Kayaking is a fun and exciting activity that allows you to explore the great outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whether you are kayaking on a lake, river, or ocean, it is important to dress appropriately to ensure your safety and comfort.

Regarding sea kayaking, the most important thing to consider is staying dry. Kayaks are small and can easily tip over, so you want to be sure that you are wearing clothing that will keep you dry in case of an accident. This means wearing a waterproof and breathable jacket, pants, and boots or water shoes.

It is important to wear clothing that will protect you from sun exposure, wind, and other elements. This includes a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect your skin, as well as a long-sleeved shirt or rash guard to protect your arms and shoulders.

You should also consider the air temperature, water temperature, and weather conditions as well when choosing what to wear when kayaking. In this guide, we will discuss what to wear when kayaking, including the different types of clothing and gear that are essential for this activity.

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Quick-Drying Clothing For Kayaking

Quick-drying clothing is essential for kayaking as it will help keep you comfortable and warm while on the water. The clothing should be made from materials that are designed to wick moisture away from the skin, such as synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon. These materials are lightweight, breathable, and dry quickly, making them ideal for kayaking.

Quick-Drying Clothing For Kayaking

Another important feature to look for in quick-drying clothing is UV protection. Kayaking often involves spending a lot of time in the sun, so choosing clothing that will protect your skin from harmful UV rays is important. Some quick-drying clothing is designed specifically for water sports and features built-in UV protection.

When it comes to kayaking, you'll want to look for clothes that are designed to fit snugly but not tightly. You'll be moving around a lot in your kayak and tight clothing can be restrictive and uncomfortable. Look for clothing that is designed to move with you, such as quick-drying pants or shorts that have an elastic waistband and built-in stretch.

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Footwear For Kayaking

When kayaking, it is important to wear appropriate footwear to ensure safety and comfort.

Footwear For Kayaking

First, wearing shoes that will stay securely on your feet is essential, as loose or ill-fitting footwear can be dangerous in the water. A good option for kayaking footwear is a water shoe or sandal with a secure fit, such as a Velcro strap or bungee cord closure. These types of shoes will stay on your feet and provide good traction on the boat and in the water.

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Second, it is important to consider the type of kayaking you will be doing. A shoe with a good grip and protection is ideal for whitewater kayaking. A shoe with a thick sole and toe protection will help protect your feet from rocks and debris in the water. For calm water kayaking, a shoe with good drainage and ventilation is ideal. This will help keep your feet cool and dry and will help prevent blisters.

Third, It is also important to consider the material of the shoe. A shoe made of quick-drying materials such as mesh or neoprene will help keep your feet dry and comfortable. Avoid shoes made of materials that absorb water, such as leather, as these will become heavy and uncomfortable when wet.

Personal Flotation Device

A personal flotation device (PFD) is an essential piece of safety equipment for kayaking. It is designed to keep the wearer afloat in the event of an accidental capsizing or fall into the water. PFDs come in various styles and sizes to accommodate different body types, activities, and personal preferences. There are several types of PFDs available for kayaking, including:

Personal Flotation Device 


This is the most commonly used type of PFD for kayaking. It provides a good balance of buoyancy and mobility, making it suitable for a wide range of activities, including recreational kayaking, touring, and fishing. Type III PFDs typically feature a low-profile design, adjustable straps, and a variety of pockets for storing essentials.

Type V PFD

This type of PFD is designed for specialized activities such as whitewater kayaking, where mobility and range of motion are essential. Type V PFDs are typically more bulky and restrictive than Type III PFDs, but they offer a higher level of buoyancy and flotation.

Inflatable PFD

This type of PFD is designed for kayakers who prioritize mobility and comfort. Inflatable PFDs are worn like a traditional PFD but inflate automatically or manually in the event of immersion in water. They are less bulky than traditional PFDs but can be more expensive and require regular maintenance.

When choosing a PFD for kayaking, it's important to consider the type of kayaking you'll be doing, your physical characteristics, and your personal preferences. It's recommended to try on different PFDs and to make sure you are comfortable with the fit and adjustability before making a purchase.

