What should I wear on the water?

What should I wear on the water?

Getting out on the water on a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak is a brilliant way to spend your free time. However, you need to be dressed appropriately to get the most out of your time on the water. Wearing the wrong clothes may well lead to you getting cold quickly and not having the best time. Too many clothes may cause you to overheat. So here we have a rough guide to the types of clothes you would want to wear when out on the water. 

what to where when paddling

Upper Body

This is the area that will get splashed the most when paddling a kayak or canoe. Prey from your paddle as you lift it out the water may well land on you. So it is well worth thinking about what you are going to wear on your top half. Something that will keep your base layers dry. If you are paddling in the sun then you should think about protecting your skin. Many paddling kit manufacturers produce UV protective tops that are ideal for your paddling. 

If you are on a paddleboard, stood up, you may be more exposed to any wind that is knocking about. Wind resistant paddle jackets could be worth a look at. 

lower body clothes on the water

Lower Body

What you have on your legs can make a huge difference to how comfortable you are on your paddling adventures. From neoprene trousers to paddling boardshorts, there is lots to choose from depending on what you are up to. Neoprene is designed to keep you warm while wet, and thermal layers need to stay dry to work. So first work out your plans, then pick some legwear to suit. 

You will also want something on your feet. River banks, canal paths, and stoney beaches can all be rough on the feet. So looking at some water shoes could be a great idea. Where old trainers work well, they aren’t designed to quickly drain water or stay warm when wet. As like every other bit of kit, you have options to choose from here. From propper trainer style shoes to some basic neoprene booties

water shoes for paddling


No matter what you are paddling, your head is going to be exposed to the elements. So protecting it is key. If it is sunny then think about a sun hat, or a woolly hat in the winter. If you can keep your head dressed appropriately then you are in for a good time on the water.


Yes, we have to mention it. Even in a clothing article. Your safety is massively important, and should always be considered when picking an outfit to paddle in. Aside from looking great and keeping you the right temperature, you need to think about the practicalities of your outfit should you end up in the water. Can you swim in it? Will it dry quickly? If it going to hold lots of water and become really heavy? All worth a quick minute to think about. 

A must have accessory for all paddling outfits is a personal flotation device (PFD). Whether you are on a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe, you need to be wearing one. It doesn’t need to be one with all the bells and whistles, just one that is certified to float the correct weight of the user. They can even give you extra storage as many have built in pockets. No matter which type of PFD you are wear, make sure it has the ISO 12402-5 or ISO 12402-6 certification. This means it passes all the necessary tests to be an effective and safe PFD.

personal flotation device use

This was just a brief overview of the things to consider when picking out your kit to paddle. For more in depth knowledge, check out our articles on what to wear when kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Most importantly, stay safe on the water.