Thursday, March 6, 2008

What to Wear Winter Paddling

If you live in Hawaii or some other warm winter locale, just stop complaining. Now. We've heard about your struggles with the should-I-wear-long-sleeves-today syndrome that puts islanders in a spin when the temperatures drop below 75F degrees. We have NO sympathy. Sure, you have big waves and knarly reef breaks. But if you want to see tough, come to the inland flat water land of ice and snow in the middle of winter and we'll show you tough.

Or is the word stupid? Well, whatever the word, sometimes the urge to stand up paddle hits after a 3 day blizzard. The sun comes out, the sky is turquoise blue and the water is sparkling crystal clear. It all looks so inviting. Until you put your finger in the river and realize how cold 36F degree water actually is. Step into the water and it'll feel even colder. Fall in and . . .

Since none of the above is stopping the local paddlers, here's the next obvious question. What does a paddler wear when the urge to paddle overrides every bit of common sense? First I'll tell you about what I consider to be the ideal setup. Though I have yet to convince my ideal man to wear this entire outfit, I have guilted him into a wet suit with a few "When I'm a widow (after you've fallen in)..." scenarios.

Here's my what-to-wear-when-ice-water-paddling suggested wardrobe:
  1. Wetsuit or drysuit. Yes, your cotton hoodie & down jacket are cozy, but they'll only help drown you if you happen to fall in.
  2. Neoprene booties.
  3. Life jacket.
  4. Leash yourself to your board.
Try for at least 3 out of 4 on the list and get out of your dressed-to-drown gear. At least this way, we won't have to read all the good stuff about you in an obit.

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