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Gear up for Fall Paddling

The fall season is upon us! We can get the largest variety of weather conditions in the fall, from summer temperatures and humidity one week to waking up with frost on the car and a cold north wind the next week.

We want to stay on the water as long as we can before moving indoors so it is important to gear up, dress appropriately for the conditions, and be prepared for a range of forecasts. Gearing up can be fun! And it certainly makes paddling more enjoyable when you can feel your fingers.

1) Spray Skirt

Spray skirts are an essential part of the paddlers tool kit. Primarily used to protect from rain and wind (both being very popular in the fall), they are also great for trapping some body heat in your boat. You should also use them for long fall paddles to prevent your boat from filling up with water if your wash riding partner splashes a lot. Best brand: Braca Splash Cover

2) Buff

As the temperature drops it is important to stay warm on the water. An important piece of gear to stay warm is head protection. Usually toques are too warm to wear for paddling and running, but buffs are a great lighter-weight option and can alternatively be used as a neck tube. Best brand: Buff

3) Vest

Vests are a life saver when it comes to staying warm and dry in cold/wet conditions. Look for a vest that provides some flexibility for paddling and provides protection from wind and rain. Light running jackets are another option, but they tend to be too restricting for paddling and are only needed in really cold conditions. Vests are a good way to stay protected from the conditions without overheating. Best brand: Vaikobi (also check out craft below)

4) Craft

Craft is a very popular brand amongst paddlers for their high-quality performance base layers. You are better off wearing one high quality layer for warmth than bulking up and not being able to move in 3 layers of long sleeves and tshirts. Craft has you covered from head to toe ;)

5) Pogies

Pogies provide water and wind protection for your hands while still allowing direct hand contact with your paddle. Most paddlers only use pogies when the water temperatures are really low. Your hands heat up quickly when paddling but the beginning can be tough, and numb hands are no fun. You can get nylon or neoprene pogies. You will likely find that you will always be too hot with neoprene pogies, but the fixed material is more comfortable. The nylon material tends to bunch around your hands as they move on the shaft but you are more likely able to wear them for an entire session without overheating. Best Brands: Braca Pogies

Other tips:

  • Bring a change of clothes and a towel! Getting dry and warm right after you’re off the water is key

  • Make a hot tea or coffee and put it in a contigo thermos (or other high-quality thermos) and it will stay hot for hours. Bring it with you to practice and you will be treated with a hot beverage right as you get off the water.

  • Make sure you are extending your warmups, recognizing that it takes longer for your body to warm up in the cold

  • Set goals and make training fun! The fall isn’t everyone’s favourite season for training, but it is essential to being a fast paddler, so set goals and find ways that work for you to stay focused and working hard.

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