Kayak Fishing Dress Guide: What and How to Wear in the Summer

Kayaking needs no introduction as this recreational sport is already immensely popular among people of all age brackets. Numerous people perceive that having proficient skills is sufficient for a successful kayak session. However, the dress code also plays a major role in making kayak fishing feasible, comfortable, and worthwhile.

Clothing rightly not only enables you to tackle the harshness of weather but also provides comfort on and in the water. A kayaker may incur a troubling situation at any moment, and to get out of that, he may also have to dive into the water. Therefore, he must be well prepared and wear appropriate garments to handle all possible scenarios.

Clothes would cover his chest and legs, but not the entire body. His head, eyes, feet, hands, and skin should also be protected from the dangers of the sun, weather, and water. So, kayakers should never ignore the need for accessories like gloves, boots, and glasses, etc.

One more thing to consider is the current weather condition of the location where you intend to kayak. The kayak costume for winters, including all essential accessories, would be different from that of summers.

In this article, we will discuss what you should be wearing and avoiding during kayaking in summers. Moreover, you will find out how you should prepare your dress code before landing your kayak in the water. For your convenience, we have divided the clothing into three main sections of the body. So, let’s start with the head first.

Protect Your Head

Since the head is the most sensitive part of the body, its care is also the most important of all. By head, we mean every top-positioned organ, including the skull, eyes, nose, skin, and mouth. For kayakers, there is a wide range of accessories available in the market that protect these precious body parts while also complimenting the overall attire.

If you have little or no experience with kayak dressing, there are chances that you selected the wrong headwear. Some people might even ignore the need to secure the head. If so, keep on reading below. This section will inform you about the dos and don’ts of protecting your head, keeping the summer season in focus.

Hats & Caps

Kayakers are exposed to direct sunlight throughout the fishing session. The sun’s glare can affect their visual power and also heat up the head excessively.

In order to prevent this from happening, you should include hats and caps in the kayaking headgear. Hats and caps are the most affordable options to shield your head and eyes at the same time.

Since we’re talking about the warm climate, there’s no need for thermal insulation. Rather, you should opt for hats that promote air circulation while also providing protection from the scorching sun and UV rays.

Some fashion connoisseur kayakers prefer caps instead of hats for a casual look. If you are one of those, then baseball caps are perfect for summer kayaking. With the use of baseball caps, your forehead also remains safe from sun exposure.

Don’t use skull or woolen caps in summers unless the splashes of water make you feel cold. Skull caps are good for cold weather when skin-tight coverage is required.

It would be great if your budget can accommodate the cost of a UFP-rated or DWR-coated hat. Such hats amazingly shield your skin from the damages of UV rays.

Neck Covers

Like everything else, the neck area also deserves protection from the sun. Most of the time, the neck’s coverage is ensured by using a cap having a longer neck cape. The same fabric covering your head extends to the height of the neck so that you don’t have to wear separate garments for each of the two.

Caps with neck-long capes sit more snugly on the head, and the kayaker carries on enjoying the trip without adjusting the garment intermittently. Furthermore, these caps are quite convenient to wear and look fantastic as well. Most interestingly, your neck does not experience sunburn.

If you are wearing a high-neck dress, that is also fine, and you need no additional neck cover in that case. High-neck drysuits are the best option as they provide complete protection against both water and sun exposure.


When it comes to summer kayaking, the first thing that irritates kayakers is the sun’s glare, which interrupts their vision. So, the best solution to save eye vision is sunglasses or goggles.

The majority of kayakers love sunglasses because of the stylish look. They act as a barrier against UV light and bright sunlight. Kayakers can continue their session with eyes fully opened and without feeling burning in the eyes.

When the ocean gets fierce, the water enters the scupper holes more wildly, which results in more aggressive splashes of water. At this time, if you wear sunglasses, the salty water will not be able to reach your eyes, and you won’t have to wipe your eyes recurrently.

