The Beginner’s Guide to Kayak Clothing Through the Seasons

October 31, 2023

Man Kayaking in Fall

As an avid kayaker, I know firsthand how important it is to dress appropriately for each season. Whether you're a beginner just dipping your paddle in for the first time or a seasoned pro, the right kayak clothing can make or break your experience on the water.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through what to wear for both flatwater and whitewater kayaking, no matter the season.

Understanding the Importance of Kayak Clothing

Before we dive into the specifics needed for each season, let's talk about why your attire matters. When you're out on the water, you're exposed to the elements.

Your clothing is your first line of defense against harsh weather conditions like scorching sun, biting wind, or icy waters.

Moreover, the right kayak apparel can enhance your performance. Comfortable, flexible clothing allows you to paddle efficiently and freely. But remember, comfort doesn't mean compromising on safety, your personal flotation device should be an integral part of your kayak ensemble.

Spring/Summer Kayak Clothing

During the warmer months, you want to prioritize two things: sun protection and breathability.

Sun Protection: Long hours under the sun can lead to sunburn and other skin problems. If you’re comfortable in a long-sleeved top, opt for long-sleeved tops made of lightweight, breathable material. Or, opt for for something with short sleeves for the sake of comfort and flexibility - it’ll still provide UV protection and you can protect your arms with other products.

These provide excellent coverage while preventing overheating. Pair this with a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses to shield your face and eyes.

And don't forget sunscreen, especially on exposed areas like the back of your hands and neck, or your arms if you opt for a short sleeve.

Breathability and Quick-drying: Light, breathable fabrics are key in summer. Synthetic materials, such as polyester or nylon, are great choices as they wick away sweat, keeping you cool.

Additionally, these materials dry quickly, which is beneficial if you get wet during your trip.

NRS Men's Rashguard Short Sleeve Shirt

The NRS Men's Rashguard Short Sleeve Shirt is a stylish and comfortable choice for the summer season. Made from recycled material, this short-sleeve T-shirt offers breathability and comfort, along with moisture-wicking and quick-drying capabilities to keep your body dry.

The blend of polyester-spandex fabric provides stretch comfort, while the shirt's design maximizes comfort when wearing a proper-fitting life jacket.

It also offers protection from harmful UV rays and unrestricted movement, making it suitable for various sporting activities.

The shirt has antimicrobial elements integrated into the fabric to prevent unpleasant odors, and it prevents chafing from PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices).

A manufacturer's limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship further attests to the quality of this product.

NRS Women's Guide Shorts

The NRS Women's Guide Shorts are durable and stretchable, making them perfect for various sporting and outdoor activities.

Made of rugged, four-way stretch Element fabric, these shorts offer both mobility and durability. They feature three zippered pockets on the rear, cargo, and side for safely stashing belongings, as well as two standard front pockets for added style and functionality.

A utility loop on the right hip is perfect for clipping in keys, a 'biner, line clippers, etc. The elastic panel waistband and zipper fly with a button fastening at the waist offer a secure and comfortable fit.

With an 8-inch inseam and a mid-rise design, these shorts provide comfort and enhanced coverage. The shorts also offer UPF 50+ protection from the harmful rays of the sun.

A manufacturer's limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship further attests to the quality of these shorts.

Fall Kayak Apparel

Fall can be a mixed bag weather-wise. One day might be mild and sunny, the next could be cold and rainy. Therefore, your fall kayak apparel should be versatile and adaptable.

Layering: Layering is key for staying comfortable and protected in varying weather conditions. To start, choose a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin.

For insulation, opt for a middle layer such as fleece, which retains heat even when wet. Lastly, ensure you have a waterproof outer layer to shield you from rain and spray. This comprehensive layering system will enhance your comfort and performance outdoors.

Footwear: As the temperatures drop, keeping your feet warm becomes increasingly important, especially when engaging in fall kayaking. When it comes to footwear, neoprene boots are an excellent choice.

These boots not only provide insulation to keep your feet toasty, but they also feature a non-slip sole, ensuring your safety on wet surfaces.

So, when heading out for your fall kayaking adventure, make sure to equip yourself with a pair of reliable neoprene boots for maximum comfort and protection.

Immersion Research Men’s Thick Skin Long Sleeve Shirt

The Immersion Research Men’s Thick Skin Long Sleeve Shirt is the ideal base layer to keep you warm in cold conditions.

