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How To Dress For A Boat Ride In Winter


Danger Charters Posted by: Danger Charters 4 months ago

At Danger Charters, there is nothing we love more than being out on the water. And in the Florida Keys, we are treated to an average of 259 days of sunshine every year and temperatures don’t typically go lower than 50° F. (Swoon!) Whether you’ll be sailing with us in Florida’s chillier months or you’re packing clothes to wear on a boat in colder climes, we can help you prepare your winter boating outfits no matter where you’ll board. 

How should I dress for a cold boat ride?

The first thing to consider when figuring out how to dress for a boat ride in winter is to check the weather report. You want to keep in mind not only the temperature of the air and water (if you anticipate getting in) but also the wind speed before deciding what to wear on a boat in your area. Wind can make an otherwise pleasant day uncomfortable. Six knots or less is no big deal in pretty much any location. Your awareness of the wind – and its potential discomfort – increases from there.  

Let’s take winter boating attire by coastal region. 

How to Dress for a Winter Boat Ride: Gulf Coast & Southeast

Let’s start closer to our neck of the woods: the Gulf Coast and Southeast of the United States. 


The Keys are actually on the Peninsular Coast, meaning we’re subject to weather coming off of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Daytime “winter” boating attire here should include your swimsuit, a T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt, shorts or long pants, a just-in-case sweater or hoodie, and/or, potentially, a windbreaker. For a sunset excursion, ditch the swimsuit, plan on long sleeves and pants, and pack an outer layer in the event you need it. 

Further up the East Coast – say, the Carolinas – and further West into the Gulf, you won’t need your swimsuit. You’ll want long sleeves and pants for sure, even jeans to keep the wind off your skin, and a windbreaker or heavier jacket or coat.


A sun hat or ball cap is always a must in the Sunshine State. It keeps the sun out of your eyes and off your skin during the day and gives you a layer against any evening chill. You may want the same north and west of the Keys, or potentially a knitted or other warmer hat. 


You’ll be comfortable barefoot or with open-toe shoes in the Keys throughout the cold months, although you may want closed-toe shoes in the evening. North of us and into the Gulf, plan on socks and closed-toe shoes.

Young man on a boat in a windbreaker

How to Dress for a Winter Boat Ride: Northeast, Third Coast & Northwest

What to wear for a boat ride in winter and even spring in the Northeast, on the Third Coast (Great Lakes), and in the Northwest is a world away from what we’re wearing down South! 


Our recommendations here are based on pleasure cruises, not working boats, or active sailing trips where you anticipate getting wet – for those kinds of experiences, you need foul weather gear, a drysuit or wetsuit, and several strategic layers. Brrrrr!

For a one or two-hour fun cruise that’s mostly on deck, plan on wearing thermal underwear or other close-fitting underlayers, thicker pants like jeans or corduroys, long sleeves, a warm sweater, and a parka or other very warm coat, ideally with a hood. If you’ve got ski gear, it may be just the ticket to keeping you warm on board.

Hat (+Gloves & Scarf)

Whether you call it a beanie, toboggan, or touque (also toque/tuque), a warm hat that covers your ears is an essential element of your winter boating attire. 

Gloves are also non-negotiable. Look for gloves designed for outdoor winter adventures, like those labeled as thermal or fleece-lined. If you don’t have any that fit the bill, wear two pairs of run-of-the-mill winter gloves. Be sure to think about the logistics of using your phone, camera, and binoculars when choosing your gloves – and consider packing some hand warmers!

A scarf or neck gaiter that will fill in any gaps your coat leaves open to the wind is key, and can also help to keep your nose and cheeks warm. Ear muffs are a cozy nice-to-have too.


Knowing how to keep your feet warm on a boat is super important for you to have a good time. Cold feet are the stuff of misery! Lovely thick socks, or even a few pairs of socks, are key to comfort. Sneakers are OK in a pinch, but boots are the better choice. 

If your feet start to get cold, slip some hand warmers in your socks to keep the cold at bay. (Hand warmers work well to warm up any part of your body – put them in your pants or coat pockets or your hat!)

Young people on a boat wearing thick coats

How to Dress for a Winter Boat Ride: West Coast & Bay Area

West Coast weather is most heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean … unless we’re talking about the Bay Area, which has numerous microclimates due to the coastal terrain.


Winter weather on the West Coast is pretty similar to that of the Southeast: quite comfortable. Long sleeves, a windbreaker, and long pants are a wise choice, as is a hooded jacket or coat. Choose slightly heavier versions for evening excursions. 

While very cold days are unusual in the Bay Area, it is frequently rainy. Check the weather before you head out for your excursion, and consider packing a raincoat for good measure. 


The sweet Cali sun warrants a sun hat or ball cap, and the wind may have you reaching for a beanie or other warm hat once the sun goes down. If you’re expecting rain, make sure your raincoat has a hood. 


Closed-toe shoes are preferable to open-toe shoes during winter days. In the evenings, opt for socks and closed-toe shoes; perhaps even boots. Think about which shoes are most practical in the rain; you don’t want to be left with wet feet. 

Now that you can answer, “How should I dress for a cold boat ride?” … what other questions can we answer for you? We have a comprehensive list of FAQs and we’re available to help if you want to speak with someone

And now that you know that your wintertime vacay in the Keys will gift you the same joys as a summer getaway, go ahead and book your boat tour with Danger Charters! Wishing you fair winds and following seas!

A group of young women pose for a photo while on a sailing charter with Danger Charters in Key West, FL
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