The magnificent waters of Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour lie at 43 degrees south, in the direct path of the winds that sailors call the Roaring 40s (yep – hence our name!). These prevailing westerlys sweep around high southern latitudes, almost unhindered by land and bringing high rainfall – just over two metres – to this part of the island.
Whilst most of the bad weather predictably arrives in the winter months and during the summer there are long spells of sunny, mild (and sometimes hot) days, the conditions are changeable all year round. It’s a big part of the area’s special appeal with changing light, dramatic cloudscapes, moody mists, showers obscuring the mountain summits and days that are still, calm, cloudless and warm. It just means you have to be prepared for all kinds of weather, all year round.
So what to wear?
Generally dressing for kayaking is similar to other outdoor activities – it’s all about layers that can be added to and removed easily as required during the day. Most importantly for on water activities, all your clothing should retain little water as damp clothing will cool your body.
Base layer: wicking fabrics with polyproplene or wool thermals are ideal. We recommend bringing both a short and a long-sleeved top, which can be interchanged depending on the temperature or doubled up if very cold, plus long thermal pants.
Second insulation layer: fleece tops are ideal over the base layer.
Outer layer: a waterproof paddling jacket (with a hood) and waterproof pants. We supply this outer layer on our expeditions but if you are buying for your own paddling, look for breathability, wrist gaskets to keep your arms dry and a hood to keep your head dry. Make sure it is generously sized so you can fit those all important layers comfortably underneath it. Kokotat brand is one brand we recommend.
Hands: the main options are neoprene pogies or gloves (we provide neoprene pogies on our Southwest expeditions). If buying for yourself, neoprene gloves protect your fingers but can hold water and reduce your grip on the paddle shaft, while pogies don’t hold the heat as well but drain easily and allow direct contact between your hand and the paddle. Pogies are also simple to put on as they attach to the paddle shaft.
Head: beanies are essential for cold weather paddling. We always recommend taking two on an expedition, so if one gets wet you always have a backup. Having a hood on your waterproof paddling jacket is also essential to help keep your head warm, although you can also look at waterproof hats.
Feet: your feet will get wet paddling so all footwear options must be able to get wet. For cold weather, neoprene booties are the best footwear and they come in a wide variety, mostly with a thick rubber sole. In a Tasmanian summer, waterproof sandals can be a good options (Teva and Keen have some great styles). Crocs are another great choice for sea kayaking, and what you’ll find most of our guides wearing!
Here are some pics of Reg demonstrating what he wears expedition kayaking in Southwest Tasmania.
For expedition kayaking, once you have your layers for kayaking, a similar layer system for camping is also essential. Thermal base layer, insulation layer of fleece or down and a waterproof layer for over the top.
If you have any other questions regarding what to wear kayaking here in Tasmania, don't hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to help you out.