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Is paddling in the colder months a good idea?

Paddling in the colder months is not just a good idea it's a fantastic idea! In fact kayaks were first invented in the sub-arctic by the by the Inuit, Yup'ik, and Aleut, who used them on the freezing waters of Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic, Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean.

Not only will you be in the ancient company of the first kayak builders you will also be in great contemporary company, with many current paddlers favouring paddling in the colder months. With the opportunity to have many waterways to yourself, the joy of padding on calm crisp mornings and the best bits of moving water often being found in the colder months, it is easy to see why.

So how do you keep loving it no matter the weather?

All you need is the right clothing!

Clothing for paddling in the colder weather

Cag (cagoule)

A cag, also known as a dry top is your protective outer shell. It is essentially an extreme raincoat with seals at your wrists, neck and waist, a cag will keep the heat in and the water and wind out.

There are two main types of cag; fully dry and semi dry. A fully dry cag will keep your top half completely dry even in the case of full submersion, this makes them perfect for anyone who can foresee a few swims in their future. A semi dry cag does not have a complete seal around the neck, which can be significantly more comfortable but will not keep you completely dry in event of submersion.

Dry or Neoprene Pants

Dry pants are akin to your cag for your bottom half. They are rain pants with a bit extra, with seals around your waist and ankles or in built booties. They will keep your legs and bum completely dry, even if you are sitting in a puddle of water. Neoprene pants will not keep you dry but they will keep you warm. Available in multiple thicknesses and with built in extra protection on hard wearing areas, either dry or neoprene pants will pair well with a cag to keep you happy as you paddle.

Gloves & Pogies

A set of neoprene gloves or pogies will keep your hands toasty warm no matter how wet they get. Gloves can be found in a variety of thicknesses depending on how cold you are expecting the weather to be, just make sure they have an anti-slip palm so you don't loose hold of your paddle! Pogies are oversized mittens which velcro over your paddle shaft letting you hold on to your paddle with your bare hands yet keeping them enclosed in a warm neoprene pocket.


Booties are kayaking shoes or boots, generally made out of neoprene and ideally with good grip on the sole, to allow you to happily to walk over rocks, sticks and slippery river banks as you hop on and off the water. Changing your summer sandals or bare feet for a pair of booties will keep your feet from feeling like ice cubes.


Thermal clothing keeps your body at the right temperature while wicking sweat away. Depending on the temperature they can be the only necessary adjustment to your summer paddling wardrobe or the ideal clothes to wear under your outer shell. Paddling thermals can be water resistant allowing them to repel the spray of the water and keep you dry.

What else can you do to keep warm on the water?

Make sure that you layer your clothing. Wear thermals, a fleece as a mid layer and then a waterproof outer shell in really chilly conditions.

If you feel yourself getting cold, do something to warm yourself up; put your hands inside your PFD or do some star jumps at the waters edge.

Take a few extra things with you. A high energy snack and flask of hot tea, coffee or hot chocolate will warm you up nicely.

Where can you purchase paddling clothing?

There are many places you can purchase clothing that is suitable for kayaking.

We have a discount available for our paddlers with just use discount code "OA Geelong" for a 10% discount off all purchases.

Also check out canoes plus, paddlesports megastore and decathlon.

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I'm Lila and I attend the Home Schoolers paddling group. The last day of term 2 fell on the Winter Solstice and we had a special night time paddle to celebrate.

We arrived at sunset, around 5.30pm, our session started with putting on our life jackets and catching up with friends. I chose a double person canoe and went with my brother Kai.

As a group we took all the boats down to the water with our paddles. By this time it was completely dark. Thankfully we all had head torches on and we could see what was around us.

Our instructors, Jay, Marie & Blake, gave us a safety talk about nighttime paddling and a reminder of basic paddling skills. They also gave us some glow sticks to wear!

As we started to paddle upstream you could hear the water moving around the canoe and frogs croaking. When I looked up I could see a sky full of stars. As we continued to paddle along instead of seeing the nature along the river we got to listen to the sounds of the river. It felt really magical to be on the river at night with our headlamps sparkling on the water.

During the paddle we stopped, turned our headlamps off and looked at the stars and listened. We heard more frogs and learnt about the stars and their constellations. As it was a clear night the stars seemed to shine very brightly. This was my favourite part of the night. I felt very quiet and peaceful.

After packing the boats and paddles away we had a bbq and some very yummy hot chocolates. The hot chocolates really helped to warm us up as it was a very very cold night. More fun was had when the sparklers were lit.

I look forward to another night paddle soon...Lila.

by Lila Sappho

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Hi, I'm Elsi! When the writing is in purple it was written by me.

Hey! My name is Summer, when the writing is in green it was written by me.

Everything else was written by both of us.

We are intermediate paddlers at Auspaddlers Tuesday paddling classes and have been doing it since the start of 2021, and we both attended the paddling Easter holiday program. Here is our review of it!

Day one: Monday 11 April 2022

The first day of the Easter holiday program was blank by three siblings, Isaiah, Dante, and Mahalia, and their mum Jessica who were new to paddling, as well as Archer, one of the regular paddlers at the home school paddling group, and us (Elsi & Summer) of course.

We were happy to be joined by Elsi’s next door neighbour Sky on the first day. It was Sky’s first time paddling and she loved it!

