Clothing for Kayaking

drysuitWhen it comes to kayaking, if you're not willing to get wet, then you're not prepared. I understand that taking a swim when you’re kayaking isn’t always Plan A, but if you’re enjoying watercraft, you need to be ready to get wet. It’s crucial to remember that no matter how warm the air temperature may be, the water is often significantly cooler. You can prepare for the icy waters, though, by donning clothes made for kayaking, which we’ll take a closer look at today.


Drysuits are insulated, waterproof nylon garments worn over clothing designed to keep water out completely. Unlike wetsuits, they’re loose-fitting. They often have a Gore-Tex membrane and rubberized gaskets to seal water out and keep you warm, even in freezing temperatures, which makes them really only required for extreme conditions.


Perhaps the most well-known water apparel, a wetsuit is a neoprene bodysuit that insulates your body from the cold water and protects you from hypothermia. Wetsuits for kayakers are typically different from those used by surfers and divers, though, and tends to be thinner and sold as a one-piece, tank-top style suit. This allows your legs and your core to stay warm while your arms are free to move.

Dry Tops and Paddling Jackets

A dry top or paddling jacket is typically made from nylon and features a waterproof breathable membrane, like Gore-Tex. They possess neoprene cuffs and gaskets designed to keep water out. Like drysuits, they’re also ideal for colder conditions.

Splash Tops

Also known as paddling shirts, a splash top is a semi-dry top that’s lightweight, semi-waterproof, and sometimes features a fitted neck, wrist gaskets, adjustable waist closure, and taped seams to help keep water out. Splash tops are ideal for moderate to mild conditions.

Paddling Shorts and Pants

Shorts and pants designed for kayaking are comprised of lightweight, fast-drying materials, like nylon or polyester. Some brands also include sun protection, making them excellent for warm, sunny days.

Like I said, many people don’t plan on going for a swim when they set out on a kayak. Things happen, though, and it’s quite possible that you’ll find yourself submerged in the lake, no matter how careful you are. Being mentally prepared for this and outfitting yourself with specialized clothing for the activity will do a lot to create peace of mind and readiness.