layering clothes for winter

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by mbiraman, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

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    This question is mostly for folks who use a FJ and drytop combo. I was out on my first paddle with all my immersion gear the other day and afterwords wondered what layers other people use and how they layer for say around 0*c/32*f. I know it varies for folks but i was curious about fleece over FJ, under FJ or both etc. That paddle the other day made me feel that getting out there in winter in the Kootenays was possible.
     
  2. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I don't have the best gear, but wear 3 lyrs of polypro (or 2 polypro and one thin fleece) betw the FJ and the drytop for 0 to -5deg C paddling. I love and use pogies on the water, but they are no good between the water and the car - so something else for the hands for the transition including tying the kayak on the car is necessary. I carry polypro gloves and have started trying out neo NRS mitts. Pogies are warm (paddling only) and give the best paddle feel tho'.
    In gentle conditions, earmuffs or headband. In anything other, fuzzy rubber hood or earmuffed souwester or fuzzy rubber and helmet combined.

    Lovely Kootenay pictures you took the other day. I felt right there as well, thanks.
     
  3. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

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    Thanks Mick. I'll know i'll figure out what works for me eventually . I'm hoping to sort out any possible mistakes in what i'm doing ahead of time. I'm wearing some NRS neo gloves at the moment and they have great flexability and grip but am looking at poogies also. Poogies might be better for shooting pics tho as you don't have to take of your gloves off. Thanks about the pics, it felt good to be out but i have to admit i miss the warmer weather.
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Neo gloves just don't do it for me in cold weather paddling because of all the surface area exposed to the cold as well as I think the slight compression of the neoprene fingers inhibits some circulation and warming. I have been meaning to mock up a set of cheap neo gloves to be fingerless, but with an overmitten with open palm that slips over the bare fingers so that some of the fully enclosed mitt or pogie effect happens. Another possibility is to make a pair of palmless mitts or with say 1.5 mm neo palms. Ideas anyway.
    There something bittersweet and beautiful being on the water in the interior with the dying colours, the crisp air and the feeling of stealing time.
     
  5. Kasey

    Kasey Paddler

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    Hi Mbiraman,
    Being that I am in the Okanagan, and have gone through the process, I could relate to your thoughts. I paddled a few winters with no mishaps and then capsized one January. Luckily it was close to shore (that's why the waves were suddenly steeper too though). I fully immersed but then could stand up in about 5 feet of water. I climbed back in hoping that no one in the houses had seen me and we paddled the 15 minutes back to the cars. I was fine - but that is when I decided that if I was going to continue paddling in the winter, I needed a drysuit. It was probably 5 degrees celcius and breezy and the water probably 4 degrees. I had on wool toque, wool mitts (the kind that you can open the end to be fingerless), wool socks inside hightop neoprene boots, fleece pants inside good waterproof ski pants with waterproof zippers and a high waist, fleece shirt under a semi-dry top with neoprene waist, velcro neck and wrists. BUT, I was not immersed long enough to get very wet through these clothes except for my socks, toque and mitts and they were wool so maintained some warmth even when wet. I was chilly by the time we got to the cars but we weren't very far either. I know from this experience though, that it would have been a totally different story if I had been far enough from shore to require assisted rescue from my friend, and farther from the car. I had extra clothes in a drybag, and had we been further, I would have stopped and changed my socks and toque and mitts. The thing is though, that it sure wouldn't take long to become a desperate situation in some circumstances. I never did own a wetsuit. I now use a drysuit and pogies and then the wool mitts when loading and unloading at the car. In retrospect now...I would probably still paddle in the winter with those clothes (or with yours) - but I would be very, very cautious as to conditions and other safety factors. I would also not be out alone on the lake in the winter, although I know the occasional person who does. My best advice personally - since you seem to be hooked on the sport and seem to paddle alone often...is spring for a drysuit. You'll never regret that purchase. Happy paddling!
    Kathy
     
  6. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    I completely agree. I paddled on Lake Revelstoke for several winters. Parts of the lake freeze, parts stay open. I wore a drysuit, a tuilik, and brooks neoprene mitts (they are very difficult to put on by yourself, but your hands stay dry even if rolling). I bought my Kokatat drysuit in 2003, it is still going strong. A drysuit that lasts 10 years will only cost you $100 a year.
     
  7. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

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    I very much appreciate the advice and if i could spring for a drysuit i would or maybe i can pay $100/yr to some outfitter (-; ,,,,,but at the moment its just not possible as i have no $$ coming in thanks to the economic downturn,,,,maybe i should have been a teacher. I'm very aware of the risks and right from day one i've had a complete change of clothes in the boat and a couple of wks ago added a bundle of firewood,starter etc in the front hatch. At the moment i don't see myself going on the lake and the river near me is fine on a calm day for now, close to shore , waist deep ,and houses near by. I just want to feel myself paddling from time to time . But who knows i may just hang it up for the winter. If anyone else wants to give their 2 cents feel free.
     
