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What to Wear for Cold Water

This decision depends on water temperature, air temperature, your paddling skill, your experience on and in cold water, water and weather conditions (wind strength, direction), proximity to shore and who you are paddling with. Don't dress less carefully because you put any responsibility on others for your rescue (not a good mindset). Paddling with groups that have a strong “watch out for each other” ethic you should still be at least as prepared as you would be paddling solo. Otherwise you are putting unfair responsibility and risk on your fellow paddlers and at the very least reducing their freedom to enjoy their own outing. And If you are responsible for other paddlers, particularly less experienced ones then you may even need to dress and prepare more carefully for more potential water immersion in order to assist in someone else's rescue.

Expert Boater

Average Boater, Novice Boater

  • There is no universal formula for what is right for you. This is an education process. Nicholas Cryder took years to learn his scale and it evolved and changed with his experience and skill. Please start on the conservative end of the scale in terms of water temperature and weather conditions and incrementally test how long you can survive in the water given what you have on and where you are. Is that long enough for you to have a good chance to swim to shore (probably not at all easy in rough conditions and much more than a short distance from shore)? Or long enough for you to have a good chance to be rescued. Read DJ's Cold Water Checklist and practice that same thought process. Figure out how you can safely test your paddling skills for on water conditions that you can expect and also test your “in water skills” such as remounts in rough water, radio use, ability to use other signals (and their effectiveness - can anyone hear your whistle more than 25 yds away in a 20 mph wind? upwind, downwind?)
  • Examples of individual preferences:
  • Read safety incident stories involving cold water to learn more about the difficulties that can spring up in cold water paddling. And read other incident stories to gain a greater appreciation of other difficult circumstances that would only be amplified in a cold water setting. These stories should help you to avoid false confidence or reliance on untested assumptions.
decision_trees_wear.txt · Last modified: 2021/01/14 03:45 by preavley