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5/01/2017 10:41 am  #1


Cold water paddling

I am fairly new to canoe tripping, this spring will be my 4th trip into the AP backcountry and my 2nd time going solo. I do lots of paddling around Lake Huron and the Saugeen river system, but have not done much in colder water temps. What is recommended as far as clothing goes? I have cold water paddling gloves, should I be thinking about any other neoprene clothing? Survival suit is probably over the top?

I know to stay close to the shoreline and all that stuff, just really wondering what people do for clothing in the spring?

 

5/01/2017 10:58 am  #2


Re: Cold water paddling

Staying close to shore is a good idea but sometimes that is worse. Watch out for rebounding waves, where the water hits shore and comes back out, almost creating waves coming at you from 2 different directions. At times it can be safer moving another 50 feet or so off shore into calmer waters.
Spring paddling is great,just make sure you pack enough clothes to stay warm in the evening, when the sun drops it can cool down A LOT.
In the boat wool is always a great go to for clothes and at the least a base layer. A wet suit will buy you a little time to get to shore keeping your core temperature up but don't count on this. A dry-suit is never to much, especially if you are walking rivers and or lining rapids. Add a pair of rubber boots for entry/exit from the canoe, just watch paddling in them, stuffing your feet under a canoe seat in rubber boots can lead to an entrapment issue
Dry clothes and socks when you reach camp is a must,
the biggest ting is to apply common scene, only you know your true limitations.

 

5/01/2017 10:59 am  #3


Re: Cold water paddling

You'll find pretty much the gamut here from dry suits, to wetsuits, to nothing in particular. If you've got a dry suit, wear it. If you've got a wet suit, wear it (but you know, not underneath a dry suit ;)). It continues to be on my 'to do' list to buy a dry suit but so far I haven't. I'm heading into the park in a few days and will be wearing a wetsuit. 

At the very least always stay near shore, always wear your PFD, and you're probably going to want neoprene boots of some kind. 

 

5/01/2017 11:56 am  #4


Re: Cold water paddling

My wife and I canoe cold water often. We always have a backcountry “opener” in April (just got back!) and a “closer” in November. Water is regularly in the 4-6C range. Although the spring can be busy with fisherman, November is a time where you can have lakes to yourself along the 60  that are crammed with people in the summer. Everybody has preferences on their clothing but this is what we do…
 
Feet: rubber boots with removable liners. Regular rubber boots may keep your feet dry, but the cold will creep through as the rubber gets cold. Have tried neoprene socks, hiking boots, regular boots, Sorels….so far insulated rubber boots, slightly too big so you can layer socks, works the best for us.
 
Wetsuits/Dry suits: Unless you plan on getting wet like a WW kayaker wetsuits are good for emergencies and cost 120 instead of 800+ dollars. We wear farmer john style ones, with wool upper body base layers, wool fleeces and shells.
 
Hat: so far beanies and baseball hats simply because you can wear a hood. I have a large brimmed hat but if it gets wet and freezes, then I am just lugging a frozen hat.
 
Hands: We bring neoprene mitts. Their downside is that on multiday trips they will get damp and they may freeze. So we also bring other leather and wool mitts. A pair of lined leather work gloves is good as a sacrificial pair for doing things like launching, landing touching wet ropes, boats, tarps, wood, etc…  
 
Lifejacket: obvious to most, but year after year canoeing seems to have a spring death toll and it seems to always be the same story: boat flipped, they had no life jacket, drowned as a result of being unable to swim because of hypothermia.
 
Foam pad: the cold will creep up through the bottom of the boat a foam pad insulates your feet or knees from it. Foam knee pads are nice too.
 
Like mentioned sometimes shorelines are worse. Waves away from shore that are consistent can become inconsistent near shore. Away from shore you can generally expect “rollers” but if they hit a shore and come back it’s like little peaks going in every which direction. Particularly where it’s like a wall or cliff.
 
Be safe!

 

5/01/2017 12:32 pm  #5


Re: Cold water paddling

After the usual disclaimer, which becomes longer and longer every Spring... In early season in Algonquin I just add layers plus warm WW gloves and WW shell jacket with tight closures, warm hood and gor-tex socks (plus self-bailing canyoneering style boots, which I wear in every season). Wet suit gives the best protection for the money if you expect to swim (and it will buy lots of time, not little), but on portages it's an unbearable beast; also perspiration makes one constantly wet. In the absence of wet suit wearing tight and warm underwear makes difference (I wear Polartec kind rated at 32F).

 

5/01/2017 8:50 pm  #6


Re: Cold water paddling

I'll add my question here, if that's okay...At what point does the water warm up enough to ditch these precautions, usually? the earliest I've been in the park was the last week of May and it seemed the water was warmed up by then. I flipped on Burnt Island Lake on June 1st or 2nd and the water was warm. I think that was 2014. This year I plan to go in around the 16th. That will be my earliest ever. Do you think a wetsuit is required at that late date? [I've got a farmer John and neoprene gloves and booties from my dinghy sailing days]

Last edited by Methye (5/01/2017 8:52 pm)

 

5/02/2017 2:19 pm  #7


Re: Cold water paddling

Methye wrote:

I'll add my question here, if that's okay...At what point does the water warm up enough to ditch these precautions, usually? the earliest I've been in the park was the last week of May and it seemed the water was warmed up by then. I flipped on Burnt Island Lake on June 1st or 2nd and the water was warm. I think that was 2014. This year I plan to go in around the 16th. That will be my earliest ever. Do you think a wetsuit is required at that late date? [I've got a farmer John and neoprene gloves and booties from my dinghy sailing days]

Now you have me curious, How did you flip on Burnt Island? Was it on purpose or accidental?
I'm curious because I honestly don't know how to swim, trip right after ice out, and I don't own a wet or dry suit. I am probably more cautious than most for obvious reasons, but I've never even had a "close call" honestly.

