Cold feet options

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by pawsplus, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,593
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
  2. designer

    designer Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Location:
    Bend OR USA
    " ... don't open up the drysuit unless you have dry clothes handy."

    Once upon a time, while trying out scuba diving, I discovered that when done with the dive and changing back into street clothes, if I took too long getting out of my wetsuit, my hands would "lock up". The cold must hit the core and pull blood from extremities. So for a few minutes, instead of hands, I had claws.

    Something to have fun with of course ... So I took a friend out for snorkeling and when he was getting out if his wetsuit, after he had unzipped the front, I started asking him questions as a distraction and interruption from getting dressed. Sure enough, I was watching his hands and at one point, soon after that zipper was opened, his hands became claws. It was pretty funny. The effect goes away in a minute or so as the internal processes stabilize. But it did drive home the advice of having dry (i.e. warm) clothes ready to go before you unzip the drysuit (unless it's the middle of summer, etc.), especially if the wind is blowing.
     
  3. Tangler

    Tangler Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    When I started doing whitewater in the winter we just had Pogies. They worked surprisingly well unless there was a lot of flushing. Later we got neoprene gloves but they were often cold at the beginning of a paddle, warming up later when there was a bit of water in them.
    I think in reality there is no way to avoid cold hands if you are doing "wet" paddling in the winter unless you are putting out a lot of energy.
    I used to avoid ice-cream headache by pre-warming my neoprene hoody with warm water. (Warm air didn't work). Perhaps the January rollers do the same? I don't think there are any water tight gloves.
     
  4. designer

    designer Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Location:
    Bend OR USA
    "I don't think there are any water tight gloves."
    They were NRS mittens but the wrist was so tight - in fairness, I have big bones - my hands would go numb. I don't think they were meant to be water tight; they were just too tight for me. I suppose I could say my hands didn't feel cold because all feeling stopped at the wrist :)

    The warmest "hand gear" I've used are pogies. The thick red neoprene ones are mostly too warm except in extreme conditions. So I also bought a lighter weight (kind of silver color) version for more general use. However, there was always some seam that would rub my hand/thumb sore so I also wear a fingerless bicycle type glove under the pogie.
     
    JohnAbercrombie likes this.
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Neoprene gloves have never worked for me. Even the precurved ones bind my fingers and cause cold spots, especially when paddling. I am another pogie devotee, and use WindStopper style gloves underneath. The whole mess gets soaking wet in conditions, but remains warm enough while paddling. Rest breaks ashore, subfreezing weather, I switch out to dry mittens to maintain warmth in my hands, and add a layer, typically a cagoule or similar, to compensate for the heat generated while paddling.

    The middle of a demanding crossing is the wrong spot to lose feeling/strength in my hands, so I sometimes drag out the dry backup gloves and sacrifice them to the wet pogiemess on launching. Works, perhaps because my ancient pogies are fleece lined.
     
    JohnAbercrombie likes this.
  6. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,593
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Me, too. I should have learned the lesson many years ago when I tried neoprene gloves for ice climbing. When I started kayaking I bought some neoprene gloves and found the same problem - I couldn't grip the paddle without working against the stretch of the neoprene, and the gloves caused my hands to get cold. I had the same problem with neoprene paddling mittens.

    Me, too.

    Like Designer and Dave, I wear thin (mechanic-type work) gloves under the pogies to prevent abrasion from poorly placed seams.
    Pogies probably deserve a separate discussion; they aren't all the same. In the last month, I've been using a pair of Snapdragon pogies that came with gear in a kayak deal, and they are smooth inside. I still wear my gloves under them, mostly out of habit I suppose.
     
  7. nootka

    nootka Paddler

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    1,462
    Location:
    Campbell River
    What do people do who post rolling videos in January then? They MUST have mittens that seal their hands away from the water.
    Env Can says Strait of Georgia is 6 degrees C = 43F so cool but not ice cold; here I use a tuilik to keep core temps high and neo gloves that seal fairly well. Some leakage but you get the wetsuit effect. The key is to keep the core warm and keep moving. But then again I've been dealing with canadian winters for many years. When I was rolling in Lake Revelstoke (some ice on the lake) I used Brooks neoprene mitts which were very difficult to put on or take off. So an emergency requirement for finger dexterity was not going to happen. Van Island water temps are a luxury by comparison.
     
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    No, no. Not wearing muck boots to paddle! Those are my farm boots. My point was that when I do farm work, the chemical foot warmers work fine inside 2 pr of sox and muck boots. I wear larger wetsuit booties to paddle. :)
     
  9. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    I wear pogies as well. :) Over everything else.
     
  10. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK
    I read much of the thread last week but haven't re-read everything. I heard a tip in a winter camping discussion (http://odjradio.com/outdoor-journal-radio-january-06-2018/) that might help - forgive me if it's been mentioned already. The tip was to put the hand warmers against the wrists and ankles. Blood flow near the skin is warmed and helps keep the fingertips and toes warm. It makes a fair bit of sense to me, though I haven't tried it (I don't usually feel the need for extra warmers).

