Gear Guy

Can you dress me for winter kayaking?

Gear Guy, dress me for kayaking in the marshes of the lower Connecticut River this winter. It's prime roosting territory for Bald Eagles through late February. David Hadd, Connecticut

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Winter on the lower Connecticut River soundsBcold. I assume this isn’t a real aerobic paddling trip; mainly just moving around in search of eagles, right? So you’ll want to dress for cold, damp weather without a lot of arm-waving to keep you warm. I’d layer up—starting with mid-weight long underwear, something like REI’s Midweight MTS Crewneck Shirt ($30) and matching pants ($30). Over that, for the torso, I’d add a light fleece layer such as Mountain Hardwear’s Powergrid Zip Pullover ($65), which uses a waffle-pattern material called Polartec Thermal Pro that is very warm for a light layer. That might be enough under a good shell. Or, add a Patagonia Puffball Sweater ($140), a really great layering piece that adds a lot of warmth without much bulk.

From the waist down, I might go with something like L.L. Bean’s Dryskin Guide Pants ($125), which are wind and water resistant. Or, some light waterproof, breathable pants such as Marmot’s Precip Pant ($69). And throw in an insulated seatpad of some sort—otherwise your butt is gonna freeze in that boat.

The tough call is footwear. Odds are good your feet will get wet, so I’d go with something like this: warm socks, such as SmartWool Hiking Socks ($16), then a pair of Gore-Tex socks ($40) or some made from SealSkinz ($30). Finally, you’ll want shoes that can take some water, such as the Adidas Hellbender ($85). Your feet will stay warm and dry, but you’ll also be able to stick them in the water as needed.

Happy eagle watching!

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