Have you ever gone to load your kayak by yourself, only to find that it's…
Kayaking is a very engaging and fun activity for anyone, even when young, as long as you are supervised. It is a wonderful way to explore the riverways and seas of the area in which you live and gives you a wonderful sense of adventure that may have been missing from your life.
The ease at which people can use a kayak and the number of supplies that you can take means that you are not limited in your options. Since there are waterways all over the world as well, you can kayak anywhere, with the only issue being how to get a kayak in certain areas.
However, for all its wonder and enjoyment, there are some things you need to prepare before you set out on your voyage. Getting the kayaks is a big one, and getting them to a place can be a hassle as well. Yet, a surprisingly important thing that you need to prepare is your clothing.
‘Clothing?’ You might ask. ‘But you are spending all your time in the water, so you only need water clothes.’ Actually, there are a few other factors to consider apart from that.
In this article, we will explore in detail exactly what you need to wear when you are kayaking.
Why Are Clothes Essential When Kayaking?
Clothes are essential no matter where you go, and they are especially crucial when kayaking. The reason we wear clothes outside is that we are protecting our bodies from the elements that exist in our world. These can be a chilly breeze, the UV rays from the sun, or a rainstorm and to keep your body working the best or at least not to get ill, you need clothes.
This is the same for kayaking, but there is one difference. With kayaking, you are not just dealing with the weather and temperature of the open air, you are also dealing with the temperature of the water. Very much like if you sit on the cold ground, you will get cold, if you sit in a kayak on the water you will respond to the heat of that water.
Due to the amount of time you are in contact with the water in a kayak, this has a drastic effect on your body temperature and can have more of an impact than the weather or air temperature. As such, you need to plan your clothing choices not just for the weather, but also for the water temperature.
One small last thing about clothes and kayaking. While kayaking is not especially dangerous, conditions when kayaking can make it dangerous, especially if you find yourself in a riptide or in a storm.
With this in mind, your clothing needs to be able to keep you safe in case something happens and so you should always bring a life jacket (or buoyancy aid) and emergency equipment – like a medical kit, emergency blanket, etc.
What To Wear During Hot Weather?
Many people would consider bringing very few or even thin or light clothes when kayaking in hot weather. To those people, I say, beware! For you have fallen into a dangerous trap. As stated earlier, it is the water temperature that you need to be most wary of, not necessarily the ambient air temperature.
In hot countries, this won’t be as much of an issue as the water temperature will be fairly high, but if you are kayaking in colder countries, even in summer, water can be very cold. As such, you need to strike a balance between the air and water temperatures in order to be protected.
One of the best options is wearing a swimsuit. Swimsuits are made of material that doesn’t absorb much water and dries quickly, which means that water won’t cling to your body and affect it. They can also act as undergarments that you can place other clothes on top of if you need to.
If you don’t like the idea of a swimsuit, a water shirt and some comfortable athletic shorts would also do well. Make sure the shorts are not cotton, as cotton absorbs and holds onto liquid easily, which is not ideal in this case.
Water or wet shirts are good for people who feel uncomfortable in swimsuits or wetsuits, as water doesn’t stick to them, but they are not as tight as either of the other two.
Once you have something that deals with the water, it is time to deal with the sun. UV and sun rays can make you burnt, give you heat stroke, or even cause you to collapse, which is not ideal.
Therefore, it is important to have a couple of articles of clothing that can combat the sun to throw on over your other clothes. Rash guards are good for this, but any big loose-fitting shirt can work just as well.
Finally, make sure to bring a hat and sunglasses to protect your other extremities, and you are good to go.
What To Wear During Cold Weather?
Unlike hot weather kayaking, you are not finding a fine balance between temperatures during cold weather. You are solely protecting against the cold and, in some cases, the rain as well.
The name of the game here is waterproof layers. You are going to be in contact with two cold fronts: the cold water and the cold air, so layering up is essential if you don’t want hypothermia.
The obvious choice for cold water kayaking is a wetsuit. They are made of water-resistant material that is also quick-drying, which is exactly what you want. They will act as a barrier that traps body heat inside and keeps the water to the outside.
Not everyone has a wetsuit though or can wear one though. For those people, there are some improvisations that can work just as well. You just need to be aware of the different layers you will be wearing and how to make sure they will work.
First, you will need a base layer, like warm undergarments or long johns. Unfortunately, cotton is not the best material as it absorbs water easily, so if you go with a cotton-based base layer then you need to make sure that no water touches your base layer. Otherwise, try to make your base layer nylon or polyester, as it is quick-drying.
Next, for either the wetsuit or the base layer method, add a top layer. This top layer has to be water-resistant and warm, so any good t-shirt or trousers that wick water well is perfect here (as long as it is not cotton). If you can, get a pair of rain or rainforest trousers. Most hiking stores will sell them, and they are very water-resistant.
The only thing about the top layer you need to worry about is that it is still easy to maneuver your kayak in. Make sure the top layer does not chaff or tug, whenever you do something in it.
Finally, you should bring a jacket of some description, even if you don’t wear it all the time. A raincoat that has no cotton parts, a microfiber sweatshirt, or even a rain poncho, anything that can give you good protection against rains or an extra layer against the cold.
Even with these different weathers affecting your trip, there are some things that you cannot go without when kayaking. The first is a life jacket or buoyancy aid. Always bring one.
If you are knocked off your kayak and need to remain afloat, then these could save your life. I don’t care who you are, if I’m betting who’s going to win between you and the sea or a river, I’m betting the sea or river.
Sunscreen is another important item. Even on cloudy days, UV can burn your skin and cause you problems. Take it from the person who was burnt on a 16-degree day in February just because the sun was shining, you never know how strong UV rays are, so take some sunscreen.
Please take water or food. Not taking either of these two things is foolishness. Exploring the wilderness is fun and a great adventure, but if you get lost or stuck with not even a mouthful of water, you are in trouble. Having a day’s worth of water and a couple of snacks can keep you going and save your life in difficult situations, even if it’s just beating the heat.
Shoes, water or otherwise, are also critical. They will keep your feet safe from sharp objects, on the ground or in the water, animals, the sun, and the hot ground. The only thing is that you need to make sure they are quick-drying, if they are not water shoes already. You do not want to get a cut on your foot in a rural area, it can quickly become something serious.
Lastly, make sure to take a medical kit with you as well, even just a small one. When someone has a medical situation, time is of the essence, even with small cuts. They can quickly become infected or even just irritated, and seeing to them quickly will keep them from becoming a problem.
Clothing should not stop you from kayaking, but only if you are taking the right clothing. There are lots of different clothing materials and types that can be used for kayaking easily, it’s just you need to avoid some others. The worst ones to take are ones that absorb water quickly and remain damp for a long time.
If you are truly unsure what types of clothes to take kayaking, then your best bet is to buy clothes that are meant for water or rain, like swimming clothes or thin hiking clothes. I promise if you dress right, not only will you have a good time, but you will feel great as well.