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What to Wear Kayaking

What to Wear Kayaking: A Complete Guide for Every Season

Kayaking is an exciting outdoor activity that allows you to explore beautiful waterways and enjoy nature. Whether you’re paddling down a calm river or braving the waves in the open sea, choosing the right gear and clothing is essential for a comfortable and safe experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss what to wear kayaking in various weather conditions, from summer to cold weather, to help you make the most of your paddling adventures.

What to Wear Kayaking in Summer

Heading out for a kayaking adventure? Don’t forget to gear up with the right outfit! Choosing the appropriate clothing is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience on the water. In this article, we will guide you on what to wear kayaking, so you can paddle with confidence and style.

Kayaking in the summer brings the challenge of staying comfortable and protected from the sun while out on the water. Here’s what to wear for a summer kayaking trip:

Importance of Proper Attire for Kayaking

When it comes to kayaking, the right attire is more than just a fashion statement. It plays a crucial role in your safety and comfort on the water. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, investing in proper kayaking attire is essential.

One of the primary considerations when choosing kayaking attire is protection. You’ll want clothing that shields you from the sun’s harmful rays, wind, and even cold water if necessary. Additionally, your attire should provide the flexibility and freedom of movement required for paddling.

Another important aspect to consider is the material. Opt for quick-drying fabrics like nylon or polyester. These materials wick away moisture, keeping you comfortable if you get splashed or wet. Breathable fabrics are also essential to prevent overheating during intense paddling sessions.

Lastly, wearing the right attire boosts your confidence and allows you to fully enjoy your kayaking experience. Feeling comfortable and stylish in your outfit will help you focus on the adventure ahead, rather than worrying about your clothing choices.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Kayaking Attire

When selecting your kayaking attire, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Let’s take a closer look at these considerations to help you make the right choices.

Type of Kayaking

The type of kayaking you plan to do will dictate the appropriate attire. If you’re planning to tackle rough waters or colder temperatures, investing in a wetsuit or drysuit is a wise decision. These specialized garments provide insulation and keep you warm even in chilly waters. On the other hand, if you’ll be kayaking in calmer waters, board shorts or a bathing suit paired with a rash guard can offer you the flexibility and comfort you need.

Weather Conditions

Always check the weather forecast before heading out on your kayaking adventure. This will help you determine the appropriate clothing to wear. If there’s a chance of rain or wind, bring a lightweight, waterproof jacket or windbreaker to protect yourself. Additionally, consider the temperature range and pack layers accordingly. It’s better to have extra clothing that you can remove if it gets warmer than to be underdressed and uncomfortable.

Duration of Your Trip

The length of your kayaking trip should also influence your clothing choices. For shorter outings, you may be able to get away with wearing lighter clothing. However, for longer trips, it’s important to have extra layers and clothing options available. This way, you can adapt to changing weather conditions and stay comfortable throughout your journey.

Essential Clothing for Kayaking

Now that we’ve covered the importance of proper attire and the factors to consider, let’s dive into the essential clothing items you should have for kayaking.


When it comes to tops, opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like quick-drying nylon or polyester. A short-sleeved or long-sleeved rash guard is an excellent choice for sun protection and added comfort. Rash guards are designed to fit snugly and prevent chafing, making them ideal for prolonged periods of paddling. They also offer some insulation and can be layered with a waterproof jacket if needed.


For bottoms, board shorts or quick-drying pants are the way to go. These provide comfort and freedom of movement while allowing water to easily drain and dry quickly. Look for options with an adjustable waistband for a secure fit. Avoid wearing jeans or heavy cotton pants, as they tend to become heavy and uncomfortable when wet.


If you’re planning to kayak in warm weather or calm waters, a bathing suit can be a suitable option. Pair it with a rash guard for added sun protection and to prevent chafing. Just make sure to choose a bathing suit that allows for a full range of motion and won’t restrict your movements while paddling.


Layering is essential for kayaking, especially in unpredictable weather conditions. Bring along a lightweight, waterproof jacket or windbreaker that can be easily packed when not in use. This outer layer will protect you from wind, rain, and sudden temperature drops. Additionally, consider packing a few extra layers such as a long-sleeved shirt or a fleece jacket for added warmth. Layering allows you to adjust your clothing as needed and ensures you stay comfortable throughout your kayaking adventure.

Choosing The Right Footwear For Kayaking

When it comes to footwear, your primary goal is to protect your feet and provide good traction on wet surfaces. Here are some options to consider:

Water Shoes

Water shoes are a popular choice for kayakers as they provide excellent protection and grip. Look for shoes made from quick-drying materials with sturdy soles that offer traction on slippery surfaces. They should fit snugly without being too tight, as you’ll want to maintain good blood circulation in your feet.


