Cold Weather Paddling - How To Dress There is no reason to stop kayaking once the weather turns cold... unless the water has frozen over. If you are dressed properly cold weather paddling can be invigorating and fun. It is simply a matter of wearing the right gear and keeping your digits and toes dry and toasty.
The major point to remember when kayaking in cold weather is to layer your clothing.
First wear a layer of clothes that wicks the moisture away from your body such as a Hydroskin shirt.
Then if it is cold you will want an insulating layer such as a fleece or a sweater.
Third wear a waterproof jacket and waterproof pants. If you end up getting wet, no matter what you are wearing you will be very chilled. So it is important to have this waterproof layer.
Protect your feet, your hands. Proper water-booties will keep your feet warm, dry and happy. They still allow for the flexibility you may need in your kayak or for walking on rocks while protecting your feet from potentially freezing water. If the weather is extremely cold you may want to add some watersport socks for extra insulation. A good pair of winter kayaking gloves will allow your hands to stay dry and protected. Again if the weather is extremely cold you could add some glove liners for extra warmth.
The last thing to remember is to always keep your head warm! If you are not protecting your head in the cold weather your body will lose a lot of heat. My favorite hat to wear while cold weather paddling is a comfy fleece toque. If you are whitewater kayaking then look for a thinner hat that will fit easily under your helmet.
Many kayakers love to use a wetsuit or a drysuit. These can both be extremely effective in keeping out the cold and wetness of winter paddling. There are a couple of differences between the two that you need to be aware of though.
A wetsuit is a one-piece suit that will trap your body heat in to keep you warm. They are flexible and usually fairly comfortable and great to use in temperatures of 50 degrees or higher. Most people will use a wetsuit as a base layer and add insulating layers on top.
A drysuit is again a one-piece suit that not only keeps you warm but also keeps the water out. They are usually made with Gore-Tex and are completely waterproof. Usually one would put insulating layers underneath, but no matter what you wear under a drysuit you can be sure that you will never ever feel the water. Drysuits can be extremely expensive so unless you're a hard core cold weather paddler, a wetsuit will probably work just fine.
There is no reason to be worried about keeping warm and dry while cold weather kayaking. There is ample gear available for all types of kayaking weather. If you can keep warm and dry you will likely find cold weather paddling to be an awesome experience.