For paddlers here in the UK the start of winter results in a greater chance of better water levels. It also means that getting on the water to take advantage of the better water levels results in a much colder paddling experience!
When I started out paddling getting wet was just the way it was. You would definitely get wet and would probably end up cold. Gear has come such a long way since then and it is possible to stay almost perfectly dry even after a swim.
We’ve got a few posts on the site that covers the kind of gear you could use to be more comfortable when you are on the water. That said the simple fact is that staying both dry and warm is going to cost. The pinnacle of dryness, warmth and comfort has got to be the drysuit with a good set of base layers to keep you warm. The number and thickness of the base layers can be varied depending on how cold it actually is.
The above is the usually kind of stuff you read when you are looking to stay warm and dry on the water. However I think it is just important to consider what you will be wearing before you get on the river and also when you get off.
At the start of a trip you’ll be unloading boats, getting changed and generally faffing a great deal. You may be the person doing the shuttle run or you may be staying with the boats at the get in.
At the end of the paddle there may well be another shuttle, you may have taken a swim at some point. It could be pretty cold. You could be in the back end of nowhere and the weather could be crap. It therefore makes sense to have the right gear on before and after you paddle. The dry robe has become quite a popular piece of kit and can easily put on over your full paddling gear, including your PFD. They also pack small enough to throw in a dry bag and take along on the river.