Sandals with straps or a closed-toe design can also be suitable for kayaking. Look for sandals with a non-slip sole and adjustable straps for a secure fit. Avoid wearing flip-flops or shoes without straps, as they can easily come off or get stuck in the footrests of your kayak.

Neoprene Booties

If you’re kayaking in colder waters, neoprene booties are an excellent choice. These booties provide insulation and keep your feet warm. Look for options with a thick sole for added protection and a snug fit that prevents water from entering.

Remember to always wear appropriate footwear to protect your feet from sharp rocks, shells, or other potential hazards in and around the water.

Protective Gear and Accessories for Kayaking

In addition to clothing, there are essential protective gear and accessories that every kayaker should have. Here are some items to consider:

Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

A personal flotation device, commonly known as a PFD or life jacket, is a must-have item for kayaking. Choose a PFD that is specifically designed for water sports and fits you properly. It should be comfortable, allow for a full range of motion, and have adjustable straps to ensure a secure fit.


If you’ll be kayaking in whitewater or engaging in any activity that involves potential head injuries, wearing a helmet is crucial. Look for a helmet designed specifically for kayaking or water sports. It should fit snugly and provide adequate protection for your head.

Sun Protection

Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is essential when spending extended periods of time on the water. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a baseball cap to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight. Additionally, don’t forget to wear sunglasses with UV protection to safeguard your eyes.

Dry Bags

Investing in a good quality dry bag is essential to keep your belongings safe and dry. These waterproof bags are designed to keep your essentials like phones, wallets, and extra clothing protected from water damage. Look for bags with durable materials and secure closures to ensure everything stays dry.

Paddle Leash

A paddle leash is a handy accessory that secures your paddle to your kayak. It prevents your paddle from floating away if you accidentally drop it or capsize. A paddle leash allows you to focus on your paddling technique without worrying about losing your paddle in the water.

Clothing Tips for Different Weather Conditions

The weather can greatly impact your kayaking experience. Here are some clothing tips for various weather conditions:

Hot and Sunny Weather

In hot and sunny weather, it’s important to protect yourself from sunburn and overheating. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your arms and legs to minimize sun exposure. A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential to protect your face and eyes from the sun’s rays. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and take regular breaks in shaded areas.

Cold and Windy Weather

When kayaking in cold and windy conditions, layering is key. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep your body dry. Add a fleece jacket or a thermal layer for insulation and warmth. Top it off with a waterproof jacket or windbreaker to protect yourself from wind and rain. Wear gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm, and consider wearing a beanie or a hat that covers your ears.

Rainy Weather

If you’re kayaking in the rain, a waterproof jacket and pants are essential to keep you dry. Look for options with sealed seams and adjustable cuffs to prevent water from seeping in. Consider wearing a brimmed hat or a rain hat to keep the rain off your face and provide additional protection.

Changing Weather

It’s not uncommon for weather conditions to change throughout the day. Be prepared by layering your clothing and bringing extra layers in a dry bag. This way, you can adjust your attire as needed and stay comfortable even if the weather takes an unexpected turn.

Popular Brands For Kayaking Attire

When it comes to kayaking attire, there are several reputable brands that offer quality products. Here are some popular brands to consider:


NRS is a well-known brand in the kayaking industry, offering a wide range of kayaking attire and gear. They are known for their high-quality materials, durability, and functional designs.


Kokatat is another popular brand specializing in kayaking gear and apparel. They are known for their innovative products and commitment to quality. Kokatat offers a variety of kayaking attire, including drysuits, wetsuits, and paddling jackets.


Columbia is a well-established outdoor brand that offers a range of clothing suitable for kayaking. They are known for their reliable performance, durability, and stylish designs. Columbia offers a variety of tops, bottoms, and outerwear that can be used for kayaking.


Patagonia is a renowned brand known for its commitment to sustainability and high-quality products. They offer a range of outdoor clothing suitable for kayaking, including jackets, pants, and base layers. Patagonia’s products are known for their durability and performance.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right attire for kayaking is essential to ensure a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable experience on the water. From tops and bottoms to footwear and protective gear, every aspect of your attire should be carefully considered. Remember to pay attention to the weather conditions, the type of kayaking you’ll be doing, and the duration of your trip. By investing in high-quality kayaking attire and accessories, you’ll be able to paddle with confidence, style, and comfort. So gear up, stay safe, and enjoy your kayaking adventures!

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