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Sea Kayaking clothes for Warm Weather

Going sea kayaking but not sure what to wear? 

what to wear sea kayakingI've spent four summers guiding expedition sea kayaking treks, and over those many hundreds of miles, I've tested lots of clothing options and found what works the best, and what to avoid.

sea kayaking outfit paddling clothes
Me in what has become my sea kayaking "uniform"


During these trips, I learned what was essential, what was a luxury, and what just got in the way. I took just the basics, although I sacrificed extra clothing for a few creature comforts. I wear the same outfit every single day. The only changes in clothing were due to changes in weather. If I got chilly, I put on pants and a very light jacket. If it rained, I put on a rain jacket. Otherwise, I wore my long sleeve shirt and quick dry shorts every single day. I brought one change of clothes I kept clean to change into at the very end of the trip.

I tell my groups to get used to my outfit because it wouldn't change all week. They reacted by telling me how gross it was that I wore the same thing for 5 days. Your clothes will get dirty and smelly no matter if you wear them for one day or 5 days. If you're a bit muddy or your shirt starts to smell, you can always go for a dip in the ocean! Why bring extras when they're taking up valuable space for other things?

Essential Clothing
sea kayaking outfit
George wearing a Columbia Tamiami II shirt and
quick dry zip-off pants
  • Long sleeve, button up, quick dry shirt (no rash-guards!!)
  • 1 pair quick dry shorts + 1 pair quick dry long pants
OR
  • 1 pair of zip-off convertible quick dry pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Wide brimmed hat, that floats, with a string
  • Water shoes or sandals (I recommend: Keens, Vibram 5 Fingers, Chacos)
  • Bandana or buff
Optional Clothing
  • Swimsuit (note, your swimsuit will dry much more slowly than you quick dry clothes. I swim in my everyday clothes)
  • Rain pants (really only needed for when it rains while you aren't paddling, I never bring any- it's usually so warm I dry pretty quickly anyway)
  • Paddling gloves (may be good if you don't paddle much, I haven't used them)
  • Underwear (I don't wear any during my treks. just another layer of clothing to get and stay wet) if you bring any, make sure it dries fast
  • Light jacket if you're cold-natured

Specific Items I wear:
My Paddling Clothes


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