Fall is one of my favorite times to get out paddling. Why, you ask?? This slideshow from some of my recent paddling adventures really says it all:
Interested in enjoying these quiet waters and the brilliant autumn colors too? Here are a couple of things to add to your Fall paddling gear kit in order to make your late-season paddling experiences on the water that much more amazing!
Wear a Wetsuit:
This is the time of year that folks should start thinking about the hazards of cold water. We’ve touched on this topic a few times here at KayakDave.com and general consensus is that water temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit are nothing to mess around with.
The best way to protect yourself against cold water (aside from hanging up your kayak for the winter) is to dress for immersion. This can be tricky in the swing seasons because there are plenty of warmish-weather days to be had and you’re liable to sweat to death in a full-on drysuit. I’ve found that wearing a 2-3mm thick, farmer-john-style wetsuit together with a light-weight paddling jacket is a good compromise for this time of year as this combination provides some protection without making you feel like a spaceman on approach to the sun!
Use a Spray Skirt:
I’ve never been huge on recommending spray skirts (especially neoprene skirts) to beginner-level, flat-water paddlers due to entrapment hazard. However, for those you who are ready to step it up a notch and extend your paddling season into the fall then adding a nylon spray skirt to your kit is a great idea.
Wearing the skirt will help to keep those annoying (and now chilly) paddle drippings off of your lap and make your cockpit all that much warmer. Seals Sprayskirts makes a great nylon skirt called the Coastal Tour which does the trick and won’t break the bank!
Invest in a Solid-Foam Paddle Float:
When the water starts to get colder we must consider ways in which we can re-enter our kayaks more efficiently in the event of a wet exit. Paddling with a partner is the best way to ensure that you’ll get back into you kayak in a timely manner but the more adventurous types out there should consider a paddle float as their new best friend.
Inflatable paddle floats are great for warm water paddling when you have all the time in the world to inflate them and set-up your re-entry. However, I’ve recently started to appreciate the utility of solid-foam paddle floats while cold water paddling because it takes the whole inflation step out of the process and may get you out of the water faster. Checkout Northwater Paddle Sports to browse their impressive collection of foam-paddle floats.
Bring along two pair of light-weight paddling gloves:
This is the time of year when a cool breeze mixed with a wet, salt-water spray can do a number on a bare set of hands. Consider wearing a pair of light-weight paddling gloves in order to keep those digits warm and maintain your all-important dexterity.
The Paddler’s Gloves by NRS are a great option for this time of year as they provide ample warmth without the bulk of full-on winter gloves. If you’re prone to cold hands then there’s no reason why you can’t break out the old winter paddling gloves or pogies. I know what you’re going to ask next…why two pair?? The whole two-pair thing comes from my mountaineering days. Trust me, it really stinks when you lose one of your gloves out there and the best way to mitigate this is to have a second pair in reserve.
Don’t forget to buy a Christmas Present for your Kayak:
For most of us that dreaded day will eventually come when we have to hang up our beloved kayaks for the winter. Do your kayak a solid by taking advantage of end-of-season sales at your local paddle-sports outfitter to invest in a good kayak storage system. Storing your kayak properly (inside, on-edge, in racks) is the best way to protect your investment over the winter.
There are a lot of racks out there to choose from and I’m sure that you’ll find something that will serve as a solution to your given storage situation. If you’re looking for something really nice then look no further than Talic Storage Systems for a set of wooden racks. More affordable options include the J-Docks by Malone. Finally, a cockpit cover is an excellent way to turn your kayak into a storage unit for all of your paddling gear.
Happy Fall Paddling and be safe out there!