For those of us in the northern regions of North America, we deal with cold air and water on a regular  basis, even on a brisk day in summer. Most paddlers have figured out how to stay warm on the water but we’ve noticed some who get colder changing into street clothes in the parking lot than they do on the water.  I do get colder than some of my paddling colleagues, so over the years have developed a few methods of staying comfortable.Here’s a few tips for staying warm before and after your paddle.. (All stored in my car)
See also my 30 Tips for Cold Weather Paddling for SUP Magazine

Create a Hypo Kit
“Hypo” means hypothermia.

On-Water. I carry one on-water for myself and for students which may include extra gloves, sun block, hoods and/or a neoprene top to layer over existing gear if we get chilled.  Also a All this stored in a compact waterproof dry bag in a waterproof deck bag on the forward deck of by boards.  I use Seattle Sports, OR and SealLine bags. Teaching classes, I’ll add a First Aid and repair kit.

Tip from my instructor Darrell Kirk – Add a $20 bill to your on-water kit in case you land at a location where you could buy extra food, water, or need emergency assistance.

Car Hypo Kit

In My Car. I use a old dry bag to store synthetic thermal clothing such as a 600 fill down jacket with hood, fleece gloves, 2 wind proof fleece beanies, a rain/wind shell, fleece jacket, rain pants. I may throw in extras of each of older clothing for students. In summer, I add a hoody, shorts, pants and a baseball cap to wear after paddles if going out with friends for a beer.  I tend to get wet in my paddles while surfing or playing around so usually my baseball hat will be soaked as well as my shorts and other summer on-water wear.  Nice to put on a dry replacement.

Beyond the Hypo Kit – In my car, I have some nooks and crannies where I tuck away a few other items of comfort and convince..  Chemical heat packs, first aid kit, repair kit (ding repair, para cord, etc), changing towel, head lamp, sun block, drying towel, surf wax, extra fin, extra leash, fin screws, multi-tool, Paddling Washington (River Guide) by Mountaineers Books. And of course one copy of both my Puget Sound Kayak Guide and SUP Book also by the Mountaineers for my reference or others.  I also have extra batteries for my VHF and/or car charge cord.

House Shoes For Convenience – In winter I bring along a pair of fleece lined or other warm material house shoes to slip on after a paddle. Instead of fighting to pull on socks over your sorta wet feet, these slip right on and work for driving home. Uggs are another nice option here.

Tip: Get or make a Changing Robe.  These are great for throwing on to keep the elements on while changing into or out of our wet gear. DryRobe and other brands make one. Kokatat, a kayaking company has one that is Goretex lined to keep the wind chill out.  Add an old camping or yoga mat to stand on to keep your feet insulated from the cold concrete. I cut old camping mats (foam) in half.

Nerding Out a bit, here’s my procedure for changing after a paddle in winter..
– Immediately turn on my car to get the heat going.
– Without changing out of my wetsuit and PFD, remove leashes, fins, wash off and load boards, paddles etc.
-Then remove my PFD, wetsuit, booties, etc while standing on my old foam pad. I use a towel around my waist, (smarter) friends use changing robes. Once my hood comes off, my dry beanie goes on. Once I remove my upper wetsuit, a fleece jacket and down jacket go on. Once the lower part of my wetsuit is removed, I immediately put on my pants, house shoes, etc.  One replacing the other to keep as warm as possible.  Reverse process for putting wetsuit on.
– By then the car is warm and I’m good to go.

Car Tip: I recently rusted out my ol’ trusty 06′ Subaru Forester by not cleaning saltwater off my gear  and wearing my wet wetsuit in the car. With a newish Outback, I’m now washing off my gear, drying it, and changing out of my wetsuit before I leave for home. All wet gear goes in a bucket.

Warm Climate Options
For those of you in Hawaii or other warm or tropical locations, much of the above gear may be replaced out for UV protected clothing (i.e.: long sleeved shirts), wide brimmed hats, more sun block,  hydration options, etc.


Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips