Dressing for Winter Adventure Pac NW Style
JUST CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES”
Brandon on Lake Baikal, 2003
NOW is the time to get your cold weather paddling clothes out of the closet and ready for storm season!
For me, that means different warmth options from HEAD TO TOE – depending on what and where I am paddling, the weather and water conditions, and how long I am going out.
So, what is ‘AT THE READY in my closet?
From top to bottom:
Light weight fleece ear bands, warmer fleece hats, and a Fuzzy Rubber ‘Skinhead’ by Mountain Surf.
Snug fitting baseball type cap or visor to keep rain and wave splash out of my eyes. My most common head gear is a baseball cap with an ear warmer over it.
TOPS: It is all about layers!
I have short sleeve and long sleeve polypro shirts;
Short and long sleeve fleece of varying weights… if you haven’t discovered Mysterioso, it is worth checking out! It is the warmest, comfiest technical fleece I have ever worn.
Brightly colored, breathable splash jacket… I am a big fan Kokatat for indestructible, breathable outer layers.
While some people love neoprene gloves, I am a fan of Pogies — you know, the hand covers that attach to your paddle shaft, and don’t interfere with your grip. Neoprene pogies keep your hands warm, although they get quite heavy when they are wet, and on really cold days mine have turned to a block of ice on my hands! A wind stop fabric with a fleece liner is a preferable option for the Pac NW. Or, I have seen homemade Pogies made out of such things as blue foam sleeping pads or reflective bubble wrap.
I have several pairs of fleece pants, and if I am not in a drysuit, I cover those with splash pants.
I have many different synthetic material socks that I combine with a pair of neoprene booties.
But, for ultimate warmth… I LOVE my GORE-TEX Kokatat drysuit, with built in GORE-TEX socks. With that, I am warm and dry top to bottom!
If you do go the drysuit route – remember, for it to protect you from hypothermia in the water, you must wear warm protective layers under the drysuit.
I didn’t mention wetsuit… that is just personal preference. I do own a farmer john wetsuit and a full wetsuit. But, typically, I either layer in fleece and splash pants & jacket, or I am in my drysuit. Some paddlers love their wetsuits.
CHECK IT OUT!
As you pull out your foul weather gear for the winter, make sure everything is in good repair. Do neck or wrist gaskets need to be replaced on your drysuit? Do the zippers need to be lubed? Do you have two Pogies and two booties? Is it time to replace your PFD? Is your boat leash ready for a big storm on the bay? Are you sure?
Don’t let the onset of cooler temps, heavy winds and more rain keep you from adventure — get your gear ready, and get out there!!!
Be warm, be safe… and happy paddling!