Ways To Keep Warm On A Boat In The Winter – Best Tips & Tricks!

In the summer, it’s easy to keep cool. You dip yourself in the water, drink some cold drinks, and VOILA!

But what in the winter?

It’s pretty chilly below deck, especially at night, making things a little more challenging. When it’s freezing outside, you must warm up your boat, bed, body, and soul!

But HEY, don’t worry. I found some great ways to keep warm on a boat in the winter. Read on!

How To Stay Warm On A Boat?

The best ways to keep warm on a boat in the winter are to wear the appropriate clothing, use a good heater, drink hot beverages, insulate the boat, and sleep in a sleeping bag or a duvet!  

1. Wear The Right Clothing

Foul weather gear was designed with one goal; to keep you warm and dry in cold and damp climates. You can certainly get away with a windproof jacket for a short boating trip on a sunny winter day. But for longer boating trips in chilly temps, you’ll need foul weather gear. This list below will help you choose the right clothing to keep you warm on your boat in the winter.

. Let’s start with tight-fitting underwear made of either polypropylene or polyester. These fabrics wick water away and create a nice layer of insulation, keeping you toasty warm and dry. 

. On top of the first layer, you want to wear a fleece pullover with an insulated bib and, over those layers, a mustang float coat. Gore-Tex is the best option, but more expensive.

. Merino wool socks are your best bet to keep your feet warm in cold conditions. They wick away moisture and regulate body temperatures no matter the weather, as they are naturally insulating. Although wool takes longer to dry than polyester, it’s softer on the skin and keeps odors at bay.

. Deck boots are a must on a boat in the winter, not only for standing and walking safely but also to keep your feet dry and warm. Your deck boots should have non-slip and non-marking soles to prevent marking the deck or, worse, falling. 

It’s also crucial that the deck boots are roomy enough to accommodate a pair of thick wool socks so that your fingers can spread comfortably. You don’t want your feet to be compressed into the boots; this will restrict blood flow and cancel the insulation, giving them a cold feeling.

. Long-fingered gloves made of lightweight neoprene are the most suitable for boating in cold weather. So, make sure to bring a pair. I would even suggest two pairs in case you lose one or need to change!

. Get a nice fleece-lined hat to protect your ears and head from the cold winds.

2. Use Water Bottles

The simpler, the better! Water bottles are an excellent way to heat up your bed. They come in various sizes, but the small ones are less heavy once filled and easier to store. However, before you use the bottle, always check if there aren’t any holes or cracks to prevent leakage. Also, it would be best to wrap the water bottle with a towel or a cover not to burn yourself. Then, around 10 or 15 minutes before you go to bed, place your water bottles under the blanket, and you are all set for a good night’s sleep!

3. Install Carpets 

If you already have carpet installed in your boat, that’s a big plus. But if you don’t have any, it’s something you might consider.

The floor gets quite cold in the winter, and it won’t be pleasant if you go barefoot and don’t have any fur-lined slippers within your reach. Carpet or rugs will prevent the cold air from seeping through the floor and give your feet a warm feeling.

However, if you go this path, choose a UV-resistant polypropylene carpet that is easy to manipulate and cut. Rugs can be slippery, so always put some anti-curling grippers at the back so you don’t slip when stepping on them.

4. Invest In A Cockpit Tent

Although not cheap, an enclosed cockpit tent is something you might consider installing on your boat. It keeps the sun, rain, snow, and cold wind out of your cockpit. Plus, it provides a great additional area for dining with friends and family on cool evenings. 

5. Sleep In A Sleeping Bag 

If you go to bed with full weather Gear, a blanket will be enough to keep you warm, but if you wear lighter clothes, you may want to use a sleeping bag, preferably a rectangular one made of synthetic material and with a hood. As you might already know, synthetic repeals water exceptionally well and keep dry. 

Another great option is to place a duvet under the bottom of the sheet and one on top of you. It works fantastically; you should try this.

