Dress Intelligently for the River
The Kayak Outer and Inner Layers You Wear Will Make a Difference
Heat waves ripple up off the asphalt and you just burned your arm unloading your boat from your car. Just throw your PFD over your sprayskirt, right? Wrong! You are not paddling in the parking lot and you sure won't be swimming in it.
Dress for the water temperature instead of the air. The air temperature may be a wonderful 80 degrees F, but that river may still only be 40 degrees F. Don't let being cold ruin a beautiful day on the river.
Enjoy your Swim
A dropped kayak paddle, a blown sprayskirt, or just helping a buddy who is stuck; it is all part of the sport of kayaking. After one dip in snowmelt the chances of having another go up exponentially. If you paddle cold, fast rivers you need to dress for being in the water. Wear outer gear that keeps the water out and layer under them with thermal layers that keep the outer layer off your skin even when drenched. Polyester fleece, wool, and neoprene are the best choices. A combo of a Kohsi top or fleece, drytop, Stretch Paddle Pants, and neoprene or thermal shorts will suffice for most cold-water situations and allow for versatility when the water warms up.
It's your Ass
The June Colorado sun won't warm the inside of your kayak, especially with snowmelt sloshing around in there. So why are you just wearing board shorts again? Unless you like having to wear extra layers on top and being useless in rescue situations, I suggest you cover your ass. A pair of neoprene shorts fit right under what you've got and paddling pants over the top make wading through icy water, poison oak, bushes, even briars less of an ordeal.
Head is where the Heat is
Your head isn't fat, despite what your friends say, and it loses heat faster than any other body part. Stash a Scull Cap into your pocket to provide a bit of insurance should a storm or clouds roll in. This item not only warms your whole body, but also protects your ears from icy flushes. “Ice cream” headaches are one thing but surfer's ear is another. Make sure to choose one with a chin strap to prevent icy flushes, hold in your ear plugs, and clip onto your kayak helmet for safe-keeping between sessions.
So there you have it. Dressing intelligently for the river means preparing for water conditions rather than trusting the heat of the parking lot. Choose your kayak gear accordingly, then strap on the proper PFD and you've not only extended your season, but also made your favorite sport even safer.
Article contributed by Lotus Designs
and Clay Wright.
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