Updated on February 6, 2020

Have you ever wondered what to wear kayaking? You don’t want to be too warm, too cold, get sunburned or windburned. Have no fear; we are here to help show you what to wear kayaking. From headgear to footwear, warm weather shirts to cold weather jackets, you’ll be fully prepared and comfortable in every situation. As always, never forget to wear a PFD while on the water.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, it’s our job to research the best gear for every budget. Make no mistake, it can be tedious. But, we love what we do and we do all of this to make sure that you can get outside and up and running (or paddling) faster. You’ve come to the right place.




Below, you will find a list of terms we’ll be using throughout the guide to describe each piece of clothing.

BEST MATERIALS: This term will help you understand what materials to look for when shopping.

PRICE RANGE: From the low to high end, you’ll know what to expect.

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: This is our recommended best conditions to wear the product in.

TYPE OF KAYAKING: There are a few types of kayaking. This will help you dress for the occasion.

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Here we will describe the qualities in technical clothing terms.

LEARN MORE: More product-related information may be listed in a link here.





In warm weather on cold water, it’s fine to wear short sleeves as long as you pack long sleeves in a dry bag. Men may enjoy Vapor Apparel Men’s UPF 50+ Short Sleeve Shirt or Amazon Essentials Men’s Quick-Dry Golf Polo Shirt. Women should check out the Vapor Apparel Women’s UPF 50+ Short Sleeve Shirt.



In warm weather on cold water, some of the best options include long sleeves that roll up into short sleeves. Sun-protective clothing with a UPF rating, like fishing shirts, are lightweight, breathable, durable, versatile, and resistant to some of the gory bits you may encounter while fishing.

Check out Columbia Sportswear Blood and Guts III or Columbia Sportswear Women’s Bahama, while women may enjoy the Coolibar UPF+ 50 Women’s Beach Shirt.



PRICE RANGE: $20 – 100

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Warm, temperate weather with a breeze

TYPE OF KAYAKING: Day trips, sit-on-top

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Lightweight, breathable

LEARN MORE: Sun Protection (UPF) Clothing: How to Choose



In cold weather on cold water, wear layered long sleeve clothing with a tough outer shell to combat the wind. Some of the best shells include the North Face Venture Jacket (available in men’s and women’s) or a dry top like the NRS Rio Top Paddle Jacket.


BEST MATERIALS: Nylon, urethane-coated

PRICE RANGE: $50 – 200

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cool to cold weather

TYPE OF KAYAKING: Day trips, sit-on-top, whitewater

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof, windproof, breathable

LEARN MORE: Clothing for Cold-Water Paddling: How to Choose






Bottoms follow the same rules as tops regarding the weather. In warm weather, UPF protective shorts like the Gerry Men’s Short or the Columbia Women’s Coral Point Short. Both of these options contain 30 UPF+ sun protection and are a versatile addition to your wardrobe.




In the event your warm day on the water turns a bit chilly, it’s best to pack a long pair of pants to stay warm. Men should check out the Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Sport Pants. Women should look into models similar to the Columbia Women’s Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pant.


BEST MATERIALS: Canvas, nylon, polyester

PRICE RANGE: $30 – 100

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Warm to cool weather

TYPE OF KAYAKING: Day trips, sit-on-top

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Flexible fabric for pulling over short layers, windproof, waterproof

LEARN MORE: How to Dress for Kayaking




If you’re looking for a warm pair of pants to wear on a cold day on the water, or a day when there’s a possibility of rain, look no further. Shell pants like the Marmot PreCip Pant are a highly popular option.

Pull them over your shorts or wear long underwear underneath on extra cold days. Women may enjoy the Geval Women’s Outdoor Windproof Waterproof Softshell Pants.




If you’re an experienced kayaker, you may already be into battling river waves and pitching over waterfalls. If you’re new to whitewater kayaking, fear not. We wrote an entire review on the best drysuits.

What is a drysuit, you ask? It’s a one or two-piece waterproof suit that keeps you warm and dry while kayaking in rough conditions. Think wetsuit meets ski wear.


