Winter time ditch bag

Lets face it, when you decide to take your kayak out when the water and air temp is low you are taking a risk. There are so many factors that can easily lead to disaster if one is not prepared.The biggest danger in cold weather is hypothermia. When your body gets wet You loose body heat extremely fast and most times you may not have enough time to save yourself depending on the situation you have put yourself in.

This post will not be on proper dress or standard cold water precautions, rather on some of the essential survival gear one needs on board their kayak to deal with unexpected occurrences.

The kit I am going to describe is what I call a bail out or ditch bag. This is gear that is only to be used in a survival situation and should be inspected before every cold water outing. (The contents listed here are what I use and your kit may need to have other items in it due to the environment you are planning on going out in.)

The Dry Bag

This will keep your survival gear dry and ready. This needs to be stored under some bungees on top of your kayak and have a long lanyard on it that you can clip to your PFD. This way if you go in the water and the wind or current separates you from your kayak and makes it impossible to get back to it, you will have all your essential survival gear with you. The air in the dry bag will allow it to float.  Dry Bag 10L



Dry warm clothes
These you will change into once you get on land, dry and warmed up. Anything made from wool is a good choice here as it insulates even when wet. Toboggan, socks, trousers, gloves and sweater.

Towel
To dry off.

Air activated hand warmer packets 

These are not just for comfort, they are great because you can put them under your armpits and in your crotch area to get warmed up quickly. These will save you life!
HotHands Hand Warmers




Heat reflective emergency blanket 

To wrap your self in while you get warmed up and wait for rescue. Can also be used to keep you dry if it starts raining.
Survival Blanket










Water and wind proof matches or lighter and tinder
To start a fire with once on land. This will be a difficult with the condition you may find yourself in, and will usually be done after getting dry and warmed back up.
Waterproof Matches
Velocity Fire-Starter Sticks

Bottled water
Believe it or not you can become dehydrated even quicker in the cold and wind as in the summer heat. Being dehydrated does not help a survival situation very much at all.

High protein energy bars
If you can not paddle out on your own and have to wait for rescue you will need energy to generate body heat, the more calories the better,
Emergency Ration for Survival Kits  

Cell phone or VHF radio
This should be kept in your ditch bag. To call for help. Some inland fisheries a VHF radio will do you no good as not many people will monitor these.
Cobra Floating VHF Radio

Paracord 

To be used in many number of ways to survive, should you have to await rescue,
Paracord









The Pre-launch risk assessment
Before getting in your kayak and paddling off into the sunset looking for that trophy you should take a minute and go over in your head all the possible scenarios that could happen and mentally prepare yourself for the action you will take in each event. This gives you precious seconds that you do not have to think about what to do when something goes wrong.

If you find yourself in the water, the perfect situation would be to get to land as soon as possible. However if you find yourself in a situation where this is not possible, you are in real danger and hopefully you remain calm and get your communications device out and call out for help. If you do not know your position where you can instruct potential rescuers where to find you you are indeed in grave danger.

These are just items that I carry, you can add or take away as the need for your paddling environment dictates.

The biggest advice I can give you is; if you are not prepared to deal with any situation that may arise when out on the water in the cold....Cold water can kill you,  Stay home.


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