What should I wear when I go Kayaking or Canoeing?

This is a question that we get asked a lot in the shop and getting it right will make a big difference  between either having a great day out on the water, verses a cold and tiring day afloat. 

Thankfully the clothing used and philosophy is similar to any other outdoor clothing. You want to wear layers of clothing that can be added to or removed depending on the temperature.

For Kayaking and Canoeing this layering can be broken down into 2 simple parts

1. What to wear against your skin or “Base-layer”

The purpose of this layer is to try and keep your skin dry and comfortable and works by moving or wicking any moisture away from your skin to the next layer, the number of layers worn will depend on the water and air temperature, typically in the summer most people will wear 1 or 2 light weight base-layers, where as in the winter you may well add another 1 or 2 heavier layers on top of this.  You can see a selection of base-layer garment here.

2. Outer layers or waterproof tops 

The purpose of this layer is to prevent you getting wet!  This then lets the warm thermal base-layers below work efficiently.  There are many options available to chose from and depending on what discipline of kayaking or canoeing you are taking part in will determine the style of top you will need. More information on this can be found here.  

-Dry Tops and Dry Cag's

-Dry Suits

-Trousers and Shorts 

Neoprene Wetsuits

Wetsuits are a relatively cost affective alternative to the layering system above and work in a different way, trapping a thin layer of water between itself and your skin.  Your body  heats this water up and it’s this thin layer of water that keeps you warm. A wet suit is designed to work next to your skin so if you wear any clothes under the wetsuit you will affect it’s ability to keep you warm.  If you do require extra warmth add layers on top of the wetsuit.


Head and Feet

Whenever wherever canoeing or kayaking you should always wear some form of footwear, rocks, shells and glass continually cause injuries to paddlers because they weren't wearing proper footwear. The best and most commonly used footwear are neoprene shoes or boots.  These have thick rubber soles that give you good protection and grip on wet rocks and river banks. High top booties provide greater warmth and are easier to get on and off, were as low top booties provide a more secure fit. Many paddlers will wear a thin neoprene sock to provide extra warmth in the winter such as the Palm Index sock. And lastly your head! Don’t forget that most of your body warmth is lost through your head on cold days and on trips if you know your likely to get wet wearing a neoprene hat, like the Palm Header cap, will make for a much warmer happier day.