Cold water kayaking is an adventure that some people cannot resist. There is really no reason that you should avoid it because of the cold, but there are some things that you should do a little differently. One of the major risks when kayaking during the winter or in areas where the water stays cold year-round is hypothermia. It is important that you understand it and take note of these tips for kayaking in the cold.
Dress for the Weather
You should wear synthetic or wool clothing when you venture out into the cold water in a kayak. You can choose a dry suit or wetsuit that has a drytop. You should cover your hands with neoprene mittens and pogies, even if you do not wear them both you should have the option to add more to keep your hands as warm as possible. Hats and a waterproof jacket are also recommended because you will need to do everything you can to cover your entire body. Some people also say that you should bring extra clothing items that are tucked away in a dry area. This ensures that if you get wet, tip over, or start to feel chilled, you can add more layers.
Your PDF will also be very important in cold weather. The personal floatation device will add another layer of clothing that is thick as well as protect you from the elements if you happen to roll over or capsize.
Eat and Carry Snacks
One of the first signs of hypothermia may be hunger and nausea. Snacks are able to help you through this. Staying hydrated is very important when kayaking, but when you are kayaking in the cold, carbohydrates and foods that are high in fat will go a long way to help you last longer. It reduces the risk of hypothermia because they give you energy and warmth. Instead of water, you can also carry along a warm beverage. This will be especially useful on cold nights when you are camping out, but it can help to keep you warm when on the water as well.
Understand Rescue Techniques
Staying warm is important when kayaking in the cold. If you happen to tip over and you do not know the proper way to handle it; you are going to be taking a chance with your life and depending on the water temperature, you may not have long to react before hypothermia kicks in. In the event that you are in a covered kayak, you need to know how to roll over so that your time in the water will be minimal. You should also know how to re-enter your kayak without land nearby. If you are not able to do this with ease, you will want to avoid going out without a partner. Ideally, they will be good at kayak rescues and know how to help you get back in the kayak.
With that being said, it is always a good idea to have a buddy when kayaking in the cold since they can help you if something happens and the cold begins to set in. Hypothermia slows your movements and your thoughts. As a plan B, they can help you get to shore and help you to get warm again.