Kayaking Clothes – What to Wear?

Kayaking has become one of the favorite sports for many people in recent years. People take up kayaking for the fun, excitement, and thrill factor that comes associated with it. If you are choosing to kayak, it is quite natural for enormous amounts of questions to pop up in your mind. It may include the weather, food, types of kayaks and kayaking, cost of kayak, paddles, pedals, and clothing.

Clothes for kayaking vary from season to season. Also, it differs for the type of kayaking. It is wise to gain a thorough understanding of the basics of weather and types of kayaking to obtain a clear picture of the clothes that suits the best.

This article is a thorough guide on the clothes that are perfect for kayaking. Our expert team has covered everything that revolves around clothing including the clothes based on season and types ok kayaking.

What To Wear For Kayaking?

The attire you wear for kayaking is predominantly important as it decides your entire performance. Good wear should not interrupt or disturb you while sailing. Before you decide what to wear, consider the type of kayaking and the season you are sailing in.

What to Wear Based on Type Of Kayaking?

You have to choose the clothes based on the type of kayaking. This will help you survive the challenges of such types. Not all wears are suitable for all types of kayaking.

1. Whitewater kayaking

Whitewater kayaking is the right choice for adventurous people. Right attire is mandatory to relish the entire experience without any hardships.

  • Quick dry underwear will prevent you from irritations and will help you maintain the right posture throughout the entire trip
  • Wetsuit is the perfect body suit for whitewater kayaking. It will cover your body from shoulders to ankles. Made of a unique material called neoprene, the suit offers warmth and keeps your body holding a steady temperature
  • Spray deck is a flexible waterproof protection with openings for the passenger’s waist to fit in. It prevents the water from entering the kayak and wetting your feet
  • A splash jacket is a mandatory attire to be worn on top of the wet suit. It performs the role of raincoat and wind protection keeping you warm and protecting your body from cold water and wind

2. Surf kayaking

Termed the most adventurous form of kayaking, surf kayaking is the technique of kayaking in the oceans. It is quite hard to paddle against the rough waves of the ocean. A good physique and a strong mind can make it against the waves. It is equally important to wear the right attire to avoid the struggles of wrong clothing.

  • A dry suit or semi-dry suit is the ideal choice if you are going to surf kayaking. The ocean waters have the potential to draw warmth from your body and leave you cold. A dry suit will supply the needed warmth and keep you fit for the entire session
  • Onesies with full sleeves made of flexible materials can be worn. This will offer the needed comfort and convenience. Onesies made of synthetic fabric will keep you dry and warm
  • Rashguards are also one of the best-suited attire for surf kayaking. They get dry quickly and will keep your body warm. Made of lycra, rashguards are safe on the skin and can be worn without any base attire
  • Board shorts are designed for surfing on rough waters. They are flexible and weigh less thus providing maximum comfort. Board shorts are longer and cover the knee and are made of materials that can dry faster

3. Flatwater kayaking

The best-suited type of kayaking for beginners is as there are very few obstacles. The reason behind the love for flat water kayaking is that the waters are free from waves and there are fewer risks involved. There are lesser chances of water entering the kayak or you getting wet when going flatwater kayaking.

  • Comfortable clothes that make you feel light are the best for flatwater kayaking
  • It is always important to check for the temperature of the water and weather conditions. The attire for flatwater kayaking is entirely based on the weather. However, a life vest is mandatory and must be worn at all times

4. Kayak Fishing

Going fishing in your kayak can be the most relaxing recreational activity. But without the proper equipment and attire, it could turn out to be a bad experience. Kayak fishing is usually done in calm and subtle waters which makes it less risky. Dressing for kayak fishing is equally important as finding the right spots and choosing the best kayak for fishing. The attire for kayak fishing depends on the weather and your level of comfort. Water temperatures have to be checked regularly as it decided the attires to be worn.

  • If you are going kayak fishing in wet or rainy weather, a rain jacket is a must. It will prevent you from getting cold and will keep your body warm
  • Shorts or cargo pants will offer the needed comfort. Cargo pants are made of materials that provide breathing space and fit suitable for outdoor activities
  • Layers of thermal are highly recommended if the weather is cold

Based On The Seasons

The attire for kayaking also varies depending on the seasons you choose. The clothes you wear in summer will not suit you if you are going kayaking in wet weather. Learning about the beginning and end of the kayaking season will help you to choose the right and suitable time for kayaking.

