Tips for autumn boating equipment

The fresh air in autumn means there are no more shorts or bikini weather. Not only are the north winds cooler, but the water temperatures drop too. Autumn is my favorite boating season because I change my gear to make sure that not only do I stay warm, but most importantly, dry. Here are four pieces of fall boating gear I wear on every trip.

1. Bad weather outerwear. Waterproof jackets and bibs are important for fall boating for several reasons. They keep the spray in check and act as a windbreak from cold air from the north. On warm autumn days, I wear either the jacket or the bib, while the combination is perfect on cooler days. Many companies offer brightly colored jackets and bibs that are great for visibility. Swap your sandals and boat shoes for a pair of rubber knee boots to keep your feet dry. Just make sure the boots have non-marking soles and a squeegee profile.

2. Overlay. Woolen clothing is an essential part of autumn gear. Natural or synthetic, that’s up to you. I’ve always been a fan of wool because it retains warmth when wet. Modern wool offers even better properties that result from different fabrics and mixed fibers. Fleece also has its advantages. It’s easy to wring out when wet, it’s lightweight, and comes in a variety of strengths. A shift system for both is excellent. Start with thin materials near your body that will wick sweat away to the extra layers.

3. Fingerless gloves. Full, waterproof gloves are great, but fingerless gloves offer dexterity in addition to warmth. You need a handle that works well even when wet. So make sure the palms are textured for extra traction.

4. Woolen hat. A lot of heat is lost through the head on cool or cold days. So wear a wool hat. It is not for nothing that seafarers wear them.

Being dry and warm is paramount for a great day on the water. I always pack extra fall gear when the days get shorter. I think when I get hot it’s easy to remove.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast, was published in January 2011. Visit him at or

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