What to Wear Kayaking?

If you love outdoor sports and want an enjoyable experience next time you hit the water, but you’re struggling to figure out what to wear kayaking, this article will help you determine the perfect outfit for your next outdoor adventure. 

We’ll consider the essentials that will help you kayak with confidence, whether you’re cold weather paddling or heading out in warm water and warm temperatures.

What Shoes Should I Wear Kayaking?

Let’s begin our overview of appropriate clothing and kayaking gear by starting at the bottom. When it comes to footwear, thick neoprene boots are the best for kayaking. 

This is because your feet will get wet and you’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes to keep them protected. Make sure the soles offer good grip so you don’t slip while climbing in and out of your kayak.

If you don’t have a pair of boots, then at least wear a pair of closed-toe shoes that have a good grip on the bottom. This way, you will be able to avoid slipping as you get in and out of your kayak.

Water shoes are another great option. Look for a pair that is made out of the same material as thicker wetsuits to provide optimal warmth in conditions where the air temperature and water temperature are extremely cold. 

Should I Wear Socks?

Socks are not a necessary piece of kayak clothing, but they do keep your feet warm when in colder weather.

It’s important to get socks that won’t slide down into the bottom of your kayak boots while paddling. Waterproof socks are a great option because they are quick to dry and they prevent blisters from forming. 

What Shoes Should I Avoid While Kayaking?

It’s never a good idea to wear sandals while kayaking, especially if you’re going into cold water. On a day when both the weather and water temperatures are cool, the last thing you want is the freezing water seeping through your flimsy footwear and touching your skin.

Flip-flops are the top footwear you should avoid because they are not sturdy enough for kayaking. And while they may keep your feet cool, they slip off easily and offer no protection against the water or things you might encounter in it.

Hard-bottom shoes are also not great for kayaking because they have no give in them, making slipping a real concern. 

What Pants Should I Wear While Kayaking?

When it comes to choosing a pair of pants to wear while kayaking, try to find some that you can move comfortably in. Remember that you will be climbing in and out of your kayak all day long, so if your legs are restricted, it will make things more difficult for you.

So opt for a lightweight fabric such as polyester or nylon if possible. This way, not only do the pants breathe and keep you cool, but they will dry out quickly if your legs get wet.

Many kayak outfitters actually make paddling pants, which are specifically designed to keep you dry and comfortable during your kayaking adventure.

Should I Layer My Pants?

If you’re kayaking in cold weather you may be tempted to layer up your pants.

We recommend checking the weather before you choose to layer. You could end up sweating like crazy or, if you’re whitewater kayaking and getting pretty wet, your quick-drying clothing may not dry out as quickly when it’s layered. 

If you choose pants that are made for kayaking, layering may not be necessary as the pants will be designed to keep you warm and dry.

What Tops Should I Wear Kayaking?

When it comes to wearing tops while kayaking, you want something lightweight so it doesn’t weigh you down.

Avoid cotton because it absorbs water and takes a long time to dry so you’ll end up with damp clothes, even in hot weather. Instead, opt for a thin layer of quick-drying fabric such as nylon or polyester. 

Polyester is lightweight and somewhat flimsy, so it would work great on a warm day. You could also try a mesh top in warm weather, but you may want to look for something that offers more protection from UV rays. 

If it is cold, opt for something made out of fleece or wool as an insulating layer that helps you stay warm even in the extreme cold.

When it comes to your tops, aim to avoid anything that can catch on your kayak or other gear. This includes buttons, fasteners, zippers, and more.

If you know you’ll be kayaking in a cold water temperature, you may want to consider wearing long underwear or even a dry suit for extra warmth. Paddling gloves can be a great help for keeping your hands warm in the water. 

Many kayakers opt for short sleeves no matter the weather because they know they will get warmed up once they start paddling. Others prefer a long sleeve shirt because it offers warmth in cold conditions, but also protects your arms from sun exposure on a sunny day.

Should I Wear a Jacket while Kayaking?

Many people wonder if they should wear coats or jackets while they are out kayaking. When it comes to choosing whether or not to bring a jacket, make sure that you check the weather before you leave.

If it is going to be cold outside, choose a waterproof paddling jacket because you will likely get wet at some point, no matter how careful you are. There are many lightweight jackets ideal for kayaking that won’t become too heavy or make you overheat.

Jackets are a great choice if you know that you will be kayaking in the morning, and it’s supposed to warm up as the sun comes out. Choose one with fleece lining to offer added warmth and keep your body heat in. 

