Man has spent millenia braving the elements. Since the earliest caveman made a cloak from the pelt of a saber toothed tiger, humans have fought through cold weather with their outerwear. Let us walk you through some basic cold weather apparel and gear to help you stay out on the water longer into Autumn. We’ll go from head to toe, but the TL;DR is dress in layers and stay dry.
It’s no secret that your head is a pretty important part of the body to keep warm. That’s where all our thinky bits are! Your nose and ears are very susceptible to cold weather conditions.
Use a hood, balaclava, or other head covering to give your head a barrier between it and the cold. Items such as a the Buff Hoodie Thermal Pro and the Columbia Trail Summit Balaclava can insulate you for added warmth. You could also go with one of those funny Canadian hats with the ear flaps. They may look silly, but there’s a reason they’ve been around for so long.
Next up is making sure your core temperature stays high. Rash Guards are an excellent choice if you plan on dressing in many layers as they can prevent chafing, particularly under a wetsuit. It is a generally good idea to make sure your base layer is quick drying in addition to insulated. The NRS H2Core series is a great starting point for both men and women. If you plan on being on gentler water, a simple fleece undershirt like the Level Six Hot Fuzz Fleece Top will keep you comfortable.
Just keeping dry is a huge step in keeping warm. A decent splashtop or jacket will make sure that any water that makes it to you will simply wick away. You’ll want to look for ones made with nylon shells and neoprene gaskets for your neck, waist, and wrists. Try the Stohlquist FreePlay Dry Top for a simple cover or the Level Six Chilko for a fuller coverage approach.
If you’ve ever been outside on a cold day without gloves, you already know why you want a pair. Heat will leave your fingers fairly quickly, so keep those phalanges covered up with a pair of Sea to Summit Paddle Gloves or Stohlquist Toasters Pogies. You likely already know how gloves work, but these have a layer of neoprene for warmth and to prevent blisters while paddling. Pogies are like jackets for your hand. They include an opening that you feed your paddle through, which keeps you warm and keeps your grip tight.
If you just need to block out some windchill, the SealSkinz Ultra Grip can do that and have touchscreen compatible tabs on the index finger and thumb let you use your smartphone without taking the gloves off.
Spray Skirts (Sit inside kayaks only)
If you’re rocking a sit inside kayak like the new Pungo 125, you’ll want to make sure you have a spray skirt to keep cold water from getting trapped in with your legs. A Seals Adventurer Kayak Spray Skirt or similar product is generally enough for Autumn paddling, but a neoprene skirt should be considered for colder climates.
Bibs and Drypants
If you’re lucky enough to be launching from a dock, then a pair of drypants like the Immersion Research Zephyr Paddle Pants should be more than enough to protect you from wind and water. If, on the other hand, you need to portage your kayak at all you may want to look into a bib for fuller protection. The Mustang Survival ARC 2PS Bib Pants will give you a complete water shield for your legs and feet.
If you aren’t going with a bib to keep your feet dry there are still options for you. For those of you who will be mostly dry, a combo of quick dry socks and water shoes like the Deep See Lycra Fins Socks and Astral Brewer 2.0 Water Shoes should have you covered. If you need to prevent water from reaching your little piggies, then you will want to look into a taller waterproof boot like the NRS Boundary Shoe.
Well, that should be all the gear you need to really get the most time out on the water possible during the colder months. You’ll want to mix and match depending on how rough the seasons get in your neck of the woods, but this should give you a good idea of where to start! Now you can be like Nathaniel Lee Maloney (pictured below)!