What To Wear Kayaking – Guide & Reviews

If you are interested in watersports, you might definitely be familiar with kayaking. It is one of the top immersive watersports filled with adventure that enables you to have a wonderful experience paddling in the water. You can go for Sea Kayaking or even Whitewater Kayaking with your favorite people; even if you are a solo adventurer, kayaking can be a phenomenal experience that you will remember lifelong.

Being a watersport, what to wear kayaking is one of the most fundamental questions that comes to the mind of anyone experiencing this activity for the first time. Unlike visiting a beach, you need to have proper kayaking apparel to enjoy this activity to the fullest. Preparing for your kayaking experience can be overwhelming, which can discourage some people from trying this watersports. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

Here are some valuable suggestions to help you decide what to wear kayaking, along with the product recommendations that you can try out before going on your next kayaking trip.

Essentials For Your Kayaking Gear

A perfect combination of kayaking gear ensures a great level of mobility, safety, comfort, and enhances your experience so that you are motivated to try this watersport again and again. Choosing your kayaking gear might be a challenging task, but we are here to simplify this decision for you.

Here’s a list of the top factors you need to be mindful of when selecting your kayaking gear.

Ensure Optimal Mobility

Kayaking requires lots of paddling, so it is important to wear the appropriate gear that enables you to move freely. While preparing and planning for your trip, you should try on everything you are going to wear beforehand, such as a paddling jacket, undergarments, paddling gloves, as well as base layers.

Additionally, the weather conditions, water, and air temperatures have a significant impact on your paddling ability, so it is crucial to optimize your mobility to paddle well. You need to wear clothes with the correct sizing, as feeling like an overdressed toddler will definitely not work out while paddling through the water. Therefore, you must choose the right paddling gear in terms of mobility and know what you are wearing beforehand so that you don’t have to face any inconvenience on your kayaking day.

Adopt A Safety-First Approach

When planning your kayaking session, it is of great importance to have the appropriate safety gear and clothes. You must be prepared for all types of situations; for example, having a wet suit just in case you end up swimming in freezing cold water. Using neoprene boots, worn-out paddling jackets, and other apparel that are not fit for kayaking might create trouble for you as they will not be comfortable and are dangerous at the same time.

Therefore, you need to look for clothing and gear items that are fit for kayaking conditions and would enable you to have an enjoyable experience. In order to purchase the appropriate safety gear, your approach should be to opt for items that have safety certifications and are tested for extreme weather situations. Some of the items that require your special attention include the personal flotation device and your kayak helmet.

Prioritize Comfort

When paddling your kayak, uncomfortable clothes can be a great hassle, especially if you are on a trip that spans several days. You might be encouraged to try on different new clothes or make your desired combinations consisting of new and old ones, which contribute to your experience. However, your priority should be to look for comfortable clothes that suit the kayaking conditions. If you don’t have a particular item, it is always better to purchase it so that you don’t face any inconvenience on the paddling day.

Moreover, you might be wondering which clothing material works best for kayaking. The general rule is to avoid cotton as it absorbs water and makes you feel cold even if you go kayaking in warm weather. Instead, we recommend you search for quick-drying fabrics and synthetic materials when purchasing kayaking clothes so that you are comfortable throughout your trip.

Keep The Weather Conditions In Mind

Weather plays a significant part in any kayaking trip, whether you are kayaking in the summer or have planned for cold weather kayaking. When deciding your clothing, you need to be mindful of the air and water temperatures. You need to closely examine the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. Your body temperature should be within its optimal range so that you are comfortable and don’t fall ill during kayaking.

Furthermore, the general rule when going for water sports is to have dry suits, ample amount of layers, and every item that can make you comfortable during the different weather circumstances. Clothing materials with quick drying are a must-have for all water sports enthusiasts.