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Protective gear for kayaking

Kayaking can be a fun and exhilarating outdoor activity, but it's important to take safety precautions to protect yourself while on the water. Some of the protective gear that kayakers should consider wearing include:

Protective gear for kayaking

  1. Personal Flotation Device (PFD): A PFD, also known as a life jacket, is a must-have for kayakers. It is designed to keep you afloat in the event of a capsize or fall into the water. Make sure to choose a PFD that fits comfortably and is properly adjusted to your body.
  2. Helmet: A helmet is important to protect your head from impact in case of a collision or fall. Kayaking helmets are specifically designed to protect against impact and provide ventilation to keep your head cool.
  3. Wetsuit or drysuit: Wearing a wetsuit or drysuit can help keep you warm in cold water conditions, which is important for preventing hypothermia.
  4. Gloves: Kayaking gloves can help protect your hands from blisters and abrasions and provide warmth in cold water.
  5. First aid kit: It is a good idea to carry a first aid kit with you while kayaking in case of injuries.

It's important to note that the protective gear you wear should be suitable for the conditions of the water and the weather you will be kayaking in. Always check the weather forecast and water conditions before heading out on the water, and make sure to wear appropriate clothing and protective gear for the conditions.

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Additional Gear for Kayaking

When it comes to kayaking, a few key pieces of gear can make your experience more enjoyable and safe.

  1. Paddle: A paddle is essential for propulsion and steering. Look for a lightweight, durable paddle that fits your body and kayaking style.
  2. Spray skirt: A spray skirt is a piece of waterproof fabric that attaches to your kayak's cockpit and helps keep water out of the kayak. It is especially useful in rough or choppy conditions.
  3. Dry bag: A dry bag is a waterproof bag that can be used to keep your personal items dry while kayaking.
  4. Water bottle or hydration system: It's important to stay hydrated while kayaking, so bring a water bottle or hydration system with you.
  5. Whistle: A whistle can be used to signal for help in an emergency.
  6. Navigation tools: A map, compass, and GPS device can help you navigate and stay on course while kayaking.
  7. Headlamp: A headlamp or flashlight can be useful if you plan on kayaking in the evening or in low-light conditions.
  8. Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat or visor can help protect you from the sun's harmful rays.

It's important to always check the cold weather and water conditions before heading out and to be prepared for unexpected changes. Letting someone know your plans and expected return time is also a good idea.

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How to Dress for Kayaking in Cold Conditions

When kayaking in cold or mild conditions, it is important to dress in layers that will keep you warm and dry. The first layer should be a moisture-wicking material, such as synthetic fabrics or wool, that will pull sweat away from your skin. This will help to keep you comfortable and prevent chills.

The mid layer should be insulating, such as fleece or synthetic insulating material. This will help to trap heat and keep you warm. The third layer should be a waterproof and breathable layer, such as a rain jacket or a kayaking-specific dry suit top. This will protect you from splashes and light rain, allowing sweat to escape.

In addition to these layers, it is also important to wear pants that are made from quick-drying materials, such as nylon or polyester. This will help keep you dry and comfortable if you get splashed or fall into the water.

Appropriate footwear, such as water shoes or neoprene booties, is also important. These will help keep your feet warm and protected while providing a good grip on the kayak.

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Tips for what to wear when kayaking

Kayaking is a great outdoor activity for friends, family and loved ones. Whether you're an experienced kayaker or just starting out, there are many things you should consider when choosing your kayaking attire.

The most important thing to remember is that you want something that's comfortable and provides protection from the elements. Here are some tips for what to wear kayaking:

Wear waterproof clothing

Your clothes should be waterproof so that they don't get wet during your workout. You can choose from a variety of different types of waterproof clothing like rain jackets or wetsuits.

It's best to opt for breathable fabrics so that sweat doesn't build up underneath your clothes. This can cause discomfort during your workouts and make it harder for you to move around freely while kayaking.

