Recommended Clothing For Kayak Camping Trips

Are you planning a kayak camping trip and wondering what clothing to bring along? Well, look no further! Here are some suggestions for the recommended clothing for your upcoming adventure.

First and foremost, it’s important to dress in layers. This allows you to adjust your clothing based on the weather conditions and your activity level. Start with a lightweight and moisture-wicking base layer that will keep you dry and comfortable. Add a fleece or down mid-layer for insulation and warmth, especially during chilly evenings. Finally, top it off with a waterproof and breathable outer layer to protect yourself from rain, wind, and splashes. Additionally, don’t forget to pack quick-drying pants or shorts, comfortable river shoes or sandals, and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection. With these clothing essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for a fantastic kayak camping trip!

Recommended Clothing For Kayak Camping Trips

1. Overview of Kayak Camping

What is kayak camping?

Kayak camping is a thrilling outdoor activity that combines two popular pastimes: kayaking and camping. It involves using a kayak as a mode of transportation to explore and reach remote camping destinations. Rather than hiking or driving to a campsite, kayak campers navigate through rivers, lakes, or coastal waters, carrying all their camping gear and supplies in their kayaks. It offers a unique opportunity to enjoy nature, experience the tranquility of water, and discover hidden gems that are inaccessible by other means.

Benefits and challenges of kayak camping

Kayak camping offers several benefits that make it an attractive adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. Firstly, it allows you to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the beauty of untouched wilderness. The serenity of paddling through calm waters and camping in secluded spots provides a rejuvenating experience. Additionally, kayak camping enables you to access remote areas that are inaccessible by other means, granting you the opportunity to explore hidden coves, secluded beaches, and pristine landscapes.

While kayak camping is a rewarding experience, it also presents unique challenges. The most significant challenge is the limited space available in a kayak for carrying gear and supplies. It requires careful consideration and strategic packing to ensure you have all the essentials without overloading the kayak. Another challenge is the unpredictable weather conditions that kayakers may encounter during their trips. It is crucial to be prepared for various weather scenarios and choose appropriate clothing and equipment to stay comfortable and safe.

2. Understanding Weather Conditions

How weather conditions affect clothing choices

When planning for a kayak camping trip, it is essential to consider the weather conditions you may encounter. Weather conditions can significantly impact your experience and comfort level during the trip. The primary concern when it comes to clothing choices is to stay dry, warm, and protected from the elements. Understanding the weather conditions will help you choose the appropriate clothing to ensure you stay comfortable throughout your trip.

For example, if you anticipate rain, it is crucial to have waterproof outer shells and quick-drying clothing to prevent moisture from seeping in and causing discomfort or, worse, hypothermia. In contrast, if you expect sunny and hot weather, choosing lightweight and breathable clothing with UV protection will help you stay cool and shielded from harmful sun rays. Therefore, understanding the anticipated weather conditions allows you to select the right clothing materials and layering system to adapt to the changing environment.

Checking weather forecasts and conditions

Before embarking on your kayak camping trip, it is essential to check the weather forecasts and current conditions for the area you plan to visit. This will give you an idea of what to expect and help you make informed decisions about the clothing and gear you will need. Several resources are available to obtain accurate and updated weather information, including websites, smartphone apps, and local authorities.

Keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly, especially on bodies of water, where wind and other factors can influence the climate. Continuously monitoring the weather conditions during your trip is crucial to adjust your clothing and make necessary adaptations to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

3. Layering System for Kayak Camping

Importance of layering

Layering is a critical aspect of choosing clothing for kayak camping. It involves wearing multiple layers of clothing that can be adjusted and removed as needed depending on the temperature and exertion level. Layering allows you to regulate body temperature and manage moisture effectively, ensuring comfort and warmth throughout your trip.

The layering system consists of three main layers: the base layer, mid-layer, and outer shell. Each layer serves a specific purpose in keeping you comfortable in different conditions. By understanding the function of each layer and choosing appropriate clothing for each category, you can enjoy your kayak camping adventure in varying weather conditions while remaining comfortable and protected.

Base layer

The base layer is the layer closest to your skin and serves as the foundation for the rest of your clothing system. Its primary purpose is moisture management. A good base layer should be made of moisture-wicking materials that pull sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and preventing chills caused by dampness.

