Cold weather paddling gear

Don't let the weather forecast keep you off the water

Don’t let the weather forecast keep you off the water. Keep paddling with this cold weather gear.

Don’t let dire forecasts keep you off the water. Canoeing, kayaking, outrigger, dragon boat and even whitewater paddling doesn’t have to be miserable just because the weather is. Dress right and it will only be wet and cold on the outside, not in your cozy cocoon of warmth.

Here are a few products to help you stay warm, dry and safe while playing in the wet. From toe to head:

Mountain Equipment Co-Op Low Tide Boot

I can’t find them on MEC’s website, so you may need to search gear swaps and garage sales for this ultimate winter paddling bootie. Knee high, warm and dry, they can’t be beat for winter paddling. They’re made of thick neoprene with a arch Velcro strap and a cinch strap at the top. Deadly.

Kokatat Tempest

A dry suit is the ultimate, but if you can’t afford to shell out almost $1,000 for a quality one, the next best thing is dry pants and top. You want rubber gaskets and burly material. Our pick for dry pants has to be the Kokatat Tempest, the only pair we know of that comes with a sock built in. Our toes are always toasty warm, no matter what kind of bootie we’re wearing. Keep in mind, there is a slight safety hazard with a dry pant that can’t drain out the bottom.

Level Six Ria

Wearing a dry top can be a pain in the neck, literally. But standard rain jackets don’t cut it for most paddling adventures. The Ria is a rare beast that fills the gap. Soft and thin neoprene wrist gaskets keep paddle drips from running down your sleeve and the waterproof-breathable membrane is the same one Level Six uses on their dry tops. The full hood rips away if it ever hangs up, say on an overhead branch while running a river. The cut is wide and baggy so it can slipped on over a PFD, making it easy for layering when the rain and sun are playing peak a boo. When you’re hanging around camp the jacket will probably feel baggy but it’s a heck of a lot better than wearing a paddling top.

North Water Regulation Micro Tow

No matter the time of year Coast Guard Regulations require you to carry a buoyant heaving line in a recreational boat. Even if it wasn’t required having a line handy for throwing or towing is good seamanship and can save someone’s bacon. And with the micro tow there’s no excuse to not stay on the right side of the law. The 55 foot line stuffs into a small bag with waist straps and can be set to handle a double boat tow with two included carabiners. It’s handy, convenient and like all North Water products, affordably priced. Don’t leave home without it.