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Winter Warm Up Q&A with Brooke Hess!

Winter Warm Up Q&A with Brooke Hess!

Whether you live in SoCal like us and think 60 degrees is cold or you’re out there in actual freezing temperatures we have some tips and tricks straight from our whitewater kayaking JoPro Brooke Hess. Who better to teach us than someone who regularly trains and competes in water that is barely above the freezing point.

Ok Brooke, I’m sitting by a heater, wearing a sweater and still cold and it’s 60° outside pathetic I know. You go out in water that was literally just ice and cold enough to cause hypothermia, what do you wear to make sure you’re staying warm enough?   

In order to go out in those temperatures safely and be able to have fun a proper drysuit is essential, however it is what you wear underneath that is key.  From 50-40°F, I wear one fleece top and bottom under my drysuit. From 40-30°F, I wear two layers on the bottom, and three on the top.  Anything below 30°, I am most likely wearing all the layers I have with me!

I’m still freezing just imagining that water, what other tips or tricks have you picked up?

Keep your ears covered! I always wear a hat while warming up, and I keep it on until I replace it with my helmet right before getting on the water (my helmet that has ear coverage for extra warmth and protection!) Use hand warmers! I buy the hand warmers that are oxygen-activated and stay warm for up to 8 hours. One day a friend showed me the trick of putting one in your sports bra/bikini underneath my drysuit while kayaking in cold weather, and it has changed my world!  

Speaking of warming up, do you have any special warm-ups for when it is extra chilly out?

I often need to do two warm-ups before training or competing.  Before getting in my kayaking gear, I will go for a short run or do a round of jumping jacks and burpees, just to get my body moving.  Once I am on the water, I will then do my full 20 minute warm-up, making sure to incorporate some dynamic stretches into my routine to keep my muscles firing.

How do you keep your energy up for this double warm-up and getting out there competing and training?

Stay fueled! I always keep snacks with me while training and competing in order to stay fueled up, but when it is cold out it becomes even more imperative to have snacks!  I like to keep a couple mini Snickers bars or protein bars in my kayak with me for some extra calories when it is chilly out.  My other favorite trick is to put hot water in your pre-competition water bottle. Not only will it warm up your insides, but it will keep your hands warm as you hold it!  But once you start competing, switch back to room temperature water to keep yourself from overheating as you hydrate.


Last but certainly not least what do you do once you get out of the water?

Make sure you are prepared for when you finish, having a clean change of clothes, warm socks, a hat, and a warm drink ready for when you are finished training/competing can make a huge difference in both your post-workout mental state and your physical state.  If you can keep your muscles warm after your workout, it will allow them to relax without seizing up from the cold.  This will help prevent muscle soreness!


  • Thanks for the great tips! A few things I haven’t tried yet. I have Reynaud’s syndrome which causes numb toes, feet, and fingers. In sunny So. Cal warm ears, a hot post-workout drink, and hand warmers aren’t something I would automatically think of.

  • That’s hardcore! ??

  • Wow what a cool sport

    Kelani Sun

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