What To Wear Kayaking - How To Dress For Paddling & Kayaking

What To Wear Kayaking

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 7/4/2022

It's an exciting and fun activity to go kayaking. To ensure safety and compliance with professionals' recommendations, you should know what to wear kayaking and/or paddling. Whether you are going on an excursion for your holiday or starting kayaking as a sport. Here are some of the recommendations that I have been using in my 15 years of kayaking. 

It depends on the conditions in which you plan to kayak and what you need to wear. The general rule is to dress for the water temperature rather than the weather. If the water is cold, you will need a wetsuit, but you will not need one if the water is warm.

When choosing clothes for kayaking or paddling, what are some general guidelines? Should you wear certain things every time you kayak? Find out more in this article!

What to wear kayaking?

The adventure activity of kayaking is fun and exciting, and you can push yourself as far as you feel comfortable. In addition to getting active, kayaking and paddling will teach you a fun new skill.

Nevertheless, suppose you have never been kayaking before or are relatively new to the sport. In that case, you may wonder how to dress appropriately to be as safe and as comfortable as possible during your adventure.

Kayaking gear is based on the conditions you will kayak, so it's essential to research the location in advance.

Many professional kayakers will recommend following a few guidelines when kayaking or paddling. Here are some suggestions to make your kayaking experience as enjoyable as possible!

Clothing That Lets You Move Freely

When kayaking, it is essential to remember that you will be exercising in the water, so make sure you have dressed appropriately. Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothing that you can wear for long periods when you go kayaking.

You don't want to wear Clothing that will irritate your skin and limit your movement, as you will be sitting in the kayak for a while, and you don't want to be in pain and unable to paddle correctly due to your Clothing.

Always Put On A PFD

PFD Kayak

Safety is always the most critical aspect of kayaking. Wear your PFD or lifejacket whenever you are kayaking, so you will always be safe. Your kayaking adventure will require you to dress one of these things.

A few people find their PFD slightly restrictive when trying to paddle, so it would be worth the investment to choose a kayak-specific PFD instead. That way, you can swim as comfortably as you like.

We should remember that a PFD or lifejacket can be life-saving equipment, and we should put aside our desire to appear cool and instead be safe. It's always a good idea to wear a PFD.

General Rule: Dress For The Water Temperature, Not The Weather

To choose what to wear on your kayaking trip, you need to research the average water temperature of the area you will be kayaking in since you need to dress for the water's temperature, not the weather.

If you are going kayaking, you should always assume someone will get wet either by falling out or being splashed by rapids and that someone could be you. It would help if you were prepared for the water's cold temperatures.

You should dress in clothes appropriate for the water temperature when kayaking since you don't want to get wet and be uncomfortable.

Layer Your Clothing

When you go kayaking, you should dress in layers of Clothing. Kayaking is one of many outdoor activities that fall under this general rule. Professionals recommend this for numerous reasons.

If you get wet, layering your clothing will help you stay warm. During your time out on the water, you will be able to adjust quickly to any changing weather conditions due to the thin materials used for your Clothing. You maintain your movement and constant body temperature by wearing light, layered Clothing.

No Cotton

Wearing clothing items made of cotton is one of the most significant rules you need to follow when kayaking. While cotton is great for keeping you warm and cozy, it absorbs water rapidly and does not dry quickly.

This can be a concern when you are out on the water, as it may lower your body temperature and put you at risk for hypothermia. Furthermore, being constantly wet will make you feel uncomfortable throughout the kayaking trip, making it an unpleasant experience.

Sun Protection And Sunglasses Are A Must

To protect yourself from the sun while kayaking, you should always wear things to shield yourself. If you want to keep the sun off your arms and shoulders, you should include a long-sleeve T-shirt in your layers.

In addition to wearing sunscreen, you should also cover your face and neck with hats. When participating in outdoor activities like kayaking, we need to remember that we can still get sunburned even in cold weather if we don't protect ourselves.

Sunburn, halfway through your kayaking trip and being in pain for hours or days before you can treat it properly is the last thing you need. You won't enjoy your trip.

When kayaking, you should wear sunglasses since the glare from the sun can reduce your visibility. Cloudy days can make this even more dangerous.

Double-Check Your Clothing's Material

You should wear light, hardy Clothing when kayaking. Your clothes will get wet and muddy, and your Clothing should withstand water, sand, sun, heat, and the rough materials found in kayaks.

Kayak clothes need to be made of abrasion-resistant, durable material that can withstand quite a bit of abuse without losing their shape. As you will be active and sweating while kayaking, choosing lightweight fabric to keep you cool and dry fast is good.

Waterproof Your Valuables

When people go kayaking, they tend not to think about their valuables. It's easy to overlook them when you're focused on what you need to wear, but they can be as important.

