What to Wear When Kayaking 2021:Smart Tips for Every Kayaker

Like canoeing, kayaking is fun. It offers several disciplines that you can always choose from. For instance, there is recreational kayaking, kayaking for fishing, and many other kayaking options that you can choose from.

Even so, that’s just but a single kayaking aspect that makes it awesome. Another thing that gives your kayaking experience a memorable touch is wearing the right kayaking gear. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand what to wear when kayaking.

That’s why in this post, I am dedicating my time to showing you exactly what you need to wear when out kayaking. Please take a look at what I’ve got for you.

General Guidelines

The first thing that I’ll tackle is the general guidelines on what to wear when kayaking; as such, any kayaker who needs a great experience when out there should stick to the following basic guidelines.

Wearing a Personal Floating Device

Kayaking is done nowhere else but inside a water body. It can be in the river, lake, pond, or ocean. As such, one of the dangers that you face is drowning in case your kayak tips over. That’s why you need to keep yourself safe at all times. Wear a personal floating device.

Once you wear a personal flotation device (PFD), there are a few things that you must always remember to keep safe.

  • Never take your PFD off while in the water
  • Find a safe place to remove the PFD when you want to adjust it
  • Ensure that you “raft up” with a buddy holding the kayak as you change
  • If you can, always change on the shore

Dress Up for the Water Temperatures

There are two distinct temperatures that you’ll encounter when out kayaking. The first one is the water temperature, and the other is air temperature. When dressing up to go kayaking, make sure that you dress up for the water temperature.

This will mean that you can wear the most suitable gear, such as a wetsuit or even a dry suit. In addition to that, it’s again advisable to dress in layers. This is more specifically ideal when you layer on top of the swimsuit.

Protect Yourself Against the UV Rays

While layering clothes protect you against cold so that you don’t freeze to death during winter, dressing up in long-sleeved clothes is very important. You can wear a wide hat too. Doing this will protect you from the sun and its harmful UV rays.

Dressing up for the sun should be at any time. This is because the sun’s UV rays are always present in the atmosphere, regardless of how cold the weather may be. So there is always some level of sun exposure.

Look for clothes with the best UPF-rated fabric. In addition to that, you can slather on some sunscreen to counter the UV radiation.

Keep of Cotton in Any Layers

The reason why you should avoid cotton in any layer is simple. Cotton absorbs water. Once it does, it stays wet. This can lead to hypothermia. The best thing to do is to focus more on clothes that dry faster.

The experts recommend that if you need to layer your clothes, focus more on those clothes that have a better moisture-wicking capacity. Quick-drying clothes such as those made out of nylon or polyester are very good.

If you have to go to woolen clothes, remember this. Wool will dry less quickly; however, it will insulate when it’s wet, and that’s what makes it a fine choice.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Again, you must wear clothes that you are comfortable in. Easy and brisk movements when wearing your cloth are very important. They should be the right size and a set that allows you to sit comfortably for longer periods.

Choose Abrasion-resistant Fabrics

Rugged abrasion-resistant fabrics are those fabrics that can easily stand up to the general wear and tear often caused by sand, water, and, more importantly, any other rough material while kayaking.

Don’t Wear Zippers or Fasteners

Finally, keep off any fabrics that come with zippers, especially “rustable” zippers. You should also avoid those fabrics with other fastening hardware since the two never see eye to eye with salty water.

Under high salinity, water corrodes several metals, including metallic hardware. Go for rugged plastics for a better alternative if you must.

Best Clothing for Kayaking

In general, the best clothing when you are going out kayaking will include what I am going to list here next.

  • Swimwear
  • Shorts or even convertible pants
  • Moisture-wicking tops
  • T-shirt and long-sleeved shirts
  • Neoprene footwear
  • Wide sun-shielding hat
  • Paddling gloves
  • Fleece jacket
  • Weather dependent vest

NOTE: If you are facing chilly or even windy conditions, then it will be very helpful if you have an additional lightweight rain jacket on top of your whole setup.

What You Must Know

With the general guidelines on what to wear when kayaking that I’ve given you above, one thing is clear, if you choose to focus on them, you can tackle any type of kayaking conditions that you’ll meet. This includes kayaking under cold, mild, warm, and freezing conditions.

Even so, to get the best clothes to wear when going kayaking, you should always consider the following factors.

  • Wind conditions
  • Water conditions
  • General weather
  • Trip length

While these things may look simple, they are what determine the difference between a good kayaking experience and a bad one. My advice to you is to focus more on them while choosing what to wear on your next kayaking trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Apart from what we have seen, look for what to wear when kayaking also depends on understanding these common FAQs that most people ignore.

What type of shoes should you wear when going to kayaking?

Simply put, go with water bootie. You can also choose the best water shoe. Both are the most ideal choices for anyone that’s going kayaking. These types of shoes will stay for long on the feet and will help at keeping out the pebbles, rocks, and chips.

More importantly, these types of shoes will also retain warmth around your feet while you are kayaking. If you choose to go with sandals, then make sure that they are water sandals with reliable straps (this might give you chilly feet, though).

Should a kayaker wear their bathing suit when kayaking?

Like I mentioned above, it is important that’s when you are deciding on what to wear when kayaking, you stick to the general guidelines that I gave you. These guidelines include always wearing the personal flotation device (PFD) and again dressing for the water temperatures, which means going with a wetsuit or even dry suit.

Can I get wet when Kayaking?

Most experienced kayakers will always wear some dry top or even a kayaking cagoule. Even so, no one escapes getting wet when kayaking, even if it means getting some little splash on them. So, yes, you will get wet.

Here is the worst part, don’t be duped into thinking that the water is warm simply because the air feels warm; it never works like that. On the contrary, the water can be extremely cold. So if you feel you could fall in the water, then dress for the temperature in water instead.

Is kayaking easy for beginners?

Kayaking is an awesome sport for anybody. But just like cycling or soccer, you’ve got to learn and train. Nonetheless, kayaking is relatively simple and quick to learn. Within a few hours, you should be up and running.

Do kayaks also flip over quite easily?

Well, from my assessment and experience, kayaks are safe. Instances of a kayak tipping over are very rare unless they are in very rigorous waters such as the fast-flowing river. But even if you went with whitewater (rapid water) paddling, then the chances of tipping can be higher too.

NOTE: These aren’t the only questions that you might have encountered. Even so, you should focus more on finding more and adding them to what you already know.


When you are out looking for what to wear when kayaking, having a checklist will be helpful, make sure that you re-check the list to determine if everything conforms with what you actually needed.

But that’s not all; your understanding of the weather, changing weather patterns, and what they mean will be very important. This is what determines what you will wear when going kayaking with your pals on the weekend.

So focus more on the wind, water temperature, and other weather conditions such as rain. Protect yourself from the sun rays and ensure that you slather on your sunscreen. Clothes with the best moisture-wicking capacity are also very good.

If the weather is chilly, have some gloves on. You can again get a bandana for the head and an additional wide round hand for the head.

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