to roll practice and not only think they’ll get a roll immediately, but they have no concept of a good hip snap. If the hip snap stumps you, just think of relaxing one knee and driving the other knee up to rotate your boat! So before you get in line and work one on one in learning the roll sequence, grab yourself a side of the pool and get to work. The hip snap is so important and follows us kayakers everywhere. It’s also part of the Eskimo and Eskimo x rescue and bracing. Once you’ve become friendly with the side of the pool, now grab a bow of a helpers boat. As you execute your snap the helpers bow should remain stable and above the water. You should not see the helpers bow go under. If that’s happening, you are muscling with your arms and not driving with your knees. Part of your practice with the hip snap is to also to include a head dink. That allows your head to come up last. It’s as simple as this: start to rotate the boat with the hip snap, now bring your body across, and at last here comes your head (often refereed to as the same weight as a bowling ball). Now your helper can stand in the pool and allow your hands to overlap on top of theirs as you flip over and try to right the boat with a hip snap/head dink combo. A good helper will tell you if you are ready to move forward or its back to the side of the pool. Even if the latter is the case, you are only improving your form in Eskimo rescues and bracing.

Now your helper knows you can right the boat with a solid hip snap/head dink combo. Yeah… you finally get to have your paddle. Most often sea kayakers will learn a sweep or modified sweep roll. Sweep rolls allow us to begin rotating the boat the moment we leave the set up position. A high brace roll, commonly called the C to C, requires a lot of flexibility in the set up and follow through. I found it very frustrating and eventually my body just added a small sweep. There are dozens of names for rolls and mine most often resembles a Screw Roll. A good helper will guide you here. As long as they are consistent and help you with repetitions, you and your muscle memory are on their way.

I keep referring to a good helper. A helper might not have a roll themselves, but they understand the basics and are good observers of what’s working or not working for you. Partner up with some paddling friends this next boating season and when you help teach you get better yourself.

Now as your helper guides you through the steps of a sweep roll try to relax. With each repetition your muscle memory is getting better and better. Your helper will take you through the roll sequence: flip over in the set up position, get plenty of “air” on your hands, sweep your paddle out as you relax one knee and drive the other (the boat is already starting to rotate), keep driving your knee upwards, lean back to complete the sweep, bring your head up last and recover!

Challenge yourself this next boating season! Pick a paddling partner to help roll with. Bring a boat to share during the winter at the Keelhauler Saturday roll sessions, even if it is only a river boat. Just get started. I’m usually there with several other Bradstreet paddlers who’d be glad to help. Call me to set something up. I learned in my river boat and easily transferred the sequence to several other models of sea kayaks. My goal last year was to roll as many different sea kayaks as possible. At roll sessions it’s tiring to roll the entire time so swap off and help each other. If you are lucky enough to own a camcorder you can videotape to see your progress. Only when your technique is strong, add your float bag to the end of your paddle. This will allow you to work solo. You must have good technique here to use a float bag or you will trade off a problem of teaching the wrong muscle memory steps to your body, and you’ll need a lot of time to correct it. The float bag technique allows you to start rolling with the bag fully inflated, then let some air out as long as you are still succeeding until the bag is empty.

By March you can participate in the Red Cross Roll sessions scheduled on Mondays evenings. There will be river and sea kayaks available and plenty of instructors. Just think, if you’ve challenged yourself with a goal for the paddling season and it is rolling, you have already gotten a big head start. Once the lake warms up you’ll find yourself wanting to put in early to start or stay later for a few roll attempts. Don’t forget the Bradstreet Roll Sessions for the summer with Mark Pecot, held the last Wednesday of each month. Now when the lake kicks up and you’d like to surf, treat yourself to a helmet and roll the season away!

What kind of kayak should you buy?

If you’re new to kayaking you may find yourself spoiled for choice. With so many kayaks on the market, it can feel overwhelming deciding which one is best for you. What kayak you choose depends on a lot of things like, age, fitness level, your level of kayaking experience and how much kayaking you plan to do. If you’re new to kayaking then there’s little need to spend a fortune on the latest high-tech model. Start small with an inflatable and if you enjoy the sport then eventually upgrade to something else. If you plan on doing trekking as part of each excursion then you’ll need a kayak with good space and straps to carry extra luggage. To make it easier for you, we’ve put this list together of the best kayak for each individual need. Read through each review and think about your needs to decide which one suits you best.