For the base layer, opt for long-sleeved shirts made of synthetic or merino wool fabric. These materials are known for their excellent moisture-wicking properties and ability to regulate body temperature. Long thermal underwear made of similar materials is also recommended, particularly if you anticipate cold weather or plan to kayak camp during the colder months.

Another essential aspect of the base layer is the socks. Quick-drying socks made of synthetic or merino wool fibers are ideal for kayaking. They provide insulation, prevent blisters, and dry quickly in case your feet get wet.


The mid-layer is responsible for insulation and trapping body heat. It adds an extra layer of warmth to keep you comfortable during cooler temperatures. Fleece jackets or sweaters are excellent options for the mid-layer. Fleece is a lightweight and breathable material that provides insulation without adding bulk, making it perfect for kayaking trips.

In addition to fleece jackets or sweaters, consider packing synthetic or down vests for added warmth. Vests are versatile and allow for easy temperature regulation by either wearing them alone or layering them under a waterproof outer shell in colder conditions.

Thermal pants or leggings can also serve as a mid-layer for your lower body. Like the base layer, they should be made of moisture-wicking materials to keep you dry and comfortable during physical activities.

Outer shell

The outer shell acts as a barrier against wind, rain, and other external elements. It should be windproof, waterproof, and breathable to protect you from the elements while allowing moisture to escape.

Paddling jackets are an essential component of the outer shell for kayak camping. These jackets are specifically designed for water activities and provide excellent protection against wind and water. Look for jackets made of waterproof materials, with adjustable cuffs and hoods to keep water out.

Equally important are paddling pants, which offer similar protection for your lower body. These pants should be lightweight, quick-drying, and durable. Look for pants with reinforced knees and seat areas for added durability and protection.

For kayak camping in colder environments or during winter months, consider investing in a drysuit or wetsuit, depending on the water temperature. These specialized garments provide both insulation and waterproof properties, keeping you warm and protected from the elements.

4. Base Layer Clothing

Moisture-wicking materials

When choosing clothing for the base layer, opt for materials that have excellent moisture-wicking properties. Moisture-wicking fabrics, such as synthetic fibers or merino wool, pull sweat away from your skin and allow it to evaporate more quickly, keeping you dry and comfortable.

Long-sleeved shirts

Long-sleeved shirts are a staple in any kayak camper’s wardrobe. They not only provide protection against the sun’s harmful rays but also serve as a barrier against insect bites and potential abrasions. Look for shirts that fit comfortably, with room to move and layer other clothing items as needed.

Long thermal underwear

Long thermal underwear is crucial for kayak camping trips in colder weather. It provides an extra layer of insulation, keeping you warm even when exposed to low temperatures. Look for thermal underwear made of moisture-wicking materials that provide excellent heat retention.

Quick-drying socks

Feet can quickly become damp and uncomfortable during kayak camping trips. For this reason, investing in quick-drying socks made of synthetic or merino wool fibers is essential. These socks not only provide insulation but also prevent blisters and ensure your feet stay dry throughout the day.

Recommended Clothing For Kayak Camping Trips

5. Mid-Layer Clothing

Insulating and warming properties

The mid-layer plays a vital role in keeping you warm and comfortable during varying weather conditions. Look for clothing items that have insulating and warming properties to trap body heat and prevent heat loss.

Fleece jackets or sweaters

Fleece jackets or sweaters are excellent options for the mid-layer. Fleece is a lightweight and breathable material that provides insulation without adding bulk. Look for jackets or sweaters with a full zipper or buttons for easy temperature regulation.

Synthetic or down vests

Vests offer additional warmth and versatility to your mid-layer clothing. Both synthetic or down vests can provide insulation without restricting mobility. Consider packing one to layer over your base layer or under your outer shell for colder temperatures.

Thermal pants or leggings

For the lower body, thermal pants or leggings serve as an excellent mid-layer option. Look for pants or leggings made of moisture-wicking materials that provide insulation and flexibility. Choose a comfortable fit that allows freedom of movement and easy layering.

