Keeping Your Hands Warm On Cold Weather Paddling Trips
No matter what hand-wear you prefer to wear while paddling there are things to do that will help keep your hands (and feet) warm and comfortable in cold weather. For instance, if your core gets cold then your body will reduce the circulation to your extremities which means your hands and feet will get cold. Hence the saying, "If your hands are cold, put your hat on". And to that advice I'd add, "Wear a dry suit in cold weather". No other paddling clothing system can come close to keeping your core warm as good wicking layers (wool or fleece) under a dry suit, and a dry suit has the added safety advantage of being good immersion wear in the event that you ever end up in the cold water.
Once your hands get cold it's really tough to get them warm. So a friend convinced me that the key is to not let your fingers get cold before you start paddling. Wear well-insulated ski gloves while carrying your boat to the beach etc., and keep your paddling gloves warm by tucking them under your PFD until you are ready to launch.
Shawna Franklin (formerly of BBB) gave a tip to bring a second pair of paddling gloves to put on after lunch. It will lift your spirits on a cold day to start the afternoon session by sliding your hands into a nice dry pair of gloves.
If you store your gear in an unheated garage etc. try to bring your gloves indoors the night before your paddle so they can warm up. And when driving to the put-in keep your gloves near the car's heater vents rather than in the trunk or rear hatch.
On a trip that will include a lunch break or camping, bring some "land" gloves (ski gloves etc.) to put on when you are ashore. It's best if these gloves are loose fitting because snug fitting gloves are hard to pull on with damp hands or cold hands. On land you can also use hand warmers, but they don't work while paddling.
If none of this works then another friend advises to bring a thermos full of hot (but not scalding) water or tea which you can drink later or pour over your neoprene gloves (while wearing them) if your fingers get cold.
Hope this helps you to extend your paddling season into cold weather safely and comfortably.
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