1. What to wear for kayaking in summer?

Summer is the best season to go kayaking. The warmth of the water will offer the most relaxed hours. Air is also mild and warm allowing you to paddle through it. Wearing light clothing is the perfect choice in summer as it will not absorb heat. Dark colors will absorb heat and will put you in a state of discomfort as they will generate a burning sensation. Anything made of cotton has to be completely kept away as it will get soggy and make you feel cold

  • Top - Rashguard or long-sleeve t-shirts are the best-suited top covers for warm weather and water. Rashguard throws a tight fit and is also constructed with materials that will dry quickly. If you are a person, who is not comfortable with tight-fit rashguards, you can choose a comfortable long-sleeved t-shirt. Ensure to choose the right material
  • Bottom - Wear comfortable shorts that do not restrict your movement. Board shorts are an ideal choice as they will dry faster and are equally comfortable. Quick dry pants are the most preferred bottom wears as the sun may cause harm to the legs while wearing shorts. They are equally comfortable as the board shorts
  • Layers - A swimsuit or bodysuit is the base layer suitable for kayaking in summer. They perform a variety of functions such as providing you with the needed warmth, and protection from the sun as they have an inbuilt SPF, and are comfortable. If you feel the temperature of the water is cold, you can consider a wetsuit. A wetsuit will keep your body from freezing or feeling the cold winds. Thickness levels are available in the wetsuit. Ensure to choose one according to the temperature of the water. Wearing a life jacket above the layers is mandatory

2. What to wear for kayaking in spring?

Not too cold nor hot, spring offers relaxing and soothing weather for kayaking. The coldness in the air is not too strong and the sun shines brightly without the scorching heat. Make the best out of the spring season by wearing the right attire.

  • Top - Be it any t-shirt or swimsuit or cag, the top has to be breathable and waterproof. The water should dry immediately and should leave no room for moisture and coldness. Rashguard can also be chosen as an alternate to the cags. They also provide the needed warmth while kayaking
  • Bottom - Full pants made of polyester or neoprene are advisable as they will protect the legs from water and cold winds. Shorts can freeze your legs if the winds turn to be too cold
  • Layers - Thermal body suits are the right choice for cold spring winds. They provide the body with the needed warmth and keep the cold winds from affecting the body. It is best if worn as the base layer. Wet suits can be worn if the waters are cold. A splash vest can be worn as the layer below the life jacket. It will prevent water from entering the kayak and keep your legs and feet free of cold. A life jacket is a top layer that is mandatory.

3. What to wear for kayaking in winter?

Kayaking in winter can be challenging as the water is very cold and in some places the formation of ice makes it hard to paddle. Make sure to wear the right attire so that you don't get hit by the freezing water and air.

  • Top - Full-sleeve t-shirts made of good quality materials are advisable for kayaking in cold waters. They should dry quickly and should generate warmth to withstand the cold
  • Bottom - Fully covered pants to be unaffected by the cold water is the top priority. There is a high chance that cold legs may pause the entire kayaking trip in winter. So ensure to keep your feet and legs away from the freezing water
  • Layers - Thermals are the base layers that are highly recommended for the winter season. They keep you warm and dry thus assisting in having a better experience. A dry suit or wet suit will help the cold from hitting your body. It can be worn as a mid-layer. A splash skirt is a must as the cold waters will not affect your legs and feet. A rain jacket can be carried while kayaking if the weather calls for it. The best rain jackets can protect you from the waters and keep you paddling

Kayak Clothing Checklist

1.Wear a life suit

It is a mandatory requirement that you wear your floatation device also termed as a life jacket or life suit throughout the kayaking ride. Upper body support is a major concern when pedaling and paddling. In times of mishappenings or emergencies, a life suit helps you to stay afloat. A life jacket is designed to hold buoyancy thus keeping you away from drowning

2. Wear paddling gloves

Paddling gloves are one of the top essentials to be carried while kayaking. It offers the needed hand grip and will prevent the paddles from falling off your hand

3. Wear a hat

It is highly recommended to wear a hat while kayaking. It will prevent you from the scorching heat of the sun. Sunburns on your neck and face can be blocked by wearing a hat

4. Wear sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen while kayaking to prevent yourself from burns. Grab a sunscreen that has a higher SPF to keep your skin unaffected by the rays of the midday sun

5. Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must while going kayaking as they will protect your eyes from the heat and light of the sun. The best fishing sunglasses protect your eyes from the surface glaring of the water while fishing in the calm waters

6. Wear protective shoes

Water bootie or water shoes are the perfect options while kayaking. These shoes will protect your legs from the coldness of the water while keeping them warm. Also, they protect your fingers and feet from the rocks and debris present in the water. Strapped water sandals are also a good option to consider if you are feeling a sense of discomfort with the water shoes or booties

7. Wear a watch

A waterproof watch will help you keep track when sailing for hours and also during overnight stays while kayaking. It will assist you in planning the kayaking and also allow you to rest in between without any panic

8. Wear a GPS device

A GPS device loaded with map files to guide you through the sailing is highly recommended. If you are a beginner, GPS devices can turn out to be a lifesaver. Ensure to wear a GPS device to have a clear picture of the routes


Wearing the right attire is essential to have an uninterrupted kayaking experience. The temperature of the water, weather conditions, air conditions, and type of kayak decide the attire to be worn. Ensure to consider all of these factors in addition to the above guide.

We have furnished you with all the essential information on what to wear for kayaking that is needed before you set out on your next sailing adventure. If you have any questions regarding the same, feel free to add a comment.

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