Can You Kayak in the Rain? (Safety and Gear)

Even though kayaking in the rain can be fun and exciting, there are risks that need to be considered. But fear not, there are simple ways to make the trip safe, enjoyable, and exciting.

What to Look Out For When You Kayak in the Rain


Kayaking during rainy weather requires you to be aware of certain precautions and safety measures. The key points you should keep an eye on are listed below.

  • Check the Weather Conditions

Always make sure you check the weather before heading out for your kayaking trip. If the coast is clear and there is no chance of rain, you can hit the paddle without a worry. 

But if the forecast shows predicted inclement weather, you should take the appropriate measures and plan accordingly.

In addition, check the weather from the preceding week to ensure there has been no heavy rain that has raised the water level. Often, a river will develop fast-flowing rapids and dangerous conditions as the water level rises after unexpectedly heavy rains.

  • Maintain Visibility

Rain lowers and obstructs visibility within a mile radius. This lower visibility makes it harder to spot upcoming hurdles, and a rock or floating log could get in your way.

The harder it pours on a rainy day, the more difficult it is to see. Equipping your kayak with a white kayak light on will help you stay visible to other kayakers, see your surroundings better, and be easier to find in case of an emergency.

Reduced visibility is one reason many kayakers choose to enjoy water sports in light rain but stay at home if heavy rain is predicted.

  • Use a Spray Skirt to Prevent Water from Entering

The simplest way to keep water out of your kayak is to install a spray skirt. You can get a basic, inexpensive nylon skirt to keep the water out. A nylon skirt is the most inexpensive kind of spray skirt.

The neoprene skirt is another option; it is slightly pricey but it’s waterproof and incredibly comfortable. This material is generally advised for heavier rainstorms. 

You may also go for the GoreTex tunnel skirt, which is the most expensive but arguably the best option. A waterproof GoreTex tunnel skirt will keep you dry while still being breathable for your optimal comfort.

  • How to Drain the Vessel of Water

If water gets inside the vessel, there is no need to panic. There are ways to remove water quickly. 

If you have a sit-in kayak, consider investing in a bilge pump that makes it easy to remove water that may get inside the boat on a rainy day. Spray skirts can be beneficial for keeping the water out in the first place, thus eliminating the need for the pump to remove water.

If you have a sit-on-top kayak, you can remove the water through the scupper holes that are built into the kayak.

  • Plan of Action

Always prepare an emergency backup plan in case the trip goes south; this predictive strategy will keep you sane and in control despite a distressing situation. Make sure that you share your float plan with a friend or family member, and don’t forget to tell them what time they should expect you to be back. 

If you’ll be floating down a river you may need someone to pick you up at the end of your float, since we do not recommend trying to paddle upstream on rivers. If you plan to kayak in the rain, choose an easy location where the water conditions are mellow.

Really, any time you participate in fun outdoor activities for an extended period someone should know where you are and when you should be back. This way, if you don’t get back on time they can look for you in the right area.

Before you begin the journey, do a routine maintenance check. Keep a waterproof or water resistant phone or GPS turned on for navigation; this is helpful on a sunny day, but it becomes necessary when you go kayaking in the rain.

  • First Aid

First aid should be the first thing you pack in your dry bag. Along with traditional first aid supplies, you must always include your safety gear: floatation devices, life vests, etc.

Gear and Equipment

The most crucial element of any trip is the type of gear that you need. When kayaking in the rain, your main focus should be keeping the weather conditions in mind and bringing along the right gear.

As you are constantly exposed to water, the chances of catching a cold or hypothermia are relatively high. As a result, the following is an excellent kayaking rain gear guide to help you stay safe while you’re kayaking in the rain.

  • What Fabric is Suitable

Synthetic kayak rain gear perfectly suits rainy days and paddling in general. 

This fabric dries quickly, wicks moisture away, and works as a good waterproof layer. Considering the water temperature and air temperature will help you determine how many layers you need.

In spring and late autumn it is usually necessary to bring multiple layers to stay warm. But in the summer a simple wetsuit is often more than enough to keep you comfortable on the open water.

You can always bring a lightweight, waterproof layer and dry clothes in a dry bag just in case.

  • Wet Suits or Dry Suits

Everything comes down to staying dry no matter the weather conditions. If you are paddling in a dry suit, it will help prevent the rain from coming into contact with your body, ensuring you stay completely dry. 

