By Neil Schulman
Paddler: Tom Pogson
Home Waters: The Gulf of Alaska, near his home on Kodiak Island
Typical Conditions: Frigid seas and air temperatures down to minus-10 degrees
Under the Drysuit: A mix of traditional wool and heavy fleece. “I wear medium-weight SmartWool tops and bottoms as a wicking layer under a 200-weight fleece top and pants. I also wear heavy wool socks and when it’s really cold, a storm cag over the drysuit. This system evolved over 15 years of paddling more than 100 days a year in Alaska.”
Extras: A fuzzy-rubber hood or helmet liner, and oversized Kokatat Inferno mitts under pogies. “If you need to do a rescue when it’s below freezing, you can’t function without gloves on. The extra-large size keeps circulation in my fingers.”
Paddler: Teresa Gryder
Home Waters: Whitewater streams in the Columbia River Gorge
Typical Conditions: Cold snowmelt rivers; chill winter rain to summer sun
Under the Drysuit: Polyester yoga pants and a polyester lightweight top, with a Nordic wool sweater. “Yoga pants are great for a drop-seat women’s drysuit because you can stretch them down to relieve yourself, and they’ll lay fat around your midsection. The sweater is warm and cheap, and I wear it after paddling too—I just change the baselayer to something cottony and dry.”
Extras: Teresa prefers pogies for direct contact with the paddle shaft, but keeps a pair of gloves in a drybag. “When it’s cold, I put a hand warmer inside each sweater sleeve.”
Paddler: Dennis Pennell
Home Waters: Long canoe expeditions in northern latitudes
Typical Conditions: The full Monty. Lakes, rivers and whitewater in variable, often extreme, weather. Plus, black fies.
Under the Drysuit: Dennis wears two layers of lightweight SmartWool tops and bottoms, or a light- to mid-weight combo in warmer conditions. “You can’t beat wool for warmth, reasonable dry time, and no stink after many days of paddling. Canoes are a wet ride in whitewater, and my lower body gets cold from splashes or water in the boat. Canoeing usually means more layers on my legs than kayaking.”
Extras: Dennis swears by his NRS Mystery Helmet Liner, which is “toasty warm and sheds rain like a duck.” He paddles in Glacier Glove Perfect Curve gloves. When temperatures plummet, he adds a pair of pogies.
–This story first appeared in the March 2015 issue of Canoe & Kayak.
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