Most of your body’s heat dissipates via your head, thus having the right type of hat is a crucial factor in keeping you warm so you enjoy your time outdoors when the mercury begins to drop. Beanies are the most effective style of hat for accomplishing this and you may want to have more than one style for different paddle craft and conditions. This is the method I use and while the relatively warm weather here in Southern California doesn’t necessitate bundling up very often, there are certainly mornings when I’m on the water by 0530 for a pre-dawn OC-1 practice off Redondo Beach with my outrigger club that I appreciate the warmth and comfort of something different from my trademark Shelta Hat.
From memory, the coldest morning this winter has been around 40°F (4°C). On days like that, I typically wear my Merrell Palindrome II for the drive down to the harbor and while I’m rigging my canoe. The Merrell beanie has a snug fit and is made from a 70% acrylic / 30% wool blend. It provides great coverage over your ears and is perfect for blocking out the wind. A neat feature is that it is reversible, so you can change your style depending on the occasion. One side has stripes, which are great for the outdoors, while the other has more muted tones which may look good on a night out. What I like best is its fitted style which stays firmly in place on your head and doesn’t have any extra fabric flopping around.
The Vaikobi V Cold Beanie
The Merrell Palindrome II is also my current hat of choice for hiking in cold weather. I recently wore it on a hiking trip to the summit of Mt. Baldy (10,064 ft / 3,068 m), the highest peak in Los Angeles County, and was very happy to have it. If you are a flatwater paddler and you’re confident you are not going to go for a swim, then there is no reason why the Merrell Palindrome II would not work for you on the water.
Once my canoe is rigged and ready to go I shed my warm up gear and switch out my Palindrome II for my Vaikobi V Cold Beanie. Made from their airprene (outer layer) and hydrofleece (inner layer) fabrics, the Vaikobi is fits snugly over your head like a swim cap and is the ultimate in on the water, cold weather headwear. Specifically designed for the aquatic environment, the Vaikobi beanie will not get soggy and will continue to keep your head warm even after getting wet. This latter aspect is more significant when paddling OC-1 compared to SUP as the seated position in a canoe means you are more exposed to the waves and spray. The beanie provides so much warmth that it is not uncommon for me to only wear it for the first half of practice and then put it back on when cooling down at the end. The Vaikobi V Cold Beanie folds up nicely and fits in the pocket of the Vaikobi PFD and is the ultimate hat for keeping your head warm on the water.