Paddle KC’s December Show & Tell on Winter Kayak Camping was a good online discussion among some hard-core kayaking campers and also new enthusiasts! Thank you to long-time and new members who joined us to trade tips and show favorite – and least favorite – gear for winter kayak camping. With the right gear, skill levels, and strategies, cold weather kayak camping is a wonderful experience.
A popular saying in Paddling KC is that there is no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing and gear. We love getting out to paddle in every season, including winter! This is our sixth year kayaking, paddleboarding and canoeing the Kansas City area and beyond.
Common Winter Kayak Camping Mistakes
- Paddling without a PFD – especially in cold water seasons!
- Paddling with people who paddle without a PFD in cold water season.
- Paddling in cold water season without a clear understanding of cold water dangers and also of appropriate clothing and gear.
- Taking too much food and clothing – strategic streamlining is essential because you have to carry more in winter!
- Using several large drybags instead of many smaller drybags that are easier to pack into small spaces.
- Using a tent, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad that is not made for cold weather.
- Putting sleeping bag and campsite clothes in anything other than 100% reliable drybag.
- Using old Hot Hand hand warmers that have lost some potency or don’t work at all.
- Wearing clothing with even part cotton (which absorbs moisture and increases cold).
- Wearing bulky clothes instead of wicking baselayer, insulating mid layer(s) and waterproof/windproof outer layer.
- Forgetting backup warm gloves for paddling, and also separate pairs of dry gloves for campsite time.
- Choosing routes that are at or above skill level in cold water season, which increases risk of ending up in the water.
- Ignoring weather forecast and possible rain or storms.
- Paddling in cold water without cold water paddling safety skills and knowledge of how to quickly rescue someone if needed.
See additional tips in our post about dressing for cold water paddling.
Some Winter Kayak Camping Gear Discussed
Our Paddle KC Show & Tell sessions are a great resource to those who attend, with discussions and Q&A. While we don’t cover all the discussion points, we do pass on some of the items mentioned during the Show & Tell discussion. We talked about a lot of things! Many of these items are useful in all seasons, but for this session we were focused on winter and included many affordable options.
- Inexpensive 4 season backpacking tent
- Extreme conditions 4 season backpacking tent
- 20 degree “spoon” style winter sleeping bag
- 10 degree inexpensive backpacking mummy sleeping bag
- Sleeping bag liner
- Lightweight insulated sleeping pad
- Insulated hammock sleeping pad
- Down sleeping bag/camp blanket or down camp blanket
- Ultralight backpacking tarp
- Fast squeeze water filter or high-capacity gravity filter
- Quality power charger
- Camping multi-tool with hammer and mini axe
- Drysuit and semi-drysuit
- Wetsuit, neoprene wetsuit pants and wetsuit jacket
- Hydroskin wetsuit separates and farmer john wetsuits
- Pogies, inexpensive neoprene paddling gloves, and frigid weather kayaking gloves
- Waterproof socks
- Paddling boots and paddling booties
- Smartwool clothing, hats and socks
- Paddler’s hood and paddling cap
- Deck bag to use when wearing a sprayskirt
- Dry bags and extra durable dry bags, especially 10 liter and smaller
- Waterproof compression dry sack
- Drybag-style round cooler
- Neoprene blanket fabric
- Fleece fabric/blanket
- Quality portable power bank
Learn about how to prevent heat loss with paddling clothing layers to understand why we focus a lot on getting appropriate clothing for winter paddling.
To get the full benefit of our Paddle KC online Show & Tell sessions, join us for upcoming discussions.