What To Wear Kayaking | The Kayaking Outfit Guide

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Are you wondering what to wear kayaking? The clothes you wear should give you the flexibility you need to deal with changing conditions. Look for durability, comfort, and protection for cold and wet conditions while you’re paddling on the water.

In this article, we will give you some general guidelines on what to wear kayaking.

Always wear a PFD 

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, never forget to wear a PFD when you’re paddling. Don’t take it off while on the water.

You should invest in a good quality PFD that is more comfortable and safer. Find the right kind of PFD or life jacket for the type of paddling you do and the proper fit.

Wear your clothes for the water temperature

Always wear for the water temperature and not the air temperature. The means either a wetsuit or a drysuit is a safe choice for kayaking. These suits won’t be as comfortable as shorts and a T-shirt. However, in cold conditions, wearing a wetsuit or drysuit is a smart choice.

Both wetsuit and drysuit are designed to keep you warm in the water. 

  • Wetsuits

A wetsuit is worn directly against the skin. It is a good choice for moderately cold conditions. You can top it with a warm jacket to stay warm. A wetsuit is made of neoprene and insulates you while you are in the water. They are available in several styles including full-body, sleeveless, and short-sleeve/shorts.

  • Drysuits

Drysuits are the best option for cold weather kayaking. They are your ultimate weapon against cold and freezing temperatures. 

Drysuits act as an outer shell to protect you from wind and water. You can wear a drysuit over a base layer of long underwear and a middle layer of fleece. You can bring extra warm tops in case one gets wet.  

Wear synthetic layers

Sometimes, the air temperature is fairly warm but the water temperature is cold. You need to wear the right clothing to keep yourself protected.

Try to wear thin layers of synthetic fabrics. They will keep you warm and dry. The layers can be broken into three parts, the base layer, middle layer, and outer layer:

  • The base layer keeps moisture away from your body to make you comfortable
  • The middle layer is breathable and insulates you and keeps you warm
  • The outer layer is breathable and protects you from the wind and rain

You don’t have to wear all three layers. You can manage your temperature by adding or removing layers as water conditions or your activity level changes. If it’s really cold, you can add multiple middle layers for extra warmth.

Wear sunglasses, a hat, and gloves

Even on cold days, the glare of the sun on the water can reduce visibility and cause sunburn. It’s great to have a little protection from the sun out on a watercraft. Whatever the weather is, bring sunglasses and a hat when you head out on the water. 

  • Wear polarized sunglasses that can help cut through the glare of the sun off the water. 
  • Wear a wide-brimmed sun hat that will provide plenty of shade for your face and neck. A well-made wide-brimmed hat will serve you in all kayaking adventures.
  • On cool days, you should bring wool or synthetic gloves as well.
  • UV protective gloves have taken off in recent years. They are lightweight, breathable and keep your hands from getting weathered.
  • Synthetic or wool beanies are a great choice for keeping your head and ears warm.

Pro tip: Space is at a premium on a kayak. A small waterproof dry bag is good for carrying anything that can’t get wet.

What shoes do you wear kayaking?

Your footwear should be waterproof and insulated to keep your feet dry and warm.

There’s often a little bit of water in the bottom of a kayak. A water boot or water shoe is the ideal choice for kayaking. They are lightweight, water-ready and protect toes and the bottoms of feet. They will stay on your feet, keep out the rocks, and your feet will stay warm while kayaking.

Water sandals with proper straps are also a good option, though you might have chilly feet if the weather is cool.

Making the most of your kayaking adventure

Your kayaking outfit choice can make or break your day kayaking. Keep these general guidelines in mind for what to wear kayaking:

  • The most important thing to wear is a comfortable PFD. The outfit underneath PFD may change, but you should always have your PFD on without any exceptions.
  • Check the weather forecast and find out the water temperature before committing to any kayaking outfit.
  • Safety and comfort should be your main concerns when choosing a kayaking dress. 
  • Pack a towel and an extra set of clothes in a watertight bag. Dry clothes make the trip home a lot more comfortable.
  • Several thinner layers, consisting of synthetic materials, are a better choice than a single, thick one. The clothes will dry faster, and you’ll be able to shed a layer or two if things get hot.
  • Don’t wear bulky tops. Kayaking needs a lot of energy and it becomes even harder when you’re restricted by a bulky top.
  • Cotton is the worst choice of clothing material for a paddler. It’s best to avoid cotton in your layers. Don’t wear cotton pants as they absorb water and dry slowly. If you wear cotton pants, getting wet means you will stay wet for a long time.
  • Select a synthetic fabric that has quick-drying, insulating, and moisture-wicking properties.
  • Don’t forget protection from direct sun exposure while on the water. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can damage your skin. We recommend long sleeves for better coverage.

Kayaking is a great way to explore and get active. Whatever outfit you choose, make sure it’s comfortable and perfect for the weather. Remember to dress for the water, not the weather.

It’s time to get out on the water. We hope you have a wonderful day kayaking.

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