Looking cool is one matter, being too cool is another. Because immersion is a major cause of hypothermia, dress for it. When the sum of air and water temperatures is below 120 degrees, check out specialized paddling wear like wet suits, dry suits, and the large variety of fuzzy, rubbery apparel available. Think in layers. Layers trap air (which provides insulation) and allow for personal climate control. Synthetic materials dry quickly, wick moisture away from the body and retain their insulating ability when soggy. A coated nylon or Gore-Tex paddling jacket guards against wind and spray. Top yourself with a fleece or wool hat to reduce heat loss.
In the tropics, or anywhere it sizzles, lightweight full coverage and frequent applications of waterproof sunscreen are your best defense. Along with frequent swims to cool off. A hat with a wide brim shields you from harmful UV rays. Sturdy footwear is a must, but bulky shoes won’t fit inside most kayaks, are cumbersome, and can seriously compromise swimming. Try lightweight, low-profile watersport shoes, river sandals, or neoprene booties.
Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina.
For comprehensive guides on paddling, please visit our ACA brochures page, or visit the ACA website.