Kayak Guidance logo

Best Winter Kayaking

Gear Checklist: Prepare for Winter Kayaking Trips

Published August 31, 2022

Kayaking in the winter can be a challenge. You may get cold; you may face stiff winds and stormy conditions. But if you are an adventurous person just like me, then there is nothing that can stop you from going on winter kayaking trips. So, if you need to go on a kayaking adventure while there is still cold outside, then you will need an essential winter kayaking gear checklist that can help you prepare yourself for the dangers of cold weather while also helping you to enjoy your trip.

So, if you need to equip your kayak with the best winter kayaking gear? Here’s a checklist of things you should bring on your next winter kayaking trip.

Best Winter Kayaking Gear Checklist: Summary

The Winter Kayaking Gear Checklist

There are a lot of things that you need to bring with you on your next kayaking trip. But if you want to enjoy your expedition and not get into trouble because of a lack of proper equipment, then make sure you have these items in your kayak.

  1. Full Body Waterproof Suit or Dry Suit
  2. Warm Hat or Nrs Storm Cap
  3. Waterproof and Warm Shoes
  4. Warm Gloves or Poggies
  5. Wetsuit Upper and Bottom
  6. Kayak Spray Skirt
  7. PFD or Life Jacket
  8. 1 Simple Rope and 1 Tow Rope
  9. Goggles
  10. Dry Bag to Store your Personal Items
  11. Flask Bottle for Hot Drinks or Water
  12. Kayak Emergency Kit
  13. First Aid Kit

Why is this Winter Kayaking Gear Checklist Important?

If you plan to go kayaking in cold water, it is important to have the right gear. You can get hypothermia very easily if your body temperature drops below an average human body temperature.

That is why each item in this checklist is important, and let’s get to know why.

Full Body Waterproof Suit or Dry Suit:

O'Neill Men's Boost 300g Drysuit

You must wear a full-body waterproof suit if you plan to kayak in cold water. This is important because it helps keep your body temperature warm and prevents water from entering the suit. You can find many types of wet suits designed for activities like surfing, kayaking, and diving.

But I would recommend the following:

O’Neill Men’s Boost 300g Drysuit

FROGG TOGGS Waterproof Suit

Warm Hat or NRS Storm Cap:

NRS Storm Hood

A warm hat will help keep your head warm, especially if you plan to wear a full-body suit. You can find many types of hats designed for activities like skiing or snowboarding.

But I would recommend the following:

NRS Storm Hood

GAMWAY Ski Mask Hood Skullies Hat

Waterproof and Warm Shoes:

You’ll want to wear waterproof shoes that are designed for activities like kayaking. These shoes will help keep your feet dry and warm in case of an unexpected rainstorm or any other type of wet weather.

You can find many types of shoes designed for activities like skiing or snowboarding, but I would recommend the following:

CXWXC Cycling Shoe

Cressi Isla Boots

Warm Gloves or Poggies:

Water Resistant Thermal Gloves for winter kayaking

You’re about to get a little wet, so you’ll want to be prepared. If you’re going out on the water in the snow, you should have thick gloves or pogies (gloves with mittens) that cover your hands, wrists, and elbows. The cold can affect your hands and fingers more easily than other parts of your body, so protecting them is important.

You can find gloves and pogies for skiing, snowboarding, or other winter sports. These will often have extra padding on the palm side of your hand to protect against cold temperatures.

So you should choose those who are specially made for kayaking in the winter, like:

Water Resistant Thermal Gloves

TEMEI Waterproof Gloves

Wetsuit Upper and Bottom:

Dark Lightning Wetsuit for Men and Women

Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm while you’re kayaking. They’re made of neoprene, synthetic rubber that traps air in tiny bubbles around your body when it gets wet. This helps insulate the water from the cold air and keeps your body temperature at a comfortable level.

There are many types of wetsuit uppers and bottoms available in the market, but I would recommend:

Dark Lightning Wetsuit for Men and Women

3mm Shorty Wetsuit Women’s

Kayak Spray Skirt:

Perception Truefit Spray Skirt

If you are going on a kayaking trip on your sit-in kayak, then getting a good quality kayak spray skirt is important. It will keep you dry while you are out in the water. Spray skirts are made of a very flexible material, which allows you to stretch them over your kayak’s cockpit. They are designed in such a way that they fit snugly over the opening of your kayak to minimize water from getting inside when waves splash up against the boat.

If you are looking for a decent kayak spray skirt, here are a few recommendations you can consider.

