How to Dress for Kayaking


Warm Weather & Water

If you live in a hot part of the world that has warm water, dressing for kayaking is simple. Your biggest challenge will be staying cool, hydrated, and protected from the sun, and this should be something that you’re used to doing. The most simple solution involves using sunscreen and wearing a hat. Sunglasses are also helpful because the glare off the water can be blinding, and you’ll want to use some type of retainer strap so you don’t lose them. Of course the best way to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up, so you might want to wear a light long-sleeved shirt. Below the waist, surf shorts and water shoes or sandal like Tevas work great.

Warm Weather & Cold Water

Dressing for cold water is far more difficult, especially when the air is warm. Even on the hottest days, if you find yourself swimming, the cold water can suck the heat out of your body at a surprising speed. If you’re paddling a sit-on-top kayak, you have to expect that you’re lower body is going to be wet, whereas a sit inside kayak will protect you a lot more from both the wind and the water. On the other hand, if you flip when paddling a sit-on-top kayak, you can just climb back on the boat. But if you flip a sit-inside, it will take you a lot longer to get back on board, which means you’ll spend more time in the cold water.

Close to Shore vs. Off Shore

Of course the best strategy is to avoid capsizing altogether, and this is easy to do in a rec kayak, as long as you stay in areas that are protected from heavy wind and waves.