What to wear kayaking

We’ll be walking you through what you should be wearing While Kayaking layer-by-layer

Layering can be quite restricting while kayaking, well, not if you know how to do it right, but since you made it to this article, you’re probably not having the best time with it.

Moreover, there are some items that you should ALWAYS have on you whenever you’re out in the water, regardless of any circumstance.

It might sound all mysterious at this point, but don’t worry, we’ve been there, done that, and we know how to get you ready for the best kayaking experience, so let’s dive in!

What to Wear Kayaking?

Kayaking isn’t much different from any other water activity. We all look for the same things when we’re in the water. You need comfort, safety, and durability, and this is exactly what this article is all about.

As you may already know, the weather is the one factor that affects kayaking the most. However, it doesn’t stop at paddling techniques or kayak designs. Yup, you got that right; it affects your clothing as well, but before you get there, let’s take a deeper look at some basics to keep in mind while kayaking.

General Guidelines While Kayaking

Wear a PFD

Wearing a PFD (personal flotation device) is a must-do, regardless of the weather, the type of water you go to for kayaking, or the other stuff you’ll be wearing. No exceptions apply here; it’s just something that every kayaker has to do if they want to keep their lives on the safe side.


As mentioned earlier, the weather has the biggest impact on what you should be wearing, yet, you should get dressed according to the water temperature and not just the temperature of the air.

Sun Protection

Always wear sunscreen. Even on a cloudy day, the UV rays can find their way to your skin; hence you’re always on the run from sunburns and other, more serious conditions when you’re out there, so let’s not take any chances.


Cotton clothes are a no go while kayaking because they absorb water rather than repelling it. Consequently, you’ll spend the entire trip shivering, and we won’t get started on what happens when you’re back home.


Try to avoid fasteners, zippers, and other accessories that easily rust because you’ll be making a compromise in terms of durability. Instead, choose water-resistant fabrics that are comfortable to keep on for prolonged hours.

What to Wear While Kayaking in Warm Water?

As we go on from here, we’ll be walking you through what you should be wearing layer-by-layer, so make sure to follow this sequel.

First Layer

On warm days, it’s best to go with a swimming suit rather than wearing underwear or fleece liners.

Second Layer

Choose polyester or a nylon top because they tend to dry pretty quickly. If possible, shop for a top with high UPF ratings (20+) to avoid UV rays.

As for the bottoms, you’re free to pick stylish, quick-dry board shorts. Although many kayakers like wearing yoga pants on their trips, they’re not so pleasing when they get wet. Also, they are not nearly as comfortable as shorts or pants that are designed for water.

Third Layer

Wetsuits and drysuits usually come next. Yet, they’re not necessary on warm days; you can use a fleece jacket instead.

Last Layer

If you’re going to be in the water for many hours, you can take a waterproof jacket in case it starts raining. Don’t forget to top it all with a high-quality PFD.


Steer away from anything with backstraps because before you know it, they’ll slip off. From where we stand, paddling booties are the best. They’re the most protective, and they’re comfortable to move in, whereas other options like sandals or slippers allow gravel to reach your feet.


Hats are always a good option on sunny days, but make sure to use a chin strap or a leash so that your hat doesn’t fly away.

What to Wear While Kayaking in Cold Water?

What to Wear While Kayaking in Cold Water?

The problem with cold weather is the increased risk of capsizing. If you’re not prepared for such an event, you’d be putting your life on the line. This is why you should always wear a wetsuit or a drysuit on cold days.

To decide which is best, you must know the difference between these two. Wetsuits are less isolating than dry ones, so for extremely cold weather, the latter makes a better option.

In some areas, the water can be extremely cold, but the air is just fine. In this case, a sleeveless wetsuit would be ideal.

That said, let’s take a quick look at how you should layer your clothes with a wet or a drysuit.

Layering With Wetsuits

First Layer

Swimming suits still make more sense because if worse comes to worst and your kayak flipped over, it’d be way less embarrassing to take off your wetsuit as soon as you get out of the water.

Second Layer

Next comes the wetsuit itself. You don’t need to wear any tops or pants beneath the suit because it comes with a thin layer of warm water that becomes trapped between your skin and the suit, so on most days, you won’t feel the cold air around you.

However, if it’s extremely cold, and you feel like you could use an extra layer, you can wear a jacket on top of it all.

What If I’m Wearing a Sleeveless Wetsuit?

Throw on a quick-dry top before you wear the wetsuit so as to cover the exposed areas of your arms. Of course, you can still use the fleece jacket if it’s too cold.

Layering With Drysuits

First Layer

Usually, drysuits come with their own dry liners; if not, you can buy ones or go with any non-cotton underwear you prefer.

Second Layer

For the second layer, you can go ahead and wear your drysuit as it’s both wind and waterproof. If you feel like you could use more layers, put on a thick fleece layer before wearing the drysuit.


You wouldn’t want to spend your time shivering because of the cold weather or sweating whenever it feels like a thousand degrees outside. If you follow this guide, you’ll be more than ready for a perfect kayaking trip, so make sure not to miss any of our tips.