River Fun and Kayaking in the Fall


Whether you like it or not, fall is coming. Yes, I said it.  Summer is almost over. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stop paddling or quit enjoying the river.  Fall is actually one of my favorite times of the year to paddle.  Lately we’ve been kayaking, stand up paddling, and rafting on the Alberton Gorge and not seeing a soul. More river for those of us still out there!

But, fall padding means making a few adjustments. And with cooler temps on the way, warmer gear is a must.

I’m sure as many of you know, there always seems to be an upstream breeze that starts to work its way up the Clark Fork River every afternoon.  I’ve learned to expect and enjoy it, although it can be a bit chilly on take out, as it was the other day.

When I got home, I decided to pull out the dusty Rubbermaid storage container where my cold weather gear has been piling up over the years. (I like to store all of my unused gear in the containers because it protects it from the sun and keeps rodents and insects out.)

If you’re new to fall paddling, here are some key pieces of gear that will help keep you warm while kayaking in the fall or in any cool weather:

– Dry Top
– Skull Cap (See picture of my dog, Lucia)
– Dry pants
– One piece fleece suit
-Thin pair of neoprene socks to wear under your booties
-Thin polypropylene shirt for underneath uni-suit to soak up the sweat

Storing and Maintaining Kayaking Clothing

Many dry tops and dry pants have latex gaskets.  To keep you dry and toasty, it’s important to do some preventative maintenance for long term use.  Every month, I like to wipe my gaskets down with 303 Aerospace Protectant (sounds serious but it’s not!), which helps prevent cracking and splitting.  What a buzz kill when you’re on the river and a gasket breaks!  Another recommendation is to always have a replacement gasket lying around.  You don’t want to miss a day of paddling due to a broken gasket.

The sun is bad for all of your gear and is a good way to wear it down quick. I like to let all of my gear drip dry, either in my garage or a dry line in the shade.  A rotating fan is also a great tool for drying out your wet gear.  In the winter, I use a fan/heater combination.

This is also a good time of year to pick up some discounted gear from the local shops.  Most shops have great fall sales and want to unload their current inventory of paddling gear to clear space for new, incoming merchandise.

Don’t let cooler weather scare you or your dog from paddling! Get out on the water and have some fun! Just be sure to prepare well for the cooler weather and dress to stay warm.


Check out these other blogs by Jason Shreder, owner of Zoo Town Surfers: Whitewater Kayaking and Learning to Roll Go with the Flow and Get in the Know or Kayaking the Lochsa River.

You may also want to check out our page on Missoula Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting.

See Jason Shredder’s “Go With the Flow” archive.


Jason Shreder, owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. I love Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it.  I’m constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with my awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.