At A Glance: Kayaking Clothing Recommendations

  1. Palymth UV Protection Fingerless Gloves – Best Kayaking Gloves With UV Protection
  2. OMGear Water Socks – Best Kayaking Socks To Go With Your Wet Suit
  3. Mishansha Water Shoes – Best Kayaking Footwear For Men and Women Kayakers
  4. Tontron Adult Kayaking Helmet – Best Kayaking Helmet With Ear Protection Pads
  5. Columbia Men’s Glennaker Rain Jacket – Best Rain Jacket For Kayaking
  6. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest – Best Kayaking Life Jacket With a Grade Reflective Material
  7. GoldFin Wet Suit Pants – Best Pants For Female Kayakers
  8. GoldFin Wet Suit – Best Wet Suit For Female Kayakers
  9. FLEXEL Mens Wetsuit Shorts – Best Wet Suit Bottoms For Male Kayakers
  10. HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag – Best Dry Bag For Men And Women Kayakers

10 Recommendations For What To Wear Kayaking

Choosing the best kayaking gear can be daunting, especially if you are a beginner planning to get involved in this amazing water sport. You need to consider multiple aspects simultaneously to ensure you select the right product according to your needs.

Are you looking for good recommendations related to what to wear kayaking? Here we’ve got some great products that you should definitely check out, so that you can comfortably go kayaking for years to come.

Kayaking Gloves

Kayaking gloves can help with better grip of your paddle and are recommended if you are planning a winter kayaking session. These wearables even provide you with independent mobility of your thumb and fingers to help with the proper steering of a kayak, according to your riding preferences. When paddling a kayak in freezing cold weather, you need to have an adequate amount of insulation so that your hands don’t feel like blocks of ice.

Our recommendation is Palymth UV Protection Fingerless Gloves, which helps you have an enjoyable kayaking experience. These wearables are manufactured using Faux Leather and are designed to withstand extreme temperatures when kayaking in various climates. They have UPF 50+ and SPF UV Protection certifications and offer amazing grip and durability during paddling. If you are looking for kayaking gloves that offer great maneuverability and comfort, these wearables could be a potential option.

Palymth UV Protection Fingerless Gloves

  • Certified UPF 50+ and SPF UV Protection
  • Partial synthetic leather Reinforced palm for a better grip and durability
  • Features stretchy, lightweight, breathable quick drying fabric that actually keeps your hands cooler and drier
  • Both wrist pull and finger-tip pull make it easy to wear or remove 
  • Machine washable

Water Socks

Water socks are to be worn with your kayaking footwear and help you have a strong grip to paddle well. It is important to opt for socks that resist water to keep your feet dry, along with anti-slip properties. There are several types of socks that you can use for kayaking, but we recommend neoprene socks due to their comfort and good grip.

Our recommendation is OMGear Water Socks, which help you protect your feet while kayaking. These socks are manufactured using neoprene, complemented with 4-way stretchy nylon lamination for protection against cold water. The low-cut design allows greater flexibility, making these wearables a perfect choice for watersports. If you are searching for comfortable socks with a sleek design, these water socks are a great option.

OMGear Water Socks

  • Low cut designed water socks provide more flexibility
  • Reinforced and rubber printing sole, can be abrasion resistant, tearing resistant and anti-slip
  • OMGear beach water socks sewn by flatlock stitched seams,which are durable and stretchy,guaranteeing a long service life
  • Your feet will be protected without letting you feel that you are wearing the socks

Kayaking Shoes

When kayaking in different water bodies, you need to protect your feet from various temperatures and ensure a firm grip on your kayak to prevent slipping. Therefore, choosing the right footwear is equally important as selecting the appropriate clothing.

Our recommendation is Mishansha Water Shoes, which have been designed for water sporting activities to ensure you have a great experience. These shoes are manufactured using Spandex fabric complemented with a rubber sole to offer an exceptional grip. They are equipped with quick drainage holes to ensure easy outflow of water and offer a great level of adjustability. If you are looking for kayaking shoes, these could be a potential option to suit your preferences.

Mishansha Water Shoes

  • Made from salt-resistant, breathable Lycra for quick drainage and exceptional comfort
  • Heel pull tab for swift on and off, keeping your feet dry
  • Customize the fit to your foot width without the hassle of traditional laces

Kayaking Helmet

A kayaking helmet is necessary to protect your head from various objects, such as stones, while you are paddling through the water. If you are kayaking through rocky rivers or even if there are no objects that could hit your head, having a kayaking helmet is an essential part of ensuring a safe paddling experience.

