Some links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale at no additional cost to you. Click here for more information.
I love kayaking, but when I first started I was very confused about what I needed to wear. There are a lot of options on the market when you’re shopping, which I found to be rather overwhelming. If you are in the same boat as I was and wonder what to wear kayaking so that you can really enjoy yourself, then you have come to the right place. I’ll help you easily determine what to wear so that you can make the most of your time out on the water.
Consider the Water Temperature
One mistake that a lot of beginning kayakers make is that they pay attention to the air temperature, and not the water temperature, when dressing for their trip. This can be really dangerous, as capsizing in cold water has a lot of risks.
Rather than dressing for the air temperature, make sure that you are prepared ahead of time by considering how cold the water is. You don’t want to deal with dangerous risks like heart or lung shocks or hyperthermia, and once you have capsized, it is too late to put on a wetsuit.
I recommend that you wear a dry or a wetsuit at all times when you’re going to be kayaking. Wearing one when the water is under 60 F is imperative, but even if the water is warmer than that you will want to consider wearing a suit.
Opt for a dry suit in colder water and air, as they have watertight gaskets to keep you completely dry if you do capsize. Wetsuits are better in warmer weather, and you can even buy ones that are sleeveless or have shorts if you are worried about overheating.
Make Sure to Layer
Once you have your dry suit or your wetsuit, then you need to make sure that you layer appropriately when choosing the rest of your clothing. I strongly recommend that anyone going out in a kayak wear layers, as this makes it easy to adjust what you have on to match temperature changes.
I always like to start by considering how much warmth my wetsuit or my dry suit will provide me and then choosing additional clothing items. Layering will vary depending on whether you choose a wetsuit or a dry suit, or if you forego a suit altogether.
Laying with a wetsuit is easy, as you use the suit for a base layer or can wear a swimsuit underneath it. I recommend then putting on clothing that will cover your exposed arms or legs if you choose a sleeveless version. Otherwise, your wetsuit can act as your entire coverage, but bring a light paddling jacket just in case.
When wearing a drysuit, you need to put on wicking long underwear or a dry suit liner. This helps keep you comfortable and warm underneath your suit. Add a thick fleece layer for your mid layer, which can easily be removed, if necessary.
Finally, if you skip the suit altogether, then bring rainwear and a fleece jacket that you can easily put on and take off. Avoid restrictive clothing or anything that chafes. Additionally, skip thin fabric, like what is used to make yoga pants, as this fabric may wear or tear.
Protect Yourself Completely
Your footwear is really important when you’re going kayaking, but many people don’t give their shoes a lot of consideration. I recommend that you shop for neoprene paddling booties, as they offer protection and are incredibly lightweight.
While a lot of people think that water sandals are ideal, I find that they can easily collect sand and mud and don’t offer as much protection. Make sure to skip flip flops, as they will easily fall off of your feet.
You also much make sure to protect your hands, as kayaking can be rough on this part of your body. Not only will great paddling gloves protect your skin from wind and cold, but they will also help to prevent blisters.
Other people prefer to use “pogies,” which fasten to the paddle. These are fine to use and offer protection from the elements and from blisters.
Finally, make sure to wear a hat to protect your face and eyes from the sun. Skip hats that have small brims, as they won’t provide you the protection you need. When it’s really cold out, I recommend that you wear a beanie underneath your hat to keep your head nice and warm.
While cotton can feel great against your skin and keep you nice and cool, it has the unfortunate ability to retain water. This means that when you get wet, you will find it difficult to dry back off, which can result in you being uncomfortable and cold during your trip.
Avoid cotton, and instead look for clothing that is made from quick-dry fabrics. These are able to dry out quickly once you get wet, which will help you enjoy your trip.
Remember that when you’re kayaking, you will be sitting for a long period, so you need to make sure that you choose clothing that will be comfortable. Additionally, I recommend that you put on your clothing and see how easily you can move in it.
You don’t want to get caught in your kayak in clothing that is too restrictive or that makes it difficult to move. Kayaking involves a lot of movement, which is why you need clothing that will allow you to freely turn and twist.
As you can see, a lot of thought goes into choosing the right clothing for your upcoming kayaking trip. By carefully considering the temperature of the weather, what your clothes are made of, and how many layers you need, you can make sure that you are safe and comfortable on your upcoming trip.
I recommend that you bring an extra layer of clothing if you are doubtful about whether or not you will be warm enough. It’s always easier to take off excess clothing than to suffer through a trip where you were not prepared for the elements.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.