Advice From the Hammock No. 1

UPDATE YOUR WINTER WARDROBE WITH NEOPRENE!

The second to last week of February saw temperatures in the high sixties and low seventies. We were lucky to get a ton of on-the-water time, which prompted a lot of people to say things like, “Wow, it’s so great you guys could finally get back out on the water?” Finally? In my head, I think back to our snowy Ugly Sweater Paddle and Ashley’s and my Coldest-Day-Ever  New Years Paddle, and think But we never stopped getting on the water!

Of course, I get it. If you’re not familiar with winter paddling, it’s easy to think that it’s the sub freezing air temperatures that raise the element of risk. As soon as it warms up a bit, it’s game on! (That, apparently, is the rule with tank tops too ).  

While we love the enthusiasm for the water, I wanted to take a minute and remind you of one of the most important, and most overlooked, rules of paddling. Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Throw on a few wicking layers on a forty degree day and you’ll be fine, but a similar outfit choice in 40 degree water will put you in severe risk of dangerous hypothermia.

That’s why we love wetsuits! Depending on its thickness, a wetsuit will keep your body insulated in cold water in a way that other clothing just won’t, and allows us to go out and enjoy our passion year round without undue risk.

However, we recognize that not everyone is as big of neoprene nerds as we are, so we have a few tips for how to make the most of your time in a wetsuit.

  1. If your wetsuit has a zipper, it is almost always meant to go in the back. We won’t name names, but you know who you are :).

  2. Wetsuits are made of different thicknesses for different water temps, so make sure you have the correct one for the conditions you’ll be paddling in.

  3. Black is slimming, so relish the opportunity to dress in it from head to toe. I’ve been known to wear one more than necessary in January just to hide those few extra holiday pounds.

  4. Wetsuits work by insulating you from your environment, so a wetsuit with a big gaping hole that invites that cold environment in is not going to work. Repair it if you can, and if you can’t, check out Four Ways to Recycle Your Old Wetsuits.   

  5. Wetsuits can be pretty hard to get into, so bring a friend! We suspect they may have been intentionally designed that way to discourage winter paddling by yourself.  

  6. Peeing in your wetsuit may help keep you warm, but it is an absolute no-no when wearing a renal wetsuit. However, if you own your own wetsuit, I have just one word of advice: Dilute.

Honestly, the thought of wearing a wetsuit is way worse than the actual experience of wearing one, and the fact that it allows you to paddle when the ocean is otherwise empty is worth the little bit of sweat and elbow grease it might take to get into!

Aaron MearnsComment