Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

Kayaking is a thrilling and fun outdoor activity that allows you to get some exercise while interacting with nature.

The purpose of this blog post is to answer the question: Will I get wet kayaking?

You’ll learn what to wear on your body, what to bring along for a paddle, and how to stay warm (or cool on a hot day) while paddling, as well as some safety tips.

Do you get wet when kayaking?

During a kayak trip in the sea, a woman wearing a red life jacket enjoys herself

It’s a guarantee that you’ll get wet while kayaking. It doesn’t matter how much water splashes on you; you will get wet.

Although the air may feel warm, it’s important to remember that the water is probably very cold.

Moreover, the water is unforgiving. The sooner you get out of the water after falling into it, the better off you will be.


  • If you paddle in the water, make sure your kayaking outfit keeps you dry, warm, and warm for as long as possible.
  • It is a smart idea to bring extra dry clothing as well as a water-resistant towel so you can change into your spare outfit should you get wet.
  • In the case of harsh weather, ensure you have more than one layer of water-resistant clothing. You might consider wearing neoprene socks or booties, waterproof gloves, and balaclavas/neck gaiters.
  • When you walk along the waterside, wear water shoes or water sandals to protect your feet if you step on rocks.
  • Dress appropriately for the water temperature when kayaking, and ensure your clothes don’t restrict your movement.


  • Many insects and creatures might bite you if you are kayaking at dusk, dawn, or night. The water might be too dark to see where you are heading.
  • Cotton clothing gets very heavy when wet and can result in hypothermia.
  • There is likely to be rough water if there is a storm warning, so don’t attempt kayaking if you see one. Keep an eye on your water level. The most sensible thing to do if the water level is high is to choose another activity.
  • It is dangerous to attempt kayaking if there is a water discharge or a storm warning, as water levels might rise and make kayaking unsafe.

Don’t panic

Remember to stay calm if you fall in. The water could get a lot colder very quickly, so get out of the water as quickly as possible.

Taking a fall into cold water can also result in serious injuries compared to one on dry land.

Check your clothes carefully after you have exited the water. As soon as possible, remove the damp ones and replace them with dry ones.

Colder weather kayaking

A female kayaker paddles in a bay in a tropical paradise

When kayaking in colder areas, such as the UK or Canada, there is a need to dress for the weather conditions. You should keep several layers of clothing on at all times.

When planning on heading out in the evening, be sure to also bring a change of clothes.

It is important to have dry clothes on hand at all times, since prolonged exposure to water can lead to hypothermia and other cold-related illnesses.

Put on a wetsuit

Wear appropriate clothing, such as a wetsuit, if your body will be submerged in water or exposed to colder temperatures for more than 30 minutes continuously.

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No matter how much of your body you cover with a wetsuit, a very high level of sun exposure is possible.

Make sure to wear warm clothing on top, such as fleece or wool clothing, since the top half of your body will still get cold.

You can wear a wetsuit for extra warmth and protection, but it should not restrict your movement, so ensure the suit you buy is not too tight.

Cotton clothing

If you are kayaking, avoid wearing cotton clothing, as it will absorb water and become heavier, hindering your movement.

You should replace clothing made from cotton with synthetic or wool materials that can keep you warm even when wet.

A waterproof camera

If you plan to take pictures of your kayaking trip, you should carry a waterproof camera. In contrast to digital cameras, they are less susceptible to water damage, and they have a greater chance of surviving a fall into cold water.

How do you not get wet while kayaking?

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

What can you do to get a dry kayaking experience is to try to implement some of the following tips:

  • Avoid water sports during a storm.
  • Try kayaking on a warm day when it’s not raining, and there isn’t any chance of thunderstorms or lightning in sight.
  • Wear athletic clothing to avoid getting wet, like wicking clothes that will keep you dry and won’t weigh you down.
  • Always wear a life jacket, and bring an extra one in case yours gets wet.
  • Bring towels to dry yourself off with after getting out of the kayak.
  • Don’t stand up or move around while you’re on the water; stay seated at all times for maximum safety. In fact, it’s best to practice your paddling strokes while on land before you hit the water.

