What To Wear Kayaking – The Ultimate Guide

Kayaking is an exciting activity to explore hidden places, calm lakes, or wild rapids.

But before you head out, it’s important to think about air temperatures and what you wear, especially here in Sweden, where it can get chilly even in summer.

Picture this: you’re paddling along, enjoying the hot weather and the view, when a cool breeze makes you shiver. Or worse, you fall into the water, leaving your cotton clothes cold and wet.

Dressing right for cold weather while kayaking is key to avoiding these problems.

This guide will help you pick what to wear kayaking to stay comfy, warm, and safe on your trip.

Get ready to jump into the world of kayaking, well-prepared and ready for fun!

We partner with awesome companies that offer products that help my readers achieve their goals! If you purchase through our partner links, we get paid for the referral at no additional cost! For more information, visit our disclosure page.

How to dress the right way for Kayaking

kayaking, paddling, Sweden , what to wear kayaking
Kayaking in West Sweden.

Hitting the water in a kayak is a fantastic way to spend a day, but being prepared is key to maximizing your enjoyment. While sunscreen and a hat might be your first thoughts, what you wear underneath can make all the difference.

This guide will unveil the secrets to dressing for kayaking, ensuring you stay comfortable, perform well, and, most importantly, have a safe and memorable whitewater kayaking adventure.

Dress for the Water, Not the Air Temperature (It’s Colder Than You Think!)

Many first-time kayakers don’t realize how cold the water can be. Falling into the water can quickly make you cold, even on a sunny day.

Here’s why it’s important to dress for the water temperature:

  • Water pulls heat from your body 25 times faster than air. So, even if the day is warm, cold water can quickly make you very cold, leading to hypothermia. Hypothermia can mess with your thinking and coordination and might even make you pass out.

  • Don’t trust the air temperature. Just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean the water is warm. The water can still be cold in spring, fall, and even some summer days.

  • Prepare for the worst. Even if you don’t plan to swim, accidents can happen. Dressing for the water temperature means you’ll be ready if you fall in, keeping you warm until you can get out.

Focusing on water temperature when choosing clothing for kayaking will make your trip safer and more enjoyable.

Layering Up for Comfort and Performance

The key to staying comfortable and performing well while kayaking lies in the magic of layering. Think of it like building your climate control system! Here’s how layering works:

Base Layer

This is the first layer that goes directly against your skin.

The most important thing? Wicking fabrics!

Avoid cotton at all costs.

It absorbs water and stays wet, leaving you feeling cold and clammy. Instead, use synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, or merino wool.

These fabrics wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable, even when you’re sweating.

Mid Layer

The mid-layer adds an extra layer of warmth when needed. This layer is optional and depends on the water temperature and weather conditions. Popular choices for outer layers include fleece jackets or vests. Fleece offers an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and dries relatively quickly if wet.

Outer Layer

The outer layer shields you from wind, spray, and rain.

When deciding what suit to wear for diving, think about the water temperature and conditions.

You’ll pick between a drysuit and a wetsuit:

  • Drysuits: These suits are waterproof and keep you completely dry. They are great for very cold water, keeping you warm. However, they can be pricey and might limit your movement a bit.

  • Wetsuits: These suits keep you warm by providing insulation. Some water will get in, but that’s okay. Wetsuits are good for cooler water where staying completely dry isn’t necessary. Choose a thicker wetsuit for colder water and a thinner one for warmer conditions.

By layering strategically, you can adapt to changing weather conditions and maintain optimal comfort throughout your kayaking trip.

Protecting Yourself from the Elements

While staying warm is crucial, kayaking also involves protecting yourself from the sun, wind, and spray.

Here’s how to gear up for a comfortable and safe journey:

Sun Protection:

  • Sun-protective clothing: Opt for long-sleeved rashguards or paddling shirts made with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) 50+ fabric. This will shield your arms and torso from harmful UV rays.

  • Sun hat: A wide-brimmed hat with a chin strap is essential for protecting your face and neck from the sun. Choose a hat that won’t easily blow off in windy conditions.

  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to any exposed skin. Reapply sunscreen frequently, especially after swimming or sweating.

Wind and Spray Protection:

  • Splash jacket: This lightweight jacket provides a barrier against wind and spray, keeping you dry and comfortable. Look for features like a hood, adjustable cuffs, and a water-resistant zipper.

  • Spray skirt: This essential piece of gear attaches to the cockpit of your kayak and your waist, creating a seal that prevents water from entering the kayak when you encounter waves or choppy conditions.

Bonus Tip: Consider polarized sunglasses to reduce glare off the water and improve visibility while kayaking.

Footwear Matters: Choosing the Right Shoes for Kayaking

When it comes to kayaking, your footwear choice might seem insignificant compared to the kayak itself.

But trust us, having the right kayak shoes can make a difference in your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment on the water.

Here’s why your footwear matters:

  • Wet Environments Demand Secure Footing: Kayaking environments often involve slippery surfaces, both in and out of the kayak. Proper footwear provides good grip to prevent slips and falls when entering, exiting, or maneuvering around your kayak.

  • Protection for Your Feet: Rocky shorelines, sharp objects underwater, and even unexpected encounters with marine life all pose a threat to unprotected feet. Proper footwear safeguards your toes and soles from injury.

  • Quick Drying and Water Drainage: Let’s face it, getting wet is part of the kayaking experience. The right shoes won’t eliminate this, but they should dry quickly and allow water to drain efficiently to prevent discomfort and reduce the risk of blisters.

