What to Wear Kayaking: 7 Outfit Tips For A Perfect Adventure!

So you’re ready to set sail on a kayaking adventure…the water glistening under the sun’s warm embrace…the breeze whispering anticipation in your ears…

But before you dip your paddle into the unknown, there’s one crucial question: what should you wear?

We’ll break down exactly what to wear kayaking – ensuring comfort, protection, and a seamless connection with nature’s playground.

After all, wearing the wrong thing, or even worse – not having essential items, can spell disaster and turn your trip into a nightmare.

Don’t fret… we got your back.

In this post, we’ll cover exactly what to wear kayaking based on climate, water temperature and personal preference.

In warm weather scenarios, we’ll explore lightweight clothing materials and sun protection strategies to keep you comfortable while staying cool on the water.

For cold-weather paddling enthusiasts, our layering techniques will help you stay warm without sacrificing mobility.

We’ll also help you choose the right footwear for your kayak outing – comparing neoprene boots with fast-drying sandals or water shoes – as well as gear considerations for extreme cold conditions.

Understanding when to opt for a dry suit versus a wetsuit depending on your specific needs is crucial in deciding what to wear kayaking during colder months.

Lastly, our essential equipment section covers selecting the appropriate kayak type and paddle while providing tips on packing essentials like dry bags, water bottles, and extra clothes that may come in handy during your journey.

So here are our 7 outfit tips that will not only enhance your comfort and safety, but also will allow you to immerse yourself in the experience – connecting with nature and embracing the joy of kayaking!

Table of Contents:

1) Dressing for Warm Weather Kayaking

Ok, first things first. The most important thing in considering what to wear kayaking is …. (drum roll please)…THE WEATHER!

For warm weather kayaking, lightweight items such as long-sleeved T-shirts or quick-dry shorts to keep cool and comfortable.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses along with applying water-resistant sunscreen. This will help you stay comfortable while exploring nature on your kayak.

2) Lightweight Clothing Options for Warm Weather Paddling

For staying cool while paddling, choose fabrics like polyester or nylon that draw moisture away from your body. Some great options include:

  • A light-colored, long sleeve shirt made of quick-drying fabric
  • Quick-dry pants or shorts (Remember, avoid cotton as it retains moisture)
  • A bathing suit underneath if you plan on taking a dip.

3) Importance of Sun Protection During Sunny Days

Sunburns are no fun..to avoid turning into a lobster after your kayaking trip, make sure to follow these tips:

  1. Cover up: Wear clothing items that provide good coverage against harmful UV rays – think long sleeves and hats with wide brims.
  2. Sunglasses: Invest in polarized shades that protect your eyes from glare off the water surface.
  3. Sunscreen: Apply generous amounts of broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen before hitting the open water. Don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours or after swimming.

When venturing out in warm climates, it’s wise to wear suitable attire and guard yourself against the sun. To ensure you stay comfortable during cold weather paddling, layering your clothing with appropriate base and insulating layers will help keep you warm while avoiding moisture retention properties of cotton fabrics.

4) Cold Weather Layering Techniques

When the temperature drops and you’re still itching for a kayaking adventure, it’s crucial to layer up like an onion. That way, you can stay warm and cozy while paddling through those chilly waters.

Choosing Appropriate Base and Insulating Layers

The first step in mastering the art of cold weather kayaking attire is selecting moisture-wicking base layers. Opt for materials like polyester or merino wool that’ll keep your skin dry even when it’s wet outside.

Next, add insulating layers made from water-repellent fabrics such as fleece jackets or long underwear – these will help trap heat close to your body without weighing you down.

Avoiding Cotton Due to Its Moisture Retention Properties

You might be tempted to reach for that comfy cotton t-shirt, but resist. Cotton is notorious for retaining moisture instead of wicking it away from your skin (we’re looking at you, soggy shirt).

This can make staying cool on a sit-inside kayak trip nearly impossible. Instead, stick with synthetic materials designed specifically for outdoor activities.

