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What to Wear When Kayaking – Choosing the Right Outfit

Imagine it’s a wonderful summer day, and you are heading out to kayak with a gush of excitement, and it’s your first time. The first thing that will cross your mind is what to wear while kayaking. It’s obvious that you want to be comfortable.

Your clothing choice can make or break your kayaking adventure, and it’s important to know in advance what to wear kayaking.

One should not understand how severe chafing can be while kayaking, and you should not underestimate it. It is the irritation of the skin caused by friction. It can be skin-on-skin friction or even saltwater friction sometimes. Avoiding cotton material while kayaking is advised as it can cause irritation when wet.

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The importance of layers while kayaking

Wearing layers is the secret to staying warm. They regulate your body temperature while kayaking, and when you wear layers the right way, you are can paddle in the harshest conditions without freezing yourself.

  • Base layers: Lycra, quick dry tops, swimwear or anything that will wick away your sweat when you paddle your kayak.
  • Mid-layers: The middle layers can contain the wetsuit or fleecy layers, which go under a waterproof jacket.
  • Outer layer: The outer layers consist of gilets, waterproof jackets, and dry suits which have been exclusively designed to protect your from the to protect you from wind and other harsh elements.

What to decide what to wear kayaking?

You should follow the guidelines below when kayaking:

  1. Always wear a personal floatation device: Wear a PFD or a personal floatation device, and never take it off whenever you are in touch with aqua. If you want to adjust its top layers, find a place to take it out.
  2. Dress in layers: It is very important to dress in layers when kayaking, as a single layer of clothing is not sufficient to protect you from the wind or air.
  3. Dress for sun protection: No matter the climate, a day on the water is when your skin will be exposed to the sun. It is recommended to wear UPF-rated fabrics. These fabrics protect you from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. To protect your face, wear a sunscreen.
  4. Avoid wearing cotton clothes: Cotton tends to absorb water, and it stays wet. Seek quick-drying fabrics instead of cotton. Go for wicking if any clothing touches your skin. It is advisable for quick-drying fabrics such as nylon or polyester.
  5. Look for fabric that is abrasion-resistant: The ability of a fabric to resist the surface wear is caused by flat rubbing contact with another material is called abrasion resistance.
  6. Avoid zippers: Salt water tends to corrode many metals, hence, you should avoid hoodies or clothes that have zippers. Hence it is important to seek corrosion-resistant metals on a jacket for ensuring a long life.

Wetsuit or dry suit?

People wear both wet suits and dry suits while kayaking. The water temperature you are paddling decides which one to opt for. The wet suits, which are made out of neoprene ranges in thickness from 1mm to 7mm.

These suits insulate the body and retain its heat by allowing a layer of water to sit between the neoprene and the skin. It acts as a thermal barrier. On the other hand, dry suits are the ones that keep the wearer completely dry.

These suits need layers underneath them, such as fleece, to warm them in cold conditions.

How is it possible to layer a wet suit and a dry suit?

The key to staying warm while kayaking is layering. You can maximize your paddling performance by layering whether you are wearing a dry suit or a wet suit.

Wet suits tend to be more limited when it comes to layering. Underneath the neoprene, you can add a layer of lycra rash guard, which acts as a thermal layer. After adding the guard, it will act as an extra thermal layer, and you will start to see the difference. Made of thick neoprene, a wet suit insulates you by holding a thin layer of water next to your skin.

The layering game comes into action for cold-weather paddling as far as dry suits are concerned. The best layers to consider for a dry suit are:

  • Yoga pants
  • Fleece sweater
  • Waterproof socks

A dry suit has watertight gaskets at the opening that keep you dry.

How do you dress when there is warm weather and cold water?

Cold water and warm weather are trickier weather conditions to navigate. You should not forget to dress for the water and not the weather. The odds of ending up in cold water even when there is hot weather are higher. This can quickly suck the heat out of you. This is why you should wear abrasion-resistant clothes and avoid cotton at all costs!

When you sit in a kayak, expect your lower body to get wet. The Sig on a top kayak will not protect your lower body from water. On the other hand, the Sit-in-kayak offers greater protection from wind and water.

Mild weather clothing list

There is a clothing list for every weather condition. We have curated the following checklist for dressing in mild weather conditions:

  1. Tops: The benefits of rash vests include being stretchy, having a high UPF rating and their ability to protect you against UV damages. Opt for a synthetic or a wool layer when it comes to tops.
  2. Mid layer: A fleece or a synthetic layer will prove useful if the weather conditions do not require a dry suit or a wet suit.
  3. Bottoms: Focus on something quick-drying and comfortable when it comes to your bottoms. Avoid yoga pants as they tend to move constantly as you paddle.
  4. Footwear: One should avoid wearing anything that has a back strap, and the footwear you use should be lightweight and water resistant.
  5. Gear: Do not step out without a hat while kayaking; it is a way to secure your head. You should also carry a floating case for their glasses attached to your kayak.

Final words

Every person has a different checklist of things to wear kayaking. Some of these things are common among the travelers. Avid travelers with a thorough kayaking experience can manage or pull off the sport even if they don’t have some clothing accessories.

However, novice travelers should take extra preventive measures while kayaking as it’s their first time trying out this adventure sport.

Written by Emma Parker

Hi, I'm Emma Parker, a passionate outdoors enthusiast and blogger. I love nothing more than exploring the great outdoors and sharing my experiences with others.

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