Besides necessity, wearing sunglasses during kayaking is fun as well. On wearing them, a kayaker appears to be more handsome and attractive. Best of all, he can pick any type of UV-protected sunglasses according to his personal fashion taste.

kayak fishing dress summer


Apparel does the job very well for most body areas, but you can’t cover every inch of the skin with your outfits. In other words, you can’t rely only on clothes for our safety. So, when apparel is not enough to provide uttermost protection, UV creams and moisturizers come into play.

Many sunblocks and sunscreen lotions have been introduced to make sure that the sun does not cause any harm to the exposed body parts. You can apply these skincare products to your face, arms, feet, neck, and ears.

A single application can last for four to five hours. After a few hours, we recommend you to re-apply the product generously all over the skin. Hence, you need to keep an extra bottle of sunscreen in your bag. In this way, if any of your body parts get uncovered unknowingly amid the fishing tour, your skin stays safe.

Don’t invest in cheap sunscreens as they don’t efficiently fulfill the purpose and fail to prevent sunburn and other diseases caused by the sun. Rather, choose sunblocks having SPF 30 or more. The reason behind taking the SPF rating so seriously is that the sun literally burns the skin if it’s overexposed. Moreover, the consequences can get as severe as skin cancer and heatstroke. Also, make sure the product contains no harmful additives for your particular skin characteristics.

Besides resisting sun damages, sunscreens also soothe the skin and eliminate the risk of bacterial or rash allergies.


Lip Balm

When you’re taking care of the entire body, you also need to keep your lips in mind. Kayakers usually don’t care about the lips and leave them untreated. For such individuals, an instant and hassle-free solution is a lip balm.

A pocket-sized chapstick or lip balm is enough for a day-long excursion. Check the SPF rating of the product, which should not be less than 30. Instead, try looking for a higher SPF-rated lip balm. The balm should also possess hydrating properties to preserve moisture sucked by the sun and keep lips from chapping.

Repeat the application of the balm as soon as you feel roughness on your lips, especially if you are a regular kayaker.

Upper Body – Don’t Sunbathe!

In kayaks, there’s no facility of shelter. The blazing sun keeps throwing red-hot rays relentlessly. If you don’t cover yourself properly, you will have to face grave consequences of its savage heat. As we mentioned earlier, neither sunscreen nor clothes alone are sufficient. Therefore, again, you need to take help from both of them for the upper body as well.

As for sunblocks, the ones you apply on your face work equally great for the chest and arms too. But there is a huge difference in the dress line of the upper body following the seasonal requirements.

On hot days, you can’t wear the same warm costume. In fact, in summers, you have to maintain air regulation while also hiding the body as much as possible.

So, at first, be sure of the climate and environment of the place you are heading to, and then finalize the outfit. To help you select your summer kayak costume, we have compiled a list of things that will satisfy your needs without influencing the comfort zone.

Long Sleeve Shirts

Shirts of thin fabric with long sleeves are always in fashion and are also recommended for sunny kayak days. Wearing long sleeves on a warm day would be, no doubt, awful for everyone. But trust us, long sleeves will help in minimizing the contact of sun rays with the skin more effectively than you imagine.

As far as sweating is concerned, the splashes of water also reduce the heat effect and make the body feel better. Since these shirts are skin-tight, their fabric should have moisture-wicking abilities to dry sweat quickly.

Nylon and polyester are the most staple fabrics used to make the uniform for all aquatic sports. These materials are brilliant for kayak outfits. Such shirts have a great tendency to initiate airflow and absorb moisture released from the body.

Neoprene shirts also show impressive durability and serve for a large span of time. This material is resilient enough to withstand high temperatures and rugged use. Best of all, it feels soft and comfortable and is safe for allergy-prone skin.

Sometimes, seawater feels cold even when the temperature is on the warmer side, probably due to weather change. In that case, we recommend you to pair up two long sleeve shirts. Always be able to add or remove clothes, depending on the changing weather.

The fabrics you should avoid wearing in summers are wool and cotton. Woolen shirts are good at insulating temperature, whereas you want to stay cool in summer. Similarly, cotton soaks water very fast, but you want to stay dry. All in all, shirts made from these types of material will worsen the situation for you, so it’s better to choose polyester and neoprene.

