As winter arrives, a little extra motivation is sometimes required to face the colder, bleaker conditions which we must brave in order to get on the water. Luckily we've got five ideas for winter luxuries – small bonuses that can make your winter paddling adventures that little bit more pleasurable ...
In the winter, the chances are that the ground is a) cold, and b) wet. Avoid both of these miseries, and keep your socks warm and dry with a lovely changing mat. Ours is made from 20 mm thick insulating foam, with a hard wearing Nylon cover, and it folds in half neatly, to keep grit and mud away from the rest of your gear. Winner.
Unfortunately many of the best paddling destinations offer only a bleak car park or laybay in which to prepare, rather than a heated changing room. A Palm Poncho or Poncho Grande changing robe will keep you warm, save your modesty, and crucially save others the view of your bum. You know it makes sense.
Mitts, or pogies, are easily the best way to keep your hands warm whilst maintaining proper grip and control of your paddle. Never underestimate the difference a good set of Mitts makes. Keep the wind off, and your hands will feel like it’s a balmy summer’s day. Choose tough, close fitting neoprene ones for whitewater, or lightweight, fleece lined fabric ones for touring.
Forget the days of stinky, damp socks and cold feet. You can now get your hands on some lovely Tsangpo fleece socks, which are not only softer and warmer than your favourite teddy bear, but treated with Polygiene odour control so they won't smell like your old ones. They even fit perfectly inside your drysuit/drytrouser sock. Welcome to the 21st century, where cold feet needn't bother you any more ...
Not a piece of paddling gear, but one of the biggest bonuses of winter paddling is the excuse to snaffle extra cake! Whether you’re stopping off in a warm cafe for tea and medals, or cramming in a tasty treat on the river bank, a slice of chocolatey goodness is just the reward you’ve earned for heroically getting out paddling when sensible folk stayed indoors. As a bonus, here's our favourite recipe for Millionaire's shortbread (not technically a cake, but king of sweet snacks anyway).
(from Blue Peter circa 1995 – still the best)
Mix together until forms a ball and grease tin 13x9 ins, Press mixture into tin and bake 15-20mins at 180 C
Melt ingredients together and then BOIL for 4 mins stirring all the time. Leave to cool slightly and then pour over base. Leave in the fridge to cool.