Made from four-way polyester fleece, it provides warmth without restricting your movement and its incredibly soft and comfortable too.

The material is not only warm but quick-drying too, so even if you do get wet, it’ll still be able to keep you warm.

This long sleeve shirt is warm and comfortable but still form fitting and non-restrictive, so it doesn’t add unnecessary bulk. The design is inclusive, making it suitable for paddlers of all shapes and sizes.

Flat lock dreams prevent chafing and the turtle-neck collar is ideal for keeping the cold gasket of your dry top off your neck.

Winter Kayak Clothing

Winter kayaking requires serious gear. The cold water and air temperatures can lead to hypothermia if you’re not adequately dressed.

Dry Suit/Wetsuit: A dry suit or wetsuit is crucial for winter kayaking, keeping you dry and warm even in icy water. The aim of a dry suit isn’t to provide insulation - it keeps you warm by keeping you dry and allowing you to wear insulating layers underneath, depending on the weather conditions.

They provide the necessary protection to endure harsh weather conditions, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable kayaking experience all year round.

Accessories: When it comes to accessories, remember to pay attention to your extremities. During winter, insulated gloves and a warm hat are crucial for keeping them protected from the cold.

It's important to find gloves that offer both warmth and dexterity, allowing you to maintain optimal paddling performance without hindrance.

In conclusion, your kayak clothing choices should align with the season and weather conditions. Remember, preparation is key.

Always check the forecast before heading out and dress appropriately. With the right kayak apparel, you can ensure a comfortable and safe kayaking experience all year round.

Kokatat Men’s Meridian GORE-TEX Pro Dry Suit

Prioritising breathability and durability, the Kokatat Men’s Meridian GORE-TEX Pro Dry has been tried and tested, and is guaranteed to keep you 100% dry.

Made from three-layer GORE-TEX fabric, this suit features a front zipper for easy and convenient dressing and undressing.

It features latex neck and wrist gaskets with neoprene punch through collar and cuffs, as well as integrated socks and cuffs to keep you warm and dry all day long.

The Kokatat Men’s Meridian dry suit also has a dual-adjustable overskirt with neoprene that’s compatible to hooks and loops. It has an adjustable bungee drawcord at the waist so you can make it looser or tighter depending on your size and preferences.

For added convenience, the suit features a self-draining, zippered chest pocket along with a key lanyard, so you can be sure your valuables are safe.

Kokatat offers a lifetime guarantee (excluding the latex gaskets), emphasizing the quality durability of the product.

Kokatat Men’s Outer Core Habanero Dry Suit Liner

Taking insulation to a whole new level, the Kokatat Men’s Outer Core Habanero Dry Suit Liner will keep you nice and warm underneath your dry suit.

With a body-mapped design and four-way stretch, it offers excellent flexibility and is suitable with any and all dry suits. It’s made from 90% polyester and 10% spandex.

It features heavyweight, recycled Polartec PowerDry in the main body and lightweight Polartec fleece in the cuffs, neck, ankles, and underarms.

The jersey face allows for smooth and comfortable layering of additional garments - you can choose to wear it over a base layer or on its own.

Featuring a long front entry zipper, this dry suit liner also has a flap fly for front relief. Its flat-stiched seams and pattern that is designed specifically for paddling allows for the ultimate comfort.

Enjoy the ultimate quality, as the Kokatat Men’s Outer Core Habanero Dry Suit Liner offers consumers a lifetime manufacturer warranty against defects in both materials and workmanship.

Adjust According to the Season

So, now that you know all the basics of kayak clothing through the seasons, it’s time to get out there and hit the waters in style and comfort.

Don’t let the changing weather put a damper on your passion for kayaking – make sure to dress appropriately and stay safe while you enjoy this exhilarating sport.

Not only will you maximize your performance with purposeful gear, but you can also feel confident knowing you are prepared for whatever surface conditions arise.

Kayaking is an awesome way to explore nature and have fun simultaneously! Don’t let anything hold you back – go out onto the water today and unleash your inner explorer!

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Erika PaciniHead of MarketingErika is a novice adventurer and dedicated member of the Outdoorplay family for over two years. With a passion for hiking, biking, and all things outdoors, she's always on the hunt for new trails, waterfalls, and secluded beaches to explore. Erika's passion for the natural world and mindfulness fuels her desire to inspire others to deepen their connection with themselves and nature through outdoor adventures.