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Cold-Water Paddling Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is paddling in cold water unsafe without the proper gear?

A: Paddling in cold water without immersion protection is unsafe due to the increased risk of hypothermia. Cold water can rapidly lower body temperature, leading to loss of physical and mental capabilities. Even in moderate temperatures, cold-water shock can cause involuntary gasping and increase the likelihood of drowning. Immersion protection, such as drysuits or wetsuits, acts as a thermal barrier, helping to retain body heat and help prevent the onset of hypothermia.

Q: What gear do I need for cold-water paddling?

A: For cold-water paddling, it's crucial to have a quality drysuit or wetsuit, insulated layers, neoprene gloves, and appropriate footwear. A paddle with a non-metal shaft also helps. Frontenac Outfitters offers a wide range of paddling gear designed for cold-water conditions.

Q: When is it safe to paddle without cold-water immersion protection?

A: The decision to paddle without specialized gear should be based on thorough consideration of air and water temperature. Sometimes, even mildly seeming temperatures can pose a risk, as being wet and a cold breeze can compound and drop your core temperature. The decision to not wear cold-water immersion protection is ultimately up to you and what level of risk you're willing to accept.

Q: Can I paddle in cold conditions if I'm a beginner?

A: Yes, but proper preparation is vital. Start with calm waters, wear adequate cold-water immersion protection, and consider taking a paddling course. If you need help finding appropriate cold-water immersion protection, our expert staff are always here to help and offer guidance. During the summer, we offer kayaking courses for paddlers at all levels.

Q: With all those extra layers on, will I still float with a PFD?

A: Dry wear that's properly performing will trap some air inside, making you more buoyant. But even if that fails - yes - a PFD in good condition will keep you afloat.

Cold-Water Paddling Keys

Stay Dry

Drysuits provide the ultimate protection, but sometimes they aren't comfortable and can be outside some budgets. Dry tops and dry pants can be a great alternative, and 'comfort-neck' options exist for those willing to sacrifice some full-immersion protection.

Stay Warm

Staying warm on the water can be difficult, but neoprene and extra layers can help! Which one is best? It depends on how you're enjoying the water. You can always contact us; our expert staff can assist you in making a more informed decision.

Stay Afloat

A properly performing PFD will keep you afloat, even with appropriate dry wear, and should always be worn while on the water.