1. Plan spring and summer river trips

If you had a great or a first season paddling whitewater this year, research and make plans for an even better 2017 season. Dig through great resources like American Whitewater, provincial and state whitewater forums and our Paddling Trip Guide for great ideas. Post in online discussion boards, go to paddling events and scour topographic maps for new rivers. Once you have a few ideas of great trips, take the time to block out the days or weeks required so that when April comes, you are ready to go.

2. Stay paddling fit all winter

Even if you don’t slip into a dry suit and paddle all winter, it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain the level of fitness and strength you have throughout the paddling season. Pick new activities like yoga, running, swimming, climbing and cross-country skiing to keep you strong. You can hit the gym too and follow this training plan specifically for paddlers in the off-season.

3. Read about whitewater

When you aren’t sitting in your kayak barreling down steep creeks, stay inspired and keep learning with whitewater literature. From copies of Rapid to whitewater rescue books and manuals to fiction, you could have a stack of tomes on your coffee table to last until ice-out. A great start? Jack Boudreau’s 2010 White Water Devils, a history-filled account of the brave souls over the decades who have sent themselves down rumbling rivers. Once you’ve raced through that, look for Paddling Pacific Northwest Whitewaterand get ready to drive you and your kayaks to the upper left.

4. Make your ride paddling-friendly

When you’re kayaking as much as you can between work, sometimes small logistical details you know you can improve fall through the cracks. When you get a break from paddling, make small tweaks to your car or van that will make shuttles and road trips more kayak friendly. Think a new or improved roof rack, a tarp spread across your trunk for wet clothes and shoes, a permenant stash of dry clothes, non-perishable snacks and new or improved tie-down straps. Oh, and maybe clean your car too. The amount of dirt and pine needles that can find their way into a paddler’s car is astonishing.

5. Organize and love your gear

Take the extra time this winter to organize and sort your paddling gear. Take note of what needs to be repaired and if any items need to be replaced. You can replace the gaskets in your dry suits and tops, sew small holes in skirts, patch cracks in your kayak and wash and dry your PFD. The extra effort now will keep you from worrying about gear problems when the rivers begin to run in the spring.

6. Grow your paddling community

One of the best things about kayaking is being part of the whitewater community. Get engaged in your local whitewater world this winter by joining trips and attending events like movies and speakers. Some pools hold winter sessions for beginner kayakers learning to roll, and even if your roll is solid, you can go and help out. This is a great way to meet more paddling buddies and hear about different rivers and adventures they are going on.


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