1. A good dry top/trouser combo or dry suit. Keeping dry inside makes keeping warm that much easier. Even some of the two piece systems (dry top and dry trousers) available are getting close to being as good as a dry suit. Price is some much better as is the flexibility of the system.
2. Solid footwear. Wet river banks and slippery rocks are not a great combination if you have dodgy footwear. A good pair of river shoes or boots are worth there weight in gold. Currently using Five Ten Water Tennies or the new Astral Rassler.
3. Good socks. Conventional socks only really work if you have a dry suit with built in dry socks. However various manufacturers make thin 3 and 4mm thick neoprene socks that can help keep your feet warm even when wet.
4. Base layers. I love merino kit – it’s warm when wet and doesn’t smell! But any good, thin base layer will do the job. Colder = more layers. Polartec fleece also works really wet in cold/wet conditions.
6. Pogies or gloves. Cold hands are almost worse than cold feet. If you aren’t able to hold your paddle then you are pretty stuffed. Palm and Immersion Research make some really good neoprene pogoes that are warm even when wet and can really help keep wind chill off your hands. Some paddlers like gloves but some times they can feel a little bulky and can make holding the paddle more difficult. However some years ago I had a pair of Typhoon neoprene gloves that worked fantastically.
7. A good set of emergency kit in a dry bag is always a good idea but is even more important when it is cold. I carry a “When it all goes wrong kit” for a bad turn of events.
8. Warm kit to get changed into after a day on the river is also a good idea. I like to carry plenty of stuff in the car. A big down jacket is always a good move.
9. A Buff for wearing under your helmet or even as an extra barrier to catch any drips of water that manage to find their way through your neck seal.
10. If you can, retreat to a good pub or cafe at the end of the day. A big mug of tea and some cake always goes down well.