What to Wear Kayaking in Cool Weather Conditions 

What to Wear Kayaking in Cool Weather

Riding in the best inflatable kayak is a fun way to enjoy a hot summer day out on the water. You know you’re bound to get wet at some point, but because the temperatures have reached beyond ninety degrees, you’ll definitely appreciate staying cool in the heat. But when summer turns to fall, what to wear kayaking in cool weather can be pretty important, especially if you’ve suddenly become interested in what is sea kayaking and how to stay warm and dry on your winter adventure.

Whether you’re paddling in colder weather or on calmer waters in milder conditions, you need to dress appropriately for the weather, in the event your kayak capsizes and you end up in the freezing cold water.

Not only can falling in colder water ruin your fun, it can potentially be dangerous as well. So, let’s focus on the best clothing options such as dry suits and wet suits, so you’ll be well prepared to try your hand at kayaking during the fall and winter months.

When Wetsuits are the Appropriate Choice

Dry Suits

A wetsuit is a neoprene garment designed for a snug fit, but it won’t keep water out. Instead, it traps a thin layer of water next to the skin so it can be warmed by body temperature. Once you’re out of the water, you’ll remain comfortable because neoprene works to minimize evaporative cooling.

They come in a wide variety of styles including separate pants and jackets, sleeveless once pieces, short sleeves, and full-length suits, are some of the most popular options. They’re also available in different thickness levels. Usually, the thickest option tends to feel too constrictive for paddling and is typically only used by serious divers. On average, a kayaker will go with a two or three millimeter suit.

Fleece that’s coated with polyurethane is another option and it’s often worn when full water immersion is less likely. Windproof, very stretchy, and warm, it has the same look as neoprene, except for the fuzzy texture.

Wet suits are available in different thicknesses of neoprene. The thickest options are usually too bulky and warm for paddling and are more often used by divers. Most paddlers opt for 2mm or 3mm neoprene.

Much like a wetsuit, clothing that’s made out of this type of material lets in water, which it then warms. The interior fleece is what makes this type of clothing more comfortable to wear for a longer period of time paddling in colder weather.

When Dry Suits are Best

If you often kayak in rough surf, rapids, or in cold water, a dry suit can offer the best type of protection. There are one-piece suits that consist of nylon with either a breathable waterproof Gore-Tex laminate or waterproof polyurethane coating. These suits usually come equipped with gaskets affixed to the neck, ankles, and wrist, in addition to a roll-up closure or a special type of zipper that’s designed to keep water out. So, if your kayak ends up capsizing, you’ll remain nice and dry.

Keep in mind that this type of suit doesn’t provide any type of insulation, so it must be paired with a special fleece liner or even long underwear.

In northern climates, choosing the right type of clothing to wear when the water is very cold and the weather is hot can be difficult. You’ll need to weigh your options and consider what’s more important, comfort as you paddle or staying warm and dry in the event the kayak tips over.

If capsizing is a real possibility, a Gore-Tex suit can be your best bet because it allows body heat to escape, so you’ll stay cooler as you paddle.

Dry Tops, Bibs, and Pants

A dry top consists of wrist gaskets and a latex neck. Typically made out of neoprene, the waist band is double layered and works to seal with a spray skirt on the outside and inside. The dry top can be worn with a dry bib for a more versatile clothing system.

The dry bib is an affordable solution for kayakers who normally wear a dry top most of their time out on the water, but who are in need of additional protection against cold water in the event of a capsize. You can also find bibs that come equipped with insulating layers that are specifically designed for water sports. Tops and bottoms can fit underneath fleece or dry suits, or you can choose to wear them alone. The bib is made out of breathable material that’s quick-drying and abrasion-resistant. It works to keep the wind out and also features a velour interior that’s soft and warm. For underneath layering, check out fleece liners that are full-length and equipped with front zippers.

Spandex to the Rescue

These spandex shirts, also referred to as rash guards are a popular option and they’re usually worn under a wetsuit to prevent chafing. They have an excellent SPF rating which also makes them a great choice for sun protection if you decide to wear it alone. Their strethiness makes them perfect for paddling and a great addition to your kayaking wardrobe if you decide to so with a wet or dry suit.

Other Important Accessories

A warm hat can do wonders to keep you warm when you’re kayaking in the winter. If you’re heading out for a day on the water in your kayak in colder weather, make sure you bring along an insulated hat. Wool and fleece insulated hats are both popular options. Some kayakers recommend full neoprene hoods, lightweight balaclavas, and face masks in extreme weather.

Gloves are another must-have accessory that will come in handy when you’re kayaking in cold weather conditions. however, it’s important to make sure the gloves you buy are water-resistant and durable, otherwise they can end up doing more harm than good.

These gloves are often made out of lycra spandex, nylon, or neoprene and they allow you to expertly grip the paddling, while providing great protection that won’t hinder your ability to paddle.