The challenges of Spring Kayaking: Warm Weather and Cold Water

Spring is a fantastic time to get out on the water in your kayak. Winter is finally over and the great outdoors can be at its finest at this time of year. The trees are beginning to blossom, flowers are popping up all over the banks, and the birds are preparing to nest. 

Although spring can be one of the most beautiful times of year to head out kayaking, you still have to prepare yourself well. Although the air temperatures in spring are on the rise, the water temperature can still be cold. It's important to not get complacent in the springtime and be sensible with your choice of clothes, equipment, and kayaking location.

It’s not just the cold waters that you should be aware of either. Unpredictable weather conditions, changing water levels, debris in the water, and active wildlife can all alter your experience.

In this article, we'll be looking at some of the dangers involved with kayaking in the spring and how you can stay safe on the water. We’ll also be looking at a few considerations you can make to ensure you, your kayaking gear, and the wildlife around you stay safe and enjoy the beauty of this magical season.

Things To Consider When Kayaking in the Springtime

There are some things to consider when kayaking in spring. If you address these potential issues, you can mitigate the risks that come with kayaking after the winter. 

The five considerations on this list will help you stay safe while ensuring you have the most enjoyable experience out on the water this spring. They’ll also help you look after the environment you are paddling in.

Always respect the nature around you — remember, you’re a guest in the stunning watery environments you explore.

1. The Water Temperatures in Spring Can be Low

The water temperatures in spring can be low, especially in areas that are still experiencing cool air temperatures early in the season. If you’re planning on kayaking soon, it is important to be aware of the water temperature and to dress appropriately. 

Wearing a wetsuit or a drysuit can help to keep the body warm and prevent hypothermia, which can be dangerous in cold water. It is also recommended to check the local weather forecast and water temperature before heading out on the water. This can help to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience, even in the spring when temperatures can be lower.

Definitely don’t underestimate the water temperatures at this time of year. You must be prepared for the worst-case scenario. If you do fall into cold water, your body can go into shock and cramp up — this can lead to drowning. 

We don’t say this to put you off kayaking at this time of year, but you should be aware of the dangers. Something I like to do at this time of year is a bit of wild swimming — in shallow water of course. I believe this helps me acclimatize and improve my chances if I do capsize far from the bank.

It’s always best to stick close to the banks at this time of year as well as in the winter. This way, if you do capsize you stand a chance of making it to the bank quickly. It’s also wise to pack a small drybag with a change of clothes — you hope you’ll never need to use it but you’ll be grateful if you do get wet.

2. The Weather Can Be Unpredictable

Kayaking in spring can be unpredictable, as the weather can change quickly and unexpectedly. It is important to be prepared for a variety of conditions, including wind, rain, and even sun. To stay safe while kayaking in spring, it is crucial to check the weather forecast before heading out and to be aware of the current conditions on the water. 

It is also a good idea to bring a waterproof jacket, hat, and gloves, even on sunny days, as spring weather can be unpredictable. Even if these stay in a dry bag the whole time, it’s definitely well-worth being prepared. Spring showers can come out of nowhere and if you want to enjoy your time on the water for the duration of your trip, being prepared clothing-wise is essential.

While the weather can be unpredictable in spring, proper preparation and awareness of the conditions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience.

3. Water Levels Can Change Quickly

Water levels can change quickly in spring, due to heavy rainfall or melting snow from the hill tops. These changes can affect the flow and currents of rivers and lakes, making kayaking more challenging and potentially dangerous. It is important to be aware of the water levels before heading out on the water, and to plan your kayaking route accordingly. 

If you are kayaking in areas that are prone to rapid water level changes, it is advisable to kayak with a partner, carry a map and compass or a waterproof GPS. you should also contact someone on the bank that can notify you of potential changes in conditions and notify search and rescue if the worst happens.

It is also important to have the necessary skills to handle unexpected situations, such as capsizing or getting caught in a current. By being mindful of the changing water levels and taking the necessary precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience in spring.

Don’t underestimate the water levels at this time of year. A peaceful scenic stretch of river can quickly turn in to your worst nightmare with a bit of rain further upstream.

4. Watch Out for Debris After Rainfall

After rainfall, it is important to be mindful of debris in the water while kayaking. Heavy rain can cause trees, branches, and other debris to be carried into rivers and lakes, creating potential hazards for kayakers. 

To stay safe while kayaking in spring after rainfall, it is recommended to be vigilant and keep an eye out for any floating objects in the water. Avoid paddling too close to shore, as this is where much of the debris can accumulate. 

It is also a good idea to know the environment your paddling in, have information from other kayakers that have navigated the area in spring, and/or have a map of the area, so you can plan your route around any known hazards. While kayaking in spring after rainfall can be enjoyable and exciting, you must take the necessary precautions to stay safe and aware of potential hazards.

5. Be Mindful of the Wildlife and Nature Around You

The flora and fauna are at their most active during the spring. The flowers are blooming, the trees are getting their leaves back, and several animals are preparing to nest after a long winter. 

Kayaking in spring can offer the opportunity to observe and enjoy this wildlife and nature around you. However, it is important to be mindful of the impact that kayaking can have on the environment and wildlife. 

To minimize your impact, you must follow the "leave no trace" principles, such as avoiding disturbing wildlife, staying on designated kayaking routes, and properly disposing of any trash. It is also important to respect the habitats of the wildlife and to avoid making loud noises or getting too close to animals, as this can cause stress and disruption to their natural behavior. 

If you love watching wildlife, you should be mindful of where you go and how you interact with the nature around you. Nature, animals in particular, can be venerable at this time of the year. It’s our duty to preserve and protect the environment we love exploring and it’s important we leave animals, their habitat, and their food sources undisturbed.

By being mindful of the wildlife and nature around you and following responsible kayaking practices, you can help protect and preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy.


  • conor mc namara

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  • conor mc namara

    great advice from great company who dont just sell you a kayak for best price delivered to your door but continue to supply fantastic offers and information and an IRISH COMPANY 👍🛶🛶

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