What does appropriate clothing to wear kayaking look like?
We all want to get out and enjoy the water without having to worry about the dangers or what-if’s that come along with being a paddler. There is something romantic about being able to spontaneously load up your kayak and launch into the ocean, onto a river, or into a lake to explore for the day. If we are to truly enjoy our experiences when paddling, however, a certain amount of preparation and safety is required. For your required and recommended safety gear check out this blog post.
As for what to wear on the water here’s the scoop:
1. Think about where you are paddling
If you are going for a paddle in a lake in the heat of summer and the water is warm and the air is warm you can dress for a day at the beach. Make sure to wear a shirt with sleeves – you do not want to burn sitting out on the water for a long time with no break from the sun’s rays. If you are going paddling in the ocean keep in mind that should you fall in you are going to get cold faster and the conditions can change rapidly. Never wear cotton.
2. Wear the right materials
Never wear cotton (we had to say it again). Cotton will not provide you with any warmth when wet. Always think about layering as this offers more versatility for a change in conditions. Make sure your base layer has wicking properties to move sweat and moisture away from your skin. Wool and synthetic fibres are appropriate here. For your insulating layer choose something warm such as wool, fleece or similar materials that will hold warmth even when wet. Your outer layer is the shield for you and your insulating and base layers. This outer layer should be wind and waterproof. There is a choice here between a splash top or a dry top. A dry top has gaskets, as well as sometimes a skirt tunnel, which allows you perform a roll and still be dry where a splash top won’t have gaskets or be able to do that.
3. Immersion gear
If you are paddling in cold, rough conditions or have a high chance of ending up in the water, immersion gear is a must. This can be a wet suit or a dry suit. We recommend farmer jane or john style wet suits as this will still give you a wide range of motion for your arms when paddling. Make sure to wear a warm top under the wetsuit to protect your arms and if you can finish off with a Dry Top with gaskets you are ready for some serious water time.
Drysuits are wonderful! Just because you are dry however does not mean you cannot dress warm under the drysuit. Make sure to layer up and wear appropriate fabrics.
A good rule of thumb is to add the temperature of the water and the air together if this is less than 37 degrees Celcius you should be wearing immersion gear.
4. Pack extra clothing
Always pack extra clothing in a dry bag. Should you, or someone you are paddling with, find themselves taking an unexpected dip and then getting too chilly having a dry set of warm clothing can be one of the most valuable tools available to you.
For what to wear on your feet check out our blog post on paddling footwear.