How to make the most of winter kayaking

January 19, 2022

Helpful tips to keep you comfortable and safe on the water year-round!
How to make the most of winter kayaking


So, you're thinking about braving the cold and getting on the water? The good news is, you're not alone. Many people paddle year-round, no matter the weather. Here are some considerations to account for if you're going to brave a winter launch.



There is no end to cold weather clothing options. Gloves are a nice backup to have on hand, even if you don’t think you will use them. Some paddlers prefer poggies, which are more of a mitten and go around the shaft of the paddle. In addition to hand protection, you’ll want to think about body and foot protection. Booties or river shoes by Astral Footwear are great options. For the body there are several choices. In order from best to decent, the best thing for warmth is a drysuit, hands down. These are pretty expensive so you may want to repurpose an old wetsuit instead. Just remember a dry suit is completely dry and a wetsuit keeps you warm but is not completely dry. As a last resort, do your best with whatevers is in your closet. If you're fairly confident you won’t capsize, bundle up in your best hunting or ski gear. Just remember, try to dress for immersion. Dressing for the temperature outside is good, but what happens if you end up in the drink?

Are you curious about the differences between wetsuits and drysuits? Check out this link.


Time of day

Whether it's summer or winter, in some regions there’s a warmest window of the day. Be sure to time your outing around the heat of the day. In addition, choose a waterway with maximum sun exposure. If you are picking between a shaded and sheltered narrow river or a wide open marsh or lagoon, go for the one with the best sun. Another tip; usually the temperature is more regulated near big bodies of water like the ocean. The further inland one travels in combination with a smaller waterway, the less regulated the temperature is and the more susceptible it will be to freeze.


Familiarity with the waterway

Choosing a familiar waterway will help you with comfort. When everything is new, including winter paddling, we tend to be more tense and nervous. Pick a space you are really comfortable with to try out your cold weather gear and to see what it's really like to paddle in the cold. Try this a couple of times to confirm you're comfortable paddling in the cold before you start taking on new locations, sight unseen. It’s all about comfort.


Tips and tricks to staying warm

  • When you get off the water and the boat is loaded back on your rig, nothing beats changing into dry and warm clothes. Pull on your comfiest sweats and puffiest down jacket. If you do happen to get a little cold on the water you’ll know the warm clothes are waiting for you in the car.
  • Bring Little Hotties as a backup. Remember those ski packets that you shake up and put in your mittens or ski boots? Bring a set on your paddle trip. If you get really cold, duct tape or place a hottie in your sports bra in the center of your chest, over your heart.
  • Bring a hot drink in a thermos on your paddle trip. Also, leave one waiting for you in the car for when you get back! This way you’ve stashed a couple hot drinks in a couple spots, at the ready.
  • Cardio is always the cure. If you are starting to get cold, just paddle harder. Put your blade in the water and pull harder. As you get your heart rate up, you’ll obtain a more comfortable temperature.


Happy paddling this winter! Have any tips from winter paddling experience that you don't see here and you'd like to share with us for future reference? Email us at or reach out to the author on instagram @guerrillamediabend