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Winter Kayaking Gear and Accessories

For any winter sporting adventure, it’s important to protect yourself from the elements. Protecting your upper body, lower body, head, feet and hands from not only the chill of winter, but with kayaking, the water spray.

Kayaking in the off-season requires some extra prep to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip. With the winds and lower temps that accompany winter, the more layers and gear you need to stay comfortable out on the water. This shouldn’t deter you from kayaking during the winter season though--once you know what you need it’s a new adventure to experience!

Kayak Accessories for Winter

Planning your trips becomes slightly more involved when you’re kayaking in the winter as opposed to the summer. Checking the weather to ensure you’re paddling into storms becomes more important, as well as making sure you have the right kayak accessories and gear for the trip. Here are some recommended items to have on the boat with you for winter kayaking trips:

Jacket & Pants

There are paddling jackets and paddling pants available for winter kayakers, but the most important thing is to have inner layers for insulation and warmth, and outer layers that will either repel water or are waterproof.

Spray Skirt

This is specifically for sit-inside kayaks, but a real help if that’s your kayak of choice. These skirts insulate your legs and protect them from any splashes that might come up while you’re on the water. When the air and water around you are both chilly, a spray skirt really helps keep you dry and warm.

Wetsuit or Dry Suit

These full-body suits both serve different but helpful purposes in keeping you dry and insulated while kayaking. A dry suit is looser and allows you to layer up underneath. If you enjoy a moisture-wicking base layer and wool or fleece mid to top layers, a dry suit is a perfect outer layer to add to that to keep you dry throughout your trip.

If you enjoy more athletic kayaking or don’t mind not being able to layer underneath it, a wetsuit could be your way to go. These suits do rely on you getting a bit wet in order to insulate you properly, but it won’t get cold after that. Wetsuits even come in different thicknesses so you can customize based on how cold your area usually gets!

Well-Fitting PFD

Taking a spill into the water isn’t pleasant in any weather, but when it’s cold out the shock can become dangerous. A close-fitting personal flotation device, or PFD, is key in both keeping your core warm and allowing you to float easily so you can get back in your kayak as quickly as possible. You’ll save time and energy with your PFD tightly fastened while on the water.

Hat and Gloves

In addition to light, moisture-wicking, insulating layers, the best way to stay warm while kayaking in the winter is to protect your hands and head. A neoprene cap under a wool beanie is a solid combo for really cold weather to ensure you stay dry and warm. Any sort of head covering is helpful though if you want to keep it light, but we do recommend a waterproof glove to protect your hands from chill and remain agile while you’re paddling.

Feet Warmth

Popular options among winter kayakers are wetsuit socks and kayak booties for insulation and foot warmth. Wetsuit socks are designed to be used along with your shoes, while kayak booties are designed to keep the heat inside and have added grips on the bottom for traction. Keep in mind, however, that neither of these options will keep the water out.

Dry Bag for Storing Extra Layers

In the event that you do take a spill or get splashed while paddling, it’s helpful to have a back-up set of clothes with you whether it’s for the ride home or while you’re finishing up your kayaking trip on the water. A dry bag, as the name may imply, is a waterproof bag that keeps your valuables well-protected from the elements. It’s an essential on any kayaking trip, but is particularly helpful during the winter in this case.

Extra Food and Water

You will tire out faster paddling in cooler temps than you might in warmer weather. To combat fatigue without shortening your trip, be sure to pack some additional snacks and water to fuel your paddling adventure.


Kayaking doesn’t have to be just a fair-weather sport. All of this kayak gear helps you have a safe and enjoyable paddling experience once winter hits. If you want to get into year-round kayaking, investing in these accessories will allow you to do so comfortably. Happy Winter Kayaking!

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