Our recommendation is the Tontron Adult Kayaking Helmet. It is an amazing headwear to enhance your paddling experience while providing you with the required protection. It is fully adjustable and consists of an ABS outer shell to offer good impact protection. It also has 11 vents to ensure easy breathing and is lightweight to ensure optimal comfort. If you are looking for the perfect kayaking headgear, this helmet could be the right option to fulfill your requirements.

Tontron Adult Kayaking Helmet

  • ABS outer shell for impact protection and soft EVA absorption liner
  • Ear protectors prevent ears from scratch and don’t affect hearing that are also removable
  • 11 vents system for breathing

Rain Jacket

Having a waterproof paddling jacket when kayaking protects you from wind and rain so you can easily maneuver your kayak. It also offers comfort, as it is quite irritating when your clothing gets wet, and you cannot change for a certain period of time. Therefore, a rain jacket is an important item that you must have before starting a kayaking session.

Our recommendation is the Columbia Men’s Glennaker Rain Jacket, which protects you from getting wet. This item is manufactured with nylon fabric to offer exceptional waterproofing with a perfect combination of comfort and protection. If you are planning a kayaking session in the rainy weather, this jacket could be your best pick.

Columbia Men’s Glennaker Rain Jacket

  • Waterproof nylon fabric for lighter weight, protection and comfort for wet weather
  • Packable design lets you stow it away into its own chest pocket
  • Convenient stow-away hood, zippered hand pockets and adjustable sleeve cuffs

Life Jacket

A life jacket, also known as a personal flotation device, is a mandatory clothing item that all kayakers should wear before beginning their paddling trips. These vests are designed to save you from drowning by keeping you afloat, so that you can swim to safety or the relevant authorities can locate you easily. Therefore, you must purchase a life vest when planning a kayaking trip.

Our recommendation is the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest, which is designed to keep you safe and prevent drowning in the water if your kayak flips upside down. It is a type III life jacket consisting of heavy-duty nylon and a mesh interior to ensure good floating capabilities. With its mesh drainage system and SOLAS-grade reflective material, this life vest can save you from dangerous conditions while maximizing visibility for the relevant lifeguard personnel.

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest

  • Durable nylon fabric paired with soft, lightweight flotation foam
  • Neoprene comfort pads for adjustable shoulder support
  • Attached whistle for safety

Kayaking Pants

Although you can wear shorts during kayaking, it is a better idea to opt for pants for skin protection and proper warmth during your paddling experience. When going for winter kayaking, you should definitely purchase pants that are comfortable and keep you warm to maximize your paddling performance.

Our recommendation is the GoldFin Wet Suit Pants that is designed with neoprene to keep you protected and dry while paddling a kayak. These pants are manufactured for water-sporting female enthusiasts, ensuring excellent comfort, warmth, and skin protection against the sun. They are completely stretchable and offer unparalleled performance, enabling better control while you are in the water.

GoldFin Wet Suit Pants

  • These wetsuit pants are great for kayaking
  • Comfortable, warm, and shape-retaining for all-day wear
  • Exceptional customer service with prompt responses

Wet Suit

Being a water sporting activity, kayaking requires you to choose comfortable clothing that maintains your body temperature. A wet suit is a great option for this paddling activity as it creates a layer between the suit and your skin, acting like an insulation barrier against cold water. Therefore, you need to choose the right wet suit when planning your kayaking session.

Our recommendation is the GoldFin Wet Suit, which helps female kayakers get a perfect combination of warmth, comfort, and protection to have a phenomenal paddling experience. This suit is manufactured using neoprene and can be a great outer layer when kayaking in cold weather circumstances. It offers amazing flexibility to ensure good mobility and maintain body temperatures effectively. If you are a female kayaker and need a wet suit, this one could be a perfect pick according to your needs.

GoldFin Wet Suit

  •  The wet suit provides comfort, warmth, and protection for kayaking
  • Waterproof Smoothskin/rubber seal 
  • GoldFin women’s wetsuit tops feature front zippers for effortless on and off

Wet Suit Shorts

Wet suit shorts are designed for various water sporting activities, and their main motive is to keep you comfortable and protected, especially in cold waters. When kayaking during winter, this wearable can be a good option for most paddlers.

