The most basic rule about what to wear kayaking regards comfort and safety. Find a dry top that will keep you warm and don’t buy shorts with open legs, either. Keep extra layers available if the weather becomes iffy or if puffy conditions appear. And never, ever, wear any type of clothing or gear that doesn’t provide the utmost comfort possible.
You can purchase waterproof shirts, t-shirts and pants as paddles do not usually have pockets. These types of clothing and accessories are good for just about any kayak excursion, especially when you are taking a shorter trip and aren’t going as far as you would for an ocean kayak excursion. For long trips, you’ll need a more complete sun protection package. A lot of manufacturers sell these including REI, Black Diamond, Mountain Hardware and others.
When choosing materials for your apparel, pay special attention to materials that repel water and are lightweight. A lot of fabrics absorb water quickly, leaving you damp and uncomfortable. Select materials that are breathable and won’t retain water overnight. Some fabrics also are specially treated to deal with different conditions in kayaking, including sunlight exposure, salt spray, rain, ice and more. Select lightweight materials that are also durable to handle wear and tear in wet conditions. Consider using synthetic materials for water resistance and for quick-drying.
A kayak paddle can be one of the most important accessories of your overall dress ensemble. Pay attention to the material and construction of the paddle to avoid wind chapping against your face. Typically, paddle handles made from leather will be best for warm-up and cool-down sessions while a fabric handle may be better in colder conditions. A kayak paddle with an integrated rudder is the ultimate in sports utility and comfort while kayaking; a fabric paddle may be all you need in colder water.
The main purpose of a life jacket is to protect you in case of hypothermia; specially-designed swim fins will help keep you afloat and away from fish bites. Keep in mind that a single fish can grab and drag your paddle in calm waters; many people have lost their lives trying to pull out of a current while wearing a life jacket. A chest protector or neck gasket is highly recommended for colder kayaks. If you kayak in lakes or rivers, a quality paddle with built-in recessed strap anchors and heavy duty haul loop straps will keep your equipment secure and comfortable.
In the harsh winter weather, layers are vital for added warmth and protection. Layering clothes will add body heat and provide added insulation against cold temperatures. Lightweight fabrics are ideal for layering over top of other garments to maintain total body coverage in cold conditions. Kayakers should also dress in layers, keeping certain areas of the body dry and warm at the same time.
Another important thing to know before going kayaking in the summer is the dangers of kayak caps. Kayakers should never wear caps, because they are made of flimsy material and will easily lose their shape in hot water. This is especially true if caps are worn over helmets, which are often made of foam for extra stability and protection. Kayaks caps are usually not required in the summer months because there is no need for head protection. If you must wear a kayak cap, try to get a soft and breathable cap so as not to inhibit your movements while in the water.
For extreme summer weather, a good alternative is a quick-dry cotton T-shirt, which you can quickly dry in the sun on your back deck. This will save you money on expensive and heavy shirts that will just collect sweat instead of providing any extra drying. What to wear kayak clothing for is an important question. The right combination of gear will let you enjoy your water activities and stay cool!