If you enjoy kayaking, you must know that this activity comes with its fair share of challenges. One crucial aspect is what to wear kayaking because the exertion you will experience, as well as the weather conditions, play an essential role in picking the right clothes. To make sure that you are never caught on the right foot, find below a list of crucial recommendations on the topic.
Safe and comfortable kayaking – general guidelines
There are several guidelines you must bear in mind when you go kayaking. For starters, always have a personal flotation device with you. Once you get on the water, put it on and don’t take it off until you reach land. You never know when you might need it.
As far as clothing for kayaking is concerned, it is highly recommended to choose the correct attire for the water temperature. Some people believe that it is a good idea to dress according to the air temperature, but that can be a crucial mistake. You need a wetsuit or a dry suit under your clothes to protect you from the cold water.
Another rule of thumb is to layer up. There will be more explanation later, but one thing to take from here is that especially the upper part of your body needs protection in layers. Don’t forget that the sun rays can be unforgiving when you are out on the water. Even if you plan a day kayaking in cloudy weather, you’re still going to ensure a lot of sun exposure. For this reason, any kayak clothing guide can tell you that UPF-rated materials are the most recommended.
One type of fabric that shouldn’t be present in all the layers you’ll wear is cotton. It absorbs water and stays wet for a long time, something you want to avoid when you go kayaking. The closest to the skin materials should be nylon or polyester, as these dry quickly.
A few other recommendations are in order. Make sure your clothes are comfortable, and you don’t mind spending an entire day in them. Stay clear of any hardware accessories like zippers that can catch rust, for obvious reasons. And last but not least, it is preferable to opt for clothes with high abrasion resistance. Sand and water will be hard on them, so the sturdier they are, the better.
Essential questions and their answers for the times you go kayaking
Several things are essential when you go on a trip that involves staying on the water for hours. So here are some questions and their respective answers you should know about before your trip.
What kind of weather will you be facing?
This question is essential because you must know what to expect. Make sure to run a bit of research on the location in which you’ll be kayaking. Prepare with the corresponding kayaking outfit, as well as any supplies you might need. Surely enough, you don’t want to be caught by surprise when the skies start pouring.
Here are some things you can do. First of all, examine the weather forecast for the area. Don’t forget to expand the area reviewed so that it includes both downstream and upstream. After all, kayaking is an adventure, and you’ll have a long time at your disposal to explore an area.
Plus, if it rains upstream, you’ll notice changes in the water speed where you’re kayaking. Water temperature is another thing you must be aware of, so specialized information should be perused, as well.
Depending on the weather conditions ahead, you must put together the kayaking apparel you’ll need for your trip. In extremely cold weather, a dry suit is better than a wetsuit. The latter no longer works well to protect you from cold water when the temperature goes under 45F.
What’s the expected style of paddling?
Seasoned practitioners of kayaking know well that the water temperature and general weather conditions are not the only things that will influence their choices in clothes. For instance, the style of paddling involved plays a role, too.
If you plan a long trip in a touring kayak, you won’t meet the same conditions implied by whitewater kayaking, demanding that you paddle energetically. The level of physical activity requires that you carefully choose the clothes you’ll be wearing. When you paddle frantically for a while and then rest, you will get sweaty. That’s why your clothes should be able to absorb and wick the moisture fast.
What kind of kayak will you be in?
There are sit-in models and sit-on-top kayaks, and depending on which one is your choice, your pick of clothes will be influenced, as well. The latter type is ideal for warm climates, but it lets you get wet a lot. The other type is a better choice for cold climates, so make sure to dress accordingly.
What’s the right type of footwear you should get?
The two significant types of footwear for kayaking are neoprene boots and shoes with quick-drying properties. If you plan on kayaking in slightly cold water, neoprene boots are an excellent choice. However, really cold water demands that you get a dry suit. Usually, a dry suit comes with boots, too, so that you remain completely protected from water.
For warm waters, quick-drying footwear is an excellent pick. You need shoes that let your feet breathe, but also drain fast any water that gets in.
When the weather is mild
Here is what you should wear in case you go kayaking in mild weather conditions. The first layer is often a swimsuit because it’s a comfortable choice. If you want to go for regular underwear, sports bras that aren’t made from cotton are another ideal option.
Tops made from a blend of polyester and nylon called rashguards should be your next layer. Make sure to opt for quick drying materials with a high UPF rating. You can layer them under a wetsuit, which is a piece of kayak clothing much recommended for this type of weather.
Water shirts come next, as a replacement for rashguards. In case you prefer loose-fitting clothes, they are your option. As long as you don’t care for swimming, they are an excellent choice.
As far as bottoms are concerned, any pair of pants that dries quickly should do the trick. Board shorts, for instance, are a good idea. However, you should be wary of yoga pants and anything made from too thin materials, as they don’t have abrasion resistance. So, when deciding what to wear when kayaking, bear these recommendations in mind.
The mid-layer can be a fleece jacket. Other options, as long as they are made from synthetic, quick-drying materials, and can keep you warm, are also recommended. Finally, the outer layer should be a waterproof jacket. A paddling jacket is another great option, but it all depends on how much rain you expect.
Your kayaking attire wouldn’t be complete with a pair of neoprene paddling booties. However, you don’t have to limit your options. As long as your footwear dries quickly, you don’t have to worry about not getting this right. However, stay away from water sandals as they can accumulate sand and much in them, which, in turn, will prove uncomfortable when spending hours in a kayak.
Remember to get a hat with a wide brim, and opt for one with a chin strap. Sudden gusts of wind might send it flying, and then you’ll be minus one hat. Gloves aren’t a bad option, either, as they will protect your hands from blisters.
How to dress for cold weather
If you’re a hardcore kayaker, the following advice might offer no big surprises. However, as someone who just plans an outing in cold weather and water temperature for the first time, there are several things you must bear in mind. Now’s the time to take out all the cold weather kayaking gear you need for a trip to remember.
A wetsuit is not a bad idea, as long as the water temperature isn’t below 60F. However, it is a much better choice to go for a dry suit. This type of gear is made from waterproof materials, and the gaskets employed at the openings, such as the wrists, will make sure that water never gets inside. To keep warm, you need to layer underneath with some insulating clothes.
When the air is warm, but the water is cold
While learning about various kayaking stuff, you often stumble upon the recommendation to dress for the water temperature and not the air temperature. But what should you do when the air is warm, but the water temperature is cold?
The best advice is to get a sleeveless wetsuit. There are plenty of options available, and they will protect your body from cold without having you sweat because of the warm air temperature. Always bear in mind the importance of protecting yourself when you go kayaking. Capsizing in cold water can quickly become a threatening situation. The shock for the heart and lungs can be severe, and hypothermia will install fast. For this reason, always choose the right gear and clothes for your kayak outing.