Kayaking in the winter can add an adventurous aspect to an otherwise familiar kayaking route. However, more preparation and knowledge is required to navigate a cold weather kayaking trip successfully. When preparing for this kind of activity, there are several aspects to be aware of that differ from kayaking in the warmer months.
To ensure the winter kayaking trip goes smoothly, plan should be made ahead. Although during warm weather it is relatively simple to plan and execute a kayak trip, cold weather trips require significantly more planning. Take routes and gear that are familiar and previously tested, including a kayak large enough for all equipment that is needed. Sea kayaks, in particular, are well suited for winter trips. Also, weather forecasts should be carefully checked. Winter winds and storms can be detrimental even on shorter trips with the proper gear.
Another vital piece of gear required for winter kayaking is appropriate attire. Body temperatures can drop quickly when cold or wet, making dry, waterproof footwear and a dry suit a necessity. Extra gloves and warm, wool socks should be packed. Heat-retaining fabric such as polyester can also be beneficial. If planning an overnight trip, ensure the tent selected is rated for winter climates. Camping on snow can be cold, however, packing the snow down beforehand can help create a warmer tent. Candle lanterns can also help increase tent temperatures.
When camping or stopping for any substantial amount of time, be prepared to start a fire. A small folding saw to cut and trim wood and matches will make it easier to create a fire. Dry firewood may also be harvested depending on where the trip is occurring. Fires can be used to heat food or warm up. In case of emergency or if unexpected water enters the kayak, knowing how to create a fire is crucial.
A common way that body temperatures can drop is through sweat. To prevent this, maintain an even, steady pace. Overexertion can lead to sweat and dampness – ultimately causing a loss in core body temperature.
Although cold weather kayaking trips can require more effort and planning, the reward is the solitude and feeling of accomplishment. Winter kayaking is a test of both gear and the individual on the trip.