Cold water paddling: I can still paddle all year long

by | Nov 11, 2016

Paddling when the temperatures drop and the water in the ocean and rivers become colder brings with it new challenges. However, just because the weather is freezing doesn’t mean that you have to put your paddleboard into storage for the winter. With taking the proper steps and being prepared well, you can still paddle all year long. What should you keep in mind if you plan to venture out to the ocean or paddle down a river when the temperature is in the 50s and below? The best advice for paddling in colder temperatures is to have the proper clothing and equipment for paddleboarding beforehand to keep you safe and warm. You should also leave a float plan with a friend just in case to get into difficulty. What else should you keep in mind if you want to paddle in cold weather? Here are some of the best tips from professional paddlers to keep safe and warm on the water, whatever the weather is like.

Top Tips for Paddling All Year Long

Be warm before getting on the water.

This may sound logical, but you should keep your hat, gloves, and coat on for as long as possible before you get on the water. So follow this advice:
  • Keep your hat and gloves on while changing into your wetsuit.
  • Eat an energy bar and drink a hot non-alcoholic drink before getting on the paddleboard.

Be aware of the weather conditions

Make sure and check the wind direction, tides, and currents before you set off. Remember, you will get fatigued quicker in cold weather and paddling back to your starting point with the wind is behind you is much easier.

Safety on the water

Safety is always of the utmost importance when you are on a paddleboard. But, taking safety precautions is even more important if you are paddling in cold weather. Always make sure that you wear a PFD. These don’t just keep you safe if you fall off your board. They have extra pockets for energy bars, cameras, whistles, and a torch. The extra layer also provides more warmth.

Keep warm on the water

It’s also important that you keep as warm as possible when you are on the water. Here are some helpful tips:
  • Take a thermos with a hot drink in case you need to warm up
  • Have some instant hand warmers with you in case your hands get very cold. Remember, it can be difficult to grip a paddle if your hands are freezing.
  • Have a dry bag with you that contains extra clothing to add layers for warmth. Take neoprene gloves and a hood with you.

Safety in the dark

The winter months mean that the days will be shorter. So, remember to take with you safety equipment to keep you visible in the dark. You will be seen in the dark if you do the following:
  • Attach a waterproof LED light to your paddleboard and to the back of your PFD.
  • Put reflective strips on your paddle. This will let you be seen by others and will help you find your paddle in the event that you drop it in the water.
  • Keep your flashlight attached to your clothing on a short leash.
  • Carry an emergency flare in case you get into difficulty.

Keeping warm after the paddle

It is important to keep warm after the paddle. It is always a good idea to have an extra thermos in your car so that you can warm yourself. It is also a good idea to have a foam camping pad to stand on. This keeps your damp feet off the cold ground and will help avoid your body temperature dropping. Change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible. Many paddlers use a fleece poncho to make it easier to change into dry clothes and underwear as quick as possible.