 

5/02/2017 3:30 pm  #8


Re: Cold water paddling

I didn't flip, but I swam on Burnt Island right after ice-out - the canoe got away while I was unloading it (solo trip). Doesn't matter much if you are a swimmer in this kind of water, what matters is if you have the PFD on. Short swim in icy water is not a big deal if you are reasonably healthy and can get into warm dry clothes promptly.

 

5/02/2017 4:15 pm  #9


Re: Cold water paddling

The most important decision you make is whether to leave shore or not. That really comes out way ahead of what you are wearing. 

With dry suits running $700 to $1,000 or more ( https://www.mec.ca/en/search?text=paddling%20gear%20%3E%20drysuits%20and%20dry%20tops&org_text=dry) they aren't a realistic choice for most folks. 

We wear normal spring gear including rain gear. Pack a full set of dry clothes so if you do get wet you can get dry quickly. Paddle close to shore but most importantly paddle on the down wind shore. Yes it will be rougher but if anything happens, or even if it doesn't, you will be getting blown into shore instead of out into the lake. 

As for footwear, I'm solidly in the rubber boot camp for spring trips although I go with unlined boots and 2 pairs of wool socks. I've never found it realistic to not step in the water over the course of a day of tripping and in spring the goal is to stay dry because drying off is really hard. 
 

 

5/02/2017 5:25 pm  #10


Re: Cold water paddling

Lots of good info and advice, thanks! Now I'm just hoping the forecast gets a little better for the weekend...

     Thread Starter
 

5/02/2017 9:18 pm  #11


Re: Cold water paddling

ATVenture wrote:

Methye wrote:

I'll add my question here, if that's okay...At what point does the water warm up enough to ditch these precautions, usually? the earliest I've been in the park was the last week of May and it seemed the water was warmed up by then. I flipped on Burnt Island Lake on June 1st or 2nd and the water was warm. I think that was 2014. This year I plan to go in around the 16th. That will be my earliest ever. Do you think a wetsuit is required at that late date? [I've got a farmer John and neoprene gloves and booties from my dinghy sailing days]

Now you have me curious, How did you flip on Burnt Island? Was it on purpose or accidental?
I'm curious because I honestly don't know how to swim, trip right after ice out, and I don't own a wet or dry suit. I am probably more cautious than most for obvious reasons, but I've never even had a "close call" honestly.

Deep water off a rocky shelf, strong waves coming into shore. Stepped into the canoe from shore, holding my double blade kayak paddle. As my second leg was moving into the boat and i was just starting to crouch into a seated position, a little wave jiggle made me brace with the kayak paddle. the paddle unexpectedly hit a submerged tree. Centre of gravity still a little high. Overcompensation. Suddenly the boat flipped. Just one of those things. Really hard to believe but there i was swimming.  


Just grabbed my bags and the removable canoe yoke and pushed them to shore, holding the canoe and paddle with the other hand. Luckily 1) the wind was pushing me into shore 2) I was no more than 20 feet offshore and 3)the water was fairly warm, as was the air. I was in the water for probably one minute or a minute and a half, collecting gear and herding it in to shore and trying to figure out how to get up onto the rock.. Anyway, Didn't feel hypothermic or anything. So I got ashore, had a snack, just emptied the canoe and got back in and continued on my way. phone and old camera ruined (no big deal--it was a flip phone) :-)

I don't say "luckily I was wearing my PFD" because I always always wear it. always.

Last edited by Methye (5/02/2017 9:22 pm)

 

1/18/2018 3:39 pm  #12


Re: Cold water paddling

I am looking to purchase a wet suit for a spring trip any suggestions, I think a core protecting one with a front zip would be my preference. Hoping to spend under $150

 

1/18/2018 4:12 pm  #13


Re: Cold water paddling

R2 wrote:

I am looking to purchase a wet suit for a spring trip any suggestions, I think a core protecting one with a front zip would be my preference. Hoping to spend under $150

I have one for sale in mint condition.  It's a wet suit Body Glove - shorty. Three quarter zipper.  Used three times and my Jet Ski blew up. Never bought another one.  It has been packed away for over three years. I think it's 4mm. Very warm and comfortable. Im located near Sudbury.

Let me know, was just about to list it.
 

 

1/18/2018 4:44 pm  #14


Re: Cold water paddling

thanks Swift Fifteen, I might be interested , what size is it and how much are you asking?

 

1/18/2018 4:59 pm  #15


Re: Cold water paddling

Sorry, XXL.

I paid almost $200 at the time of purchase.  But if you want it its yours for $75. You pay shipping (EMT) and i'll have it out to you tomorrow.

 

1/18/2018 6:52 pm  #16


Re: Cold water paddling

Swift Fifteen wrote:

Sorry, XXL.

I paid almost $200 at the time of purchase.  But if you want it its yours for $75. You pay shipping (EMT) and i'll have it out to you tomorrow.

might be a tad too big , post in on the for sale forum and maybe a bigger guy will buy it . Good luck and thanks

 

1/18/2018 6:55 pm  #17


Re: Cold water paddling

You bet.  For the record, ive had it for a few years but only worn three times. Twice at 230lbs and once at 200lbs and it fit great all three times.

I'll pop it up on Kijiji.

 

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