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Tip #1 for Enjoyable Winter Kayaking

   Dress Appropriately-  this means dress for the water temperature not the air
and bring extra layers as back up.  When kayaking in the waters near the Olympic Peninsula, the water temperature rarely gets above 50 degrees. Drysuits are the best option for our climate. The layers you wear under the suit is what keeps you warm, while the shell of
the drysuit is what keeps you “dry.”  Keep in mind, “dry” can be a relative term- expect a
little water to get in whether it be around the gaskets or through pinholes in your suit.
The best layers for under your drysuit are wicking types of materials, similar to technical
hiking wear such as capilene, polar/micro fleece, polyethelene, and my favorite soft spun
wool.  Before you don your drysuit for the first time of the year, check the gaskets to be
sure they are intact, inspect for cracking or “melting” latex.  If anything looks bad, either replace them yourself or take them to your favorite kayak shop for repair. It is well worth the time and
effort to get the suit in top notch condition before you go, versus dealing with a blown gasket
when you are getting ready to launch. 
If you have not invested in a drysuit yet, a wetsuit will do the trick. For extra warmth, you can always layer tight fitting insulation layers under your wetsuit such as wool or hydroskin ( a technical layered garment designed to wear in conjunction with a wetsuit.)  When kayaking with a wetsuit, you not only want to layer below it, but also layer over the top with a paddle or dry top. Keep in mind with a wetsuit the water trapped between the suit and your body is what keeps you warm, i.e. you will be wet.  Whereas with a drysuit, you stay mostly “dry” and cozy because the suit is a waterproof shell and your layers underneath provide insulation.
You might have to spend a few bucks to get the right gear, but hey you wouldn’t go snow skiing in shorts and a t-shirt and you definately would not hang up your skis because you only had shorts and a
t-shirt- right? Give us a call to find the best combination of winter paddling options for you, (360) 417-3015.
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