What Do Wear When Kayaking In Cold Water ? Extreme Kayaking

What Do Wear When Kayaking In Cold Water

Last updated on September 2, 2022

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What Do Wear When Kayaking In Cold Water

We – human beings – tend to try unconventional things. It’s as if nature willed us to be fearless. As a result, we enjoy doing activities that endanger us. This is ultimately true for kayakers. While most take joy in riding their kayaks safely on a hot day, there are those that brave the rapids on cold seasons.

Why do some people ride their kayaks in cold water? It might be that they’re allergic to sunlight, or are plain kayaking addicts. In connection, some also go to the cold regions of the US such as Minnesota, Alaska, Maine, and North Dakota to try cold kayaking on purpose.

Cold kayaking is a form of extreme kayaking. Extreme kayaking has a lot of risks. Today, I’ll help you minimize the risks of kayaking in the cold. Allow me to discuss what do you wear when kayaking in cold water.

Essential Gears for Kayaking in Cold Weather

Sit-In or Sit on Top Kayak?

Go for sit-in kayak. A sit on top kayak is bad because it leaves you exposed to the surrounding air that’s also cold. Furthermore, it’s easier for you to get wet when riding this kind of kayak. When kayaking in cold water, you have to prevent being exposed to air and water while riding. The sit-in kayak does this excellently. That’s why shouldn’t hesitate to get it.

Of course, the best sit-in kayak is one that has drain holes and a splash guard. The splash guard prevents the lower parts of your body from being exposed to the cold water and air. On the other hand, drain holes help prevent the kayak from sinking into the cold deeps.

Wet Suit best solutions What Do Wear When Kayaking In Cold Water

A wet suit is a garment or clothing worn to preserve body heat. It’s commonly made out of foamed neoprene which is durable, windproof, waterproof, and breathable. In a nutshell, a wet suit helps you get warm by preventing heat loss through conduction or convection. A wetsuit can do this because it has several layers of thin titanium or copper.

Generally, there are 4 types of wet suit that you may but in the market nowadays:

  • one-piece wetsuit
  • shorty wetsuit
  • short john wetsuit
  • long john wetsuit

Out of all the types of wetsuit above, the one-piece wetsuit performs very well for kayaking in cold water. Also called the semi-dry wetsuit, the one-piece wetsuit covers your entire body except for the head, hands, and feet. It doesn’t allow a lot water to seep through and protects you from being completely soaked.

In connection, a one-piece wetsuit may come with additional perks such as a hoodie, booties, and gloves.

In summary, here are the advantages of a one-piece wetsuit compared to other types of wetsuit:

  • most efficient at conserving body heat
  • covers the entire body
  • comes with additional perks
  • protects your arms and legs from injuries

Dry Suit

A wet suit is good for keeping body heat. However, it’s not very efficient at preventing water from seeping through and wetting you. If you’re looking for wet-free cold kayaking, a dry suit is what you need. A dry suit is a tightly sealed garment that uses a thin layer of air to keep you dry and warm. A dry suit is more expensive than a wet suit. However, it works better.

A dry suit protects you from the cold even if you’re submerged in cold water. This is the reason why you should opt to get this one instead of a wetsuit if your finances aren’t constrained.

In connection, a dry top is a wonderful option if you feel uncomfortable wearing a dry suit or wet suit. A dry top works like a dry suit. However, it only keeps your torso, neck, and arms dry as opposed to the conventional dry suit that also prevents the feet from getting wet. Nevertheless, a dry top is good if you’re using a sit-in kayak for kayaking in cold water.

By the way, a dry top goes well with dry pants. A lifehack that some kayakers do is to buy a dry top and dry pants. Wearing these together provides some of the advantages that a dry suit gives.

Wear Full Goggles, Balaclava, and Gloves

It’s also important for you to protect your head against the cold. Cold temperatures might seriously damage your eyes, ears, lips, and nose. Overexposure to cold might cause your lips to crack, nose to bleed, and ears to hurt. Furthermore, the worst-case scenario is that you might suffer from photokeratitis.

Thus, wearing full Goggles and balaclava is a must for kayaking in cold water. A balaclava is a type of head garment that envelopes most of your head except the eyes. It keeps cold away from your ears, nose, and mouth. It also helps to maintain body heat because it prevents blood that travels to the head from losing warmth.

Full goggles prevent cold air or water from battering your eyes while kayaking. Sudden contact of the eyes with cold will leave you disoriented. As a result, you might find it hard maneuver.

Finally, you shouldn’t hesitate to wear gloves. The best type of gloves for kayaking in cold weather are neoprene gloves. Don’t go for fingerless ones because they’ll be useless. Pick ones that have a thin layer of fleece on the inside because they will keep your hands warm and comfy.

Other Essential Things You Need To Know For Kayaking in Cold Water

How Cold Is Too Cold?

Coldwater kayaking is fine so long as you’re wearing the gears that I discussed. However, there is a limit to everything. Don’t head out to kayak when temperatures are -9 degrees Celsius and below. -9 degrees Celsius and lower temperatures are enough to freeze the water. Problems that might arise if you push to kayak are the formation of ice on the hull, hypothermia, snow blindness, etc.

Ditch Your Earrings and Other Metalic Ornaments

Before heading out, be sure to remove your earrings and other metallic ornaments. Earrings and metallic ornaments cause frostbite. The least that you want to happen is to have severely damaged ears or hands just because of kayaking in the cold.

In connection. applying an anti-frostbite cream on the hands, feet, face, and ears is a good preventive measure.


Kayaking in cold water isn’t impossible. Get the gears that I mentioned here and you’re good to go. Remember that dry suit or wet suit is for the torso, balaclava and full goggles are for the heads, neoprene gloves are for the hand, and warm pants and shoes are for the legs.

By the way, remember not to wear any earrings and other metalic ornaments when kayaking in the cold. Don’t forget to apply anti-frostbite cream too. Lastly, consider rescheduling your kayaking trip if the coldness is enough for large bodies of water to freeze.

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