Your Cold Weather BFFs

what to wear kayaking
  • Paddling Jacket: These bad boys are perfect for layering over long-sleeve tops or rash guards when temperatures dip below freezing during your open water kayaking excursion. They provide extra warmth while also shielding against wind and rain.
  • Spray Skirt: Don’t forget to pack a spray skirt for your sit-inside kayak – this nifty accessory will help keep water out of the cockpit and ensure you stay dry.
  • Paddling Pants: Paddling pants are a type of waterproof pants designed specifically for kayaking and other paddling activities. Paddling pants are made of waterproof materials that can help keep you dry while paddling. This is especially important if you’re kayaking in cold water or in colder seasons when getting wet can quickly lead to hypothermia.

Water shoes are a must-have for any kayaking trip, and paddling gloves can help keep your hands warm and protected from blisters. And of course, always wear a personal flotation device or life jacket for safety.

5) Proper Footwear Choices for Kayakers

When most people think of what to wear kayaking, they almost always neglect their feet. Having the right footwear should be a part of your “kayaking outfit.”

Keeping your feet warm and protected is important.

Neoprene boots or fast-drying water shoes/sandals with chunky rubber soles and back straps are recommended over going barefoot due to their added protection against slippery surfaces like wet rocks when climbing onto shorelines after exiting your kayak.

Benefits of Neoprene Boots and Fast-Drying Water Shoes/Sandals

  • Traction: The chunky rubber soles on these footwear options provide excellent grip, keeping you steady as a rock (pun intended) while navigating those slippery shorelines.
  • Durability: Made from tough materials, they’re designed to withstand the wear and tear that comes with kayaking adventures.
  • Faster drying time: Unlike regular sneakers, these shoes won’t stay soggy for hours after getting wet. Say goodbye to squishy feet.

The Importance of Traction on Slippery Surfaces

No one wants an unexpected swim during their kayaking trip. Wearing appropriate footwear not only keeps your feet warm but also helps prevent slips and falls when transitioning between land and water. Trust us; it’s much easier to enjoy outdoor activities when you’re not nursing a bruised ego (or worse).

So keep in mind, investing in proper footwear can make all the difference in both comfort and safety during your next paddling adventure. So go ahead – treat yourself to some stylish yet functional kicks before hitting the open water.

6) Extra Gear for Extreme Cold Conditions

If you’re brave enough to venture into the icy realms of extreme cold weather kayaking, then kudos to you. But remember, with great adventure comes great responsibility.

I personally don’t feel comfortable doing much of anything outdoors when temps go below 40, but to each is own.

Balaclava-type Hats and Pogies for Added Warmth

Don’t let your face turn into an icicle – invest in a balaclava-type hat that covers exposed skin while still allowing you to breathe comfortably. Trust us; your nose will thank you later.

And don’t forget about those precious hands. Keep them cozy with pogies, neoprene mitts designed specifically for paddle sports that provide insulation without compromising grip or dexterity.

The Importance of Wearing PFDs at All Times

No matter how chilly it gets out there on the open water, never ever skip wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Safety first, folks.

Choose one that fits snugly yet comfortably so it won’t hinder your paddling prowess. Plus, they often come equipped with handy pockets perfect for stashing snacks or other essentials like hand warmers.

It is essential to be prepared for extreme cold conditions when kayaking by wearing the appropriate gear, such as balaclava-type hats and pogies. For more specific protection from the elements, it’s important to consider dry suits versus wetsuits.

7) Dry Suits vs. Wetsuits for Kayaking

When it comes to kayaking, staying warm and dry is crucial. Let’s touch on dry suits vs. wetsuits, so you can choose the best option for your kayaking outfit.

Advantages of Using a Dry Suit When Kayaking

A good quality dry suit made from breathable material like GoreTex can keep you comfortable even if submerged in icy waters.

These suits are more comfortable than latex seals and are ideal for recreational kayaking.

They’re designed to keep water out entirely, ensuring that your clothing items underneath stay completely dry during your kayaking trip.

When to Opt for a Wetsuit Instead

If you’re expecting warmer weather conditions or planning on getting wet (because let’s face it, it’s wet out there), then a wetsuit might be the better choice.

