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The Paddlers Guide: To Being Warmer On The Water

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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