Author: PaddleZone   Date Posted:4 September 2023 

What To Wear When Kayaking - A Beginner's Guide main image What To Wear When Kayaking - A Beginner's Guide image


What To Wear When Kayaking - A Beginner's Guide


With Summer just around the corner, now is the time to be planning your next kayaking adventure.  

If you’re new around here, kayaking is one of one of our most accessible watersports, and it’s easy to see why. Kayaking is very rewarding and one of the best ways to explore Australia’s beautiful waterways. 

But, before you hit the water, you’ll need something to wear that’s comfortable and well-suited for the conditions. Kayaking also requires a certain level of mobility so it’s important to choose clothing that won’t restrict your movement. 

Whether you’re kayaking for exercise, sport or adventure, we’ve compiled some tips and must-haves for first-timers and seasoned kayakers alike. This guide has everything you need to stay confident and safe on the water.


Lightweight Fabrics

Kayaking is a full-body workout. From repetitive arm movement to core rotation, you’d be surprised at just how many muscles are engaged. Even your legs get a workout from bracing and balancing in the kayak.

With that in mind, the last thing you want is to be burdened by heavy, non-breathable clothing that leaves you sweaty and uncomfortable. Lightweight fabrics wick away moisture, helping you stay dry and cool even as you work up a sweat. They also dry quickly, which is a significant advantage if you get splashed or encounter unexpected rain.

Gear up for your next kayaking adventure with lightweight short and long-sleeve tees stocked by PaddleZone. Check out our range of clothing and kayak accessories today. 


The Right Sun Protection

While the Australian climate is ideal for outdoor activities, it's very important to stay mindful of the sun. In Summer and Spring, the UV rating regularly reaches high, very high and extreme. So, when you’re enjoying the great outdoors, make sure to wear all the recommended clothing and protection.

We’re all familiar with the term ‘slip slop slap’, but what are some of the must-haves for kayaking? These days, you can buy everything from sun protection gloves to tees, long-sleeve tops, caps, visors, neck gaiters, and much more. These clothes are purpose-made for kayaking and offer great resistance to harmful UV rays.

Let’s explore some of the best options for UV resistance now:


UV Resistant Tops

Just like sunscreen, clothing can also have a UV rating. UPF 50+ clothing shields you from harmful UV rays and remains one of the most effective forms of protection against sun damage. In addition, they are also purpose-designed to keep you comfortable when paddling in warm to hot conditions. 

You can buy short-sleeved, long-sleeved or even add-on arm protectors. Remember, putting on the right top could save you from a serious sunburn!



Extend your day on the water with a hat designed for maximum sun protection. Shading your face with a wide-brimmed hat is essential. Bonus points if your hat has the following features:

  • Chin strap
  • Mesh for breathability and drainage when wet
  • Stiff front brim to stop to combat windy conditions 
  • Storage pocket 
  • Removable Flap on the back for extra neck protection
  • Quick dry fabric
  • Black on the underside of the brim to minimise glare from the water


Polarised Sunglasses 

Often an overlooked kayak accessory, sunglasses can be the difference between a good day and a great day on the water. Without a good pair of sunnies with high UV protection, you risk discomfort and potential damage to your eyes from relentless sun exposure. 

‘What’s the difference between polarised and non-polarised sunglasses?’ This is a fairly common question. Polarised sunglasses are specially designed to reduce glare from surfaces like water, effectively reducing reflections and improving visibility. Although they’re a little pricier, the payoff is crystal clear vision. 


Sun Protection

Although sunscreen is an effective barrier, it's never a bad idea to double up. A purpose-made facemask, along with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, will be the perfect combo for a day of kayaking.

Neck gaiters are one of the most common types of sun protection, a great option for kayak fishing or if you spend a long time on the water. Beyond all-day UV SPF protection, gaiters are also breathable, quick drying and sweat absorbent. If you want to give them a test run, you can always head over to a local store and try them on in person. 


A Good Pair of Gloves

There are generally two main reasons to wear gloves while kayaking. The first is friction. Without a sturdy pair of gloves, the natural friction between your hands and the paddle can leave you with painful blisters. Buying kayaking gloves, therefore, helps to keep you protected and pain-free.

The second major reason relates to weather. As we touched on earlier, UV protection is essential for anyone who’s planning to be out there paddling for lengthy periods of time. If you’re hitting the water near Melbourne or other colder areas, gloves will also keep you nice and warm.

All in all, kayaking gloves are a simple way to stay comfortable and protected. 


Kayaking Boots

When paddling, you want footwear that will keep you well protected. Usually constructed of neoprene (like a wetsuit), kayak boots or socks are snug, slip and water-resistant, lightweight, and comfortable. Boots are also suitable for rafting, portaging, wading, fishing, sailing and other water activities. 

PaddleZone has an impressive range of kayak boots and kayak accessories available both in-store and online. 

If you’re not ready to commit to kayaking boots, aim for a lightweight water shoe that is lightweight with water-resistant materials. Sneakers are another ideal option, although the most important thing is for them to stay comfortably on your feet.


Kayaking Shorts and Pants

Whether you’re paddling for sport, leisure or adventure, you want to be as comfortable as possible. This is why we always recommend investing in a suitable pair of pants or shorts. Over recent years, clothing brands have improved their designs to make kayaking gear more comfortable and user-friendly than ever before.

Today’s kayaking pants and shorts come with flexible fabrics, padding, in-built temperature regulation and many other innovative features. In terms of clothing, these are a staple for anyone who kayaks on a regular basis. You can even switch back and forth between the two depending on the paddling conditions and weather. 


Comfortable and Safe Life Jackets (PFD’s)

If you’re a beginner (and hey, we all have to start somewhere), a fitted life jacket is non-negotiable. A life jacket, also known as a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or buoyancy vest, will help keep you afloat if you end up in the water. With that in mind, it’s important to be aware of the different types and features available. 


Inflatable PFD

Whether you’re in a single kayak or a tandem kayak, inflatable life jackets (PFD’s) are compact, adjustable and a great way to maximise space. Kayak Fishing Paddlers often choose inflatable PFDs for their comfy design and less restrictive feel compared to regular life jackets.


Rigid PFD 

A Rigid PFD is much more common and suitable for ocean, touring, and recreational kayak use. These PFDs are a little more practical when compared to their inflatable counterparts, and also come with a range of features, even bright colours for visibility purposes. 

Even if you’re using a recreational kayak you'll need a jacket that is both the right size and suitable for the activity. Before you head out paddling browse the range of PFDs and kayak accessories at PaddleZone. 

Here at PaddleZone, we recommend that you always wear a PFD while out on the water.

Other Essentials


You’ll be surprised at just how much you can pack into a single kayak. Here’s a quick snapshot of the extra kayak accessories you can bring along:

  • Reusable water bottles to stay hydrated 
  • Waterproof bag for keys and phone
  • SPF sunscreen and lip balm
  • Binoculars for sightseeing
  • Carabiners are useful for clipping items to your kayak
  • Emergency communication devices
  • Rescue Throw Bag and rope


For all this and much more, check out PaddleZone’s great range of kayak accessories


Explore PaddleZone’s Great Range of Kayak Accessories


Still unsure what type of clothing you need? Feel free to pop by your local PaddleZone store today. We have locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle and the Gold Coast. Our stores are all run by experienced and enthusiastic paddlers who will be more than happy to take you through the kayak clothing range. 

At PaddleZone, you can get your hands on gloves, pants, headwear, tops, and an extensive range of paddle boards, kayak accessories, kayaks and canoes. 

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