Made from neoprene material, wetsuits provide insulation by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the suit itself. This trapped water warms up due to body heat and acts as an insulating barrier against cold water temperatures.

While not as effective at keeping you bone-dry like their dry suit counterparts, wetsuits do allow flexibility in movement which is essential when maneuvering through open water.

In short: If staying completely dry isn’t necessary but maintaining warmth is still important – go with a wetsuit. If staying dry is crucial, or you’re venturing into colder waters – a dry suit is your best bet.

Bonus: Essential Equipment Checklist

We’ve given you a good idea of what to wear kayaking, but we want to make sure you have all the necessary equipment for a successful trip. This includes:

  • A suitable kayak and paddle: Choose between a sit-inside or sit-on-top kayak depending on your preferences, and ensure you have a comfortable paddle that suits your height.
  • Dry bag: Keep your valuables safe in a waterproof bag like this dry bag.
  • Water bottle: Staying hydrated is essential during outdoor activities, so pack a reusable water bottle to keep yourself refreshed.
  • Extra clothes: Weather conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared with additional clothing items such as long underwear or fleece jackets.
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): No kayaking trip is complete without wearing an appropriate life jacket – safety first.

In addition to these essentials, consider bringing along some other helpful gear like paddling gloves for hand protection and wide-brimmed hats for sun protection.

Don’t forget about transportation – invest in a sturdy car rack to safely transport your kayak from home to the open water.

FAQs in Relation to What to Wear Kayaking

What Type of Clothes Should I Wear for Kayaking?

When kayaking, it’s important to wear comfortable clothing that allows for ease of movement. Opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking materials like polyester or nylon. Choose quick-drying clothing that provides sun protection and avoid cotton as it retains water. Layering is essential in colder weather; use a base layer to wick moisture away from the skin, an insulating mid-layer made from water-repellent materials, and a waterproof outer shell.

Should You Wear Jeans Kayaking?

No, wearing jeans while kayaking is not recommended because they are made of heavy cotton material which absorbs water and takes longer to dry. Instead, choose synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon that are lightweight and quick-drying.

What Do You Wear to Go Kayaking in the Summer?

In the summer months, wear lightweight clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings for sun protection. Opt for breathable shirts or rash guards paired with quick-drying shorts or pants. Don’t forget sunglasses, a hat with a wide brim or neck flap, and sunscreen.

Do You Wear a Shirt While Kayaking?

A shirt is recommended when kayaking to protect your skin from UV rays and potential abrasions caused by life jackets (PFDs). Choose long-sleeve shirts made of moisture-wicking fabric like polyester or nylon for added comfort during paddling activities.

Do You Wear a Bathing Suit to Kayak?

You can wear a bathing suit under your regular paddling attire if desired but consider pairing it with additional layers such as rash guards on top and board shorts below depending on weather conditions. This will provide added sun protection and comfort.

What Do You Wear on a Date Kayaking?

For a kayaking date, prioritize comfort and functionality. Wear lightweight, quick-drying clothing that provides sun protection such as moisture-wicking shirts or rash guards paired with shorts or pants made from synthetic materials. Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat for additional protection.


Deciding what to wear kayaking should not be taking lightly.

Whether you’re paddling in warm or cold weather conditions, choosing the right clothing materials and layering techniques is crucial. Additionally, having appropriate footwear and gear for extreme cold conditions can help keep you warm and dry on your kayaking adventure.

For a kayaking trip, it’s important to wear comfortable clothing that allows for ease of movement. For warm weather, a cotton t-shirt and quick-dry pants are ideal. If it’s wet, a paddling jacket and pants made of waterproof material will help you stay dry. For cold water, consider wearing a dry suit or long underwear under your clothing items. A fleece jacket and long sleeve shirt can also help keep you warm.

Now that you know what to wear kayaking, it’s time to get out there and enjoy yourself. For those of you who will be kayaking for the first time, be prepared to experience nature up close and personal.

Many people find that being on the water is peaceful and relaxing, and it provides an opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of daily life.

Be well.

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