What to Wear Kayaking In Summer: Complete Kayaking Outfit Ideas

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If you’re new to the sport of kayaking, you may be wondering what you should wear. Is there such thing as a kayaking outfit? Like any other sport, dressing properly for kayaking will help you maximize your performance and brave the elements, so you can stay in your kayak for longer periods. You’ll also get more enjoyment from the sport.

To help you choose the right kayak outfit, we’re letting you know what features to look for in every piece of kayaking attire, from your head right down to your toes. We’ve also made some clothing recommendations from Amazon, to give you an idea of what to look for. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Related Post: Best Kayaks Under $500


When swimming on a hot summer day, yes, the water can feel very refreshing. But when you’re sitting on a kayak for an extended period, your body is vulnerable to the sun’s rays, so it’s crucial that you wear the proper head protection.

What To Look For? 

  1. A sun hat. I suggest getting a sun hat for kayaking this summer. With the adjustable drawstrings, they easily fit everyone, and some allow you to clip up the sides when it’s windy. 
  1. Protection from the sun’s UV rays. A sun hat with a wide brim will protect your face and your ears from the sun’s harsh rays much more than say, a baseball cap.
  1. Wide brim. When getting a sun hat, you’ll want one that has at least a 4-inch brim. This will give you a good amount of coverage from the sun, especially if you have shorter hair and your neck is more exposed. 
  1. Water-resistant. Many sun hats are made to be water-resistant or at least quick to dry.

Mesh Sunhat

This sunhat is windproof, gives you UV protection, and has adjustable drawstrings to fit you securely. The mesh material on our featured sun hat makes it very breathable. It also dries quickly and is stain resistant. 

Fishing Hat

This sunhat is made for both men and women, is breathable, and has adjustable drawstrings. If it’s super windy out on the water, you can snap up the sides! You also get UV protection, and it’s lightweight. 


Sunglasses are next on our list of best attire for kayaking. Your eyes also need protection from the glare of the sun. A quality pair of polarized sunglasses can also improve your ability to see without squinting when out on the water.

What to look for?

  1. UV protection. Alway choose polarized sunglasses with proper UV protection.
  1. Lens color. This is more personal preference and comfort than safety. You can get sunglasses with a darker, lighter, cooler, or warmer toned tint for the lens. If you’re kayaking later in the day, you may want a lens that doesn’t darken your surroundings, but if it’s broad daylight, a darker lens may be more effective in blocking out the sun.
  1. Face shape. Our featured sunglasses are suitable for most face shapes, but of course, this is a common concern when shopping. Different frame shapes are made for specific face shapes, and you can research yours and then shop for that specific shaped frame.
  1. Consider over-sized glasses. Getting a pair of shades with larger frames/lenses will give you added protection from the sun and much less chance from harmful UV rays. 

Polarized Sunglasses

Choose both the frame and lens color of these unisex sunglasses, depending on your preference. These shades give you 100% UV protection and eliminate any glares. They are also durable and suitable for most face shapes. 

These shades are also for both men and women. They’re durable, with an HD lens, have a darker tint in the lens, making them perfect for bright summer days. 


When kayaking, it may be more comfortable to wear a more fitted shirt and avoid getting it caught or ripping. So let’s discuss what to look for. 

What to look for? 

  1. How it fits. When shopping for a rashguard, there are two main types. You can get one that’s more tight-fitted or loose-fitted if you’re doing a more intense, fast-paced activity. The tighter fit, the better. Kayaking is quite relaxed, so a more loose-fitted rash guard is best and more comfortable. 
  1. Does it dry quickly? If the rash guard you’re shopping for is made well of high-quality material, it should dry quickly or even be water-resistant. If that’s something you want, keep an eye out for that.
  1. Style. You can get a rash guard with long or short sleeves, and that is entirely up to you. If you live somewhere really hot in the summer, shorter sleeves may be the better option! You can also find rash guards with cool logos/designs and vibrant colors! 
  1. Good coverage. If you have shorter hair, your neck is more exposed to the sun. I suggest getting a rash guard with a more extended collar on the neck that zips up, which will prevent any sunburn on the back of your neck and chest area. 

Kanu Surf Women’s Keri Longsleeve

These Kanu Surf rash guards are both the same, only one is women’s, and one is men’s. These rash guards are fast to dry, have UV protection, high quality, a tighter fit, and a cool logo! 

Kanu Surf Men’s Longsleeve


Next on the list are shorts for canoeing or kayaking. When sitting in a kayak, you will want loose-fitted shorts to maximize comfort, especially in the heat. You don’t want shorts that are too tight. 

What to look for? 

  1. Quick-drying. Your shorts are more likely to get wet, sitting in the kayak and being closer to the water. Look for a pair that are quick to dry or water-resistant!
  1. Avoid strong elastic. When sitting, if your shorts have a thick, strong elastic band in the waist, they can dig into your stomach and feel very uncomfortable. I suggest looking for a lighter elastic in the waist, or even just a drawstring. 
  1. Inseam. When buying swim shorts, look for ones with shorter inseams. Otherwise, longer inseams can cause your shorts to pull down as you walk. 
  1. The length. Typically, the best length for swim shorts is above the knee or thigh area. This gives you more comfort movement and keeps you cooler. 

Women’s Board Shorts

These shorts have adjustable drawstrings and elasticized waistbands for comfort. They’re lightweight and not see-through! These shorts have a velcro side pocket as well, to keep anything small. 

Men’s Swim Shorts

High on our list of men’s kayaking clothes are these quick-drying, comfortable, and adjustable shorts. You get side pockets, a back pocket, and a flexible waistband. These shorts’ length is right above the knee and gives you a loose, comfortable fit.


