Call the kayak rental place beforehand. Companies often close up shop if it’s too rainy, windy or cold. “Some places are pickier about the weather than others,” Cooper says.
Kayak in the afternoon. Take advantage of the higher midday temperatures and “make sure you give yourself enough time to get back” before the sun sets and the mercury drops, Cooper says.
Rent a sit-in kayak. “You’ll stay a lot warmer and get less wet than you would with a sit-on-top kind,” Cooper says.
Wear wicking materials. Ideally, your shirt, pants and underwear should be made of quick-dry fabrics. Whatever you do, avoid cotton — it traps moisture and clings to your skin. “Being cold and wet is a dangerous combination,” Cooper says.
Pack wisely. A light jacket, a warm hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are good companions. (Many kayak rental companies rent drybags, and some kayaks have dry compartments.)
Bring your cellphone. If you get lost in the reeds, GPS can often help you find your way out. To keep her phone dry and accessible, Cooper uses a built-in pocket in her life jacket, and her husband uses a Ziploc-style bag.
Bring water, snacks and bug spray. Staying hydrated is essential, and no one wants to paddle while hangry. Also, many places are virtually bug-free in the fall, but keep insect repellent on hand, just in case.