Winter paddling has different meanings to different people. For some, it means layering up with different apparel options for cold weather paddling and continuing on with their kayaking as usual. For others, it means putting the ‘yak into hibernation for a period of kayak storage.
For a few people, it means something completely different and rather than try and explain it myself, I thought I would show you with three different videos. Enjoy!
1. Snow Kayaking by Warren Miller
2. Snow Kayak Race in Estonia – Red Bull Snow Kayak
3. Kayogganing and winter paddling at Lochaber Lake Dec. 2013
As I sit here getting ready for the upcoming boat shows I think back about how great of an “off” season it was. For many paddlers that reside in Texas, late November through January is considered the “off season”. Of course, we do experience a few days where temperatures will get back up into the 70’s, but for the most part it stays just cold enough, especially early in the morning to keep most folks off the water.
Well, I guess you can say that I am not like most folks. For me personally, it’s one of my favorite paddling seasons. This is mostly due to the fact that it is hunting season and with it being a bit more manageable at the store I am able to take more days off to chase after waterfowl.
Looking back over the past few months, I think about my most memorable times which started with opening weekend, paddling out into the dark at 1 am make sure that I got the spot of my choice on my favorite lake. Second to that was taking a few extra days off just before Thanksgiving to head down to the Gulf Coast for a “Cast and Blast” with my best friend which ended with a 2 day paddling trip with limits of ducks and trout. It may not sound like fun but hunting just before a cold front only to have to paddle back across the lake in 30+ mph winds and 2-3 foot swells was an exciting experience for me. Admittedly, that trip was a little too wet and cold but it was made easier utilizing a Hobie Mirage Kayak. I must also add my recent hunting trips during the coldest days of the season as of yet. There is nothing like breaking through ice in a kayak when its 22 degrees outside with a wind chill of 15 degrees. And of course, the countless days of getting up at 4 am for a short hunt just to make it back in time to open up the shop. Yes, good times indeed. I do always recommend that if you plan to paddle during the colder months, be sure you are outfitted with the proper apparel.
Now, the off-season wasn’t just about hunting and taking time off either, I was able to get some work done too! We took the time to focus on remodeling several areas of the Austin store. This includes the addition of a fully outfitted camping section, an expanded fishing section and an increased apparel offering. I am also staying busy planning for the Austin Boat Show, which is this week.
Enjoy the pictures and I invite you to drop by the store sometime soon to see how we’ve improved it. We’d love to hear about your winter paddling experiences, or better yet tell us all about these experiences by commenting below.
You are probably starting to notice a slight trend in topics related to colder weather paddling. I think it is pretty obvious why, just because the temps are dropping, doesn’t mean that you have to put your kayaks in storage yet! This is especially true for those in the southern regions. If you prepare yourself with the right gear and take some safety precautions, you’ll find a number of activities that involve kayaks throughout winter.
For those looking for a little alone time, get out there! Now is the time when the water isn’t full of tubers, swimmers and recreational power boaters. I know lots of people that specifically go out in the winter because there are fewer people to dodge and the cooler overcast weather is very refreshing compared to burning up in the summer heat. For some ideas on cooler weather gear check out this recent blog post about winter weather apparel from a fellow ACK employee.
Time to take some photos! While much of the country is in the middle or maybe even past the peak season for fall foliage, many still have an opportunity to take some great photographs from the water. The reflection of the red, orange and yellow colored leaves on the water makes for a brilliant photograph. Fresh snow on the banks of a river also provides a great backdrop for your pictures. Make sure you use a dry box, case or bag to keep your camera equipment safe.
For all the hunters out there, hunting season is in full swing and kayaking is a great way of getting to those hard to reach locations. I utilize the Hobie Gun Mounts which helps secure my rifle to my yak while I go duck hunting.
Fishing is an ongoing year round sport regardless of where you are. For a more comfortable and somewhat “dryer” ride consider a sit inside kayak. Half of your body will be protected from the elements providing a more comfortable paddling experience but some models with larger cockpit openings still make it easy to keep you gear close at hand. For more warmth and protection you can add a skirt. One example of a great fishing sit-inside kayak is the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Angler.
No need to put off your kayaking until the springtime, with the proper gear you’ll be paddling all year long — unless of course your favorite watering hole freezes over!