Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Warm Gear | Cold Water

a group of people riding skis on a snowy surface

Best Winter Gear for Kayaking and Paddle Boarding | Top Picks by our Members


When the water temp is below 60°F, paddlers must dress to protect against heat loss. Paddling is still amazing with the right gear. On warm days, stash unneeded gear in your deck bag, but have it nevertheless!

Our members give their top recommendations:


#4: Warm Hands

SUPers should keep their hands warm with light gloves like these 1.5 neoprene gloves. They’re breathable, flexible, traction when wet. On a warm day, keep them in your dry bag.

Kayakers should wear kayak pogies/mitts or toasters as their outer hand layer, whether or not they have gloves. Remove them when it’s warm but once the wind picks up and there’s spray, you’ll be grateful! Have waterproof gloves under your pogies, like these Glacier Gloves.


#3: Protect Chest and Arms

For autumn, go with a 4mm wetsuit. Most suits run tight. Sleeveless wetsuits necessitate a waterproof drytop with sealed latex gaskets at the neck, wrist, and waist and a rash guard underneath. Wear more layers underneath if it’s colder. Starting in December, a drytop with at least one under layer is required for anyone wearing a wetsuit.

If you’re paddling after December 15th, get a full drysuit instead. A drysuit is the full body version of the drytop, which only covers the upper body. Kokatat is a timeless favorite for kayakers and SUPSkin gets rave reviews for SUPers. Drysuits protect against wind and water but don’t insulate from cold air. Experiment with athletic base and mid layers beneath. As usual, wear a lifejacket that adjusts at the shoulders and chest.


#2: Insulate Legs and Feet

Either the 4mm wetsuit or the drysuit with under layers will protect your legs. Your underwear will get soaked with sweat if you follow the directions so far. Wear quick drying undies and carry extras for after-trip comfort.

For feet, wear 7mm high top booties with a side zipper. Without zippers, you’ll tear fingernails prying off wet boots. Booties 5mm or less are fine until Thanksgiving, but will not protect toes in the winter.

Rinse and air-dry booties or they will stink. Wear clean wool socks to prevent smells.

Some of our SUPers swear by these Kokotat drysocks to keep their feet dry and toasty, and they skip the booties altogether!


#1: Cover Head and Ears

For the coldest days, wear a wool beanie or athletic head warmer. You’ll sweat, so choose an unlined one. If you want a cap or visor, choose one that fits snuggly so it doesn’t sail away.


In other words, you must have this gear to paddle in NYC now. Pay close attention the specific recommendations.

  • 3-4mm wetsuit with drytop or a drysuit
  • Water-friendly gloves or mitts
  • Lifejacket – we can lend one
  • 5-7mm neoprene booties or drysocks
  • Warm hat

While we’re at it, other essentials are:


We want to help you so drop us a line.


See you on the water!

The Team at Manhattan Kayak  |  MKC