The weather is warming up in most areas of the country. As we get more sunny days and we see the rivers and creeks running high, paddlers will be ready to start hitting the rivers again.
However, remember that the water is still going to be cold. The rains that have been falling are cold.? The temperatures are still cold at night and the ridge tops are even colder. In addition, the water from snow melt is still working its way into the river system. So make sure you are dressed safely for cold water paddling.
A good rule to know is the 100 degree rule. If the air and water temperatures add up to less than 100 degrees, you should wear a dry suit. This provides for greater protection from the cold. However, according to Kevin Callan in an article on paddling.net, you should dress for the water. Assume that you will be going into the water at some time during your trip.
The first thing to do is decide if you need a dry suit or wet suit. If the 100 degree rule comes into play, wear a properly fitting dry suit. A dry suit is designed to keep the water out and away from your body. They should have tight fitting gaskets to create a tight seal. An alternative for use in cooler waters is the wet suit. The wet suit is designed to use a layer of warm water between the skin and the suit to provide an insulating layer. Wetsuits will not keep you dry.
However, you can take other steps with your clothing to help keep you warm and dry. Dress in layers. This will allow you to change with the weather. The inner layer should be an insulating layer. Wool is a good choice for clothing on the inner layer. It will provide insulation even when wet. A synthetic fleece will work just as well. However, the synthetic fleece is not as heavy when it gets wet. Choose an outer layer to keep you dry. Nylon is a good wicking material to draw the moisture away from the body. In addition, nylon dries fast. Choose other insulating layers as the weather requires.
Don't neglect your extremities. Wear good waterproof gloves. In addition to providing padding for comfort, they will help keep your hands warm and dry. Also wear insulated shoes for your feet with wool socks. Another trick that has helped me is using Toasty Toes or a similar product. Attach Toasty Toes to your socks under your toes to help keep them warm.
Don't forget to bring extra clothing. Keep the extra clothing in a dry sack. It will help protect you from the cold if you can change out of wet clothes.
Get out there and paddle in preparation for a kayaking event.
Johnstown Outdoor Recreation Examiner George Barner developed a love of the outdoors through his involvement in Boy Scouts and his love of nature photography.
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