What to Wear Kayaking In Cold Weather

Before you begin your adventure into these chilly climes, be sure you have the right equipment to keep you safe, dry, and warm.

Knowing what to look for in excellent kayaking gear is crucial, whether you want to paddle in sub-zero temperatures or want to bring a few extra layers. So we’ve put up a comprehensive list of things to buy and carry for cold-weather kayaking.

What to remember:

  • Dress based on the water temperature rather than the air temperature; this may require the use of a wetsuit or drysuit.
  • Layer your clothing, particularly on top. Protect yourself from the sun by dressing appropriately. A day on the water, regardless of cloud cover, is a day of sun exposure. As a result, wearing apparel made of UPF-rated textiles is a sensible decision.

Follow these broad recommendations when picking what to wear in cold weather kayaking:

Tips what to wear in cold weather kayaking

1. Wetsuits

Wetsuits enable a tiny layer of water to pass between your body and the suit when you enter the water wearing one. The body then warms the water, allowing it to retain the heat and keep you comfortable.

Wetsuits come in a variety of thicknesses, which impact the amount of insulation provided (and how rapidly water warms) as well as the suit’s flexibility. Thicker wetsuits have better heat retention but less mobility.

The Farmer John, which has complete legs but no sleeves, is the most popular wetsuit for paddlers. When paddling, it’s more comfortable and less restricting, but it doesn’t provide as much protection as you’ll need in colder temperatures. On the other hand, a wetsuit is a base layer, not outerwear. It’s crucial to remember that wearing anything below a wetsuit reduces the efficacy of the wetsuit to keep you warm. Instead, layer clothing over the wetsuit. (Find the Best Waterproof Walkie Talkies)

2. Drysuit

A drysuit is maximum protection for paddlers during cold weather paddling in terms of apparel. It’s fully waterproof clothing with latex gaskets at all openings (ankles, wrists, and neck) to keep water out. These are one-piece suits with a waterproof polyurethane covering or laminate composed of nylon.

Drysuits, like outerwear, need the use of insulating layers such as long underwear or specially tailored fleece liners for warmth. Choosing the correct insulating layers may be difficult since wearing too much below might lead to overheating. Often, only a single light or midweight base layer is enough. Try it out on a few short paddles and see what works best for you.

Drysuits are a terrific, comfortable alternative for paddlers in even the lowest weather, and nothing will keep you drier. The most significant disadvantage is the cost since dry suits are among the most expensive pieces of kayaking gear.

Best suits for cold weather kayaking

What Is the Distinction Between a Wet and a Dry Suit?

A wet suit is made of neoprene, a water-resistant material. When kayaking in frigid conditions, neoprene wet suits keep you dry and warm by protecting your body heat. Wet suits come in a number of styles, but they should all fit as close to your body as feasible (without cutting off your blood flow).

If you’re purchasing a wet suit for kayaking in cold weather, look for the two-digit code that categorizes them. For example, the thickness of the neoprene over your chest is shown by the first number, while the second number indicates the thickness of your arms and legs.

While a thicker layer of neoprene may keep you warmer, it will also restrict your wet suit’s flexibility. So, if you plan on being very mobile when paddling in your freezing area, a shorter, thinner wet suit could be the ideal choice. (Learn How To Use Kayak Cart)

A dry suit is a big, breathable waterproof suit with a hood. This spacious shape aids in the drainage of fluids away from your body. Coldwater will remain well away from your body thanks to gaskets around the wrists, ankles, and neck, keeping you dry for your cold-weather kayaking experiences.

What’s not to appreciate about a huge windbreaker that covers your whole body? However, because dry suits are analogous to a waterproof overcoat, certain foundation layers must be worn below. To go with your drysuit, we suggest these base layers and liners.

3. Neoprene Gloves

Neoprene gloves or pogies, which are unique neoprene or nylon mitts, protect your hands, while rubber-soled neoprene booties, ideally high-tops, keep your feet warm. To a point, these gloves are helpful. However, William likes Pogies with a pair of light wool gloves beneath when it’s very chilly.

Windproof outer layers. The thicker neoprene, ‘wetsuit’ material on the exterior keeps your hands warm even if they are splattered with water while you paddle.

4. Headwear

On a cold-weather paddle, keeping your face warm is critical, and ACK provides a variety of alternatives to help you achieve exactly that. Fleece or wool hats, face masks (like a buff), lightweight balaclavas, and even complete neoprene hoods are popular for winter paddles. It is recommended that you get something that will cover your full head and face.

A happy and comfortable paddler keeps his head warm. Waterproof hats are among the best paddling accessories since they keep your head warm and dry even when it’s raining or spraying. In addition, NRS produces the Sea Hood out of their Mystery fabric for cooler days or times when you know you’ll be in chilly water.

5. Paddling Jackets & Dry Tops

A dry top is a waterproof paddling jacket with neck and wrist gaskets and waistbands that seal with a paddler’s spray skirt when worn indoors. Because a dry top protects paddlers from cold water if they do not wet-exit from their kayak, they are ideal for paddlers who are comfortable rolling their kayak.

Many of the same waterproof textiles used in drysuits, such as H2No (left picture at right) and Tropos, are available in dry tops (center image at right). As long as you don’t wet-exit from your kayak, a drytop will keep you safe from the cold. Paddling jackets are helpful because they contain gaskets at the wrists and neck to keep the water out; they’re particularly useful for preventing drips from running down your paddle shaft.

Winter is frequently the ideal paddling season since there are fewer people, more water in many parts of the nation, and the landscape is rougher. On the other hand, winter paddling necessitates some nice gear to keep you comfortable in cold water temperatures.

Footwear and other essentials for kayaking in cold weather

6. Footwear

Getting your feet wet during a paddle in chilly weather may be a real bummer. The Neoprene booty, which has a thick rubber sole to give traction and protection while walking through rocks, is the standard in paddling footwear. Your feet will be kept warm with wool socks and waterproof, insulated paddling boots. William likes wearing a wool hat on his head.

Thin heat-insulating kayaking shoes are fantastic for keeping your feet dry and toasty since neoprene implies waterproof. In terms of ankle kinds (high top, over the ankle, low top, exposed ankle, etc. ), they can be in a range of designs, and the higher the style, the better at keeping water out of your feet. (Learn How Many Calories Burned Swimming)

7. Rashguards

These famous polyester/Lycra spandex shirts dry quickly and are often worn to prevent chafing and the sun. In addition, long sleeve guards give a little more warmth and UV protection and work nicely beneath a wetsuit, even though they aren’t very popular during the winter months.

8. Layer clothes

If you need to be warm, layer garments on the wetsuit. Alternatively, a broad range of neoprene clothing that provides greater flexibility than a wetsuit has been produced.

Paddlers in cold weather should bear in mind that, although a wetsuit keeps you warm in cold air and is reasonably affordable, it only provides limited protection (optimal in water 50 degrees and above) for cold water paddling.

Final Thoughts

Capsizing in cold water poses various dangers, including acute lung and heart shock, drowning, and hypothermia.

Also, don’t try to put on a wetsuit after you’ve capsized since it’s too late and almost impossible. Finally, what is the definition of “cold”? According to US Coast Guard safety regulations, cold-water immersion effects may occur in water as “warm” as 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

While most people think of canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding as warm-weather hobbies, these outdoor activities are elevated to new heights in colder climes.

So, unless you’re paddling in sheltered, close-in waters, you should wear a wetsuit or drysuit in all but the mildest conditions—you should wear one if the water temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

What to Wear Kayaking In Cold Weather