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Thread: Alaska Lake Touring: What to wear?

  1. #1
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    Default Alaska Lake Touring: What to wear?

    Any information and experience would be greatly appreciated. My wife and I moved here recently, and have never kayaked in cold water before. We plan to put in on lakes in the Mat-Su area as soon as the ice melts. We were trying to decide on wetsuits/drysuits/ or semi dry apparel. We are beginners and don't have much rescue or re-entry experience. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Nothing beats a breathable drysuit in cold weather or cold water. I doubt many people use them on lakes, but if you are just beginning they could prove to be valuable. Might even save a life. Later, as you get more adventuresome, and try a sea crossing, you will still find the drysuit to be valuable.

    I personally find wet suits to be a miserable excuse for adequate boating attire in any cool weather condition. Once they get wet from splash or sweat they provide excellent evaporative cooling for hours. If the water is only moderately cold but the air is very warm, they can be great. Otherwise they are as deadly as wet cotton.

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    Default Thanks for the info.

    I just went down willow creek today in an inflatable whitewater kayak. what a blast. my friend lent me a drysuit (kokatat) and it fit so comfortably, I think this is what my wife and I will get for lake kayaking, just to be safe.

    thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Willow Creek in an IK can be a blast. Perhaps the best IK stream around. There are some of the upper sections that are way over my head, but I like the section from the guardrail access trail on down.

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    We didn't start as far up as the guardrail, we just went up about 2 miles from Shirley Town Rd, and paddled down to Shirley Town Bridge for the take out. The water was running about 500 which is about avg, I am told. It would be cool to try when it is running a bit faster.

    how much harder is it from the guardrail?

  6. #6
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default KCK - Be safe

    I am not an experienced paddler by any means, but can share some things we found useful last year. Consider investing $20 in this DVD: "Practical Kayaking", by "The Dolpin's Eye", (http://www.rei.com/product/727217)- an excellent DVD guide to safe/enjoyable kayaking. I was impressed with their emphasis and teaching of self-rescue techniques; use of on-land practice then in-water practice. At the beginning of the DVD, the survey of experienced kayakers then videotaped volunteer trying to re-enter are instructive. They show you how to practice on land, how to use a paddle float, the importance of holding onto your kayak if you do go in, and how to help rescue another paddler.

    Consider practicing self-rescue. Last year, my wife, daughter and I learned a lot from Knik Canoers & Kayakers (http://www.kck.org/). Terrific group of folks. Their annual safety class and subsequent "Still Waters" classes were excellent resources for us. They had a pool session which allowed us to practice re-entry, use of throwing rope, and PFD gear safely. They seemed to all use dry (not wet) suits especially on flowing waters, as others above have recommended. KCK's safety approach was that if you spend time on the water (still or flowing), assume you'll be in the water one day and be prepared.

    The combination of "...moved here recently...never kayaked in cold water before...plan to put in soon... don't have much rescue or re-entry experience" is sometimes the classic setup for trouble. Knowing how to rescue yourself, or how to help another paddler might be simple, worth a practice session or two and if you get drysuits - might be fun.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Water craft safety

    I am going to order a couple of these DVD's for myself.
    Over the years, I have aquired a few canoe & Kayak, raft instruction videos, and I put them in the rental store for people to watch before going out in a canoe , Kayak or Raft.
    It would be a good thing if all of us had a better understanding of how to manage our water craft better.
    Improving our skill level, learning techniques, and safety and cold water survival.
    Knowledge empowers people, and practicing what we are taught will and can save lives.
    Deep water rescue is so important.
    knowing how to save your self and others makes the sport so much more fullfilling.
    Please folks, as you come across these resources, please share them with us all.
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  8. #8
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    6xleach,

    points well taken. thanks I've ordered a bunch of dvd's to study and read tons of disaster stories to learn from. Just haven't done much of it for real yet. We are DEFINITELY planning to paddle in mellow waters with dry suits all the time until we become more experienced. We also signed up for a beginners tour with an operation out of Seward, so that should be a good learning experience.

    I definitely don't want to go out in open water without knowing how to self rescue and having all the necessary safety gear. I've read too many stories about even experts being caught in bad situations.

    Will post here after the Seward adventure.

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