6. Outer Shell Clothing

Windproof and waterproof properties

When selecting clothing items for the outer shell, prioritizing windproof and waterproof properties is crucial. The outer shell should effectively shield you from the wind, rain, and any other external elements that may compromise your comfort and safety.

Paddling jackets

Paddling jackets are an essential component of your outer shell clothing. These jackets are designed specifically for water activities, offering excellent wind and water resistance. Look for jackets made of waterproof materials with adjustable cuffs, hoods, and neck closures for added protection.

Paddling pants

Paddling pants provide protection for your lower body and should be lightweight, quick-drying, and durable. Look for pants with reinforced knees and seat areas to withstand the rigors of kayaking and protect against potential abrasions.

Drysuits or wetsuits

For kayak camping in colder environments or during winter months, consider investing in a drysuit or wetsuit, depending on the water temperature. Drysuits and wetsuits provide both insulation and waterproof properties, keeping you warm and protected from the elements. Evaluate the water temperature and choose the appropriate option to maximize your comfort and safety.

Recommended Clothing For Kayak Camping Trips

7. Protection from the Sun

Wide-brimmed hats

Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is essential during kayak camping trips. Wide-brimmed hats provide excellent shade and protection for your face, neck, and ears. Look for hats made of lightweight and breathable materials that offer UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) for optimal sun protection.

UV-protective clothing

Consider wearing UV-protective clothing that provides an extra layer of defense against the sun. These specialized clothing items are designed to block harmful UV rays and often carry a UPF rating to indicate their level of protection.


Sunglasses are a must-have item for kayak camping trips, as water magnifies the intensity of the sun’s rays. Look for sunglasses with polarized lenses that reduce glare and provide 100% UV protection.


Applying sunscreen regularly throughout your trip is essential, regardless of weather conditions. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) and apply it to exposed skin, including your face, neck, arms, and legs.

8. Footwear for Kayak Camping

Waterproof shoes or boots

Proper footwear is essential for kayak camping trips, as it protects your feet from potential injuries and keeps them dry. Waterproof shoes or boots made of durable materials, such as neoprene or rubber, provide excellent protection against water, rocks, and other hazards.

Neoprene booties

Neoprene booties are ideal for kayak camping trips, particularly in warmer climates or during the summer season. These booties provide protection and insulation while allowing your feet to breathe and stay comfortable.

Sandals or water shoes

For warmer weather or when frequent water entry is expected, sandals or water shoes are a practical choice. Look for sandals or water shoes with sturdy soles and straps for stability and to prevent injuries from rocks or sharp objects.

9. Headwear and Accessories

Beanies or caps

When camping in cooler weather or during the colder months, a beanie or cap provides much-needed warmth for your head and ears. Look for options made of insulating materials such as fleece or merino wool.

Gloves or mittens

Gloves or mittens are essential for protecting your hands and keeping them warm during kayak camping trips. Look for gloves or mittens designed specifically for water activities, as they will provide insulation while still allowing for dexterity and grip.

Neck gaiters or buffs

Neck gaiters or buffs offer versatile protection for your neck and face. They can be worn in various ways, such as a face mask, a neck warmer, or a headband, providing added warmth or blocking the sun’s rays.

Waterproof bags and dry sacks

To protect your gear and other essentials from water damage, invest in waterproof bags and dry sacks. These will keep your belongings dry and secure, even during unexpected water splashes or rainy conditions. Look for options made of durable and waterproof materials, with secure closures or roll-top designs.

12. Conclusion

Selecting the right clothing for kayak camping trips is crucial for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment. Understanding the weather conditions you may encounter, checking forecasts and conditions, and utilizing a layering system are all essential for staying dry, warm, and protected from the elements. From a moisture-wicking base layer to windproof and waterproof outer shells, each clothing layer plays a vital role in ensuring your comfort during the adventure. Additionally, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun with wide-brimmed hats, UV-protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Proper footwear, headwear, and accessories, such as beanies, gloves, neck gaiters, and waterproof bags, complete your kayak camping clothing checklist. With the right clothing and gear in hand, you are ready to embark on unforgettable kayak camping expeditions.


  • William Grello

    I'm William an outdoor enthusiast who grew up hiking and camping in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. At, I aim to inspire and help you by providing valuable insights and tips on making the most out of your outdoor adventures.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *