What To Wear Kayaking | Ins and Outs

what to wear kayaking

How We Test Our Products

Products are tested by our team of experts with years of personal experience.

Why Should You Trust Us

We do not simply trust a brands word, we put the products to the test!

Our Editorial Process

Unbiased reviews and in-depth research go into each and every review to ensure the best product for everyone.

Over my 10 years in the Kayaking business, I’ve always noticed one thing: Beginners are a paddling fashion disaster for their kayak get-up.

Unlike other sports, kayaking requires several outfits, and the weather is a HUGE factor for your attire consideration. Since I don’t want you to wet yourself (literally) while in kayak action, here’s what you need to know:

  • Wear clothes for the water temperature and not the air temperature.
  • It is best if you wear layers.
  • Watch out for the sun, always protect yourself
  • Try to wear quick drying fabrics and avoid cotton.
  • You will be wearing these for a while so wear comfortable clothing.
  • You need movement in your clothes so make sure you have free movement in your body.

Warm Weather & Water

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak ReviewFor those lucky peeps who are residing in the “hotter” part of the world, your kayak attire is no way near complicated.

Well, it doesn’t mean lady luck is smiling permanently upon you though; the real challenge for you guys is overcoming the burning heat from the sun.

However, assuming you’ve been living in that area for quite some time now, you may already know how to handle the scorching temperature. The simplest solution for this problem is to use sunscreen. Wearing a hat doesn’t hurt as well.

Protect your eyesight by using sunglasses *obviously*; it saves your eyes from glare when in water. There are crucial times where it can be blinding, which can make navigation annoying.

By the way, the probability of losing your glasses in the process is almost up to a 100%, so make sure you’re using a retainer strap to keep them in place.

Now, if you want to step-up up the game regarding sun protection, wearing a light long-sleeved shirt always helps. As for your get-up down below, you can sport surf shorts, water shoes or water socks.

Warm Weather & Cold Water

Best Inflatable Kayaks e1504536410300Kayaking in cold water is on a different level in comparison to cruising on warm water.  Its difficulty level increases when the air is warm.

Even if you chose one of the hottest days of the year for a swim, the cold water has its ways of sucking all the heat out of your system.
Although there’s nothing wrong with rocking a sit-on-top kayak, but you’re likely to get the lower portion of your body wet. And trust me, it’s not the good kind of wet.

The good news is that you can easily prevent this from happening by using a sit inside kayak. It gives you an advantage of protecting yourself from wind and water.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go for a sit-on-top kayak, this is way easier to deal with if you were to flip over when paddling (it happens a lot). Just simply climb back up, and you’re ready to start paddling once again.

However, a sit-inside means you have to struggle to get back on board once you do flip. You’ll be spending more time in the water when that happens.

Close to Shore vs. Off Shore

You don’t have to be a pro to know that the best thing to do is to get rid of any capsizing chances. The thing is, this is a relatively easy task when you’re in a recreational kayak. Given that you’re staying in places that don’t have any strong winds and waves.

It’s a different story though if we’re talking about kayaking in cold water. Take extra measures to learn more about various capsize recovery techniques. In addition, a helping hand from an instructor is greatly needed.

Regardless of what boat you’re using, it’s common sense for you to be a few feet away from the shore. Especially if you’ve just started out.

You’ll be able to haul-ass on the dot when you do flip over. And if you’re having trouble, you can always swim away while you let your squad take care of your equipment.

But if you plan on going to places where you have to commit a bit more, and it’s going to take you more than just a couple of minutes to get you back to shore, the clothes you’re wearing can either save or endanger you.

Find a neat set-up where its fabric is enough to keep you warm if and when you go into the waters. At the same time, it shouldn’t offer discomfort when you’re kayaking,

To give you an example, going for a neoprene Farmer John wet suit is ideal for this situation. You see, it carries a unique technology that automatically insulates when it gets wet, and it doesn’t cause hassle while you’re out doing your thing.

