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October 29, 2020 7 min read

Kayaking is a delightful recreational sport that people of all ages can enjoy. Whether you rent a kayak and have already tried your first paddle or if you are starting, knowing the necessary equipment you need will make you feel more comfortable and better prepared.


Many times, if this is your first time kayaking you can rent the kayaking gear you need because you only need it for an experience in a lifetime. However, for water sports enthusiasts, investing in your kayak equipment is essential to ensure safety at all times. This, in turn, helps you enjoy the paddling experience more.


Buying your kayak equipment can be quite expensive, especially if you are unsure of the most critical parts of your equipment. It is essential to read up on the basics for your next rowing experience to ensure you have the equipment you need and don't spend a lot of money on items that are considered accessories rather than necessary parts.


Kayaking Equipment

One of the most requested equipment is, of course, your kayak. The type of kayak that you will need a lot depends on the type of kayak you are involved in and also on your experience in the sport. Your next essential piece of equipment is your paddle. Again, depending on the type of paddle you are in will determine the kind of paddle you will need. If you are not sure, you can seek advice from the dealer where you are buying your equipment.


Basics of Kayaking Gear

Follow these general guidelines when deciding kayaking gear:


Use water temperature, not air temperature; This could mean wearing a wetsuit or a drysuit.


Wear unique layers on top.


Sun protection wear. Regardless of the cloud cover, a day in the water is a day of sun exposure. Therefore, wearing clothing with UV-rated fabrics is a good option (in addition to reflected UVB sunscreen)


Avoid cotton in all its layers, as it absorbs water and remains wet. Instead, look for quick-drying fabrics. Use rapid-drying polyester or nylon (or other synthetic materials) for every layer of clothing that comes in contact with your skin. Wool dries much slower but insulates when wet, so it is also a good option.


Wear clothing that allows you to move comfortably and can sit for a long time.


Look for wear-resistant fabrics that are stronger and can withstand abrasion from sand, water, and hard materials in a kayak.


Avoid "rusty" bras and accessories - Water, primarily saltwater, attacks many metals, so strong plastic is a good alternative. You can probably trust that the metal components in your paddle gearboxes are wear-resistant.


What to Wear in Cold Conditions


Have you ever tried wearing a wetsuit after your hit? What matters is what you wear before getting on the boat. And the strategy is the same, whether on your virgin journey or your millionth journey: you saw the immersion, not the success.


The risks of tipping over in cold water range from immediate pulmonary and cardiac shock to drowning and potentially hypothermia. And don't plan on wearing a wetsuit after the hit, because it will be late and it will be almost impossible.


A wetsuit is minimum protection required for these conditions. It's usually made from thicker neoprene and insulates you by keeping a thin layer of water (your body warms it) next to your skin. For cold water, consider taking thicker long sleeve long leg full body wetsuits (3mm-7mm, depending on the actual water temperature).



The drysuit is for cold water (and air). It is made of waterproof material and also has watertight seals on the vents to keep you completely dry. You can adjust the heat by wearing long underwear or another layer of insulation underneath.


Coastal water temperatures are listed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) water temperature map. For inland waters or areas not covered by NOAA, search online, ask your guide or contact a local club or store. The store staff can also advise you on wet suits and dry clothing.


Tips to Wear a Wetsuit or Drysuit

When choosing your layers, consider the warmth of a wetsuit or drysuit, as well as the PFD. Here is a blog post about the Differences between a Wetsuit and a Drysuit


Layered with a Full Body Wetsuit

Base Layer: The warm water in a wetsuit makes the moisture-wicking underlayer unnecessary. However, it is a good idea to wear a swimsuit underneath so that you can remove your wetsuit later without having to search for a unique wardrobe.


Wetsuits for Kayaking


Middle layer: the warm water will insulate you inside and by the thickness of the suit itself. In cold conditions, you can look for thicker wetsuits.


Outer layer: Your wetsuit is wind and water-resistant. When wearing a long-sleeved jumpsuit, there is generally no need for an outer layer.


