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Winter Paddling Tips or Dangerous Advice?

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Since I've moved back to North Carolina (on the Virginia border actually), I've had to get reacquainted with my cold-weather paddling gear. Even the coldest, windiest days in Santa Barbara didn't require more than a basic double layer: synthetic cold-gear style tights and tops underneath an outer layer. For surfing or downwinding the outer layer was usually a full wetsuit.

I like to put layers under my wetsuit in the cold because it makes putting it on easier. I'm not half naked in the parking lot donning the wetsuit before I paddle in the frigid winter weather. If I don't fall in, they keep me warmer than the neoprene alone: which is made to keep you warm when its wet. If I do work up a sweat, it also wicks it away and makes me feel less clammy in my wetsuit.

But I digress.

Cold North Carolina

Some days it's just plain cold. If it's VERY cold (between 20-40°F) I usually leave my tech tights at home and do wool or alpaca base layers. Notice I said layers - depending on how cold it is, I may add an additional tech layer over the wool/alpaca base. A fleece pullover and tech sweat pants are usually my go-to. These wou