You can also:

Try another paddle.

Grooves on paddles help paddlers get more power out of each stroke. 

However, these paddles pose a problem in that water can easily get trapped inside them and then travel down to your lap from there. 

If you do nothing about it, it will quickly become frustrating. You should replace your paddle if you feel water running down it while paddling. 

There are paddles with concave designs that won’t have this problem, and you can also find paddles without grooves, which might make paddling difficult. 

You can find out if your paddle is the problem by asking yourself if you are getting wet. 

If your kayak and paddle are set up properly, this shouldn’t happen if you normally paddle, though it may happen when there is a lot of wind or rain. 

It is time to try a brand-new paddle if these problems keep happening no matter what you do. 

Water tends to accumulate in these grooves during each paddle movement, allowing the water to fall down the paddle’s shaft and into your lap. 

Try drip rings.

Use drip rings (also called paddle drip guards) as another option. Usually, these are installed by placing them on the paddle’s shaft and sliding them down, usually about three inches from each end.

As they extend toward your hands on either side, they widen out like a funnel, catching any water that would otherwise slip down the shaft.

It is key, however, to not get your drip rings wet when paddling, or else you may end up soaked.

In the case of heavy rain, you can also try wearing a rain jacket. Most of them have zippered sleeves so you can slip your arms through them and stay dry.

Try a longer paddle.

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

With a shorter paddle angle, water is more likely to run down the shaft.

There is a reasonable chance you will be swimming a lot in your kayak during an extended paddling session. When it’s cold, this can soak through your clothing and make you uncomfortable.

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You can avoid this problem by using a longer paddle. It is easier to adjust the angle with shorter or smaller rotations when paddling for an extended period.

In difficult conditions, this reduces the amount of water that pours into the kayak and onto you.

Consider getting a paddle that is longer than the typical kayak paddle if you are looking for a new one.

Try a spray skirt.

The final tip is to use a spray skirt if you own a sit-in kayak and want to reduce the amount of water that comes onto your lap.

A spray skirt is 100 percent waterproof, so it prevents water from splashing onto your lap during kayaking trips.

The material is thin and flexible and covers the cockpit while securing your lower body in place.

The only downfall is their weight. Once you’ve finished paddling for the day, it can be physically taxing to bring them inside.

When you own a sit-in kayak but want some water to come into your lap (e.g., in choppy water), a spray skirt can be an excellent solution to your kayaking woes.

Can you stay dry in a kayak?

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

Taking the proper precautions and splashing water can keep you dry in a kayak.

First, you need a windproof, water-resistant layer on top of an insulating, moisture-wicking layer next to your skin to keep you warm and comfortable.

Kayak dry tops are equipped with latex gaskets at the wrists and neck to keep you dry.

The splashes of water

In your kayak, avoid getting splashed with too much water since this will lead to a wet seat or backrest, in which case your next layer needs to be waterproof/resistant (not just resistant).

Spending time kayaking

You must have enough spare dry clothes around if you’re going kayaking for an extended period.

The paddling technique

Think about how you can change your paddle stroke to avoid splashes of water from the bow or stern in the future. That is, if they are coming from the bow or stern.

Do you get wet in a sit-on-top kayak?

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

Sit-on-tops are made for people who stay out of the water.

Any excess water that may enter your kayak can drain right back out through the scupper holes in these kayaks.

These holes will also let water pass through and keep you from getting wet.

When it rains or snows, you can see this. You’re less likely to get wet sitting on top of a sit-on-top kayak than sitting inside a kayak.

Due to the way they float in the water, sit-on-tops may be difficult to paddle and steer around obstacles if you are new to the sport.

As long as you have some experience with a single kayak or canoe before trying one out, you won’t have much trouble.

The learning curve for sit-on-tops is higher because they are more challenging to use, but that’s part of the fun.

Why do I get so wet when I kayak?