Choose a comfortable pair of shoes

You don't want to deal with blisters or sore feet while kayaking because they'll distract you from enjoying yourself on the water.

Make sure you wear a pair of shoes that are both comfortable and durable so they can stand up against harsh conditions on the water as well as rough terrain when hiking in between spots where you launch your kayaks at different locations throughout the day.

Choose an appropriate paddle

Choose an appropriate paddle for your size and strength level. Paddles come in different lengths and widths, so choose one that feels comfortable in your hands and gives you enough control over your kayak without straining you too much.

The right paddle size also allows more power behind each stroke without wasting energy trying to maneuver with a longer or wider paddle than needed for your vessel size.

Bring extra layers in case of emergencies

A rain jacket is essential for staying dry when it rains, but it's also worth bringing along an extra waterproof jacket just in case! A waterproof jacket will help keep you dry if it starts raining unexpectedly (there's no point in getting wet again if you've already dried off).

Choose appropriate footwear

Your feet are likely to get wet while paddling, so make sure that whatever shoes and socks you choose will stay on (and won’t fall off). Make sure that your chosen footwear fits well – loose-fitting shoes can lead to blisters!

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What to Wear When Kayaking FAQs

If you plan to take your kayak out into the water, you must know how to dress for safety. The best clothing for kayaking allows you to move freely and easily while protecting your skin from the sun's rays. Here are some frequently asked questions about what to wear when kayaking:

What Should I Wear While Paddling?

Wear clothes that are loose-fitting and lightweight as well as loose fitting shoes or sandals without heels or straps. You will want breathable clothes so they do not trap in heat while paddling in the sun.

Shorts should be long enough to protect your knees from scrapes if they contact rocks or other objects in the water or on shore. Wear a hat or headband because it will shield your face from the sun's rays and keep your head cool during hot air on the water.

Do you wear a bathing suit to kayak?

Yes, you can wear a bathing suit when kayaking. It’s really personal preference and comfort level. Some people like to wear a wetsuit or other neoprene gear, while others prefer to wear a bathing suit or shorts with a t-shirt.

If you are going on an extended trip or plan to be out on the warm water for several hours, it may be worth investing in a wetsuit. These can keep you much warmer than just wearing a bathing suit and can also provide extra protection from cuts and scrapes that you might get from rocks or submerged logs.

If you are going on an afternoon trip, only going out for two hours, then it is probably not worth spending money on an extra layer that will only last one day.

What should a beginner wear kayaking?

A good pair of water shoes and socks are important. Water shoes protect your feet from sharp objects that you might run over in shallow water. Socks will keep your feet warm, prevent blisters and absorb some of the moisture.

Layered clothing with an outer layer that dries quickly is best. You may get wet from a splash or dunking so having dry layers underneath is important. A wetsuit can make cold and wet conditions more comfortable but they aren’t necessary for everyone.

A hat or cap will help keep your head warm and prevent sunburns on your scalp if you don’t have long hair to cover it up!

Can you wear normal clothes kayaking?

Yes, you can definitely wear normal clothes while kayaking. However, there are some things you should know before heading off on your adventure.

Wear a life jacket at all times while on the water. You may think that this only applies when you are in the boat, but it is important to have your life jacket on if you fall out of the boat and need help getting back on board. The right type of life jacket will keep your head above water so that you can be rescued more quickly. It will also allow for better breathing and movement in the water.

Different types of life jackets can be worn for different purposes. A vest-style PFD (personal flotation device) is good for recreational use or as an emergency backup when hiking or camping near waterfalls or streams.

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There are plenty of considerations to consider when choosing the right kayaking attire. Namely, it would be best to focus on your comfort and safety when out on the water. These are the two most critical factors in choosing the right attire for kayaking, but after that, it really is up to you when it comes down to personal preference.

We hope you find the information in this article helpful, whether you're just getting started or a seasoned kayaker. Kayaking gear can get expensive, but there are creative ways to shop for gear on a budget. Hopefully, these tips will help you spend less and discover more that you like!

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