A couple of weeks ago when we still had ice and snow in Southern Finland I decided to take my packraft to do some winter packrafting and to paddle along the ice shore in Turku. So far I have only packrafted during the warmer months of the year except for last autumn when I was packrafting at Suolijärvi temperatures also dropped to 0C during the night.
In order to keep myself warm, I was wearing merino pants and merino shirts under my fleece jacket and on top of that a waterproof dry suite. The drysuit which I have ordered at the packrafting store has worked so far quite well except the gloves which didn’t last that long and I had to order (and also for Konstantin) a new pair of gloves a couple of days ago.
You might now wonder if a simple merino pants layer under a dry suit is sufficient while doing winter packrafting. Well, I also added an insulation pad on the bottom of my packraft and the packraft itself also traps some heat once the spraydeck is closed. However, it depends on the temperature and if you quickly feel cold or not. Concerning layering clothes you can also refer to my article which I wrote last year where I have listed all of my gear (except the insulation pad).
Basically, it’s always a good idea to go with someone else packrafting regardless of the weather and the water conditions. If you need help then there is always someone who can help you. Also, I always make sure to wear proper safety gear and when packrafting in a river a helmet is a must even when the river does not look that demanding. Once I fall out of the packraft in a rapid because my packraft got stuck on a tree and I almost hit my head on that tree.
Besides safety gear, it’s also important to have some snacks and water with you. My life jacket has a pocket where I always carry some snacks with me. Also you should consider taking sufficient water with you. Especially, when it’s cold you might not feel that you are thirsty but it’s still important to drink regularly.
Also worth considering is to take some additional clothes with you e.g. a down jacket in case you want to have a break. You might also inform one of your relatives where you are packrafting and it’s also handy to have a cell phone with you. For extra safety, you should also consider packraft in a way that you can easily get out of the water e.g. not too far away from the shore as the cold water can make you feel cold even with a dry suit.
Latex Socks and Teva Sandals combination…works during the summer and winter. You just have to wear different merino socks under them.