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What To Wear For Your Kayaking Trip [8 Must Have Essentials]

what to wear kayaking

Kayaking is one of the low-impact activities, causing an improvement in your strength and aerobic fitness. You may do kayaking as a part of your fitness schedule or for sightseeing. However, choosing the right kayaking outfit is a must for your comfort and safety.

With kayaking, you can never stick to a climate-controlled zone. Thus, your clothing has to endure wind, sun, rain and sweat. Normally, regular outfits will cause discomfort to you. You should invest in the best outfit to get ready for kayaking.

Beginners may not be familiar to the potential challenges and risks during a kayaking trip. Thus, they may have to pack all types of clothes in their bags, which can be too much of a hassle. So, what to wear for kayaking? Read on to find out.

The 8 "Must Have" For your Kayaking trip

Underarm ventilation, wicking technologies, insulation and tight-fitted design - these are the common features of the best kayaking clothes. Here are the 8 things to wear for your kayaking adventure.

Dressing in proper layers

The outer layer of your dressing keeps you from feeling wet. Some kayakers look for the water-resistant jacket, having breathable layer. It has to fit tightly to your body. Under this jacket, you may add some synthetic layers. You can easily remove a layer while the temperature is getting higher.

One of the best tips for layering is that you may start with some light fabrics. Then, for insulation, you can choose heavy clothing.

Finally, you have to make a layer with waterproof clothes as a protection against snow and water.

A very common myth among the novice kayakers is that wetsuits are always essential on the cool season. 

Although these wetsuits retain the warmth of your body, you may rely on other clothing options. The wetsuits insulate your body heat without restricting your motion range.  

Creating a layer with your drysuit

The rainwear, having watertight seals, is a common drysuit. You may also invest in the drysuits, having fleece lining.

On the winter days, you can try to choose thicker fleece as the mid layer. Now, for the outer layer, you can look for the windproof drysuit.

Wetsuit Layering

You can have a swimwear underneath your wetsuit, and it forms the best base layer. On the cold winter days, you can look for thicker wetsuit for better insulation.

When we wear windproof and watertight long-sleeved wetsuit, the outer layering is not essential.

Protection for your hands

When it is calm lake water, you may not need to wear gloves. However, while the water is flowing at a high speed, you have to put on the gloves for protection.

Neoprene gloves can be the best choice on all the weather conditions. These gloves also help you to grip the paddles in a better way. Paddles can make a huge difference in terms of usability and movement. Check out this article on the best kayak paddles out there.

Protect your feet with the right shoes

During your kayaking trip, you can keep up the warmth in your feet by wearing water shoes. The water sandals, having durable straps, also work best to prevent the cool sensation on the winter days.

However, do not wear flip-flops, as the soles of these shoes may be slippery. The shoes, having rubber soles, are safe while you walk on the slippery surface.

Spare clothing

Emergency can happen anytime to even the best kayaker. When you cannot manage the waves during kayaking, your clothes can become wet. It is wise to bring some spare clothing in your bag. This way, you can instantly change your wet clothes to prevent discomfort.

Helmets and Hats

Kayaking beginners must have a good level of protection to their heads.

As you are not very skilled, there is a high chance that you may bash your head with your kayak paddle. Then, there is also the risk of the boat-capsizing.

We highly recommend all kayakers to get a helmet no matter how skilled you are in kayaking. Accidents happen and it is better to be safe then sorry. In all these situations, getting a helmet will save your head from injury.

The wide brimmed hat is another accessory for protecting your shoulder, head and face. It is normally worn by kayaking fisherman. The fishing kayaks they use will have more space for accessories and their larger kayak paddle.


PFDs (Personal Floating Device) are a must for all the beginners and skillful kayakers. You may find PFDs of various designs. It is important to choose one that does not restrict your motion during kayaking.

What to wear if it is your first time kayaking?

When you are kayaking for the first time, make sure you know what are the common dangers to expect. Your first trip should not be a very long trip. You can put on something that is comfortable to you. Woven polyester and other breathable, synthetic fabrics can be the right choice for you. These are quick-drying materials, providing you the best protection from the sun.

  • You can choose pants and long-sleeved shirts, made of these fabrics. Make sure that you are using UPF-rated outfits that prevent the effect of UV rays. On your kayak date, these lightweight fabrics can give you the utmost comfort.
  • For pants, you can look for zip-off style legs, as they are highly versatile.
  • Gashes and broken toes are very common issues for first-time kayak paddlers. Neoprene booties are the best footwear to save you from these problems.

Now, when you are kayaking for the first time on the winter season, you have to look for different dressing style. Hypothermia is very common to the cold-water paddlers. While the water temperature level is below 75F, you can wear shorty wetsuit. It keeps up the warmth of the core of your body.

However, the wetsuit has to be a tight-fitting attire, leaving no space between your skin and the fabric. A thin fleece shirt also makes you feel comfortable. For safety purpose, it is recommended to kayak with another buddy if it is your first time. All you have to do is to make sure you get a good tandem kayak.

Extra tips for you to be aware of

  • Water temperature level is more important than that of air temperature when choosing the right kayaking clothes.
  • Top layering is a must for all kayakers.
  • Do not wear cotton clothes, as they retain water.
  • Your outfits must not prevent your from moving comfortably.
  • Wear dresses that ensure UV protection.


We hope this article on what to wear for kayaking is clear enough to help you with your kayak adventure. There is no need to buy costly kayaking clothes for better performance.

However, your endurance, comfort and quality are the major factors when choosing the right kayaking clothes. Just check out what you have in your wardrobe and then buy the essentials.

Douglas Keister

I am an adventure fanatic that loves nature and adventure sports like kayaking, camping and water sports. I have been doing this for almost 10 years now and have learned quite a few tricks. With my experience, I hope to provide you with the most reliable and accurate information for your next adventure.

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