Types of kayaks

Key things to consider when deciding what type of kayak to buy are where you plan to paddle, for how long, in what conditions and how you plan to transport the kayak. All types can come designed for either one person or two.

Recreational kayaks

These kinds of kayaks are great for general use though they don’t hold up so well in rough conditions. Usually, they have smaller storage space for day trips though some come with more for longer excursions. Most of them are 10-12 feet long with a large cockpit for easy access and stability. Often made of polyethylene plastic they can be heavy and difficult to transport. This type of kayak has some of the best pedal kayaks on the market.

Touring kayaks

These work great in rough conditions and for long distance trips. Being more sturdy and versatile than other kayaks you can expect to spend a lot more with these. They have more storage space and bulkheads with sealed hatches than other types. The cockpits and built for paddling efficiency and can come made of plastic or a lightweight composite. Good brands include the Delta 14 and Eddyline Denali.

Sit-on-top kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are great for beginners or younger paddlers. They come with a sealed hull and modulated depressions for easy entry and exit. Since the seats are usually above water level there wider than normal kayaks and as a result, a bit slower. This type works best in temperate climates but can be uncomfortable in cooler places as your body is entirely exposed to the elements. They come in a range of sizes and passenger allowances. Most are made of plastic. One really great model is the Pescador Pro 10.

Inflatable kayaks

When you’re first starting out these are a great type to start with. Their affordable and can prove very durable and versatile when taken care of. They can be easily transported inside a duffle bag and then pumped up once on-site. Ranging from 10 to 15 feet long these are easy to use but less rugged than other types.

There are other types of kayaks like folding, fishing and whitewater kayaks. This list though should give you enough information to start.

The Best Beginner Kayaks on the Market today

If you’re thinking of making your first foray into serious kayaking and considering your first kayak then there a few things that need to be thought out before buying. If you haven’t kayaked much in the past then it can seem very intimidating having to choose among a lot of different brands and types. Here we’ll give you some pointers and recommendations for beginner kayaks so you can hit the water with confidence.

Things to consider

Before you even begin looking at different models ask yourself. Who will be using this kayak? If your buying for a child then there are several to choose from which are designed specifically for young paddlers. These are built a lot lighter and easier to handle than adult models and, of course, take less weight than adult models.

If you’re new to kayaking you may want to consider an inflatable to start with. Their less expensive and will allow you to learn proper manoeuvring and whether your suited this sport really suits you.

If your set on buying a hard-shell model you’ll have to decide between a sit-on-top or sit-in-side type. Both are fine for beginners, it’s just a matter of preference for comfort. Test out a few models to find which style suits you best.

Now without further ado, here is our selection of best beginner kayaks for 2017.

  1. Lifetime Wave Youth

Specially designed for kids. The Lifetime Wave is a 6ft kayak that is great for ages 5 up. The wide stance provides a stable platform while the sloped backend allows a swimmer to easily re-enter the kayak.

  1. Intex Challenger K1

This highly durable kayak comes with eye-catching graphics for easy spotting in the water. The Intex Challenger is a great inflatable for beginner adults and kids. With a streamlined design allows to easily slip through the water and an interior designed for comfort and maximum space.

  1. Emotion Spitfire

Designed with stability performance and affordability in mind, the Spitfire has a surprising amount of speed for its short length. It comes with a CRS padded backrest for comfortable paddling and cargo back-lacing in the rear for easy securing of loose items. Always amount the top five sellers on Amazon this is a great beginner kayak.

  1. Sun Dolphin Excursion 10

For an affordable and high-performance kayak, the Excursion 10 is one of the best choices for beginner kayakers. Measuring at 10 feet long and 30 inches wide this is a very roomy kayak that affords great stability and top performance. It comes with the standard water bottle holder as well as a swivel fishing rod holder. It also has a portable accessory holder in the rear.

  1. Coleman Quikpak K1

For inflatables, this is a top choice. The Coleman Quikpak is easy to store and carry in a backpack it can be pumped up on-site which makes it great for hiking. This craft holds one person along with up to 400 pounds of gear and measures 8 feet by 9 inches when fully inflated.

Since you are checking out beginner’s kayak models, it may be a good idea to learn more about cold weather kayaking as well, enjoy!