Okay – it’s getting chillier so this post is all about what to wear on the water when you kayak or paddleboard when it gets colder out there! You’ve got your boat or board, you’ve got your paddle and all your safety gear…now what to wear to keep you warm? Well, in some ways it depends on the conditions, you are obviously going to wear something different in the height of summer sunshine to what you wear in the middle of winter. But in some ways it doesn’t – it all depends on being prepared for what might come at you.
Below, we’ve tried to give an overview of the different kind of paddlewear available, and when it might be suitable and are more than happy to chat with you in more detail about your individual needs!
There are a variety of companies offering fabric options for kayaking and paddleboarding such as Vaikobi, one of our favourites. Chosen by some of the world’s top paddlers and companies like surfski world champion Sean Rice, Epic and Think, this great line has a number of paddle-optimising choices. Click here to see more details!
With warm and cool layers for different conditions, the stitching is all flatlocked to avoid chafing, and the breathable panels under the arms keep you cool when you need to be. The best thing is how intelligent the designs are for paddlers – no zips or awkward panels where you sit for example. All in all, super comfy with high functionality.
Somewhat heavier duty and therefore warmer are the layers available from NRS. Our video gives you some more details about this popular paddlewear. The thin 0.5mm neoprene is ideal for paddling because its flexibility allows full paddling action, again with flatlock seams for no chafe comfort.
Neoprene is great for paddling because it insulates well when wet, locks in warmth and also provides protection from sun and wind. There are a whole lot of options from NRS – shorts, capris, leggings, tops and zip jackets and you can find details on our website.
Traditional Farmer John and Jane wetsuits are designed for some level of immersion – the thicker neoprene insulates well and also adds buoyancy. The sleeveless design means you have full movement for paddling. The downside of a wetsuit is the restriction of the full body length, but if there is a chance of immersion in cold water then these are a great choice.
Paddling suits and drysuits
For times when you are expecting prolonged immersion, or have greater risk of doing so, a paddling suit or drysuit is the best method of protecting yourself from the risk of hypothermia. Staying dry gives you a much greater chance of surviving, particularly if you insulate well under the drysuit with wool or fleece layers. Our favourite brand is Kokatat as they have the best reputation and are one of the oldest companies out there.
A paddling suit is usually lighter weight than a full drysuit, and may not have latex gaskets at the neck like a drysuit does. Therefore for occasions where your risk of immersion is low but you still want to be protected, a lightweight suit is a great option, but is no substitute for investing in a full drysuit when needed. Remember that to maintain your drysuit, protecting it is essential to keep it in good condition! Using a product like 303 Protectorant really prolongs the life of your suit, an excellent idea when you make such an investment.