Our recommendation is FLEXEL Mens Wetsuit Shorts, which are designed using a combination of nylon and neoprene to offer the right comfort, durability, and protection for kayaking. This wearable consists of flatlock stitching and an adjustable waist to protect you against the water so that you can paddle well. It also offers amazing fitting, so if you are looking for the right bottoms to go with your wet suit, this one could be a great option.

FLEXEL Mens Wetsuit Shorts

  • These shorts offer reliable insulation to keep you comfortably warm while in the water
  • Quick-drying feature, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable
  • Offers a fantastic, comfortably snug fit without feeling too tight

Dry Bag

Having a dry bag before you go kayaking is essential as you need to keep your belongings safe from water damage. There are several items that you need to pack, such as spare clothes, layering items, jackets, socks, and even your smartphone, so a waterproof bag is a must-have for all kayakers.

Our recommendation is the HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag, which protects your essential belongings from water and other environmental conditions. This waterproof bag is manufactured using Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) material and keeps your belongings, such as spare clothes, dry when kayaking. It has a cross-body design and is transparent to help you locate items without opening the bag. Available in five sizes, this bag could be a great pick for your next kayaking session.

HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag

  • Waterproof, perfect for water sports like kayaking
  • Adjustable shoulder straps and a handle make it convenient
  • Very durable built with 0.02-inch thick, wear-resistant material, ideal for outdoor use

General Guidelines On What To Wear Kayaking

People planning to get into kayaking have a lot of options related to clothing, which can make them overwhelmed and choose the wrong items. Some general rules are that you should know your kayaking spot, water temperature, air temperature, and other conditions that might affect you. It is always better to go for durable and flexible clothing to remain comfortable throughout your paddling time and even afterward.

If you are unsure about what to wear, we’ve compiled some guidelines that can help you choose the right material and essential items for your paddling trip.

Image of colorful wetsuit hanging in the modern asian store for surfing

Planning According To The Weather

When planning your trip, you need to observe the weather forecast carefully so that you are covered for unforeseen circumstances. For example, a thin layer will not keep you warm as required if you are kayaking at a spot with cold conditions. You must choose clothing materials with thermal protection to maintain body heat and avoid various illnesses.

Air Temperature

Air temperature is important to help kayakers ensure smooth paddling throughout any specific session. This temperature might tell you about the level of humidity in the air and can help you plan your trip accordingly.

Water Temperature

Water temperature holds greater importance as compared to air temperature to ensure a comfortable kayak ride. During the summers, you might experience temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While kayaking during the winter season, the temperature can drop to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, so dry suits can be best for such situations. Therefore, it’s crucial to know the water temperature of your kayaking spot to ensure comfortable and appropriate clothing.

Prepare For Cold Weather

When planning a winter kayaking session, you should be prepared for extreme conditions. It is best to have clothing items that protect you from hypothermia or a cold shock. Most importantly, you need to keep your feet warm as cold feet makes you vulnerable to falling body temperature. You should have the appropriate outer layers and thermal base layers for optimal heat retention. You even need to prepare for situations such as swimming in cold water.


Layering is an essential component of kayaking that could make or break your experience. Therefore, you need to have strong skills in terms of using the right layering techniques. The base layer and mid layer must remain dry to protect your body from weather and water temperature fluctuations. For this purpose, you can wear either a wetsuit or a dry suit according to your chosen kayaking spot conditions. Even if your outer layer gets wet, you can always shed a layer or two according to the circumstances.

Additionally, you should also be aware of Chafing, which can lead to lots of skin problems. Putting it in simple words, Chafing is the skin irritation caused by friction on the skin, whether related to the water, clothing, or skin-on-skin. Generally, this irritation happens when kayaking in saltwater spots. Wearing neoprene as a base layer can be an effective solution to deal with this problem.

Sun Protection

Whether you are planning a whitewater kayaking trip or want to paddle through a warm water body, sun protection is extremely important throughout your paddling day, as exposure to UV rays can be dangerous for your skin. It’s a great idea to have sunblock, long-sleeved shirts, and UPF-rated clothing to ensure good sun protection.

