How To: Dressing for a Cool Weather Canoe Trip
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How To: Dressing for a Cool Weather Canoe Trip


hey everyone my name is Alex Haney and today
I’m going to be talking about what to wear on an early spring canoe trip. Now, I’m making
this video with a very specific trip in mind. I’m guiding a beginner’s canoe trip into Algonquin
provincial park in the middle of May. So what we’re expecting in Algonquin in the middle
of May is daytime average temperatures of around 16 degrees and night time is usually
around six degrees. That’s degrees celsius for all you Americans. They also get about
seventeen days out of the month that are rainy or drizzly. Now there are many many ways to
approach how to dress and what to wear on a canoe trip. This is just my system that
I like. Basically what I do for a canoe trip is I have one outfit that I’m going to be
wearing during the day while I’m paddling and also in camp until I’m sleeping. Then
I have something that I wear exclusively in the tent, only for sleeping. And that also
serves as my emergency clothes if I get absolutely soaked and its freezing cold and I’m scared
of getting hypothermia. The most important things to know are what kinds of materials
to look for as well as the different layers because w’ere going to start thinking in a
layering system for backcountry travel. So we’ll just start with what we’re wearing during
the day while we’re paddling, portaging, that kind of thing. Your first layer is called
your base layer or your wicking layer. Basically the purpose of this layer is to wick sweat
away, keep you dry and warm and all that stuff so that you know, the moisture next to your
skin doesn’t steal heat from your body. The most important thing for this trip is to stay
away from cotton. What we’re going to be looking for, the materials for our daytime base layer
are either going to be polyester, nylon or merino wool. So polyester is usually your
cheapest option. I would go with a long sleeved shirt for this trip. So this is an example
of a polyester top. Your next option is nylon. This is an example of a canoeing button up
shirt thats nylon. I actually don’t have any merino wool base layers because they’re pretty
expensive and usually for a trip like this I prefer a mid weight sort of polyester so
I will probably be wearing this shirt myself. So on top of your base layer goes your insulating
layers and this is exactly what it sounds like, its just there to keep you warm, trap
warm air in the layers between them. And you want them to be made of materials that dry
quickly and also retain some of their warmth even when they’re wet because chances are
they’ll get a little bit damp at least. So we’re going to be bringing a couple of different
insulating layers with us. Some of my favourite materials for this are a fleece like this
one here. This is probably exactly what I’ll be bringing for my first insulating layer,
its just a really lightweight fleece. For this first layer you’re going to want to go
pretty lightweight, so not much thicker than your base layer. Another one I like is merino
wool. Here’s an example of a lightweight merino wool insulating layer. So on top of that first
thin, lightweight insulating layer we’re going to put another sort of thicker more warm and
protective layer on top of that. And how thick this is really is up to you, you know how
cold do you think you could possibly get when its around six degrees. Think about that because
when we get up in the mornings its going to be pretty chilly. One of my favourite options
for this layer is to bring a down puffy. So thats probably what I’ll be wearing for this
trip. The ting thats great about these is they’re pretty lightweight and compressible.
Another option again is just to put another layer of fleece on top. So a slightly thicker
layer of fleece. Here’s an example of something I might wear on top. Just a little bit of
a thicker weight fleece and make sure too that all of these layers are plenty loose.