  8. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Drysuit is best, but if money is an obstacle it's still possible to paddle in the winter safely. My own approach:

    - conservative route planning and decision making
    - immersion gear that allows me time to self rescue
    - backup supplies: tea, food, clothes, handwarmers

    The most important piece of the puzzle is the first one: be conservative, use your head. Sounds like you have that one down pat already.

    As for winter immersion gear, I've used everything from FJ/drytop to full surf suit to (new this year) drytop/dry pants. I have used neo biking gloves and have recently bought MEC neo mitts with cut-outs in the palm (though I often get hot and paddle barehanded). I always wear either a neo surf hood or skull cap.

    That's for the coast, of course. Kootenays will be colder so, again, it's really all about your best judgment.

    Regards,
    Andrew
     
  9. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    Colder, but less windy if you pick your days. Which means a low probability of capsizing (but not zero!). I'd also suggest carrying ice picks (you can make some) just in case you tangle with some ice.
     
  10. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

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    Thanks guys. Hand warmers is a good idea ,i'll pick some up. Around here we have allot of very calm days in the winter and my decision already is to only go on glassy calm days. When things get real cold, if it does, and ice starts happening i probably will opt out till the January thaw. Thats my guess at this point. Even in the summer i didn't do crossings unless the weather seemed to be holding or i just got a good feeling and even then i didn't camp overnight as i wanted to feel like i had allot of miles under me and felt confident of my skills. This yr was a good yr, I got out allot on the water,( being out of work has had its perks), and next yr i look forward to extending those trips. Ya know the west kootenays isn't all that much colder than the coast. In the Valley here it hovers around 0* + or - 5* for most of the winter. We just get it longer than you. I lived in the Frazer Valley in the seventies before it got crazy. Use to fly my hang glider of Mnt Woodside.
     
  11. Jill

    Jill Paddler

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    Mbiriman, I use a wetsuit in the cooler months also. I use merino wool under the top half and fleece over the bottom. If its really cool A paddling jacket too. Poggies are great . I do wonder about getting back in with all those clothes on though. In case of emergency I also pack a dry bag full of dry clothes including wool socks toque and gloves . Sometimes I leave an extra set of clothes and jacket in the car too. Off topic here, my brother Chris used to hang glide in the lower mainland in the 70's. I know him and his buddies pioneered a lot of sites in the early days.
     
  12. Lindy

    Lindy Paddler

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    Amen to the dry suit. I have low body fat and am always cold. We purchased our first kayak (a tandem) in November and there was no way Nick was going to wait for fair weather to get out on the water so he was pretty motivated to make sure I was warm! We are on the Coast so winters are a little warmer but we have paddled in +1Celcius and have had to break ice out of Ladysmith Harbour. Also have $120 Merino wool pants and $20 fleece and would take the fleece any day..far superior at a fraction of the cost. Pogies over top of neo gloves keep the hands warm two pairs of wool socks on the feet.
     
  13. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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    The purpose of layering is to maintain a regular body temperature. You put on and take off layers to adapt to changing conditions such as temperature, wind factor, and physical exertion. The aim is to stay just barely comfortable. Avoid sweating at all cost because, if you don't, when you stop paddling you will really be susceptible to rapid cooling.

    It is impossible to add or remove layers when wearing a drysuit, a real disadvantage.

    Any layers should be available in the cockpit and go on over the FJ as needed. Singlet and t shirt is enough under an FJ. Removing unneeded layers from under an FJ really takes acrobatics.

    I find that in cool weather conditions a spray jacket or dry top with a life jacket over an FJ is usually sufficient. I've even stopped with the FJ and wear shorts over long underwear. The long underwear gets hiked up to keep dry when getting in and out.

    A hat, pogies, and dry socks are needed to keep extremeties warm. I usually wear gloves to protect from blisters. I find managing pogies over gloves to be a trial but still worth the trouble.

    I find a piece of blue ensolite helps insulate heels from the inside of the hull.

    Last point is at the end of a day of paddling your energy levels will be low and you will be susceptible to hypothermia, particularly with any wind on any wet spot. The kayak skirt holds in a lot of heat so your awareness of the temperature will be limited. You will need to act quickly to put on layers when you land.
     
  14. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    :yikes:


    mbiraman, I totally agree with the drysuit supporters -- a drysuit is by far, the best option. Select your undergarments for the temps and vary your output to minimize perspiration. When it's really cold, getting comfortable with layers isn't too much of an issue. I do also acknowledge the cost factor -- it's certainly not cheap.

    However... I didn't have a drysuit for the first several years of paddling and did fine with a wetsuit/dry top combo -- and I paddled a lot through the winters -- and most of it solo. I was cautious of where and when I went. I think you're taking the right approach by choosing your days, routes, and having backup clothing and supplies, just in case. A good paddling jacket is a must. As is a good hat. Get some mukluk style boots -- they'll keep your feet dry and warm. I'm also a fan of the pogies -- much better than gloves for keeping warm, but as Mick suggests, have another pair of gloves handy for when you stop paddling.

    While the wetsuit option is not as comfortable as a drysuit, it does work and can give you sufficient immersion protection should things go wrong.