If it’s going to rain, look for a lightweight and waterproof rain jacket. Be careful here, because some raincoats are made of fabric that weighs a lot and would become saturated very quickly. 

If you’re looking for something to keep the water off but you don’t need the extra warmth, you might also try wearing a poncho instead of a jacket.

What Kind of Hat Should I Wear While Kayaking?

Choosing a hat while kayaking should be easy; just choose one that will protect you from the elements. Make sure it’s either somewhat tight or has a chin strap so it doesn’t fly off your head in the wind.

In warmer weather, wear a wide-brimmed hat to provide sun protection. On a cold day, a warm hat such as a beanie would be perfect for keeping your body temperature up. 

As with many other pieces of clothing, ensure that your hat is made of quick-drying materials and will not be a distraction while kayaking.

FAQs about What to Wear Kayaking

Kayaking successfully goes beyond just wearing the right equipment. Pay attention to these FAQs so you know the ins and outs of kayaking.

What is the Right Type of Kayak for Me?

Make sure you know both what to wear kayaking and the right kind of kayak to bring! There are many types of kayaks out there catering to specific needs, but first and foremost you want to make sure that the weight capacity is right for you and your gear. 

Do I Need Sunscreen or Sunglasses?

Yes, you need both sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. When applying sunscreen, don’t forget about the tops of your feet and the back of your neck because these areas are often overlooked and can be painful places to get a sunburn. 

Wearing polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun and cut down on the glare that’s caused by sunlight reflecting on the water.

Should I Wear a Bathing Suit While Kayaking?

In the summer, outdoor adventures on the water are rarely complete without swimming! If you are planning to spend time in the water itself, you might want to opt for wearing a bathing suit. 

You can still wear quick-drying shorts or pants over your suit if you want to protect yourself from the sun and/or bugs while kayaking. And of course, in cold water you may want to skip the suit altogether!

However, even in warm weather you will not want your kayaking outfit to consist of a bathing suit alone. If cloud cover suddenly blows in or temperatures fall, you may be left a bit chilly for the rest of your kayaking trip.

Wearing solely your suit while kayaking can also be uncomfortable when it comes to wearing your personal flotation device, or life jacket. Without a mid layer in between, the jacket can chafe and become pretty uncomfortable. 

To avoid this, throw a long sleeved t-shirt over your suit with a comfy pair of quick-dry shorts and you’re good to go!

Do I Need to Bring a Backpack or Bag While Kayaking?

You don’t need anything too big but you will want to bring a bag of some sort to store your supplies and snacks. Most people opt for a waterproof backpack so nothing gets wet; it’s also easy to store on your kayak.

You can also opt for a bag with a drawstring so the top stays closed and there is no risk of anything falling out. If you’re bringing snacks and drinks, zipper pouches will ensure things don’t fall out of open bags and get lost on the water.

If you often go sea kayaking, consider investing in a spray skirt. This is a piece of waterproof material that fits over the opening in your kayak, with a small hole for your waist, that prevents water from getting into the boat. 

You can also purchase a waterproof dry bag to keep your important items dry. 

Can I Wear Flip-Flops on the Water?

No! They are not made to be wet all the time and will come off your feet easily while you’re sitting in the kayak. 

Instead, wear water shoes if you want something on your feet that can get wet and help protect them from rocks or other sharp objects.

What Should I Wear If It’s Raining?

Wondering what to wear for outdoor activities if it’s wet? If it is raining, then you’re going to want clothes that will keep you warm but also dry off quickly, such as raincoats and rain pants. 

If you don’t have a full set of rain gear, then opt for a waterproof outer layer over an insulating and moisture-wicking base layer that can wick moisture away from your skin when it is wet.

Be sure to monitor the weather forecast before heading out on the water. This way, you can be prepared with the right clothes for any weather conditions that pop up unexpectedly. 

Kayak with Confidence

While it may seem extensive, knowing what to wear kayaking is extremely important. To summarize, here are the top points:

  • Wear light, quick-drying fabrics
  • Layer in cold weather and find waterproof, lightweight raincoats for the rain
  • Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, sunglasses, wide-brim hats, and long-sleeved tops when it’s hot out
  • Don’t forget a bathing suit for swimming
  • Use a bag or backpack to carry your items

You will have the best possible time kayaking if you take care of all the minor details. Keep these points in mind and you will be prepared for anything!