Every time winter rolls around you have to decide, are you going to hide in the gym for months on end or are you going to get out there on the river, paddle hard and enjoy the lovely outdoors?
A quick straw poll round Gentoo Sports HQ reveals we’ve all had some great paddles during the winter – going out when its snowing makes everything eerily calm and serene, messing around when the flow up is great fun (but be sensible!), knowing you’re out getting fit and enjoying yourself whilst others are too scared is always satisfying, and the rivers aren’t full of rented pleasure boats that can’t steer. Plus, if you’re training for something starting early in the spring like the Devises to Westminster race you really can’t avoid getting the miles in over winter.
But what to wear? Whether racing, training or touring you’ve definitely got to get your clothing right or you’re going to have a miserable time, if you don’t have kit that’ll keep you warm you’ll be wasting energy heating yourself up that you could be using to paddle.
Between us we’ve racked up hundreds of winter paddles so here’s what we’d recommend:
These are a staple in everyone’s kit bag; you simply can’t go wrong kitting up in thermals. Most flatwater kayakers just layer up the thermals as it gets colder, two or maybe three is normally enough, even in the deepest depths of winter. Thermals wick away moisture and trap warm air next to your body as well as being a soft comfortable layer next to your skin. We’d look out for thermals with a lowered back so you won’t be exposing your lower back (its pretty horrible getting a cold blasts of wind on bare skin) and long enough sleeves that they don’t slide up your arms during your paddle. Another tip from is wearing a short sleeved thermal as one of your layers often gives you more shoulder movement than wearing all long sleeved tops but experiment, everyone is unique! Continue reading