After getting all the kayaks down to the river and getting on, the beginners and the regular paddlers split off for the first half.

While the beginners learnt how to paddle and some basic paddling skills, we worked on our draw stroke skills.

After that we all went up into the Geelong Canoe Club’s kitchen for morning tea - biscuits and hot chocolate! Yum.

When we got back on the water we all played a mini game of canoe polo!

At the end we all got the opportunity to jump in the river for a swim.

Monday was a lovely introduction to the holiday program, and I definitely enjoyed it.

My favourite part was probably the mini game of canoe polo, which is one of my favourite things to do on the water, and I also loved meeting everyone new as well as hanging out with my friends from the Tuesday paddling classes!

Monday was great! It was nice meeting all the new paddlers.

My favourite part of it has got to be the game of canoe polo, but I absolutely loved the whole thing. I learned so much from my first day of the holiday program, and I could not wait for tomorrow!

Day two: Tuesday 12 April 2022

Everyone from the day before came on Tuesday, as well as Ossi (a regular paddler from the weekly classes. We are excited to welcome him to the intermediates in term 2!) and his brother Howie.

On Tuesday, we went on double canoes (we normally go on kayaks) which meant we got to have a friend with us in the canoe! It felt strange being in double canoes at first, but we all soon got used to it. After we paddled around for a while to get used to the canoes, we had morning tea and then got back on the water.

Our instructor Jay told us we were going to be making a raft by stacking our canoes on top of each other. It sounded almost impossible, but we managed to complete the task. It involved a lot of climbing out of boats and teamwork. In the end we had created a raft by stacking two canoes on top of the other three! Everyone on the top and bottom layer then paddled the raft around as one boat! It took a lot of effort but we did it!

I LOVED Tuesday!

Stacking our canoes into a raft was a real challenge, especially as we were in unfamiliar boats, but that just made it even more fun! I really enjoyed sharing a canoe with Summer, and really just everything else too! It was definitely one of the best days and one I wont forget!

Tuesday was one of my FAVE days of the school holiday program,

And I am very sorry if you haven’t experienced this for yourself.

It was absolutely amazing! I shared a canoe with Elsi, and it was great!

Stacking out canoes was a great experience! It felt a bit unbalanced at first, since I was one of the people at the top, but wow it was so fun!

Day three: Wednesday 13 April 2022

On Wednesday, we went in canoes again, this time for a 5K expedition!

It took us about 3 hours to get to the destination and back, which was a nice park with picnic tables.

It took a lot of effort to get there.

Jimmy, one of the assistant instructors came along too.

We sat around the table where Jay had set up a camp cooker and took turns roasting marshmallows and making smores.

I got a bit enthusiastic with the marshmallows in the fire and my stick burnt until it snapped, and my marshmallow tragically fell on the floor…FOUR TIMES.

It was a lovely expedition, though very tiring. The scenery was beautiful, and we all had a great time.

The third day was definitely the hardest!

I was exhausted by the end, but it was totally worth it and it was good to spend more time on canoes.

The best bit in my opinion was having smores at the park for our morning tea! It was really nice to have a break and get to hangout and chat!

I liked it on Wednesday, though it was very hardcore.

Afterwards, I was extremely tired! It was lovely though, and I'd love to do it again!

Day Four: Thursday 14 April 2022

Thursday was the last day of the holiday program, and one of the BEST!

At the start we all helped carry down the big canoe polo goal. It took everyone's help to get it down!

We were split into two canoe polo teams.

Team one: Elsi, Ossi, Howie, and Dante.

Team two: Summer, Archer, Jessica, Isaiah, and Mahalia. Then, we played a big game of canoe polo, which was brilliant! It was more of a professional game then we had done before, since we had the canoe goal and buoy.

After a long battle, Team One won by two points! It was very close though.

Just before morning tea, everyone was given three plastic Easter eggs to hide along the river.

We weren't actually supposed to watch each other, but it was hard to avoid accidentally paddling right past where an egg was about to be hidden. It was really funny, as we kept bumping into each other and we had to pretend we hadn't seen anything!

Morning tea was really fun! We all chatted together and had a great time!

The cookies were good too!

Yes, they were. I think everyone was trying to eat as many as they could before anyone noticed!

While we had morning tea, Jay hid the rest of the eggs.

After all the cookies and hot chocolate had been eaten, we made our way back down to the water, for the easter egg hunt! As soon as Jay said go, we all raced as fast as we could to grab any in sight, before jumping into our kayaks to search along the river! It was great! Some of the eggs were REALLY well hidden, while others were easy to find. Ossi found the most!

At the end we all paddled out and then stood up on our kayaks. After “THREE, TWO, ONE!” we all jumped into the water at the same time! It was FREEZING at first but we all warmed up soon, and ended up jumping in together 3 more times! At the end of the session, we exchanged our plastic eggs for chocolate eggs!

The last day was probably my favourite out of all of them.

The highlights for me were canoe polo, morning tea and jumping out at the end! Both me and Summer were really sad for it to end, and we are looking forward to continue paddling in term 2!

I had so much fun on the last day! I really loved all of it, and honestly, I was very sad that the program had ended. I absolutely cannot wait for next term!

By Elsi Fletcher & Summer Richards

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