Kayaking on lakes is a popular way to enjoy being on the water, seeing the sights, and exercising. Living in Texas around the Lake Conroe area we enjoy mild winters, but you should still take precautions. Most people store their kayaks throughout the winter months. However, kayaking in the winter is possible and has its advantages. You simply need to take some precautions like the 120 rule and dress appropriately.
The 120 Rule
Obviously kayakers do not intend on getting in the water, but one must be prepared to be immersed. Accidents happen. Hypothermia can occur even in the 50s so you need to the learn the 120 rule. It addresses the water and air temperatures. The sum of the two temperatures must not be less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, today the water temperature of Lake Conroe was 56 degrees. You can find the water temperature on this site. The air temperature was 68 degrees. Therefore the sum of the two is 124 degrees, which is a safe temperature to kayak. If the two temperatures are less than 120 degrees, then you need to wear either a wet suit or a dry suit. Wet suits are designed to keep you warm when wet. On the other hand, dry suits keep you dry. They fit more like a jacket than a body forming suit. If you are not interested in investing in either a wet or dry suit, then simply stay home on the colder days. It is not worth the risk to your health.
Most of your body heat leaves from your head; therefore, wearing a hat or beanie is definitely good advice. As the wind whips up, a beanie would also protect your ears. Wearing layers is a must in the winter. You don’t want to get out there sweating all the time nor do you want to be miserably cold. Dry wicking long-sleeved shirts and neoprene pants are great ideas. Depending on the temperature you could also bring gloves to protect your hands. The goal is to stay as dry as possible. Needless to say, you are required by law to wear or have a USCG-approved life jacket on board the kayak. Those younger than thirteen years have to wear the life-saving device.
One of the pros of kayaking in the winter is the number of other people on the lake. It is not the busiest time of the year; therefore, you have much more space and freedom to move. There is less daylight so you might take advantage of seeing the night sky from your kayak as you head to the dock. Of course, you must have the proper white lantern, light, or flashlight to be on the water at sunset. It would be worth it. There is something about the stars coming out and dotting the dark sky as the city lights illuminate and reflect in the water. Or you could make sure that you are back and sit lakeside to enjoy the view.
Kayaking in the winter on Lake Conroe is definitely possible. It would be a shame to not enjoy the lake solely because of the season. So, I hope you learned two simple precautions to take to safely enjoy your kayak in January and February, our coldest months of the year. Stay safe and be smart as you enjoy the lake life.