When the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, many paddlers choose to hang up their skirts for the season to hit the slopes or take to the trails; after all, being wet in near- or below-freezing temperatures isn’t exactly what most would consider pleasant. With the proper gear, though, you can beat those winter paddling blues and keep on boofing through the season. Check out these 10 products that will make you actually enjoy, not just survive, your next winter paddling experience.
On the Water Winter Paddling Gear
1. NRS WaveLite™
Made from Polartec® Power Stretch® fleece, this line of base layers is perfect for cold weather paddling. Warm, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, the form fitting shirt and pant combination retains its original shape throughout years of use and abuse.
Top – $74.95, Bottom – $64.95; nrs.com
2. Bomber Gear Bomb Dry Suit
A must-have for kayakers serious about year-round paddling, this dry suit does it all. The four-layer suit offers protection with reinforced shoulder panels and abrasion-resistant oxford nylon where you need it most. Durable gaskets and double-stitched, taped, and patched seams keep the water out while breathable Toray™ 4-ply Entrant HB fabric allows the suit to breathe when you’re busting out that hairy ferry.
3. Astral Rassler
Sure, it might not be the best idea, but summertime paddling means minimal footwear in my book (i.e. a pair of sandals permanently stashed in the stern). But when winter rolls around, flip flops just don’t make the cut. The Rassler is the best option for wintertime paddling, creeking, or expedition adventures. With high ankle support, shoe drainage, and a durable Cordura upper and Stealth outsole, this shoe protects and functions like none other and looks way cooler than those raunchy neoprene booties you’ve had one-too-many bootie beers out of.
4. Bomber Gear Pogie Paddling Mitt
Also from Bomber comes another must-have: the pogie. Made from durable, water-repellent, super-stretch neoprene, these mitts withstand the elements while offering enough insulation and protection to keep your extremities functioning. Extending just past the wrist, these pogies are easy to slide on and off if you need to push off a rock or wipe the snot from your face.
5. Buff Balaclava
Given that the majority of your body heat can be lost through your noggin, it’s probably best to cover it up when you’re out on the water. Buff’s merino wool balaclava is perfect for wearing underneath a helmet or when you’re off the water setting up camp. For bitterly cold days (or if you’re going for the ninja look), scrunch the fabric up beneath the eyes to protect those rosy cheeks.
Off the Water Winter Paddling Gear
6. Ibex Woolies 220
Multi-day paddling excursions mean mindful packing. If you’re looking for a warm and durable yet lightweight base layer option to slide into when you reach camp, these Ibex Woolies are for you. Made from 18.5 micro Merino wool, these layers are naturally odor resistant and can double as paddling base layers if it’s just too darn cold to change into the frozen set you put out last night to “dry.”
Top – $95, Bottom – $85; shop.ibex.com
7. Stanley SS Flask Adventure
While we don’t necessarily condone drinking and paddling, we know that sometimes, swims happen. When you could use a little spirit to warm your sodden soul, reach for the most rugged 8oz flask on the market.
8. Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket
More durable and water repellent than fleece alternatives, this synthetic mid-layer can withstand the elements on its own or serve as an extra layer underneath a heavier jacket. Made from ThermalQ™Elite insulation, this lightweight jacket packs down small like its goose down relatives but still provides just as much warmth.
9. Big Agnes Shovelhead Hooded Jacket
Filled with 700+ goose down, this incredibly warm and lightweight puffy has one great attribute that sets it above the rest: water repellency. If you’re setting or packing up camp and the weather starts to turn, take comfort in knowing that your super snazzy down jacket can take a little moisture, no problem.