    I know it's already been mentioned to insulate the feet against the bottom of the hull and I've started to use a piece of closed cell foam jammed in and held in place between the footpegs. I've cut it tight enough so that the footbraces hold it in place against the hull and it doesn't fall out readily, but I can remove it when I want.

    On my feet I wear medium-thickness smartwool socks (usually the unbranded smartwool socks that costco sells), plus a heavy pair of socks over that. On my body I'm wearing longjohns and a thick one-piece insulating layer (Level 6 "hotfuzz") over that. I've found the 2-piece insulation will ride up and expose my lower abdomen and back area so I prefer the "onesie." On my upper body I might have a thicker fleece sweater, depending on how cold it is. Over all of that goes the drysuit. On my hands I have thick neoprene pogies which I find super-warm. On my feet over the drysuit feet goes my paddling boots - I prefer my chota mukluks for winter because it allows me to get in and out without bringing in any water in my footwear. I carry a pair of thick neoprene gloves tucked under my pfd just in case I end up separated from my paddle and pogies. On my head I wear a neoprene hood, usually under a toque.

    I swim in the South Saskatchewan River in winter and test my system, ensuring that I can still do rescues. And that's why I know the thick neoprene gloves don't work well for me. In the gloves (which do seem to fit properly) my hands get cold and I lose all dexterity even before I swim making grabbing decklines and performing self-rescues very difficult or slow at best. With the pogies, my hands are warm and nimble. In practicing rescues my hands of course come out of the pogies, but I'm beginning from a place of warm hands that can do what they need to do and get me as quickly out of the water. I can get into the water with bare hands, perform my rescue, get water out, skirt on and have my hands back into the pogies before they cool to the same place that they would be starting at in terms of numbness/dexterity were they in gloves.

    I missed my opportunity the last few days for a paddle on the river before our current cold-snap hit. It looks promising to be paddling again by late next week. In February I'll be paddling the balmy warm waters around Victoria. :)

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
    JohnAbercrombie likes this.
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    I can not think of a way to improve what you are doing. My experience with neoprene gloves mirrors yours.

    It may be that shifting the heat producing pads to wrists and ankles will allow oxygen trapped inside the dry suit to keep the pads going. There should be plenty of oxygen diffusing through the fabric of your dry suit. I am very curious about this fix. I think it has real potential.

    It may be worth experimenting with close-fitting, thin nitrile gloves, aka "exam gloves, " inside the pogies. These will forestall loss of function from immersion in cold water with little loss of dexterity. Others advocate use of lightweight fleece gloves under Playtex dishwashing gloves in your situation, but I think that arrangement is not going to work grabbing lines or working with knots. I have never tried it
     
  12. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    46
    Neoprene gloves, even thick ones, simply don't work well for most people. Mainly, they just insulate one finger from the others while also reducing blood flow to each finger. Most paddlers find neoprene pogies to be warmer, especially ones with longer gauntlets. However, if you swim or need to pull your hands out to perform a rescue, the functionality of your hands isn't going to last long. Moreover, pogies aren't water-tight so if you're surfing or plowing through big waves or holes on a river, cold water will flush through the pogies and sometimes you'll end up with numb fingers by the end of the run, at least I do.

    Then there are neoprene mittens like Kokatat's Inferno Mitts or NRS's Toaster Mitts. Advantages: 1) your fingers stay together and can warm each other up, 2) your hands are still functional for most tasks (pushing off of rocks, pulling on your skirt, paddling, wet exiting, swimming, rescues, etc.), but if you need fine dexterity, they have to come off. Disadvantages: 1) they're not as warm as pogies, and 2) you have to give up that "bare hand" feel of your paddle.

    Pogies work for me most of the year, but not for winter WW paddling. A friend of mine came up with his own DIY solution: he made (sewed) a pair of over-sized neoprene pogies that were big enough that he could wear neoprene mittens and still get his hands in and out of the pogies. That's my next project and I'm already shopping around for the materials.
     
  13. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    I have the two toaster mitts. I also use nitrile gloves when necessary. And pogies. My hands are nice and warm. It's just the feet! :)
     
  14. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    46
    I think this might be one of those situations where one size does not fit all. With my size L/XL mittens on, there is no way I can get my hands into one-size-fits-all pogies, and I've tried it with NRS Mamba pogies and two different kinds of Kokatat pogies. No luck! I will have to make my own.

    As for warm feet, I gave you my best tip there. Buy a pair of 5 or 6 mm neoprene booties that are two sizes larger than your normal booties. This creates enough room for 2 pairs of thick socks without compressing your foot and reducing blood flow. If you can't wiggle your toes around, it's too tight. Extra insulation on your hands and feet only works if it doesn't reduce blood flow.
     
  15. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Messages:
    937
    Location:
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    Again, my booties ARE two sizes too big. :)