When you finish boating, bring your sleeping bag or duvet home and aerate them well. Then, store them in vacuum bags to prevent moisture and mold build-up.

6. Get A Heater

Moving around when the boat is warm is much more agreeable—getting out of bed in the middle of the night or the morning when it’s freezing is not fun. Since cabins are relatively small on boats, it’s easy to warm them up. A good heater will quickly heat the cabins and create a cozy environment.

There are different types of heaters, diesel, propane, and electric. An electric heater is a good option if you are at the dock. No smell, no need to transport fuel. Avoid using space electrical heaters; marinas don’t like them because they catch fire easily. Try to opt for oiled-filled radiant heaters; these are safer. Also, ensure the electric heater you use includes a tip-over switch, so if it knocks over, it will shut off automatically.

However, if you are out on the water and want a consistent source of heat, diesel is the way to go. Diesel heaters are a little noisier but produce dry heat and, in addition, are economical and practical. Propane is quieter and easier to use, but on the other hand, propane produces a wet heat causing condensation.

Another thing worth mentioning is that propane has a lower BTU content (British thermal unit); thus, you might have to refill the heater more often. There are various types and brands on the market, and whatever you choose, make sure the heater is certified and engineered for marine environments.

7. Insulate Your Boat

Insulating the boat will keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Although It’s a lot of work, if you often go boating in the winter or all year round, it’s well worth the effort. There are several ways you can insulate a boat, and if you don’t want to bother or have yet to gain experience in this branch, consider speaking with a specialist to give you some advice or do the work for you. 

8. Drink Hot Drinks

Nothing is better than drinking a good hot cup of coffee or a hot homemade bowl of soup in the winter to warm you up. So, bring some thermos and pre-made meals. Or, if you have a galley, it’s an excellent opportunity to cook delicious meals using a nice set of cookware for the whole crew.

9. Stop Condensation

Condensation is a year-round problem, but in the cold seasons, it tends to get worse. Condensation cause dampness and, as a result, make you feel cold and unpleasant.

The key to reducing condensation is ventilation!

Aerate your boat, don’t leave wet clothes, towels, life vests, etc. Keep the place as dry as possible. Run a heater and

When you cook on your boat, open the windows, and turn the vents on. Use cooking methods that don’t require boiling water. And, of course, as I mentioned above, insulating the boat will help a lot.

Dos And Don’t

  • Alcohol creates a nice sensation of warmth when it’s cold, but did you know that, in reality, it lower body temperatures? According to scientists, if the body temperatures drop below 35C, there is a higher risk of getting hypothermia.
  • PS don’t wear cotton; it absorbs water and is an awful insulator when wet.
  • Avoid using electric blankets; they can catch fire and be dangerous. 
  • Never leave a heater unattended, as this can cause a fire to start.

Final Words!

That’s pretty much it; very simple. The techniques mentioned above will definitely help warm your boat and yourself in the winter. So use them, keep warm and enjoy! If you have other methods, I would be more than happy to know about them.

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Ways to stay cool on a boat without an AC

4 thoughts on “Ways To Keep Warm On A Boat In The Winter – Best Tips & Tricks!”

  1. Having a carpet in your boat is a plus, it keeps the inside warm and balances the temperature. But nothing works like wearing the right cloth for the correct season. And i dont ever forgwt my gloves. As simple as it sound the protect my palm and my feet. They keep them at body temperature, there by protecting the entire body 

    • Hi there,

      Sure wearing the proper clothing is crucial to keep warm on a boat, but having some carpets add that extra comfort:)

      If you have any questions, let me know. I’ll be more than happy to help.  Thank you for the comment and I wish you a fantastic day.

  2. Wow, these advices are awesome. I’ve never experienced living on a boat before but would like to one day, and sail the world. I never knew the temperature drops in a cold level when going under deck. Having a sleeping sounds like a must though and a few extra blankets. Also a few layers of clothing would greatly help! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi there,

      I am glad you found the article useful:) If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, I am always happy to help.

      Thank you for the comment and I wish you a great day.


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