Winter Paddling: Time to Gear Up for Cold Weather Paddling!

Paddling the Cold Edge, PaddleXaminer
Paddling the Cold Edge

My favorite pieces of cold weather paddling gear

December is upon us and cold weather has already set in throughout much of North America. A change in season doesn’t mean you have to forgo paddling – unless of course ice becomes an issue! The cold weather does however dictate a need to adjust your routine and gear up for the conditions. As the climate varies from one location to another, cold weather is somewhat of a relative term. In Canada and across much of the U.S. it means donning a drysuit and thick booties. Here in the sunny Southern California winter paddling attire is more often than not influenced by the daily conditions, time of day and type of paddling.

This winter I decided to look inside my gear bag and highlight a few of my favorite items that help keep me going through the colder months.

Bison Snap Jacket from United by Blue – When cold weather begins to creep in this jacket is the first thing I reach for. Stylish and functional, the Bison Snap Jacket is my go to for dawn patrol sessions regardless of paddle craft. Post paddling, I can’t wait to pull it back on. The American bison’s shaggy coat consists of a layer of hollow, compactable, resilient hairs that allow them to keep warm and dry no matter what the conditions. Translate that into a jacket and you’ll be the happiest paddler around. Key features include: temperature regulating, hypoallergenic, still warm when wet, holds its shape, lightweight, and flexible.

Bison Snap Jacket, United by Blue, PaddleXaminer
Bison Snap Jacket from United by Blue

Vaikobi’s VCold and VDry Range –  Australia’s Vaikobi is the industry leader in performance paddling gear. You will not find a more effective range of cold weather paddling gear designed specifically for athletes and fitness paddlers on the market today. One of the great aspects of the Vaikobi range is the ability to mix and match items to layer up or down depending on the conditions and personal preference. Each item is designed to help regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating. From their VCold base layer through to the new VDry Vest, you will not be dissapointed. It is hard to point a finger at just one item in the range, but if I had to choose a favorite it is probably the VCold Flex paddling pants.  

malibu downwinder, onit pro, sup examiner, paddling, leo carrillo state beach
Photo: OnIt Pro

Rip Curl’s FlashBomb Zip Free Wetsuit – There are a lot of options out there when it comes to choosing a wetsuit. When it comes to staying warm, I don’t mess around and go for maximum protection and comfort. For me, it’s the FlashBomb Zip Free from Rip Curl. The brand’s legacy stands on its own and the 21st century heat generating flash lining is unlike no other. After too many winter sessions cut short because I was getting cold, I upgraded to a top of the line suit and have never looked back. Look after your wetsuit and it will return the favor for years to come. This wetsuit is so good you may even begin to look forward to cold water!

Rip Curl FlashBomb wetsuit, Dawn Patrol booties, Infinity New Deal, Shelta Hat, The Cove, Palos Verdes, SUP surfing
Surfing my Infinity New Deal in the Rip Curl FlashBomb wetsuit and Dawn Patrol booties. Shelta Hat up top, of course!

Dawn Patrol Booties – I’m going to stick with the Rip Curl theme here. After all, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. Having cold feet is not fun. I love to wear my Dawn Patrol booties paddling OC-1 on stormy days when I know my feet are going to be continually drenched. I went for the 5mm model for maximum comfort during long sessions. In addition to the warmth, the soles are flexible enough to confidently feel the deck pad when surfing my Infinity SUP.

Matt Chebatoris
About Matt Chebatoris 223 Articles
Matt is a former national security professional and lifelong adventurer. He has published material on a variety of topics in the foreign policy arena and created PaddleXaminer™ as a platform to share his enjoyment of paddling with others. When not on the water, Matt can be found hiking along rugged mountain trails in the California wilderness. Matt resides in Los Angeles and is a member of the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club in Redondo Beach, California.

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