How to Dress for Kayaking

How to dress for the weather on your sea kayaking trip with Spirit of the West Adventures in British Columbia

sunny jd

Kayaking on a hot sunny day

When kayaking on a hot sunny day, it is appropriate to wear quick dry shorts and a t-shirt. A swim suit could be worn underneath, as on some of our tours you can enjoy a dip in the ocean or one of the lakes. Sturdy sandals are the footwear of choice when the temperatures rise. Sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must.

This is a common look on our Desolation Sound Tour where the weather is often hot and dry.

Kayaking on a cooler or overcast day

When kayaking on a cooler day where there is little chance of rain or wind, just throw on the next layer. A mid-weight synthetic top, such as polypropylene, Lycra or polyester, over your long underwear and quick dry breathable pants works well. Please avoid cotton as it takes forever to dry and offers little insulation. You may also want to pull out the wool / fleece hat and lightweight gloves on the shoulder season trips.

The rubber boots Tracy is wearing allow her to wear socks and keep her feet warm and dry. Neoprene booties with a sturdy sole are also a good choice. If you do not have suitable boots, we have a stock of boots that you may borrow from.

Kayaking when there is a chance of showers or wind

This is the time to pull out the waterproof wind breaker. If you do not have a paddling jacket, a light or midweight breathable jacket over the appropriate underlayer will keep out the wind and sprinkles of rain.

Generally your legs will be warm and dry inside the kayaks, so rain pants are not necessary while paddling, unless we have a real downpour.

With a cool wind, the wool or fleece hat will help to keep you warm.

Kayaking in the rain

As much as we don't like to admit, it can rain here sometimes in the summer. The sound of raindrops pattering on the water's surface can be very soothing, and as long as you dress for it, the rain can be a refreshing change. A brimmed rain hat, waterproof jacket, light rain pants, and rubber boots will do the trick.

It's a good idea to bring along a few sets of underlayers so you have a dry set to change into if necessary.

If you are uncertain of the waterproofness of your rain gear, you can always try it out in the shower!

What do you wear underneath it all?

When you want to stay comfy and dry, it is hard to beat synthetic underwear. In outdoor stores you will most often find light-, mid- and heavy-weight styles. The idea is that the material will wick away moisture and sweat from your skin, helping to ensuring a dry ride. They also dry quickly around the campfire.

I have a set made by Patagonia and although very expensive, they have now lasted 20 years of heavy use.

Looking like a sea kayaker?

When it is all said and done, this is what you are going to look like.

I bet you can't wait!

Spirit of the West Adventures provides a detailed packing list for each tour destination. You can also visit your local outdoor store, or shop on the net, for good quality clothing.

Learn how to pack your kayak

A short video by one of the Spirit of the West's guides Pat J. Friesen...

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