Hello Cosy Kayaking!
Hello cosy kayaking!!
It seems like it happened over night, but it definitely feels a lot like winter! One day I was playboating in a shorty cag, then suddenly the rains came in and I am now river-running in full winter kit! But I’m certainly not complaining- there’s no denying that winter paddling in the UK is awesome!
After the fun of summer starts fading in to a distant memory, things get a bit quiet. The sun is gone, the days are starting to get shorter and people go back to normal life. Then it begins to rain and it’s like a starting pistol is fired! The paddling community suddenly comes alive with excitement! The Facebook groups and forums go crazy and everyone starts digging out their dusty paddling kit hoping it’s all still in working order.
It’s that time of year again. Commence the obsessive monitoring of rain forecasts, analysing precipitation percentages and repetitively pressing the ‘UPDATE’ button on river gauges. To non-paddlers it seems quite peculiar and fairly crazy (‘What, you actually want it to rain?!’), but there are very few things in life that replicate that build up of excitement and I love it!
As a few people will know, I have a weakness for paddling in Chile and tend to spend my winters over there, but this year I’m spending some time in the UK and so far it’s been great being back! I’d forgotten about the infectious psych of our awesome paddling community! It's like a switch has been pressed and suddenly everyone’s keen to get out on the water! It doesn’t matter that I haven’t seen some people for a couple of years, nothing has changed and immediately we’re straight back where we were- excitedly planning, excessive driving and amazing paddling. Which I personally think is very cool.
Another thing I had perhaps forgotten as well though, was the slight difference in temperature between Chile and the UK! It’s fairly normal to paddle in a shorty-cag most days in Chile and you will very rarely need that thicker thermal you packed.
Every paddler knows that once you’re a certain level of cold your whole body tenses up and your paddling becomes rigid and a lot less fun! I for one was reminded of this pretty abruptly. After a warm few months, I packed up my usual river kit and headed to a wet but cold Wales. For three days I struggled to get warm (despite relentless penguin dancing!) and ended up getting sick. This sucked as it took awhile to get over it properly, meaning I missed out on some pretty awesome levels.
And then the amazing team at PeakUK came to my rescue with these essentials for cosy winter paddling:
- A fleecy thermal. The Thermal Rashy (long, short or pants) is a toasty warm baselayer, but for ultimate warmth combine it with the Stretch Fleece Top - windproof, breathable and super warm, and one I wouldn’t have personally have chosen but they recommended it so I thought I’d give it a go! After all, you could pretty much see-through my other thermals, they’d definitely seen a good amount of use and were perhaps not doing their job too well anymore.
- A drysuit (One Piece). A drysuit or good separates are essential for winter paddling. My top choices are the leg entry Whitewater One-Piece suit or Storm Pants with the Deluxe whitewater cag. Both are comfy, will keep you dry and will shield you from any chilly winds! Full suits seem to be more popular and are usually my go-to, especially if I’m keen to keep my thermals bone-dry for the next day! (Girls- the leg zip also makes it super easy to pee!).
I checked the forecasts and off to Devon me and my little car went. It was snowing at the get-on- yes, snow! Fleecy-top, leggings and drysuit on and I was as snug as a bug! It turned in to a super sweet few days of boofs, wave surfing and eddy-moves, despite the snow and sub-zero temperatures!
I know that thermals and base layers aren’t the most exciting item of kit to read about, but being warm on the river is super important. When you want to spend several hours on the water or get as many laps in as possible, whilst paddling at your best, you can’t be cold.
If you’re planning on doing a good amount of paddling this winter (and want to enjoy it!), then get some fleecy goodness on your Christmas list!
Big thanks to the team at PeakUK, who produce some of the best kit on the market, allowing us to get out there and enjoy our rivers to the fullest! What a bunch of heroes!
When not rescuing celebrities from whitewater in far away lands, Sal can be found boating pretty much anywhere, any time, and has also recently done her first mini tour of talks about her adventures, with more planned for 2020! For more info follow Sal at:
You can also see Sal's team profile here.