Perception Truefit Spray Skirt

Tachiuwa Waterproof Neoprene Kayak Spray Skirt

PFD or Life Jacket:

A PFD or life jacket is a mandatory accessory while kayak fishing. If you do not wear one, there is a good chance you will be at risk of drowning if the boat flips over on its side. A PFD will keep your head above water and allow you to stay afloat until help arrives. You can also consider getting a neoprene jacket for extra warmth during colder days on the water.

You can also consider my recommendations:

O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest

Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

1 Simple Rope and 1 Tow Rope:

If you are going kayaking on a freezing lake or river, it is essential that you bring two ropes. The first rope should be about 50 feet long and strong enough to support your weight in case of an emergency. You will want to use this rope when you get into trouble or need help getting back to the shore.


You should always wear waterproof goggles when you are kayaking in winter. They will protect your eyes from wind and debris, which can cause serious eye damage.

Here is my recommendation for the goggles.

Birdz Seahawk Polarized Sunglasses

Shiny Black Frame Floating Goggles

Dry Bag to Store your Personal Items:

You may not want to carry your phone, wallet, and keys in your pockets when you are kayaking. That’s why it is important to bring a dry bag with you so that you can store all of these items inside it. This way, in case of water splashes or rain, your personal items won’t get wet or damaged.

Flask Bottle for Hot Drinks or Water:

Diller Thermal Water Bottle for keeping water warm in winter

It is important to stay hydrated when you are kayaking. You can bring a water bottle with you and drink from it whenever you feel thirsty, but if you have a flask bottle, then that would be even better because it will keep your drink warm and prevent it from freezing due to low temperature.

Here is my recommendation for the flask bottle.

Diller Thermal Water Bottle

Stanley Vacuum Insulated Bottle

Kayak Emergency Kit:

KEPEAK Survival Kit

It is also important to bring an emergency kit with you when you are going out on a kayak. An emergency kit will help you deal with any kind of situation that might arise while you are on the water, so it is best to have one before heading out.

Here is my recommendation for a kayak emergency kit.

KEPEAK Survival Kit

Emergency Survival Kit

First Aid Kit:

The last item you should bring to a kayak is a first aid kit. A first aid kit will help you deal with any injuries that might occur while you are on the water, so it is best to have one before heading out.

How to Prepare for Winter Kayaking Trips?

You should do a few things before heading out on your first winter kayaking trip. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Purchase the Right Gear:

One of the most important things to do before heading out on your first winter kayaking trip is to purchase the right gear. You’ll need cold-weather clothing, dry bags, and other items listed above that will help you stay warm and dry.

Properly Get into Winter Kayaking Shape:

Before heading out on your first winter kayaking trip, it is important to get into shape. You want to make sure that your body is ready for the physical demands of winter kayaking. If you are not in good shape, you could easily get injured and suffer fatigue during your trip.

So prepare yourself physically and mentally before going on winter kayaking trips because you will need to be able to handle the demands of kayaking in cold weather.

Stay Extra Prepared with First Aid:

You should always be prepared for an emergency situation with first aid supplies. You never know when you might need to use them, but it is better to have them on hand than not. If you are going out on a longer trip and want to be extra safe, then consider packing extra first aid items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.

Bring Extra Cloths:

You should also bring extra clothes as well. If you are going out on a longer trip, bring extra layers of clothing that can be removed or put on depending on how cold it is outside.

You never know when a change of clothes might come in handy, and it is better to be prepared than not. So pack some extra clothes and put them in a waterproof bag, so they are easy to access if needed.

Put Together an Emergency Kit:

If you are going on a long trip, it is a good idea to put together an emergency kit in case of an emergency. You should pack your bag with items that can help you survive in the wilderness, such as water purification tablets and a first aid kit. You should also bring some food that does not require cooking or refrigeration, such as dried fruits or nuts.

This will help you survive if you are stranded in the wilderness without being able to find essential things like food, first aid, etc.

Enjoy the Winter Kayaking Trip:

Once you have completed the above steps, it is time to enjoy your winter kayaking trip. You can go on a day trip or even a weekend trip if you are feeling adventurous. Just make sure that you plan ahead so that nothing goes wrong!


So this is the complete winter kayaking gear checklist that can help you properly prepare for your next kayaking adventure. This list will be very helpful for you to bring along everything that you may need during your trip. Besides, I have also included some tips on how you can enjoy your winter kayaking trip by properly preparing yourself.

So, this is a complete guide on how you can get ready for a winter kayaking trip. Everyone can follow this guide, even if they are a beginner or an expert.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

More to Learn About Kayaks!