Spare Clothes

Being completely drenched after a paddling session is normal, so it is better to have spare clothes packed in your dry bag. Once you complete a kayaking session, you should change quickly to have a comfortable trip back home. Moreover, remaining wet for a long time can make you ill or get cold, so you should definitely have spare clothes when planning a kayaking adventure.

Freedom of Movement

Mobility plays a major role when paddling a kayak, so it is necessary that you select clothes that facilitate mobility rather than making it difficult to paddle through the water. You should opt for loose clothing that optimizes comfort and does not restrict your movement.

Hydration & Energy Levels

Kayaking is an energy-intensive activity, so it is important to have high energy levels to keep paddling smoothly. You should have carbohydrate-rich snacks to munch on throughout your paddling session and watch your hydration iin regular intervals.


Can I Wear Cotton When Going For A Kayaking Adventure?

It is important to understand that when going kayaking, one must dress for the water and choose the right clothing to ensure optimal comfort. Cotton absorbs water easily and will make you feel cold, especially when you are in colder weather kayaking spots. Therefore, cotton is not the appropriate material for your paddling trip.

We recommend you opt for synthetic materials, clothing that dries quickly, and other items according to your chosen kayaking spot, especially if you are planning a trip to a place with extreme cold conditions.

What Kayaking Clothes Do I Need For Warm Weather Trips?

When kayaking during warm weather conditions, your priority should be to have the right clothing for good sun protection. The unwanted sun exposure and reflected UV radiation can be damaging to your skin, so it is crucial to have the appropriate items to protect you. It is important to opt for UPF-rated clothing to protect you from Ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Some of the top recommendations for hot weather kayaking are quick-drying undergarments, fitted sun shirts, paddling jackets, splash pants, or shorts. It is also equally important to remain hydrated, have sunblock, and ensure your core body temperature remains within its optimal range.

What Additional Gear Do I Need For Kayaking At Night?

If you are an adventure lover and want to head out in the dark when kayaking, make sure you have the appropriate clothing and essential items to have a safe and enjoyable trip. During nighttime, temperatures fall, especially if you are in a cold weather spot, so you must wear an adequate amount of layers. You should choose a wet suit or a dry suit according to the water temperatures and also have extra items in your dry bag, especially if you are heading out for a prolonged session.

Moreover, a life vest is definitely a must, and you need to have the right accessories for lighting purposes, such as a head torch, so that you know the direction in which you are moving once in the water.

How Important Is A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) When Kayaking?

A PFD is a mandatory item for every kayaker as it can help save your life. It enables you to stay above the water and prevents drowning, so even if you are a great swimmer, you need to have a PFD before starting your paddling trip.

What Is The Main Difference Between A Wet Suit And A Dry Suit?

You can select a wetsuit or a dry suit when going for kayaking. The factor that determines which suit you need is the water temperature of your chosen kayaking spot. Wet suits are designed using neoprene and help retain body heat by creating a thermal barrier between your skin and the water.

Dry suits are manufactured to keep you completely dry under wet conditions. These suits incorporate waterproofing and must be worn with layers underneath, such as a fleece lining or a fleece jacket. An essential part of a kayaker’s wardrobe is clothing items designed to keep you comfortable and resist weather fluctuations that might lead to dangerous consequences, such as hypothermia and sunburn.

The Bottom Line – What To Wear Kayaking

Now that you have discovered what to wear kayaking, it’s time to plan your paddling trip to have a phenomenal experience. Well-chosen gear will definitely enable you to have lots of fun and motivate you to keep paddling happily. Some of the key aspects you need to consider include safety, mobility, weather fluctuations, and comfort, which will make it simpler to choose the right clothing items.

So, prepare well and go for your paddling trip by referring to this guide, which covers all your clothing-related queries to ensure you have an amazing experience.

About the author

My name is Brock Browning. I’m the founder of KayakBasics.com. I have a passion, for kayaking that runs through my veins. It has driven me to create a central hub where everything related to kayaking comes to life.

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