What To Wear Kayaking

Kayaking is a great hobby to get involved in to keep fit, make friends, and explore new places!

If you’re new to kayaking and you’re wondering what to wear to ensure that you’re prepared, you’re in the right place.

In this article, I will cover some key information about what to wear when kayaking, from footwear to life jackets.

So, let’s get started.

What To Wear When Kayaking

A Guide on What To Wear Kayaking

There are many pieces of equipment that you need to ensure that you’re prepared for all weathers when kayaking.

The clothes that you wear while kayaking will largely determine your safety and how much you enjoy the experience on the water, so it’s important that you don’t overlook this.


Depending on the climate and your experience, it can be a good idea to wear a wetsuit when you first start kayaking.

When you’re a beginner, it is likely that you are going to end up in the water occasionally as you get the hang of kayaking! This is totally normal, but means that you can get pretty cold very quickly if you’re not in a high quality wetsuit.

You can’t underestimate how important it is to get the right fit. A well fitted wetsuit should be tight, as it will expand in the water. Buying a wetsuit that is too roomy defeats its purpose, as it won’t keep you warm when the water floods into your suit.

To find the right fit and to ensure that you’re comfortable, always make sure that you go in store and try a few wetsuits on before you commit to buying one.

Paddle top

Another piece of clothing you might want to invest in is a good quality paddle top. Paddle tops can be worn over your thermal layers, wetsuit, or even a t-shirt and work to protect your body from the elements.

These tops are often made out of waterproof and breathable materials, so you’re both warm when it’s cold, but also are able to breathe on hotter days.

They are great for when you become more experienced, and would rather not wear a wetsuit because the chances of you falling in are minimal. That being said, if you get cold very easily, a wetsuit is still recommended.

Paddle bottoms 

For those scorching hot summer days, you might find that a wetsuit is overkill and you don’t want to be weighed down. In this circumstance, you might prefer to wear paddle bottoms with your paddle top as an alternative.

Paddle bottoms are often made with either nylon or neoprene, and often have reinforced knees and bum to prolong their lifespan.

Life jacket 

One of the most important items of clothing that you will need to wear kayaking is a life jacket. For a high impact sport like kayaking, you will want to invest in a life jacket that is made out of puncture and tear-resistant material.

Most life jackets tend to be made out of either nylon, polyester, or neoprene, and the quality of your life jacket cannot be overlooked.

A good indication of whether a life jacket is safe and of high quality is to make sure that it is Coast Guard approved.

You will know if a life jacket is legitimately Coast Guard approved as there should be a tag attached to the life jacket and it should be written inside the life jacket, too.

Although a high quality life jacket doesn’t come cheap, it’s an essential investment that you should never cut corners on to ensure that you’re being as safe as possible when out kayaking.

Although the life jacket is going to minimize the risk of you drowning, it is incredibly important for you to always practice safe behaviors on the water. You should never take unnecessary risks, and always make sure that you prioritize your safety.

Kayaking with helmet, life jacket and thermals


A helmet is an absolute essential when you’re kayaking, no matter where you are. You’ve only got one brain, and it’s important that you protect your head at all times when you’re kayaking.

To ensure that your head is properly protected, you will need to make sure that your helmet is a snug fit.

It should cover your temple area and the nape of your neck, and should always be securely fastened when you’re out on the water.

Never risk going out on your kayak without a helmet. It’s fundamental that you respect the water, and kayaking without a helmet will simply open you up to more danger that could easily be avoided.


As you can imagine, it can get pretty chilly when you’re out kayaking on the water all day. Thermals help to keep you warm even on the coldest of days, so you don’t need to be held back by the weather!

Thermals are often made from natural materials, such as wool, and can be worn under your paddle top and bottoms. Thermals are a great option if you would prefer not to wear a wetsuit when you’re more experienced.

Spray deck

This is less essential if you’re a beginner, but as you become a more advanced kayaker, you might find a spray deck handy to wear.

As you gain confidence and speed on the water, a spray deck ensures that your boat remains dry. You wear a spray deck around the waist, almost like a skirt, and it then seals over the rim of your kayak’s cockpit to prevent the water from entering the boat.

Kayaking footwear 

Aside from the clothing you need to wear to stay warm, you will also need to wear appropriate footwear to ensure that your feet are protected and warm.

Wetsuit boots 

When you’re kayaking, you will encounter a variety of different terrain, from sand to rocky beaches. As a result, you will need to make sure that your feet are protected by some kind of footwear. 

Wetsuit boots are a great investment to make, as they are practical for a variety of different water sports such as surfing, kayaking, and coasteering. 

Once you’ve invested in a high quality pair of wetsuit boots, this essential footwear will prepare you for a number of different hobbies.  

In Summary 

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of what to wear when kayaking.

Have fun and most importantly, remain safe when you’re out on the water!

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