Even if the water is calm, your valuables, such as your cell phone, may splash with water even if you capsize. If you plan to take your cell phone and other valuables, you should invest in a waterproof case.

You should not leave behind your phone as this is vital if you need medical assistance, so keep it with you, but make sure it is secure.

Chilly Conditions Tips

What to wear kayaking in cold weather?

You should prepare yourself for submersion in cold water if you are kayaking in cold weather and the water in your kayaking location is also challenging. You should wear warm clothes even when wet in conditions like this.

Suppose you get submerged in cold water while kayaking; you are more likely to experience heart or lung shock. Prepare yourself accordingly.

If you are kayaking in these conditions, wearing a wetsuit or a dry suit will help you stay warm. After wearing the case, you will need a few additional layers of clothing to ensure you are fully protected from all the elements you encounter while kayaking.

As for all the other layers, such as your outer layer and your footwear, you can follow the guide below as they will work for these cold conditions.

Hot Weather Tips

The best way to avoid overheating or any other problems is to be prepared for warm water and warm weather conditions when you go kayaking. We will now discuss what you should wear for every layer of Clothing in these hotter conditions.

Underwear

A swimsuit can be your first layer of Clothing for a kayak excursion in warm weather and water conditions, as long as it is not cotton. If you don't feel comfortable wearing your swimsuit, you can wear some comfortable and non-restrictive activewear as a first layer. Just make sure it's appropriate for outdoor activities.

Bottoms

As important as choosing what to wear under your underwear is deciding what to wear on your bottom half. So, you need to select a material that will dry quickly and be comfortable. Wearing board shorts will keep you comfortable since they dry quickly in these warm conditions.

If you are looking for Clothing for your bottom half, you should avoid wearing fragile material that may rip easily, such as yoga pants.

Tops

Kayaking tops need to be designed for water sports, like rash vests. If you are paddling a kayak, you need something flexible and comfortable to allow you all the movement.

Wearing activewear and sports clothing made from fast-drying materials and a higher UPF rating will also offer higher UV protection. 

Footwear

In choosing footwear for your kayaking trip, look for shoes that are water-resistant, lightweight, and provide your feet with some protection from the elements and rough material of the kayak.

To keep your shoes on your feet, you should avoid shoes with backstraps, as they will slip off too quickly. Sandals and similar footwear can collect gravel and sand, making your trip uncomfortable and easy to lose. Consider a pair of sneakers or boots instead.

Middle Layer Of Clothing

Kayaking in warmer temperatures will not require you to wear a wetsuit or drysuit, but you should still wear a middle layer of Clothing. You should wear clothing made from synthetic materials to help keep you warm if you capsize.

Outer layer Of Clothing

Unless the water and weather are hot, you do not need an outer layer of Clothing. Still, if the conditions are slightly more relaxed, you should wear a breathable and water-resistant jacket.

You will be wearing your PFD over this layer, so ensure it's comfortable and something you can wear for the entire trip, as you will not be able to take it off while on the water.

Paddling Gloves

You should purchase a good pair of paddling gloves if you are new to kayaking or if this is your first time kayaking since these will help prevent blisters from the paddle and the cold if the weather is slightly chilly.

Hats And Other Sun Protection

You might want to wear a wide-brimmed hat during your kayaking session if the weather is warm. Make sure your hat has some way to attach to your head, such as a ribbon or string, so it does not fall off.

Ensure that you apply sunscreen to your exposed skin, as the last thing you want after your kayaking adventure is a sunburn.

Conclusion

Kayaking is an exciting and fun activity for the whole family, but knowing what to wear kayaking for the adventure is crucial as learning where to kayak. To minimize the dangers you could face while kayaking, you need to ensure your safety and protection from the elements.

As long as you follow the guidelines outlined above and ensure comfortable, choosing your Clothing for your kayaking trip should be no problem. Have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a beginner kayaker wear?

A beginner kayaker should wear waterproof clothes. A kayaking dry suit is the best choice.

Do you wear a bathing suit while kayaking?

Yes, you can wear a bathing suit for kayaking. They are a great option for warm weather. If the weather is colder, you may need to wear a specialized kayaking suit.

What do girls wear for kayaking?

For kayaking, girls can wear any regular bathing suit. It is essential to cover your legs to protect it from chafing. For tops, any quick dry t-shirt is good.

Can I wear sneakers kayaking?

Yes, you can wear sneakers kayaking. No matter if they are paddling a whitewater trip or touring kayaks, kayakers need to think about seated comfort, how well their shoes will brace against bulk heads and footpegs, and how well their heels will be supported.

Can I wear flip flops to kayak?

No, flip flops are not recommended. Flip flops can come off your feet easily when you are in water. Also, many flip flops become slippery when wet due to their soles.

Is kayaking good for weight loss?

Yes, Kayaking is good for weight loss. To burn one pound of fat, you need to kayak about 9 hours.