Since you are paddling with a short paddle, the angle you are paddling into the water is quite high.

If you lift your knees to turn or for a second glance behind you at this high angle, you may squirt water up into between your thighs.

Kayakers who are surrounded by a lot of others may find this particularly annoying.

The water that drips down the shaft is called “spray,” and if you paddle significantly for a long period, it won’t take long for your kayak to be full.

By using different types of paddles or adding a spray skirt, you can prevent this from happening.

Should you wear a swimsuit when kayaking?

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

No matter the water temperature, it remains a wise idea to wear water-resistant clothing when kayaking.

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Some people choose to wear a swimsuit as a first layer when paddling in warm conditions.

To ensure your comfort for the duration of your trip, simply follow the general guidelines above. Choose sports bras and underwear made of noncotton for outdoor activities.

If the water is cold or windy, wear water-resistant pants or shorts. In the winter, when it’s cold outside, people enjoy wearing water-resistant tights, as well as wool socks, to stay warm in their kayaks.

Make sure your hands are protected from water getting inside the boat by wearing water-resistant gloves.

Water shoes or flip flops will keep your feet safe from rocks, shells, and any other sharp objects underfoot when you’re kayaking during warm weather.

What should a beginner wear for kayaking?

Some of the kayak clothing tips are:

  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while in the water and never remove it.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen.

Some of the kayak clothing choices are:

  • Make sure you layer your clothes, especially on top.
  • When spending an extended period in extremely cold water, always wear a wetsuit or drysuit.
  • Don’t dress for the air temperature; rather, dress for the water temperature; this may mean wearing a wetsuit or drysuit.

Some pieces of kayaking kit are:

  • PFDs that fit properly and are approved by the US Coast Guard (Type III).
  • An emergency survival kit.
  • A bottle of water (preferably a kayak-compatible one).
  • Wear a hat or visor to protect yourself from the sun.
  • A pair of sunglasses with anti-fog coating and UVA/UVB lenses are recommended over prescription glasses because they’re more comfortable, stay in place better when wet, don’t fog up, and are less likely to break.
  • When in use, a deck bag is for storing items in the kayak that do not impede paddling.
  • A sunscreen lotion with SPF 30+ that is waterproof.
  • A bandana or a sun hat.

How to optimize your kayak seat and floor for dryness?

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

Consider these modifications to the kayak’s seating and flooring to maximize dryness:

  • Kayak seats that are adjustable offer the highest level of customization.
  • Do not enter a sit-on-kayak until it has been fully inflated to its maximum capacity. Whenever you accidentally damage a kayak, call a kayak repair service.
  • When kayaking for long periods and getting out of your kayak, plug the paddle flooring holes with self-draining scupper plugs so the water will drain when you get the kayak on land.
  • If you own an inflatable kayak, you should consider installing a new seat because it can deflate and cause damage to the kayak.
  • When kayaking for extended periods, bring a kayak sponge to clean up any dirt or debris on the kayak’s surface. Be sure to bring along a bilge pump as well, since the kayak may develop leaks over time.
  • A fishing kayak has a high seat.

Does the type of kayak influence how wet I get? 

Will I Get Wet While Kayaking - Will I Get Wet While Kayaking? (Do’s and Don’ts)

Because the boat covers more of your body than sit-in kayaks, they naturally keep you drier.

Kayaks with sit-on-tops are the wettest to paddle in because your body is completely exposed to being splashed by waves and hit by drips from paddles.

Start with sit-in kayaks if you’re just getting into kayaking. As you learn how to paddle properly, you’ll stay drier and more stable.

Inflatable kayaks can also protect the elements since they are completely enclosed on all sides, including the front and back of the kayak.

Do beginners benefit more from sit-in models? Yes, generally speaking! In choppy water, sit-in kayaks provide full coverage (front to back and side to side), keeping you drier.

However, some people find it too challenging to exit in a hurry if the water gets too rough or they feel like jumping into the water.

Last updated on June 19, 2022 by Duncan Barrett

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