What to Wear When Kayaking: Complete Guide

Selecting the proper kayaking clothing is critical for various reasons. To begin, kayaking is a water sport that exposes you to the elements, which means you may get wet, and the clothing you wear might influence how comfortable you feel during the activity. Second, kayaking needs some physical effort, which means you may sweat, and wearing improper gear can result in chafing, discomfort, and even damage.

Finally, wearing improper garments might jeopardize your safety, especially in an emergency, because inappropriate clothing makes it more difficult to stay afloat or swim to safety. As a result, selecting the proper kayaking clothing is critical to ensuring your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment of the activity.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Kayaking Clothes

Water temperature

When selecting kayaking clothing, water temperature is a crucial issue to consider. If the water is chilly, you should wear clothing that will provide insulation and assist you in retaining body heat. If the water is warm, you’ll want to wear garments that keep you cool and comfortable.

Weather conditions

Another crucial item to consider when selecting kayaking clothing is the weather. If it’s sunny and hot outside, you’ll want clothing that will keep you cool while also protecting you from the heat. Whether it’s windy or raining, you’ll want clothes that will shield you from the elements while also keeping you dry.

Type of Activity

When selecting kayaking clothing, you should also consider the type of kayaking activity you intend to participate in. If you’re going on a leisurely kayaking trip, you might want to wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely. If you’re doing more intense kayaking, such as whitewater kayaking, you’ll want garments that are more durable and provide greater protection.

Personal preferences

Finally, when selecting kayaking clothing, personal preferences must be taken into account. Some people prefer to wear tight-fitting clothing to avoid chafing, while others prefer looser-fitting clothing for comfort. Some people favor specific colors or designs of clothing, while others prefer usefulness over fashion. Finally, choosing kayaking clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident is critical.

Clothing Recommendations for Kayaking

Base layer

The base layer is the layer of clothing that is nearest to your skin and is responsible for controlling your body temperature and wicking away sweat. Base layers should be made of materials that can give insulation even when wet, such as synthetic textiles or merino wool. Synthetic t-shirts or long-sleeve shirts, as well as merino wool base layers, are examples of appropriate base layer attire.


The mid-layer is the layer of clothing that goes over the foundation layer and adds insulation. Mid-layer fabrics such as fleece or wool are lightweight, warm, and quick-drying. Fleece jackets and wool sweaters are examples of appropriate mid-layer attire.
Outer layer

The outer layer of clothes is the layer that protects you from the elements such as wind and rain. Outer layers should be made of waterproof or water-resistant fabrics such as Gore-Tex or nylon. Waterproof jackets and pants are examples of appropriate outer layer attire.


When kayaking, your footwear is a crucial concern because it can alter your grip and balance. Kayaking requires water shoes or sandals with high traction and quick-drying characteristics. Kayaking footwear options include neoprene boots and water shoes.


Sun protection, hats, and gloves are essential for protecting your skin and keeping you comfortable. A high-SPF sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat to cover your face and neck, and gloves to protect your hands from blisters or chilly water are all recommended kayaking gear.

Tips for Staying Safe and Comfortable When Kayaking

Avoid cotton

Cotton is not a good kayaking material since it retains water and takes a long time to dry. In chilly weather, wet cotton garments can cause pain, chafing, and even hypothermia. Use synthetic or wool fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin and dry rapidly.

Dress in layers

Layering your clothing helps you to modify your clothing as your body temperature fluctuates while kayaking. Layers also provide insulation and weather protection. Begin with a base layer that wicks moisture away from your skin, then add an insulating layer and an upper layer for wind and rain protection.

Be prepared for changes in the weather

Weather conditions can swiftly change, especially when you’re out on the lake. Bring extra layers of clothes, rain gear, and sun protection in case the weather changes. Check the weather forecast before your journey and be on the lookout for indicators of changing weather while kayaking.

Wear appropriate footwear

While kayaking, it is critical to wear appropriate footwear to preserve balance and grip. Kayaking requires water shoes or sandals with high traction and quick-drying characteristics. Wearing flip-flops or shoes with no traction can make it harder to maintain balance in the kayak.

Protect yourself from the sun

Kayaking excursions expose you to a lot of sunlight, which can cause sunburn and skin damage. Use sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck, and clothing that covers your skin to protect yourself from the sun. Bring a lightweight sun shirt for extra protection.


To summarize, proper kayaking attire is critical for both comfort and safety. While deciding how to dress for your kayaking excursion, consider factors such as water temperature, weather conditions, and the type of kayaking activity. Using suitable clothes and gear, as well as sun protection, will help keep you safe and comfortable on the lake.

It’s vital to realize that while kayaking can be a thrilling and exhilarating pastime, it also carries risks. Clothing appropriately for kayaking can help reduce those hazards and guarantee that you have a fun time. Hence, before your next kayaking trip, think about the considerations and wardrobe suggestions given in this article.