Tips on Staying Warm Before and After Your Paddle

With temps dropping into the 30's at night, I've had to accept the hard reality that it's winter and I'll have to start wearing more clothes to stay warm. As much as I like winter, I already miss the simplicity of a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. I've already begun to wear a polar tech shirt under my 4/3 and a full neoprene hood. Disregard this post if you live in Hawaii.

One thing I've found that helps in staying warm on the water, is to make sure that I am warm before I get on the water and maintain my warmth after getting off the water. Often on frigid days, I'll use my glove less hands to untie my board or kayaks off the car rack, and that alone has been enough to get stiff fingers from the cold. Usually, my fingers would not thaw out during the paddle, making me even colder on the water.

Here's some suggestions on staying warm on land while getting ready or after your paddle:

Before the Paddle:
- Cut a foam camping pad in half and stand on it next to your car while putting your gear on. It really helps.
- If putting your wet or dry suit on, leave your hat and coat on until you absolutely have to remove them.
- Put your neoprene or other warm gloves on to put remove your board off the car. A fleece or similar hat helps as well.
- Bring along energy bars to eat before the paddle and/or store one on you during your paddle. (in PFD, fanny pack, etc)
- Going out at night? Attach a waterproof white light on your board and/or body to prevent collisions with boats. Turn it on if you're paddling into a busy boating area. Check out the Guardian LED light. I attach one to my rear PFD or fanny pack to preserve my night vision. I have another wp flashlight to pull out if needed for extra protection. Some use waterproof lasers pointers to shine at boat pilot houses if an collision is imminent. Tie your flashlight on a short string to your PFD or fanny pack to avoid losing it in the water.

After the Paddle:
- Put your board on the car first and tie it down, then remove your wetsuit, PFD, hood, etc.
- Bring a thermos of hot soup or non alcoholic beverage to keep in the car for a warm up.
- Fill a large container of hot water to pour on yourself to wash the saltwater off. It'll still be warm after 2hrs.
- Remove your wetsuit while standing on your foam camping pad.
- Start your car as soon as you get off the water and put the heater on. It'll be warm by the time you're ready to drive home.
- Store some energy bars or a preferable munchy in the to refuel your body.
- If removing your suit, consider storing warm dry clothes and a towel in the car.
- Have a back up key just in case stored in a secret spot.
- Keep a headlight in the car to assist with tying the board on the rack after dark.
- Sounds nasty, but stand by your running car's exhaust pipe to keep your legs warm.
- Bring along a winter coat or warm fleece to put on after your paddle, particularly if you don't remove your suit.

Any questions give me a holler: salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com / 206.465.7167
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