What to wear sea kayaking

What to wear sea kayaking

We love sea kayaking, fact. We love everything from the different environments you paddle in, to the animals you come into contact with and everything else in between. Like most outdoor sports, there’s no doubt that wearing the right clothing makes a huge difference to your experience.

You don’t need to rush out and buy all the latest paddling specific gear to have a good time though! When you’re starting out, work with what you’ve got… quick drying sportswear or hiking gear with waterproofs as an over layer can work well.

But to help you on your way and know what to wear sea kayaking, we’ve cobbled together a few top tips.

What To wear

  1. Underlayers. Anything stretchy, non-chaffing and quick drying is good. Fleece pants or strides combined with a long or short sleeved rash vest work well. All in one suits, aka onesies, are also available. You can get all of these in thermal options for colder days, and you can layer up depending on the conditions and your body’s needs.
  2. Outerlayers. In a nutshell, the wetter you are likely to get, the dryer you should aim to stay. So if paddling in sheltered or flat conditions, a basic level of kit should be fine. The more moderate/advanced you get, the more you want to be looking towards investing in a cag and dry trouser combo or an all in one drysuit. Buoyancy aids are a must too! Unsure about what these items are? Take a look at our kayak clothing article.
  3. Accessories.  In terms of footwear, trainers that drain well are a good bet. If you’re going to be landing on stony beaches or rocky outlets, wearing a pair of trainers with a reasonable sole to them will protect your feet more. Pogies or neoprene gloves are great in colder weather, as these will help keep your hands warmer in exposed/cold conditions. Caps or woolly hats, depending on conditions, can also be a big plus. Don’t forget a dry set of everything for post-paddle warmth!
  4. Dress for the occasion, check the weather and plan ahead! Where are you paddling? How long will you be on the water for? Think also about the level of effort required during your paddle, as the more physical exertion that’s required, the warmer you are likely to get (not forgetting that sweating too much could make you cold over time, so it’s something to bear in mind when gearing up to set off).

So we’ve covered the what TO wear sea kayaking… but what about the no-no’s…

What NOT TO wear

  1. You might look great in your brand new pair of jeans or big comfy hoody, but whilst clothing is ultimately down to personal choice, it’s worth steering clear of denim or other heavy fabrics that retain water. When wet these could both weigh you down and keep you cold. Think light and layer up as a general rule. Think about clothes you would wear on a run or at the gym… they’re a safe bet when you’re starting out.

By Sheena Mathers and Darren Joy

Shena is a sea kayaker and 2018 British Canoeing Women’s Paddlesport Ambassador. Darren is a British Canoeing Level 5 coach. Learn more at Fluidskills.com .

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