Everybody experiences the cold differently, our weather is such that everyday is different and the temperature will vary even whilst you are out on the water. There is a lot to think about and many possibilities of weather to prepare for. Our goal each year is to have as many of our regular paddlers continue to through ALL the seasons as no paddle is every the same.
We just love having the whole river/canal to ourselves in the 'off peak seasons' and weather.
Pack in your dry bags
Gloves & hat
Pack -it trousers and jacket
Drinks , snacks & extra layers
Fully charged phone
Booties & water proof socks
Dry suit or neoprene long johns
Lots of smart prepared choices to make when it comes to cooler weather paddling, the goal here is to use what winter walking, cycle, skiing winter kit you have already. If not try find them second hand, if not buy the right kit once (don't want to have SUP kit envy) and make them last a decade!
Long Johns Neoprenes
These are sleeveless wetsuits, made of thin neoprene. Benefit is that you have plenty of movement around the arms and shoulders with no chaffing and they are not expensive. Wear base layer underneath and on top depending on weather. Great for the mild winter days and preventing feeling of cold and damp, and then all you need is a rainproof jacket. These tend to be warm enough apart from the real sub zero’s. You can also leave the zip undone to reduce sweating.
Decathlon are good value at £40- £55- 2mm-neoprene-longjohns-diving-suit
Neoprene Boots & Waterproof Socks
Get a pair of boots that are large enough to include a pair of thick socks for those extra chilly paddles or even sealskinz waterproof socks under boots if you are not going for dry suit option. Boot 3mm @ £30-40 -go bigger to accommodate extra socks and dry suits. Ski socks and neoprene boots work too, different thickness needed depending on the temperature. Remember starting off in the early morning is always cooler and then our bodies and the weather starts to warm up.
Gloves & Mitts
Inexpensive ski mittens are great for those who suffer cold fingers and by keeping
fingers together for extra warmth. First try gloves you have already. It is always worth having an extra pair of gloves in your drybag at all times during the cooler season in case the first pair get wet or you get caught out.
Alternatively you can get neoprene gloves – realistically don’t get anything thicker than 3mm or it will be difficult to feel the paddle.
This will cut out the wind as well as keeping you dry if it rains and most people have a good water repellent one at home. Otherwise you can buy specific paddling jackets @£13- 20
Lights for night paddles
Required for late afternoon or evening paddles as you need to be seen, however you want your eyes to adapt to the dark so, we found that placing a small torch, bike light or head torch inside a small dry bag is super- protects the light from dampness and lights the bag up as a lantern. Do a home practice first. Headlamp @£10 double up to help you get back to your car.
In the winter months a well prepared and packed dry bag is essential unless you are wearing drysuits; spare jacket, Pack It waterproof trousers, hat, light, gloves, drinks, snacks and a smaller dry bag just for your keys and phone. The larger dry bag 10 – 20 litre bag are good with straps or place it in a back pack to make getting on and off the board much easier. Your hands are full already with paddle and board. Assume that you will fall in at the furthest point from your car so bring warm tops etc in case you need them.
Pack- It rain repellent trousers
These are great as if you do start to get cold you can put them on and they will cut out the wind and also trap warm air. Perfect for paddling just place them over your trousers to stop you getting a soggy bottom - very easy to slip them on and off, essential piece of winter kit. @£15
Buoyancy Aids B.A.
Again dry others before you buy, a club favourite tends to be Palms, with the big range of colours and pockets! Always wear a B.A. as easier to rescue others and be rescued.
One piece dry suits - For those who get cold easily and really don’t like the thought of getting wet at all. The dry suit all -in- one is a popular option (don’t need to carry spare clothes, just wear thin clothes underneath and thick socks for warmth). They are not suitable for those who get hot and sweaty easily and dislike tight neck fittings, or need a wee often! Try before you buy as can be a waste of money. Typhoon is the brand that lasts the longest (according to Mr Rubberman who repairs drysuits). All in one dry suits are far too warm on sunny warmer winter days but for some of us, they are the saviour of the cooler wetter season, they last years if you look after them. They need boots on the outside to protect them from punctures. £300 to £400 look on ebay once you know your size. Typhoon Ezeedon are lightest , no under fleece is needed- if SUP Club member ask for the discount.
Some paddlers prefer the ease of a 2 piece for toilet breaks. Two pieces can be worn for many months and the warmer days. If you fully fall in you may still get a bit wet but how often do you fall in! 2 pieces keep you dry from rain and no soggy bottoms and easier to regulate your temperature as you can take the top off when you get too warm which you can't do with a one piece. YAK & other brands do the less expensive range of dry trousers, £60- 100 as they don’t have feet attached so factor in a pair of Sealskinz waterproof socks ( +£35) if you go for drysuit trousers without the feet. In the winter we sometimes need to put our feet in the water to launch and you don’t want wet cold feet. For some reason having feet attached doubles the price! Palm or Peak dry trousers as they have feet twice the price. Palm's Woman's & Men's ( with a fly zip) Atom pants £180 to £230 & if you buy bottom and top = @ £460 Peak do similar price Storm Pants and made of using recycled material. You could always start with dry trouser with feet or without feet and then later add a dry top as everyone has rain jackets.
If you are only paddling occasionally then go for Pack it water repellent trousers and rain proof jacket and pack spare set in the dry bags and add in a warmer top. Use kit you already have at home and then invest in what you think is most important to you. If you look after your kit it will last years. Try buy 2nd hand where possible and do ask winter paddlers with kit on their opinion before investing in expensive pieces of kit. We always wear Buoyancy aids again find one that suits your body and budget, ask to try on others of similar shape.
Good luck, and keep on paddling, you are in for a real treat if you can paddle all year, this is the only way to witness all the stunning changes of the seasons up close and personal!
Put together by Tara & Phil Crist Directors of Paddleboard Maidenhead LTD
List of links
Escape Watersports great for dry trousers
Decathlon bootie, gloves, lights , long johns
Sealskinz waterproof trousers
Typhoon best all in one dry suits
Palms Buoyancy aids