What to plan for a cold, winter’s morning paddle.

As long as you are prepared for the conditions, the cold alone shouldn’t be a deterrent for heading out on the water- just be prepared you may need to break ice to get on the water! A cold, clear winter’s morning paddle can be as beautiful as they come.

Cribyn on a cold winter morning

As with every paddle trip, make sure you are prepared.

  1. Check the forecast – rain, snow, wind strength and direction, and temperature.
  2. Dress accordingly!
  3. Pack spares of what you might need – better to have it and not use use it!
  4. Bring a hot drink and some snacks.
  5. Don’t head out alone and let someone who isn’t going with you know what you’re up to!

Checking the Forecast: while quite a simple task, I’d always recommend checking 2 or 3 forecasts for the location – they’re always a little different, plan for the most extreme forecast!

What to Wear? The most common question I get asked is ‘what should I wear?’. The answer is never definitive, and I will probably change what I’m wearing about 3 times before I get on the water!

Beautiful, cold day – a drysuit is the kit of choice here!

If you’re confident you’re not going to fall in, leggings under trousers and multiple top half layers is a comfortable choice. If you’re not so sure you’ll stay dry, a wetsuit or drysuit is a must, with base layers and a windproof top to keep the warm in and the cold out!

What to wear on a cold day. Yes, that’s a bobble hat in my BA. Photo by Sarah Smiles Morgan

Bring Spares: As with any SUP journey, spare kit for breakages/ loss is a must, but in the winter you should take more clothes too! It’s always better to have and not need than need and not have.
Take – more spare clothes than you’ll need just in case someone else falls in. Be prepared for cold, wet people as they might be too cold to sort themselves out quickly.

Take a hot drink and snacks: the cold weather will get to everyone and having a hot cuppa will help warm people up and is always great for a morale boost! Hot water is the easiest and can make every type of drink people might fancy – just remember the tea bags!

Breathing in over the hot water is very warming, taking warming air straight to the lungs!

Watch out for ice!

If it’s been really cold overnight you might be greeted with a frozen waterway! Be careful how thick the ice is – we were able to paddle through the ice below as it was very thin, but thicker ice will be much more effort to break – and paddleboards and paddles weren’t designed for icebreaking!

Paddling on thin ice!

If someone does get very cold, you should be prepared and able to get off the water and get them warm. As the sides of a canal are never far away and often not too steep this usually isn’t an issue – but it’s definitely food for thought on any coastal, lake, or river paddle.

This is by no means an exhaustive list or checklist of things to prepare for a paddle – just something to get you thinking before you head out next!

I look forward to seeing you out on the water soon!

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