Cold Air & Cold Water

Here’s where things get tricky – cold air and cold water. Here’s why:  Jack from Titanic wasn’t so fond of his experience with it. When these two conditions meet, you’re in for quite a challenge.

Hypothermia is damn real in this scenario, and the threat is scarily high. With that out of the way, it’s pretty safe to say that these types of conditions aren’t for the weak hearted. Or generally, it’s not for anyone who doesn’t enjoy putting their life on the line.

But assuming that you consider yourself to be a badass beast that can easily take on whatever situation, it’s very important to get yourself covered up with a protective suit that can make the experience a tolerable for you.

I’ve mentioned this once or twice throughout the article, but you really need a high-quality gear that has the capability of keeping you warm despite you’re soaked in water.

Well, I’ll show what I’m talking about. I’ve listed down below some clothing choices for you to make. Go bananas with these:


Let’s start with Fabrics. Recommended ones are Synthetic fabric, such as fleece, neoprene, and even polypropylene. These guys work perfectly well in a cold environment.

Keep in mind that it would be better to go for a number of thinner layers than using one thick layer. If you’re considering wool as your go-to fabric, then it’s absolutely okay. However, its drying process is pretty slow, and it feels like you’re dragging weights when it’s wet.

But whatever your choice is, don’t ever use cotton. Seriously, you’re only asking for trouble in this predicament. Initially, it’s all fine and dandy when it’s dry, but the moment it becomes wet, it draws heat from your sexy body. Save the heat. Don’t choose Cotton.

Paddling Tops/Bottoms

For the next one, let’s see what you can wear for your tops and bottoms. You would generally want a solid outer shell that protects your body from the cold wind. You can wear a waterproof nylon jacket and pants in this case. It works like magic.

You can either do a quick search on the internet to find these items, but if it’s possible, check out your local kayak store. There is a certain clothing that’s specially made for this reason.

As for your footwear, purchase neoprene booties and socks. It’s designed to keep your toes warm and fired up even during the coldest conditions.

Dry Suits

kayak dry suitWant to make sure that you’ll get out of the freezing temperature alive, then a dry suit would sit best for you. This is referred to be as the ultimate protection from the cold (Sorry, Elsa.)

It has all the necessary features to keep you smiling through the cold. Equipped with latex gaskets at the ankle, wrists, and even at the neck. So yeah, you don’t have to worry about the water troubling you anytime soon.

Sadly, the price isn’t made to be accessible for everyone – it’s too damn expensive! Only get yourself a dry suit if you’re really thinking of making this as a serious hobby. Or if you’re super rich. Either way, if you spend most of your time kayaking in these conditions, it’s a great investment.

Spray Skirts

This is for the peeps out there who are fond of using a sit-inside kayak. Using spray skirts to keep you protected from cold water definitely is a wise investment. Moreover, it works to keep the hot air in as well.

A lot of kayakers often get confused how to put on a spray skirt. Preferably, you should kick it off along the back. After which, just slowly work your way up the coaming.

To ensure that you’re comfortable with the spray skirt, pull it over to the front. Ensure that before doing anything else, you’ve already left the ripcord out.

If not, it’s going to cause a serious problem when you’re in the water. As you can see, this is what you’re going to tug the spray skirt once the kayak flips. When that’s done, you’re ready to paddle the cold waters.

Wrapping It Up

We’re finally done with the article. If you plan on kayaking, just make sure you’re all equipped and safe. Remember, while kayaking is a fun recreational activity, things may get complicated depending on the weather situation.

It’s always recommended to have a buddy with you or a professional guide to help you out when you’re in trouble. Also, newbies shouldn’t stray off the shore too much. Stay close as much as possible.

If you found this article useful, make sure to share it with your friends and family to spread the love. After all, we want every kayak enthusiasts to be well-informed before proceeding with their paddling adventure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *