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What To Wear Canoeing

Water sports like canoeing are fun and challenging. Canoeing is a great way to explore and spend time in nature, whilst keeping fit and getting exercise.

What To Wear Canoeing

To enjoy your canoeing experience, you need to make sure that you dress appropriately. Your clothes should be weather-appropriate, comfortable, and safe. 

But what do you wear? If you have never been canoeing before it can be tricky to know how to dress. You know you can’t rock up in an evening gown, but what do you wear? The group chat can’t help you decide this one!

So we are here to help! We have put together this helpful guide to help you decide what clothes you should wear when you are canoeing. Keep reading to find out more. 

Safety First 

The most important thing when you are considering what to wear canoeing is your safety. You should wear some kind of personal flotation device, even if you are a strong swimmer.

If you fall off the canoe, capsize the canoe, or crash the canoe, there is a chance that you could sustain an injury. 

That injury could make it harder for you to swim to safety or to keep yourself afloat until help arrives. You could also be fatigued from canoeing,

which will mean that you are not able to swim as far or for as long. A personal flotation device will keep you safe in an emergency. 

You can wear a PFD belt, an inflatable life vest or jacket, or a padded life vest or jacket. Some of them are designed to be low profile so they don’t hinder you when taking part in water activities like canoeing. 

You should make sure that you have some kind of high visibility clothing, whether this is a reflective strip on your personal flotation device or an armband of some kind.

This will help make you visible to other people using the water, especially in poor lighting conditions. It will also ensure that you are visible if you need to be rescued from the water. 

You might also need a helmet, as this will protect you from sustaining a serious head injury if you are involved in an accident on your canoe. This is especially important if you are canoeing in rocky areas, or bodies of water with trees or logs around or in the water. 


When it comes to your shoes, you need something comfortable, with a good grip so that you don’t slip when getting in and out of the canoe.

You will need to be comfortable with them getting wet, as you will need to walk through the water to get in and out of the canoe and there is a chance that you could fall off the canoe at some point. 

A good quality pair of water shoes would be ideal. If they are quick-drying then this will make your experience much more comfortable, as your feet won’t stay soggy for long. 

Should You Wear A Wetsuit?

Whether or not you choose to wear a wetsuit depends largely on the climate that you will be canoeing in. In very warm or tropical climates then it shouldn’t be necessary to wear a wetsuit. In which case, a swimsuit or lightweight, quick-drying clothing would be ideal. 

A well-known phrase in the world of water sports is ‘dress for the water, not the weather’. Even if the weather is warm, the water could be very cold. If you end up in the water for any length of time you are still at risk of hypothermia. A wetsuit will help to keep you warm. 

If you are very experienced and there is a much smaller risk of you getting into an accident, you could wear neoprene trousers or waterproof trousers, and lightweight clothing on the top.

The trick is to layer up, with a moisture-wicking base layer and a thermal layer if the weather is cold. 

You can also wear a waterproof suit on top of ordinary clothing instead of a wetsuit. Whilst this will keep you dry, it is not guaranteed to keep you warm if you are in the water for a long period of time. Often, these suits are water-resistant rather than waterproof.

What To Wear Canoeing

What Not To Wear

Remember to take off your jewelry before you go canoeing. It could easily come off and get lost- if it falls into the water there is a slim chance of you finding it.

It can also be dangerous, as jewelry can snag on things and make it harder for you to get out of tricky situations or cause you an injury if you are involved in a canoeing accident. 

Avoid wearing any materials that take on water and become heavy. This will make it much harder for you to stay afloat if you end up in the water. If your clothing drags you down when it gets wet this is very dangerous. It can also make it harder for you to get back out of the water. 

You should also avoid wearing any clothing that takes a long time to dry if it gets wet. If cold, wet material is clinging to your body then this will reduce your body temperature and put you at risk of developing hypothermia.

This will be even worse if there is a chilly wind blowing too. 

What Else Do You Need?

If you are going to be outside for a long period of time then you should consider wearing sunscreen to protect your skin. Remember that you can still burn or get UV damage if the sun is behind a cloud. 

If you have long hair then make sure it is tied back and off your face. You don’t want it to obscure your vision in any way, or get caught on branches, etc as you paddle. 

A lot of people who take part in water sports like canoeing like to carry a whistle. This is a safety measure that means they can get attention quickly in the event of an emergency. 

You could consider getting a dry bag to take with you on your canoe. It will keep your personal belongings dry if the canoe tips over, and you can attach it to the canoe to ensure it doesn’t float away. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, a list of what you should wear canoeing! Now, we know that a lot of this doesn’t seem very flattering, but it will keep you safe and warm,

and when you are canoeing that’s what you need most of all! Don’t forget to make the most of off-season sales to get your canoeing clothing and enjoy a new activity!

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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