Layers with a Sleeveless Jumpsuit or with Short Sleeves

Consider wearing a quick-drying shirt under a wetsuit to cover the exposed areas of your arms. Long-sleeved mat or spray top cover protects from heat and sunlight. Go with something more massive when the air is more relaxed.


Bring a light cardigan and a rain jacket or paddle jacket so you can cover your arms when the conditions are colder and wetter.


Layered with a Drysuit

Base layer: The drysuit is mainly made up of waterproof clothing with waterproof seals. So, you need cotton-free long underwear. You may also buy drysuits, and some even come with fleece lining.

Middle Layer: In cold conditions, you can cover your underwear with a thick layer of wool.

Outer Layer: The drysuit is waterproof and windproof, so no more outer layers are required.


What to Wear in Moderate Conditions

Underwear: When paddling in warm conditions for shorter trips, many people use a bathing suit as the first layer. Just follow the general guidelines above to make sure you are comfortable for the duration of your trip. Otherwise, choose non-cotton bras and underwear that are suitable for outdoor activities.


Tops: Sprayer guards made of polyester or nylon mixed with Lycra Spandex are suitable for paddling and other water sports because they dry quickly, stretch well, and have high UPF values to protect against UV damage. Its shape-friendly design and flat construction make it comfortable to wear under other clothing or a wetsuit. Your favorite wool or synthetic base layer can work too.


Rain Tops: Most of these jerseys also provide UPF protection, but differ from rash guards in that they are more flexible. If you don't plan on swimming in it, it's a great option.


Bottoms: You can wear anything that looks good on you and dries fast on the bottom half. Comfortable, quick-drying shorts or pants are good options. Avoid things that restrict or enrage. Ultra-thin fabrics, like those found in some synthetic yoga pants, are not a good idea because they are not designed to move you around your seat while you paddle.


Midlayer: If circumstances don't call for a wet wetsuit or drysuit, it makes sense to wear a cardigan or other warm synthetic midsole.


Outer layer: When you experience heavy wind or rain, choose a breathable/waterproof jacket together rain pants. Rowing jackets are essential because they have seals on the wrists and neck to make sure no water gets in. They are especially good at preventing droplets from going down the axis of the paddle. If you're on a short trip and aren't expecting heavy rain, a waterproof or breathable jacket can work well.


Kayaking Accessories

Footwear: Neoprene rowing shoes are ideal because they are lightweight, waterproof, and protect the toes and soles of the foot. Any shoe that does the same works fine. However, water sandals provide less protection than ankle boots and can collect grit, sand, and dirt underfoot as you enter and exit. Avoid anything that does not have a back strap, such as slippers, as your feet are easy to take off.


You may also buy waterproof paddling socks or shoes in cold conditions and when rain or waves are likely. Another alternative is wearing thick non-cotton socks in your boots for extra warmth.


Hats: Look for hats with wide brims or capes. Also, consider a hat strap if you don't have a chin strap or other reliable way to secure your hat. In the cold, you will also need a hat to keep warm; It should fit under or on top of the other hat.


Gloves: Rowing gloves are soft as they protect against blisters and windy days. The "dogs" are another option for cold days: they cling to the paddle and slide their hands inward to grasp the pole. Some people prefer it because the dogs hold their hands directly over the paddle while protected from the elements.


Eyeglass Holder - Few views are shadier than expensive sunglasses that sink to the bottom of the ocean. Your carrier should be floating (check your home) and always in place. (It's also a good idea to bring a replacement bracket.)


PFD - There's a reason you need to use a personal flotation device (PFD) like a neoprene life vest, even if your only plan is to paddle close to shore. Most drowning accidents occur in these nearby waters, but rarely in a rower with PFD. Even cold water feels the impact when it capsizes - the PFD provides body heat and keeps you afloat without relying solely on swimming skills. Read this article about How to Choose the Right Kayaking Life Vest


Life Vests for Kayaking


Liz H.
Liz H.

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