Yow may be wondering what shoes to wear kayaking in summer. The key is to choose a pair of kayaking sandals or water shoes that are both waterproof and lightweight. They should also fit comfortably while you are sitting in your kayak.

What to look for? 

  1. Style. I suggest water shoes for any activity on or in the water. They can be sandals or even crocs depending on your preference.
  1. Able to drain water quickly. You don’t want shoes that hold water. It can be an uncomfortable feeling stepping in or out of your kayak with drenched shoes, even if they’re made for it. Choose a pair that is quick to dry.
  1. Breathable. You can get water shoes or sandals with mesh material and holes, like crocs. This allows the water to drain and keeps your feet ventilated while you paddle.
  1. Secure fit. You don’t want water shoes that are too tight or too loose-fitting, they should fall somewhere in the middle – perfectly snug. A pair that fits securely in the water but fits comfortably.

Women’s Closed-Toe Water Shoes

Here’s a pair of water shoes that will fit securely while staying comfortable. The closed-toe on the front will help protect your feet from rocks or other sharp objects on the bottom of the lake or river. These shoes are also quick-drying, water-resistant, and machine washable! 

Men’s Crocs Mesh Water Shoes

Crocs are famous for being breathable, comfortable, water-friendly, and lightweight. These shoes are designed to channel water away, which helps them dry very quickly. They provide ample protection when stepping out of your kayak.

Life Jackets 

It’s no secret that a life jacket is essential when you’re out on the water. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, you should always have a life jacket with you when out on the water. For kayaking, choose a lifejacket that is compact and lightweight, and will allow for maximum maneuverability while paddling.

What to look for? 

  1. Head support. Life jackets can be uncomfortable if you don’t get the right fit, so finding one with a larger collar will give you more head support and comfort. 
  1. Buckles in the front. Adjustable buckles in the front of your life jacket allow you to fit it more securely and make it much safer. 
  1. Reflective tape. This one is important because it helps you be more easily seen out on the water, especially for kids and at night.
  1. Safety straps. A lot of life jackets have, or should have, one safety strap between the legs, which stops the jacket from going over your head. This can be something for adults to look for, especially for children, as they are much smaller and fragile. 

Men’s Superlight Life Jacket

This life jacket is anti-impact, shock absorbent, wear-resisting, and has oversized armholes to give you more movement. It’s also durable and has a comfortable neckline/collar. It’s designed specifically for watersports like wakeboarding or jetskiing, but the lightweight, compact design is also ideal for kayaking.

Women’s Life Jacket

This life jacket has a zipper and two buckles on the front to give you a more secure fit, and the vibrant purple color makes you easily seen. The material is lightweight, breathable, and fast-drying. 


High SPF sunblock is crucial when you’re spending time out on the water. Even on a partially cloudy day, your skin can easily burn without the proper protection. I’ve listed some key features of good quality sunblock below.

What to look for? 

  1. High-SPF. You will want a sunscreen with a high SPF. You’ll want at least SPF 30 (I recommend SPF 50) to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 
  1. Non-greasy. The most annoying thing about sunscreen is when it stays feeling greasy on your face. You can find many that are non-greasy/oily.
  1. Suitable for sensitive skin. For those of you with sensitive skin, you’ll want to find a sunscreen that is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.
  1. Know your skin type. There are sunscreens made for different skin types. You can get one for dry skin, combination to oily, or normal. Use caution, if the sunblock isn’t suited to your skin type, you may find it irritating and uncomfortable.

SPF 50+ Sunscreen Lotion

This is a water-resistant sunblock, fragrance-free, non-greasy, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist recommended for anyone with sensitive skin. This particular brand is suitable for wearing under makeup and is made for normal to combination skin.

Lip Protection

Like sunblock, the right lip protection is essential. My favorite brand is Blistex, (there are many good options) as it has a high SPF to protect from the sun’s UV rays. 

What to look for? 

  1. High SPF. You can find lip chaps that contain SPF to protect your lips and prevent them from being dry/chapped. 
  1. Moisturizing. Look for a lip balm that contains shea butter, beeswax, lanolin, or white petrolatum. These ingredients will hydrate and moisturize your lips. 
  1. Scent. If you want a lip chap with a nice scent, there are many options, even mint. Or, if you’d prefer, you can get one that is regular or scent-free. 
  1. Multi-pack. I prefer to purchase lip chaps in a multipack. You can get a pack of two or more for a great price, and that way, it ensures that you’ll always have extra.  

Blistex Lip Balm

These lip balms include SPF 15 sun protection. They’re long-lasting and will keep your lips moisturized and hydrated while out in the sun. 

How to stay comfortable out on the water in the heat

It can be hard to stay cool and comfortable in the summer, especially when you’re outside for long periods. Here are some additional tips that will let you spend more time in your kayak.

1. Stay hydrated. Always bring a water bottle with you outdoors in the summer, especially swimming or kayaking. Even though you’re in the water, it will tire you out so much, especially with the sun reflecting off of the water.

2. Bring a hat. Keeping your head shaded from the sun will make your whole body feel less hot and cool down.

3. Wear the right clothes. For bottoms, I suggest loose-fitted shorts and tops for kayaking, for maximum breathability. Of course, if you’re planning to swim, fitted clothing is best.

Best Attire for Kayaking: Summary

There you have it, our list of head-to-toe kayaking outfit ideas to help you prepare for your next kayaking adventure! Remember that the clothing recommendations we’ve made here are not only suitable for kayaking, but they are also ideal water sports attire for other activities, like wakeboarding, tubing, or even jet skiing. If you’re also looking for an affordable kayak, check out our list of the best kayaks under $300! Thanks for reading and make sure to share this with your family and friends! 

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