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What to wear when paddling

What to wear

This is a simple guide as to what to wear when out Canoeing, Kayaking or Suping.

Some General advice on what to wear

Please see below for detailed explenations.

 Paddle Boarding:

  • Shorts and rash vest on warm summers days
  • Wetsuit/Neoprene Pants plus a thermal top/Rash vest
  • A basic cag on top/touring cag when slightly colder
  • A dry suit for the winter with a one piece thermal
  • Grippy shoes



 Recreational paddling:

  • Shorts and rash vest on warm summers days
  • Wetsuit/Neoprene Pants plus a thermal top/Rash vest
  • A basic cag on top/touring cag when slightly colder
  • A dry suit for the winter with a one piece thermal
  • Grippy shoes



White Water Paddling:

  • Warm thermals
  • A dry suit or Top-quality cag and Dry trousers
  • Paddling shoes or boots on rocky terrain
  • A Buoyancy Aid with a chest harness (Only wear one if you know how to use it!)



 Sea Kayaking/Touring:

  • Touring Cag and dry trousers
  • Touring Dry suit on colder days
  • Paddling shoes
  • Warm thermals


 Gear Explained:


Cags vary from basic cags with Velcro adjustments at the wrists and neck to latex neck and wrist seals to keep water out. Necks seals can also be made out of neoprene which allows for a bit more comfort however isn’t quite as waterproof as a latex seal. Spending more money on a cag will get you a more durable cag with a tougher material. Top end cags will either be white water cags with latex seals or touring cags with a hood and no neck seal.

Dry trousers:

Dry trousers have variations. The most basic and so cheaper dry trousers come with neoprene ankle seal which are semi dry. Higher end dry trousers than feature socks keeping your feet completely dry. With a good cag you can make a complete seal and so keep your thermal underneath nice and dry.

Dry suit: 

Dry suits are the best piece of kit for keeping completely dry and nice and toastie. Do remember though it’s what you wear underneath that keeps you warm so make sure to invest in a good set of thermals. There are big variations in dry suits. Touring dry suits come with a hood and usually a neoprene neck seal. This means you will get some water inside your suit if your head was to go in the water. Other suits will have no twin waist to put the waist-tube of your spray deck under and so form a better seal. There is also slight differences in the design between companies and obviously build quality can be different. The design differences down to preference a big one to look and think about is the Zip and so how you enter your suit as well as your relief zip.


Shoes can vary in design massively. Ultimately the most important thing is the fit. Boots are the most durable and grippy however being less flexible and with thick soles can limit your connectivity with something like a paddle board. Shoes can vary as well, the thickness of the sole varying and how grippy the sole is changes with design.


 Wetsuits are a brilliant item of clothing keeping you warm while in the water. There however some limitations. What is important to remember is wetsuits only work when they are wet. This means they are more commonly worn by Paddle boarders! We do find that a full wetsuit can restrict your movement slightly. It may be worth checking out the Neoprene pants.

Neoprene Pants:

 These are great for allowing the flexibility your wetsuit won’t allow keeping your legs nice and warm.


 Your feet are always one of the first things to get cold. Luckily, we have some great socks to keep your feet warm. If you are wearing dry suit or dry trousers with waterproof socks, you’re are best to pop some thermal socks underneath. If this isn’t the case than a pair of neoprene socks under your shoes is best.  If however on the rare occasion you find you are only wearing socks (Freestyle or competitive kayaking) than grab yourself a pair of socks with reinforced soles.

Buoyancy Aids/PFD: 

Buoyancy Aids have a wide variation. The decisions to make is what you are using it for so what will you need. Fit of a Buoyancy Aid is always important. Things to look out for in a Buoyancy Aid are: Front entry or over the head, how many pockets they have, the ability to take a hydration bladder, a chest harness which is a safety feature for white water paddling.


 Your hands can get very cold quickly and are very important in our sport so it’s best to grab yourself a good pair of gloves/pogies. There is a vast range of different gloves/pogies. Pogies have the advantage of being attached to your paddle and your hands being inside them meaning you can still feel the connectivity with your paddle however, they don’t allow you to do other things than paddle with warm hands. Gloves do allow you to do many things with them however they can reduce the connectivity with your paddle.

Thermals, for under a dry suit:

 It’s extremely important have the layers under your dry suit right. Your dry suit is only as good as thermals underneath it. Under a dry suit it’s always best to wear a one-piece thermal suit as this will stop your thermals from rising up and being especially annoying.

 Other thermals:

 Thermal trousers and T-shirts/jumpers are great to pop under a cag or dry trousers keeping you nice and warm.

Rash Vests:

 Rash vests are great to pop under a wetsuit for an extra layer of warmth or to be worn on their own or under a basic cag for warmth.


These can be simple board shorts to shorts with a waterproof material and thermal lining.

Spray Decks:

 For thoughts on Spray decks please read our spray deck guide