Warm Weather Boating

Posted By: Jon Green Published: 09/07/2019


Doesn't get much warmer than the Atacama desert...

It was probably just me… but when I started out boating I had no idea about paddling when the weather and water was warm – probably because there were still glaciers in the UK back then AND dry cags hadn’t been invented (Can you imagine that, no dry cag!).

So starting from the top here’s a few ideas.

Head – A helmet with a peak will help keep the sun out of your eyes. Beware of wearing a baseball cap under your helmet – it MIGHT cause the helmet to be unstable on your head. Some rafting businesses won’t allow you to use a rigid peak (risk of ‘pecking’ the person in front of you in the raft!).

Black helmets get hot! Bugs seem to like yellow!

Blagging bananas on the Rio Maranon

Wearing sunglasses can work, but they often steam up – anti fogging liquid is available (and works). Make sure the retaining system fits under your helmet – and of course consider a facial impact and risk of the glasses damaging you. Currently I use a pair of Oakley Water Jackets – they look ridiculous, but work!

Suncream – enough said!

Bugs (i.e. sandflies) – carry a bug net and/or midge rep in your B/A.

Upper body – Wearing nothing (much) except your B/A is great – rare, but great! Sunburn is clearly a high risk, as would be insect bites in certain countries, so consideration is needed.

I always find that (almost) no matter how warm the environment, if there’s loads of rapids I eventually get cool/cold – so I’ll still carry a cag and thermal. If there is loads of flat between the rapids (ie Sun Khosi), then I may be ok and warm up again.


Almost into the rainforest on the Rio Maranon

If you decide to go without a cag then the likelihood is that you’ll end with more water in your boat than normal (it will get between your skin and deck tube), which will have to be emptied eventually – if you’re on a multiday trip is the kit in your boat at more risk of getting wet? – hope you’re using Watershed!

Whatever cag I use I’ll always go for a twin seal – this isn’t about warmth (they do keep you way drier, therefore warm), it’s about keeping more water out of your boat.

If I wear a cag in warm weather I am happy with a simple Neoprene neck seal – especially if it’s got the PEAK elastic tension strap system… If I’m on a multi-day exped, then I like that neoprene neck seals are way less likely to ‘blowout’ at the wrong time like latex seals are wont to do! If I’m using a shortie, then I prefer latex arm seals too (mostly again to keep water out of the boat). Check out the Peak Freeride and Peak Combi cags.

Another consideration is the protection that a cag can offer form other elements of the environment – protection from grazes, bashes, prickly plants, etc.

Non dry shorties – these are good in super warm places… maybe where you’ll be in the shade in the early am or late pm? 

Journal writing on the first descent of the Rio Concebidayoc, Peru

Against my skin I’ll either wear a rash (Tecwik) vest or Thermal Rashy. I’ll choose long sleeve if I’m wearing a long sleeve cag or I want to keep the bugs and/or sun off. Black can be too warm (on the beach), white gets dirty real quick, yellow attracts the bugs(?), so I like red/orange/light blue/light green/etc.

Black cags get hot! Bugs seem to prefer yellow!

Legs – Do I need to keep the bugs/sun off? Then long Peak Rashy Pants or thin thermals/running tights – same colour consideration. Over the top I’ll then either wear Peak Bagz H2O shorts or Peak Bagz Shorts or simple board shorts.

Feet – If it’s a buggy place I’ll wear the thinnest thermal liner sock I can find. Then/or either a pair of Teva type sandals or my usual boating footwear.

Last morning on the Rio Concebidayoc

In the boat (or maybe in my b/a) – In addition to all the usual boating kit, I’ll often add -  suncream/midge rep/mosi head net. My water bottle is now a ‘filter’ type so I can always refill directly from the river. If the river is heavily silt laden I’ll fill up my bottle with filtered water in the morning to reduce the amount of silt my bottle will have to cope with. I will try to refill from less silty side streams if I can.

If I’m paddling in my Peak Combi cag then the ‘Combi Sleeves’ are a great addition, extra warmth and/or protection from bugs and rocks alike – these will often be lurking in my boat just in case!

If I’m unsure as to how warm I’ll be, I may well carry a cag and thermal in the boat just in case!




Spike Green is a Mountaineering & Paddlesports Instructor at Plas Y Brenin. Check out his instructor profile here: https://www.pyb.co.uk/spike-green-instructor/

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