It’s summertime and what to wear when kayaking in summer can be a dilemma for any kayaker. Wearing the wrong things can make your trip more dangerous, less fun, and expensive. For example, if you choose to go barefoot it’s a good idea to buy a good pair of paddle shoes. A barefoot kayak can be difficult to paddle in and often doesn’t have adequate padding to protect against impacts. If you do decide to wear a wetsuit, consider wearing a breathable cap and maybe a neck wrap to keep water from dripping down your chin.
Next consider how hot it is when going kayaking in hot weather. When going on a lengthy kayaking trip in summer temperatures up to 90 degrees are not uncommon. Many people will purchase an inexpensive foam or gel pad to place on their back to offset some of these temperature differences. Keep in mind that you can only wear a water-resistant cap or gel pad that is rated for temperatures up to seventy degrees.
Another common problem that occurs is overheating. If you’re wearing a regular wetsuit it will help regulate your body temperature but as soon as you get into the water, your body starts to sweat. If you already have a warm layer on your drysuit, adding another layer of wetsuit will only make you sweat even more. One simple way to counter this is to take a few minutes and add about one-third of your body weight into the water.
Wearing a wetsuit with a waterproof seal is a great way to avoid overheating while kayaking. I personally would avoid going barefoot if at all possible. Kayaks tend to be much larger than standard beach shoes so the addition of a dry suit or wet suit can greatly increase the mass of your legs and feet. This increased mass increases the risk of getting a capsize or getting your foot capsized.
If you are going kayaking in the summer you should always go barefoot. Barefoot will give you better joint support, which will reduce the chance of getting a capsize. In addition, when you’re barefoot you have more control over your movements and you don’t feel the wind against your face. The added mobility also helps to keep you from getting your legs trapped in a knot while trying to go kayaking. If possible go kayaking barefoot, but if you really must go kayaking without a drysuit just make sure you have one on your air tank.
You also want to think about the differences between what to wear when kayaking in summer when trying to choose a wetsuit and what to wear when going barefoot. For starters, when you are in a kayaking environment there is only a small window of time that you can get wet. The water temperatures can be very warm in the early morning or in the late afternoon, and then they can go even worse in the evening! If it is hot in the daytime go kayaking with a partner, and at night or early morning you can switch to drysuits. If you are Kayaking alone, the most important thing to wear is a wetsuit. While the other two are nice, they will only do so much for you in an emergency situation.
When considering what to wear when kayaking in summer, you also want to consider wearing an inner layer. The reason for this is simple; the water can become extremely warm in the evening and you will need to have insulation to keep you warm. Depending on the current weather conditions it may be helpful to wear a wetsuit with an inner layer that is waterproof. A typical “Dry Suit” can cost $500, so a little more money up front can save you time down the road!
Finally, if you are going to spend any time out at sea or going into areas where the water temperature can go very high, you should consider wearing a wetsuit. The reason is simple; it helps to lower the resistance to the water. At higher temperatures the resistance can make moving across the surface much more difficult. If you don’t already know how to “Dry suit” then you should consider purchasing one. While it will still take some effort and skill, the price of them can soon pay for themselves with lower trips out on the water.