BEST MATERIALS: Gore-Tex, nylon

PRICE RANGE: $350 – 1000

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold, icy, frigid conditions

TYPE OF KAYAKING: Whitewater, cold days touring

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Front-entry, mesh draining areas, adjustable wrists, ankles, neck

LEARN MORE: Kayaking Drysuits 101 >>







While many different types of sandals can work just fine, we recommend a sandal with a tough sole and straps that hold your foot in place. Some of our favorite options are the Chaco Men’s Z2, Chaco Women’s ZX3, or the Keen Newport H2 Men’s and Women’s Sandals.




After reading those two words, ‘water shoes’, you may have had a terrible flashback to a family vacation at Panama City Beach in 1991, when neon spandex was everywhere. That was a bad time in fashion history, but trust us, water shoes have progressed (a bit).

The Nike Lab Aqua Sock 360 is actually a pretty attractive shoe compared to its 1987 counterpart. Other popular options include the Yizer Water Shoes, Adidas Terrex Outdoor Climacool Boatlace, and the RYKA Women’s Hydro Sport Water Shoe.


BEST MATERIALS: Polyester webbing, mesh, stretch fabric, neoprene, rubber sole

PRICE RANGE: $50 – 150


TYPE OF KAYAKING: Touring, sit-on-top

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Durable, drainable

LEARN MORE: Kayaking Shoes 101 >>




Most drysuits will be useless if they leave your feet exposed and cold. Some drysuits do come with built-in booties, while others are attachable to dry shoes.

Look for a neoprene, waterproof boot that will ensure warmth stays in and water stays out. We recommend the NRS Paddle Wetshoes or the Kokatat Nomad Paddling Boots.


BEST MATERIALS: Neoprene, rubber sole

PRICE RANGE: $50 – 150

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Any temperature while whitewater kayaking


IDEAL PROPERTIES: Insulated, durable, waterproof

LEARN MORE: Kayaking Shoes 101 >>







We can’t stress enough how much sun protection is important. A well-made wide-brimmed hat will serve you in many outdoor sports and adventures.

Check out the Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II and the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat. Choose a hat that has adjustable straps to hold the hat on your head in strong winds.




A wide-brimmed hat is useful for sunny days, but won’t do much to keep you warm. Consider buying a balaclava-type piece of headgear to wear alone or in conjunction with a brimmed hat or helmet. The Maoko Full Face Mask or a trusty Buff are both good options.


BEST MATERIALS: Nylon, microfiber, polyester

PRICE RANGE: $20 – 50

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Warm and cold days

TYPE OF KAYAKING: Touring, sit-on-top, whitewater

IDEAL PROPERTIES: UPF+ rating, durable




Gloves aren’t just for cold winter nights. UV protective gloves have really taken off in recent years, as a lightweight, breathable way to keep your hands from getting burnt or weathered. Coolibar makes a few options.

One is full-finger, another is full-finger with touchscreen compatibility, and last is their fingerless option. NRS also makes a 3/4 finger glove that is quite popular. For arm protection while wearing a short sleeve shirt, check out the Eclipse Sun Sleeves.


BEST MATERIALS: Polyester, spandex

PRICE RANGE: $20 – 50


TYPE OF KAYAKING: Touring, sit-on-top

IDEAL PROPERTIES: UPF+ rating, Touchscreen compatibility

LEARN MORE: Kayaking Gloves 101 >>




Hands are one of our most important assets as humans. Keep them warm, dry, and frost-bite free with models like the Glacier Glove or Mountain Made Outdoor Gloves.


BEST MATERIALS: Neoprene, nylon, fleece

PRICE RANGE: $20 – 50


TYPE OF KAYAKING: Whitewater, touring, sit-on-top

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Adjustable wrist strap


For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides:

Sea Kayaks

Inflatable Kayaks

Touring Kayaks

Fishing Kayaks

Tandem Kayaks

Sit-In Kayaks

Sit On Top Kayaks