How to stay safe on your autumn paddle

Just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean that paddling season is! In fact, autumn is a perfect time to get out on the flat water and enjoy the beautiful palette of colours that nature has on offer.



However, you should still take all relevant safety precautions. Just because the air temperature might be quite pleasant, wind, cold water and the unpredictable British weather could still cause small waves in your otherwise smooth trip.

Take a look at some basic safety tips and how to dress appropriately for your tip to ensure your time on the water remains free from incidents.

Keep an eye on the light

The sun is starting to set earlier day by day, so you need to keep this at the forefront of your mind when you’re out on the water. Because of this, you should try and get an earlier start than you might during the summer months, as you’ll want to utilise as much sunlight as possible during the shorter days.

You should also remember to use a deck light or headlamp while you’re out on the water as visibility becomes poorer. Not only will this help you to navigate, but also to keep your canoe or kayak visible to other boats on the water.

What to wear

Let’s face it, the temperature of the water at this time of year isn’t pleasant and will continue to drop, increasing the risk of cold-shock should you capsize. In order to ensure you remain as safe as possible, you should dress under the premise that you will end up in the water. Follow the guidelines below to ensure you stay both safe and warm should you end up in the drink:

  • Wear your base layers, whether they are synthetic or merino wool. They will keep the moisture off your skin, which goes a long way towards keeping you warm if you end up getting wet.

  • Wear an insulating mid-layer. Again, merino wool will do a nice job, or if you haven’t got one, wear a fleece. You may feel too warm at times, but being prepared for the water temperature should you become immersed is extremely important.

  • A waterproof jacket and trousers over everything is a good choice for your final layer, which will keep you projected from wind, rain and any spray that may be stirred up by the paddling. If your boat can accommodate it, you may also want to consider a spray deck to stop the cold water from pooling around you.

  • Round the whole outfit off with some water shoes or neoprene boots. Wearing a pair of wool socks underneath them will help to keep your feet warm and dry as you go about your business.

Layering up as described above will help to keep you comfortable as you paddle. If you find you are getting too hot, you can de-layer but you should do so with caution, as you will want as much protection as possible should you end up in the water.

Autumn paddling is also the perfect time to utilise dry bags. It is a good idea to keep a dry bag with some spare clothes in your boat, meaning you can head to shore and get changed if you get wet.

What to avoid

This should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway – avoid wearing cotton at all costs! When cotton gets wet, it does a great job at sapping the heat from your body. And if you get immersed, it can be a struggle to even get back into your boat in cotton clothes. Leave it at home, follow our guide above and you’ll be safe for your autumn paddle!

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