Essential Pieces to Build a Kayak Outfit Women Need

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Wearing comfortable kayaking gear is always crucial for a great day of fresh air out on the water, especially for women. Here’s how to put together a kayak outfit women can wear on their next adventure.

Whether you plan to head out in warm weather, cold weather, or something in between, our kayaking outfit suggestions will put you on the right track.

Creating a Paddling Outfit for Women

Woman in a gray outfit ready to go kayaking

Once you start shopping for waterproof clothes and other items for kayaking, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of products on the market. 

The key to picking out the right outdoor products to make up your kayaking wardrobe is to think about versatility. 

You are bound to encounter varied conditions during your adventures, so having gear that can help you adapt to those conditions quickly is essential. Sometimes, you’ll have warm weather, warm water and only base layers will be needed, with no use for outer layers. On other days, or during other parts of the same day, an outer layer will be a necessity to stay warm.

So, as you read through the content below, and then as you head out shopping for the right clothing, keep versatility and flexibility near the top of your mind– what items can offer extra warmth when needed but then be stowed away at other times? 

The best outdoor gear is there when you need it but not in the way when you don’t. Build a versatile kayaking wardrobe and you’ll be a much happier paddler.

Women’s Kayaking Rash Guard

Woman with brown hair wearing a gray rash guard for kayaking

The best place to start our discussion of kayaking apparel is with the rashguard. These kinds of shirts may be the most important piece for paddling because they are meant to get wet, they stay comfortable throughout a long day on the water, and most offer UV protection. On a nice day, a rashguard will likely be all you need for a top, but it can also work well as a base layer on cooler days when you are going to add a paddling jacket on top.

So, what should you look for when picking out a rashguard? 

We’d recommend long sleeves as a starting point since your arms can take some abuse while paddling your boat throughout the day. Of course, if you often go out in hot weather, you might want to own long sleeve and short sleeve rashguards so you can pick the right one for the day. Also, rashguard with a half zip down the front can help you cool down as the temperatures pick up.

Paddling Shorts for Women

Woman wearing paddling shorts ready to kayak

With a rashguard serving as your top, a quality pair of paddling shorts for women is a good way to round out your base layers. 

The specific type of shorts you decide to purchase will depend on what you find comfortable, how you like to dress, and what you plan on doing during the day other than paddling in your kayak. 

Some of the best options to serve as paddling shorts include board shorts, general workout shorts (not cotton), or even bikini bottoms for hot days.

If you are likely to head out on your kayak when the weather forecast is a little bit short of ideal, consider having some pants – or at least capris – available in your wardrobe, as well. 

Some waterproof pants will help you stay comfortable in your boat on those colder days when the splashes from the paddle are just a little too refreshing. You could even wear long underwear under your waterproof pants if it is going to be particularly cold.

Wetsuit Jacket

Black and yellow wetsuit jacket spring wetsuit

Speaking of refreshing water conditions, you are likely to find some occasions to go kayaking where your rashguard alone is not enough to protect your upper body. 

On those days, it’s a waterproof jacket that you’ll need to have close at hand. A good jacket for kayaking is one that fits relatively close to your body so it doesn’t get caught on the paddle or the sides of your kayak. 

Also, it should be fully waterproof such as would be the case with Gore Tex, insulating, and offer significant warmth when zipped all the way up. On some days, this jacket is going to be essential from start to finish, as it will simply be too cold to do without it. However, this can also be a great outer layer to peel off as the temperature and water warm up during the day. 

Start with your jacket on top and your rashguard underneath early in the morning and take the jacket off later when it’s no longer required.

Kayaking Gloves

Woman wearing black kayaking gloves in a yellow kayak

It would be easy to overlook the importance of wearing gloves when kayaking. And, to be sure, you don’t have to wear gloves to have a good time on the water. We strongly recommend them, however, as there are several benefits that come along with wearing paddling gloves, and they are an affordable piece to add to your collection.

Get a Better Grip

The first motivation to buy and wear a pair of gloves is to maintain a good grip on your paddle throughout the day. There is little that is more frustrating in a kayak than continually losing your paddle (thank goodness for paddle floats!) and having to pull it back into the boat. Since your hands are sure to be wet, it can be hard to grip the paddle with just bare hands – so some grippy gloves are a big upgrade.

Keep Your Fingers Warm

Even if you are going out to paddle on a nice day, the water will probably be cold at the start and your fingers may feel frozen around the paddle as a result. 

It’s hard to remain comfortable and enjoy the experience when you can’t feel your fingers. If you are using gloves for warmth, you might find that you only wear them for part of the day – start with the gloves on until you get your blood flowing and you warm up, then peel them off for a while if you wish.

Avoid Painful Blisters

It’s also common for kayakers – especially on long trips – to accumulate significant blisters as the paddle strokes add up. 

Yet again, this is where paddling gloves come to the rescue. You won’t necessarily be “blister-proof” when you wear your gloves, but it will be much easier to avoid such a painful outcome. For best results, make sure your paddling gloves fit properly and break them in a little bit before going out on a long trip.

Kayaking Accessories for Women

Teal blue kayaking shoes for women

There are plenty of other items you can add as accessories to your wardrobe that will make you more comfortable and improve your experience in a kayak. 

Water Shoes

No, you don’t have to own water shoes to paddle a kayak, but they certainly do make life easier. Your feet will be more comfortable resting on the pegs in your boat, and getting out to walk around will be a more enjoyable experience. Also, water shoes can keep your feet warm, which is just as important as keeping your hands warm in some gloves. A quality pair of water shoes can last for many years so this is a purchase you may only need to make once.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD) 

Of course, a personal flotation device is another item that you’ll need to have with you on the kayak, and this one isn’t optional. 

When shopping for your PFD, find one that will fit your body securely while not getting in the way of your paddling motion. This is not a good place to skimp on your budget and get something that isn’t going to be safe or comfortable to wear. Buy a good one and make sure it is the first thing you pack for each trip.

Kayak Spray Skirt

Finally, adding a spray skirt is something that is optional but you might want to have it on hand for certain days. No, this isn’t technically clothing, but spray skirts are worn around your body so it’s fair enough to include in our list. The benefits of using a spray skirt are many, including keeping water out of your kayak and keeping the bright sun off your legs during the course of the day.

Building Your Kayaking Outfit

While picking out new kayaking clothing will never be as fun as heading out for a day on the water, you can enjoy the process of building a great kayaking wardrobe for the upcoming season. 

There are many benefits to be enjoyed by shopping wisely for your paddling gear, and we hope this article helps to point you toward an ideal kayak outfit for women. 

Have fun out there!

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