• We apologize for the somewhat convoluted sign-up process. Due to ever-more sophisticated attacks by chatbots, we had to increase our filtering in order to weed out AI while letting humans through. It's a nuisance, but a necessary one in order to keep the level of discourse on the forums authentic and useful. From the actual humans using WCP, thanks for your understanding!

Seeking advice - Kayaking in the heat - cancel the trip?

Joined
May 27, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Seattle
Much discussion happening at my household today as we have checked the weather forecast for Shelton, WA and this Saturday the temperature will be 103 degrees. Unfortunately, we (my husband and I) had planned to do the Shelton shuttle, Hammersley Inlet, this weekend, as the currents are most favorable. We booked a campsite at Jarrell Cove State Park 9 months ago. (We camp in a little teardrop trailer). Our plan was to camp Friday night, drive down to Shelton Saturday morning, launch at the park, ride the current to Hope Island, eat lunch and explore, ride the current back Saturday afternoon, and then go back to the campsite at Jarrell Cove.

I have never kayaked in excessive heat and have told my husband it's best we cancel the kayaking part of our trip. Even though we will be close to shore for most of our kayaking, 103 degrees is too hot. We always kayak in dry suits. Husband is coming round to cancelling the kayaking after spending the morning saying "it's always cooler on the water". I think he's reluctant to cancel because this trip is one of our favorites.

Thoughts? Best to cancel the kayaking or will the ocean breezes be cooling enough?
 
I use a brief dip, side scull style, to wet my drysuit & stay cool that way. Sunglasses stay dry and thus do not fog up.
 
I live in one of Canada's hottest towns about 30 miles from Osoyoos.
Here we don't cancel trips, we just break the day into 2.
It starts getting lighter out before 5am so we get up then. Go do our thing, as in paddle until it gets too hot.
Sleep in the shade then come out after it starts cooling down again.
You will find thats also what the wildlife often does, and the lighting conditions are better for photography too.
So you really won't miss anything.
 
I have never kayaked in excessive heat and have told my husband it's best we cancel the kayaking part of our trip. Even though we will be close to shore for most of our kayaking, 103 degrees is too hot. We always kayak in dry suits.

At the risk of violating the dogma of the Kayak Church, might I suggest ditching the drysuits? ;)

Cheers,
Andrew
 
If it's too hot to paddle in a drysuit paddle in a rash guard and shorts. Unless it's some weird combination of very active water and very hot air, in which case cool frequently by rolling. Paddling trip is about the last thing I would cancel because of heat. A tie for heat friendly activity with drinking beer on a patio. Unless you are legitimately prone to heat stroke, in which case do what keeps you safe and from becoming a serious liability.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CPS
Some folks like it hot; some don't.
Give me clouds and cool drizzle any day. :)
Even in a rash guard, it can be hot paddling.
Really, pugetsoundpaddler, you know best.
 
Thanks for all your input. I'm a clouds and cool drizzle paddle person. Much as we wanted to do this trip, we're staying home where we can turn on the cool air conditioning, if needed.
It was hard to cancel, but the wisest choice for me. I was able to transfer the campsite to someone who is fine with the heat.
 
We always kayak in dry suits.
In near 4 decades of paddling, I've never paddled in a dry suit, even in minus temperatures. As for over 20C, shorts and a light shirt under a PDF are plenty. Once it gets to 40C as you are mentioning, the question is, what is the humidity? A year ago in Samoa with about 30C and 100 percent humidity (yes, it is falling out of the sky at times) it was almost unbearable if any energy was required.
40C, humidity <20 should be no problem BUT dress for it... or better, undress for it.

The 30C in Samoa and on a bike (doing a tour round one of the islands) was really hard. Back home and on the bike and 32C, it wasn't noticed because the humidity was so low.
 
I’m with Andrew and Sandy. If the perceived need for a drysuit is preventing you from paddling on hot days, then the drysuit has ceased to be an object that facilitates kayaking and has become an object that impedes kayaking. Time for it to go.

Even when it’s not hot, a drysuit is not a necessary piece of equipment for this route - here is a trip report of me and my dad doing Hope and Hammersley with no drysuits.

Obviously, I don’t want anyone to drown, but this safety mania has gone too far. It’s good to take risks in the outdoors. People paddled these waters for thousands of years before the invention of drysuits.

Alex
 
I don't think I have ever paddled outside of my comfort zone, so I can't say I really balame you for canceling your trip there OP.
At least we know you will be around and posting again next week.

To be honest, if I was in your shoes I would still grab out the kayak in the early mornings on your days off and head out for a short paddle.
Pack along a change of clothing, but leave the drysuit at home.
Do wear a sun hat, and shortly before packing it up for the day have some fun.
Try some layback rolls to cool off, or anything else you want.
Get wet, that's why you packed along the extra clothes.

This way you should be more comfortable and may decide to take the trip next year.
 
I case anyone thinks I'm speaking only about kayaking in the deep south, 10 of us did an 8 day trip in the Haida Gwaii. No one wore a drysuit.

Maybe brought up tough, as kids stomping in bare feet across the icy mud to launch our sailing dinghy for a day out at sea in the middle of winter. A good woolen jersey with a windbreaker over would keep the cold out.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: CPS
I find that once the air is in the mid twenties ( Celsius, around 75 Fahrenheit) my ability to perspire will outclass my drysuit's ability to transpire. So by the end of a full day paddling I am soaked.

I am a thin guy, and get cold pretty easily so I do generally wear it up to that point. It may also have to do with the desire to "get my money's worth" out of the drysuit too.
At a certain point I usually ditch the drysuit for a thin long sleeve merino top. They tend to wick away water pretty well and keep the sun off. Combined with a waterproof jacket it's pretty good for summer.