Choosing the Perfect Kayaking Shoe:

There’s no single “best” shoe for kayaking, as the ideal choice depends on factors like water temperature, activity level, and personal preference.

Here are some popular options to consider:

  • Water Shoes: These versatile shoes offer good grip on wet surfaces, quick drainage, and protection for your feet. Look for water shoes with closed toes and a secure fit.

  • Neoprene Booties: Ideal for colder water temperatures, neoprene booties provide warmth and insulation while maintaining flexibility for paddling.

  • Sport Sandals: Open-toed sandals with good tread can be a comfortable option for warm-weather kayaking, especially for short trips. However, they offer less protection and can collect debris.

  • Quick-Drying Hiking Shoes: For activities that involve a lot of walking or hiking to reach the water, quick-drying hiking shoes can be a good choice. Just ensure they provide a good grip on wet surfaces.

Remember: Avoid flip-flops or other loose footwear that can easily slip off your feet.

You can select the ideal footwear to always keep your feet warm, comfortable, and safe during your kayaking adventure by prioritizing secure footing, protection, and quick drying.

Safety First: Don’t Forget the Essentials

Safety should always be your top priority when kayaking, even with the perfect outfit and footwear.

Here are some essential items you shouldn’t forget:

Personal Flotation Device (PFD): This is not optional; it’s a lifesaver! Always wear a properly fitting Coast Guard-approved PFD while kayaking. Choose a PFD type that suits your activity level and kayaking environment.

Other Safety Gear: While the PFD is paramount, there are other safety items you should consider:

  • Sunscreen and a hat: As mentioned earlier, sun protection is crucial.

  • Whistle: A loud whistle can be a lifesaver if you need to signal for help.

  • First-aid kit: Be prepared for minor injuries with a basic first-aid kit.

  • Spare paddle: A broken paddle can leave you stranded. Pack a spare for emergencies.

  • Hydration: Pack plenty of water in a reusable bottle to stay hydrated throughout your trip.

  • Communication Device (Optional): Depending on your kayaking location, a waterproof phone case or marine VHF radio can be helpful for emergencies or contacting others on the water.

Remember: Always check weather conditions before heading out and let someone know your float plan, which includes your planned route, estimated time of return, and the people you’ll be kayaking with.

You can ensure a worry-free and enjoyable kayaking adventure by prioritizing safety and packing the essentials.

Seasonal Considerations

While the core principles of staying comfortable and protected apply year-round, kayaking attire requires adjustments based on the season.

Here’s how to adapt your clothing choices for different times of year:

Spring and Fall Kayaking: Layering for Comfort

  • Embrace the Layers: Spring and fall weather can be unpredictable, so layering is key. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer like thermals made from synthetic materials or merino wool.

  • Fleece for Added Warmth (Optional): Depending on the air and water temperature, a fleece jacket can be a valuable mid-layer for added warmth. Choose a fleece with a zip front for easy on-and-off adjustments.

  • Outer Layer Protection: For unpredictable spring and fall weather, a dry suit offers the most protection from wind, spray, and even immersion. However, wetsuits are also a good option, particularly in areas with milder fall temperatures. Choose a wetsuit thickness appropriate for the water temperature.

Summer Kayaking: Staying Cool and Protected

  • Breathable Fabrics are Your Best Friend: When the sun is blazing, prioritize breathable, quick-drying fabrics like synthetics or merino wool. These materials wick away moisture, keeping you cool and comfortable.

  • Sun Protection is Paramount: Don’t underestimate the sun’s rays! Opt for sun-protective clothing like rashguards or paddling shirts with UPF 50+ protection. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are also essential.

  • Sunscreen is a Must-Have: Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to any exposed skin and reapply frequently throughout the day.

Remember: Regardless of the season, it’s always a good idea to check your kayaking location’s specific weather forecast and water temperature before heading out. This will help you finalize your clothing choices and ensure a safe and enjoyable paddling and winter kayaking adventure.

Bonus Tip: Consider using a paddling rain jacket specifically designed for kayaking. These jackets often offer a breathable membrane, water-resistant zippers, and a comfortable fit for paddling motions.

Conclusion: Be Prepared, Have Fun!

Kayaking is a fantastic way to explore nature’s beauty while exercising.

By dressing appropriately for the water temperature and layering your clothing, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Remember to protect yourself from the elements with sun protection, a splash jacket, and a spray skirt.

Choose the right footwear for secure footing and quick drying. Most importantly, prioritize safety by always wearing a life jacket and packing essential gear.

With the right preparation, you’re ready to hit the water confidently and have an unforgettable kayaking adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you wear while kayaking?

Dry suits for cooler air and water temperatures. It is waterproof, and it has an open-opening water-tight with a sealing gasket that will prevent the water from running off. You can control temperature by wearing underwear or other insulation layers underneath.

For hot air and cold water, you will have to have wetsuits.

Should I wear pants or shorts for kayaking?

On the lower side of this dry suit, you can wear shorts or swimsuits. You should wear jeans if it’s warm and you’ll start to kayak. Board shorts and dry shirts are an excellent choice.

Can I wear flip-flops to kayak?

A few kayaks have weeds on their surfaces that may injure the toes. Flippers or flimsy sandals can be incredibly difficult to use. I suggest some headpieces: a hat/hat/scarface, a baseball cap, or a large kerchief/scarf.

What are the 3 golden rules of recreational kayaking?

Master these three kayaking essentials:

  1. Coordinate your upper and lower body for efficient paddling.
  2. Maintain a strong “power position” with your arms close to your body.
  3. Engage your core with every stroke for maximum power transfer.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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