However, wetsuits are made from a rubber material that holds a small percentage of water between your skin and the wetsuit as insulation. You can purchase either a wetsuit and or dry suit from your local surf shop.

  • Rain Suit

Rain suits consist of a jacket and pants that are almost completely waterproof and very comfortable, but they offer little to no insulation. You may want to choose a somewhat loose-fitting rain suit to accommodate any items of clothing you may layer underneath it for added warmth.

However, we do recommend choosing one with tightly cuffed sleeves to keep the rain out as you paddle.

  • Rash Guard

The rash guard, also known as a “rashie,” is a fitted swim top. It will usually be made of either nylon, polyester, or lycra and can be worn alone or under a wet suit. It adds extra comfort by preventing the wet suit from rubbing against your skin. 

  • Waterproof Jackets

These jackets have three layers; the outer layer is the face fabric of polyester or nylon. The second layer has a lamination coat of teflon or polyurethane, and the mesh on the inside holds everything together to offer three-layer protection. 

In case of unexpected rainy weather, a waterproof jacket will help you stay dry and warm.

  • Life Jackets

Many individuals panic when they unexpectedly are thrown into deep waters. Therefore, a life jacket is necessary for anyone that will be out on the open water with the possibility of capsizing.

We recommend trying on a variety of life jackets to find one that is comfortable and offers you a free range of movement to keep you safe without hindering your fun.

  • Hats and Helmets

There are a variety of hats or helmets that you may choose to wear while you kayak. Broad-brimmed hats are perfect for keeping your head dry while kayaking in the rain.

Helmets can be useful in rough waters to prevent injury in case any collision occurs and your head knocks against the paddle or rocks. 

  • Footwear

When it comes to footwear for kayaking in the rain, sandals are the most common pick during warm weather. They help you stay safe kayaking by attaching firmly to your feet, but they also offer the flexibility and breathability to keep you comfortable all day long.

They’re not waterproof, but they do dry quicker than most other shoes. You can pair them up with waterproof socks if you want to stay a bit drier.

These socks repel water that may spray or splash onto your feet. But if there is water in the bottom of your boat  near your foot controls or if your foot gets submerged underwater, it will still become wet. 

  • Boots

Calf-high, sturdy boots are ideal, as they can ensure you don’t slip or step on anything sharp. 

Purchase a pair of rubber boots or use a waterproof sealer on your boots to increase the longevity of your shoes and keep your feet as dry as possible.

However, just like with the socks mentioned above, remember that if your foot is submerged in water the boots cease to be waterproof!

Consider leaving spare footwear in your vehicle while you kayak so that you can change into dry, warm socks and shoes before driving home. 

  • Gloves

The gloves that are made from polyester or nylon and coated with waterproofing material are perfect. They will keep the rain out, keeping your hands warm and dry, and can even aid in preventing blisters.

Frequently Asked Questions

How dangerous is kayaking in the rain?

Kayaking in the rain is relatively safe, but there are specific safety rules to keep in mind. 

First, be aware of your energy and fitness levels. If you are new to kayaking, it is unlikely that you have the stamina and experience needed to enjoy kayaking in the rain.

This exhaustion can put you at risk of colliding with something in the water, which can cause a severe injury, or even not having the energy to make it back to the shore.

Some face hypothermia in the rain caused by inadequate clothing after getting capsized in cold water. It is always smart to bring a paddling buddy when you kayak so you can help each other in the event one of you capsizes.

It’s rare, but there is the chance of getting caught in your kayak during a thunder or lightning storm. Always check the forecast before you go kayaking in the rain to make sure no major storms are expected. 

Can you kayak after it rains?

Kayaking after rainfall is thrilling because the water is calm and fresh. However, it can be unsafe at times. 

If possible, download apps that will tell you the predicted water levels. Along with this, look at the current and predicted weather conditions in case strong winds are expected to occur.

Check for wear and damage to your kayak and learn rescue techniques. 

Final Thoughts

Kayaking in the rain is an amazing experience. Just because it is raining doesn’t mean you should cancel your adventurous kayaking trip!

If you can take the necessary precautions and keep yourself safe against the harsh weather conditions, everything can go smoothly and you’ll stay safe.

As a reminder, check the weather forecast beforehand so that you will be in a better position to tackle whatever comes your way.