I suppose the gear decision is a personal one based on perceived risk. I haven't had a completely unexpected capsize (yet) so I feel comfortable with lighter layers on hot days surrounded by cold water.
 
Decades ago I capsized as I pulled my sprayskirt out from under me. OK, stupidity. It was in near mid calf depth of water, bow still about on the shore. It was also winter. I was wearing a raw wool jersey (knitted by my mother) and a PFD. I was perfectly warm as I paddled across the harbour back to the takeout.

Raw wool knitted jersey knitted by one's mother is the way to go.
 
Agree with all the comments about a dry suit. I am perhaps too attached to it.

I was indoctrinated to always wear a drysuit when I took my sea kayaking course many years ago at a mountaineering organization in Seattle.
Between the sea kayaking course and reading Deep Trouble, I always wear a dry suit, except when I am paddling close to shore at Alki Beach or on Lake Union, when I wear a wet suit.

Once, when I launched at Larabee State Park for a kayaking trip, a women questioned me about why I was dressed like I was going on an expedition. (I was in my dry suit). Later, when I returning to my car at the launch parking lot, I saw there was a white piece of paper on my car windshield. I worried that it was a some sort of ticket from the park ranger. Instead, it was a note from the woman apologizing for telling me I was overdressed.

As a knitter, I agree, a wool knitted jersey is perfect. :) Especially knitted by one's mother!
 
The use, or need, of a drysuit should be based mainly on water temperature. Generally speaking, if the water is at or above 15 C, then a drysuit is generally not needed.

National Center for Cold Water Safety
What to wear based on water temp.jpg
 
I disagree with hard temperature rules for immersion clothing.

The ”dress for the water not the air” adage is one kayak dogma that I think needs to be challenged, especially since practically no one follows it fully. After all, when was the last time you wore a neoprene hood and nose plugs while paddling? Because gasp reflex can be triggered by cold water on the head and in the nose/ears, no matter how expensive the dry suit you are wearing on the rest of your body.

And what about a helmet? Should we wear one all the time while padding, since capsizing puts the head in danger? I agree with Alex: safety is good, but safetyism (the desire to eliminate all risk) kills the joy of the activity.

My personal adage is not “dress for the water” but rather “dress for the trip”, which takes into account water/air temperature, weather, route, access to resources, skill levels of partners, etc. etc. What that means is that sometimes in winter I don’t wear a drysuit, and sometimes in summer I do. It all depends on many factors.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
Couldn't help but chime in here—totally agree with AM's comments above. I was a whitewater slalom racer for many years (when I was younger, LOL). We trained on a river—in whitewater—twice a day, almost every day, all winter long. Including many, many days when the air temperature was well below freezing (and the water temps were at or sometimes below freezing). I fondly remember ending a workout coated in ice but actually feeling hot. It was an amazing feeling!

But more to the point, I had a bombproof roll that I could rely on 100%. And I almost never needed it because I rarely flipped. My standard sub-freezing whitewater clothing? Lycra bicycling shorts, bare feet, a polypro base layer (this was in pre-merino days, LOL) and a thin nylon shell. That was it.

Yes, I usually froze my butt off for the first 20 minutes of paddling, but we paddled HARD, and warmed up quickly.

Bottom line: much depends on a) your paddling and rolling skill...and b) how hard you work. The human body under exertion is an amazing heater. If you're fit enough to maintain your heartrate above 150 for an hour or more, you'd be amazed that you could actually be hot in sub-freezing temps!

EDITED TO ADD: I'm by no means recommending that all paddlers should go barefoot in cycling shorts and a thin baselayer with lightweight shell up top. Just saying that IF you're skilled enough...and IF you paddle hard...and IF you aren't out in crazy conditions, this is a very safe and reliable way to paddle in freezing water and air temps.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AM
Lots of opinions provided on go/no go, wear/ not wear. I have my own and it is only my own and may not resonate.

I have been involved in activities with higher risk for all of my life. Nothing crazy but stuff that most of my friends and acquaintances didn’t identify with. I have chosen to control what I can control in order to reduce those risks. Just stuff to take off of the list of possibilities that could cause things to break bad. Sometimes that causes me to be uncomfortable in order to stay safe. I’ve lost a number of friends who didn’t need to be lost to cold waters.

You seem to have established your code that works for you in our local waters and keeps you safe. Maybe not comfy all the time but safe. I’m a Puget Sound paddler, too, and it turns out that we happen to agree on the drysuit issue. Do what you believe is in your best interests.

BTW…..The best part of the Hammersley ebb is into the warmer part of the day this weekend.
 
I live in one of Canada's hottest towns about 30 miles from Osoyoos.
Here we don't cancel trips, we just break the day into 2.
It starts getting lighter out before 5am so we get up then. Go do our thing, as in paddle until it gets too hot.
Sleep in the shade then come out after it starts cooling down again.
You will find thats also what the wildlife often does, and the lighting conditions are better for photography too.
So you really won't miss anything.
As bonuses of that technique, early mornings can be wonderful to avoid the winds, enjoy wildlife and experience scenery.
 
a polypro base layer (this was in pre-merino days, LOL)
Sorry about that as we didn't get round to shipping merino wool until the mid 1800s. By clipper sailing ship from Australia or New Zealand to Britain.

When I said she knitted mine, she also had to spin it first. I still have one of her spinning wheels plus her pliers, side-cutters and multimeter. The beauty of raw wool is the natural animal oils which make it so good for the job.

"Bare feet and shorts" - Err??? What otherwise? Of course bare feet and swim shorts. Admittedly possibly wetsuit material shorts in winter. No, I don't bother to go paddling now in temperatures below about 10C. The water might be a degree warmer.
 
Back
Top