    Personally, I really like paddling in the winter -- there's not as many power boats around, it's quiet, and as a person who tends to get quite warm when paddling, I stay a lot cooler in the winter.

    So whatever you end up doing, pick your days carefully and paddle safe.


    Kasey, that's quite the story -- glad that one ended well.

    *****
     
  15. rider

    rider Paddler

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    What you wear has got as much to do with how you paddle as with the temperature outside. If you paddle hard for fitness workout,you'll need to dress a lot lighter than if you cruise around at 3 knots, and if you do a lot of rolling,you want to dress a touch warmer than for crusing and use a warm neoprene hood.
    If you wear a FJ, i suggest neoprene socks and booties, a synthetic t shirt and lighter wool shirt under the FJ and a drytop overtop. My reasoning for layering UNDER the FJ as opposed to OVER,is so you don't compromise the seal between FJ and drytop as much,in the event of a swim.
    As of last night, I became a major fan of the pogies(first time really using them) after doing a 7 hour,26 mile afternoon/night paddle and my hands,which normally get cold very easy, stayed toasty warm. But I still wouldn't wear them for surf or rolling session.
    And this fall I started using(depending on conditions) the Kokatat Tempest(T3 tropos) pants that have the built-in socks, dry is nice,and price very affordable. Stay dry for rolling too,but my guess is a swim would get unpleasant fairly fast. I use long johns underneath.
     
  16. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

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    Thanks everyone. I bought poggies yesterday. They don't look like they'll work well with my newly made GP but i'll just use my euro paddle and they'll be fine and will have an extra pair of neo gloves handy case of a spill, god forbid.
    I've been using the Kokatat tempest pants with socks for a month or more and like them. Up until about 3 wks ago the pants and a fleece and i was good, but temps have dropped since then both above and below the kayak so on with the better stuff. I have a level six "Duke "drytop" and FJ's. I was wearing too much the other day. I had a light merino wool top with light fleece over that. Merino longs with the FJ over the whole business. Then the Kok,temp pants and Duke fitted together over that. I was sweating too much. I just tend to cruise and poke around, not looking for the physical workout but psychological/spiritual refresher.
    I need to find that balance of paddling and not sweating so when i stop i don't get chilled. I carry a down vest to put on when i stop just in case to help but i'm just starting to work with this . I also hike up the mnt behind me a couple of times /wk and am working out the same thing there about layers , low sweat, and wool shirt and down vest for when i stop.
    I've got a neo hood on the list, any of them seem to be better than others???


    So here's a question. Do you think the merino, fleece, FJ with Kok temp pants and Duke is over kill??. I'm thinking the next day i'll maybe remove the fleece and see if i strike that balance, of course this all changes given the temps outside etc.

    I just posted an article that some of you might find interesting, others may know already.
    I appreciate the feedback folks and maybe one day we'll meet.
    Dan; I look forward to a paddle after a heavy snowfall when everything is white and quiet.
    Jill; I probably new your brother back in the 70's at least casually. I helped develop the Woodside upper site as did many others but flew off Sumas, Dudeney, Vedder, a mnt out by the flintstones whose name escapes me,,,the Lyons etc. Those were exciting days. In 78 i probably soared at Woodside 3x/wk,,,,warm weather of course.
     
  17. rider

    rider Paddler

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    In the winter I do some snowshoeing(weekend-warrior at best) and I find what feels good at parking lot, always gets stinking hot in the first 5 minutes of any sort of an uphill. Snowshoed in a t-shirt and light top(or less) more than a couple times,of course with multiple layers in the pack for the way down. With paddling,layers are just a real pain in the ass to remove and add on the go,but the need to do so is just as real. So I say dress in what feels right when you're moving along so you don't get too hot and uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable makes people stupid and hinders enjoyment of the paddle.
    Try FJs with the Tempest pant, one light synthetic shirt and either fleece or merino(but not both) and the drytop overtop.
     
  18. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Paddling in the snow is awesome!

    Here's a paddle that Mick and I did a few years back at Buntzen Lake -- it was really cold:

    viewtopic.php?p=15451#p15451

    Coincidentally, the post is followed by a discussion about what clothing was worn.

    *****
     
  19. Kasey

    Kasey Paddler

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    Yes Mbiraman, I certainly agree that it is fantastic paddling in the winter. What we usually find is that we don't tend to stop on shore for any period in the winter - you just cool off too fast. I also carry a windbreaker to throw over my drysuit even, in case we stop. Even the drysuit feels like a breeze is blowing through in the winter when you stop! ;) And yes..they are expensive.
    Same when we hike, ski and snowshoe - we don't tend to stop too often...if you do, you have to throw on more clothes right away. Sounds like you are in a perfect location - paddling and hiking right there too! Have a great time!
    And Dan...that spill in winter happened several years ago and I'm sure I told you about it - must be Alzheimers' setting in! ;)
    Kathy
     
  20. Jill

    Jill Paddler

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    I use poggies with my greenland paddle. Just stretch them over the loom and blade fiddle with them till they feel good.