So you know before you go out make sure you try on all this stuff and make sure it feels
comfortable all worn together. A third option for this layer is to bring a thick wool sweater
like this one. The thing i really like about wool is you don’t really have to worry about
it near the fire, so thats a huge bonus for us. First before we talk about pants we’ll
talk a bit about underwear. This is the underwear that I always bring on my trips. You’re definitely
not going to want to wear your regular cotton underwear. So you’re going to either look
for some kind of polyester/spandex mix or a wool/spandex mix. And I would suggest bringing
two pairs of underwear. One during the day, one for wearing at night. For pants in cooler
weather I really like to wear a bit of a thicker weave nylon pant. Definitely not going to
want to go with jeans, jeans are cotton. So these are the pants that I’ll be wearing on
the trip. These are a mountain equipment co-op nylon pant. This is another example of a nylon
pant with a bit of spandex in it. And ideally I want you to be able to find as much of this
stuff at home as possible. It just will save you a bunch of money so you know if you do
happen to have some polyester pants… this is an example of a polyester pant that I would
usually wear in a bit warmer weather. But it would be totally doable for this trip as
well during the day. You can go ahead and bring those. Before we talk about stuff for
our extremities like hands, head, shoes, socks, that kind of stuff… I’m going to talk about
what to bring for night time. So this is really going to depend on how warm your sleeping
bag is and how hot you sleep. You really have to feel that out for yourself. If you’re unsure
about it I would go err on the cooler side, just bring a little bit more stuff. It’s not
going to be an intense trip at all so you know, bring extra stuff if you feel like you’re
unsure. So for night time you’re going to bring an extra base layer shirt. And here’s
an example of something that I might bring to sleep in. This is going to be a little
bit of a thicker weight, ideally, than what you’re wearing during the day. If you’re feeling
cold at night and that layer is just not cutting it in your sleeping bag, then you’ll definitely
be able to throw on some of the layers that you brought for the daytime. The reason why
they’re made out of those specific materials is that they shouldn’t… they should dry
relateively quickly and be okay for you to wear at night if you need to. If they are
a little bit damp, having that dry layer next to your skin will help a lot and they’ll dry
out during the night from your body heat. So for night time, you’re also going to want
a separate pair of pants. And there are a couple options, depending on how warm your
sleeping bag is. I’ll probably bring a thick pair of long johns. And another really good
option is to bring a thick, somewhat, medium weight fleece pant. And if you feel like this
won’t be, this wouldn’t even be warm enough for you, you could definitely bring long johns
and these fleece pants and that will keep you really toasty. Now I’m going to talk a
bit about storm stuff. So. You’re going to want something to wear for when it rains,
because chances are its going to rain at least a little bit. Basically that means a rain
jacket and some kind of rain pant. Stick with a really protective nylon jacket or something
like that. I wouldn’t bother with goretex or any of that stuff. And same with the rain
pants. These are the rain pants I’ll be bringing, just like a thick nylon MEC rain pant. So
you’re going to want two different hats. For during the day when its not too cold you could
go with something like this, its just a baseball cap. Or you could go with something more protective
like this hat, this is something I bring sometimes on paddling trips. And then you’re going to
want something a bit warmer too so this is what I bring. Just bring any kind of toque
preferably you know something made out of something synthetic or wool would be ideal.
Another thing you’re going to want for your head is a good pair of sunglasses. The reason
I don’t have any to show you is that I actually need a new pair of sunglasses. You know just
bring whatever pair you have, its not going to be super sunny and ruin your eyes but definitely
bring something. Definitely bring something lightweight for your hands. The idea thing
to bring for while paddling would be something waterproof like this neoprene glove that I
have that I might be bringing. If I didn’t have those then I’d bring something like this.
This is a mix of wool and some synthetic fibre I believe. Or just like a fleece mitten would
be awesome. Usually for this kind of trip I’d bring three pairs of socks. So I’d bring
one pair to wear while paddling, one to change into in camp just to give my feet a bit of
a break from the constant wetness, and then one that I exclusively wear at night time.
So you’re going to want socks that are either wool or synthetic in case you haven’t caught
onto that pattern yet. Smartwool is awesome. Darn tough is also a really good brand. But
you can also definitely you know just go cheap and go buy some synthetic socks. Thats totally
fine. You’re also going to want to different pairs of shoes, and this is a huge point of
contention with canoeists I feel like. You know what shoes to wear? I like to have one
dedicated pair of shoes for portaging specifically. You’re going to want something that has a
bit more protection, support for your ankles if you need it, a bit of waterproofing if
you want it. You could totally get away with wearing running shoes in my opinion. I do
like to wear hiking boots for that time of year. These are what I’ll be wearing, Goretex
hiking boots. But if you don’t have those, thats completely fine. You can totally just
wear a pair of running shoes. Yeah its gonna get soaked but thats also the reason why we
have other stuff to change into. And then I like to have one other lighter pair of shoes
to wear at camp. And I like to make these kind of an amphibious shoe so that you know
I can wear them in the canoe as well, because I don’t like wearing my heavy hiking boots
except for when I’m portaging. So you know keens are really nice, I just picked up these.
These are just a lightweight pair of crocs. I’ll put a link below to a detailed packing
list for you all that are coming on this canoe trip with me so you can peruse it and check
things off as you’re acquiring them, packing them, that kind of stuff. If you have any
questions definitely post them below and I’ll get back to them as soon as I can. Thanks
for watching.

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