Rash Vests

Almost three out of five kayakers report itching, rashes, burning, and other skin problems because of saltwater and sunburn. These minor problems can even turn into irritating infections. Therefore, it would be a wise decision to take a rash vest instead of hosting these diseases.

A rash vest is a kind of shirt worn alone or in combination with a thermal. It is generally made out of spandex, nylon, polyester, and lycra. Each of these materials is ultra-lightweight, wicks water super fast, and stops the development of fungus and bacteria. Resultantly, rash vests keep up with the hygiene requirement.

Some people complain about fabric abrasion appearing on their skins. So, a rash guard is the ideal suiting for such people. It does not inhibit air circulation, thereby giving a cooling sensation to the wearer, which is most needed in summers.

Many rashies incorporate UV-protected coatings to save the wearer from UV rays, even on prolonged exposure to the sun. On the whole, the rash guard is designed for kayaker’s safety from the calamities of sun and seawater to an optimum extent.


If you are confused about the weather and unable to decide whether to go for insulating fabric or a cooler one, try a wetsuit. It owns a superb blend of properties that behave ideally both in summers and winters, in and out of water. That’s why swimmers mostly wear this dress.

When you immerse in water for swimming, this suit holds a layer of water between the fabric and the skin. Initially, you will feel cold. Soon, the body starts heating up this water layer and brings it to the same temperature. This layer of water then starts providing insulation to the body till the time you are underwater. In this way, the body gets the desired warmth from a wetsuit.

You can increase the insulation potential by choosing a thick wetsuit. A wetsuit is close-fitted, but it is quite flexible and does not upset the mobility. People wearing a wetsuit can swim and move around with ease. However, due to the rise in buoyancy, a kayak fisher may find little resistance in getting into deeper water for underwater exploration.

On sit-on-top kayaks, a wetsuit keeps your body temperature moderate, thereby yielding an overall cooling effect. As we mentioned earlier, it’s good to go for a dress you can change any moment with minimum fuss according to the uncertain weather situation. Fortunately, a wetsuit allows you to wear thermals beneath.

Buffs and Sun Gloves

Hands are also highly affected by the sun. For this reason, you should be taking care of your hands as well. Buffs and gloves immediately pop into our minds when it comes to covering hands. People choose from these two options as per their personal choice.

Whatever product you pick, make sure it is crafted from neoprene or any breathable and sweat and odor-wicking material as hands release moisture insanely. Aimed at enhancing ventilation, buff or fingerless gloves are designed in such a style that half of the fingers or fingertips remain open. All-season kayakers are advised to buy buff gloves made from neoprene.

Other than this, also check the fittings of the gloves. A pair of loosely fitted buffs will make you lose the grip while angling and paddling. On the contrary, extra-tight gloves restrict blood circulation and make hands numb after a short while. Buy buffs that precisely fit your wrist size and knuckle cuts. Moreover, the material should be thick on the palms for firm traction.

The credibility of kayak gloves is also measured by the ability to secure hands from UV rays. If these would absorb UV rays, they can’t guarantee your hands’ safety. So, try going for SPF-rated gloves.


Stohlquist Fit Life Jacket

You never know when a bad situation arises, and you have to swim in the ocean. At times when a kayaker has to use his swimming skills, a PFD (Personal Floatation Device) serves a lot. PFD is another name for inflatable life vests and life jackets. The plus point of PFDs is that they have the capability to move an unconscious person’s face upward.

PFDs are divided into five types on the basis of their construction, which depends on the purpose of use. For instance, Type I PFD is designed to provide more buoyancy, specifically required in the middle of the ocean or far from the shore.

The construction involves neoprene or nylon, with front and back sides being padded with foam. Besides being lightweight, these are also easy to wear. People can continue kayaking and angling with a PFD worn from the start of the session.

We recommend kayakers not to put lives at risk and make the most of modern PFDs equipped with mesh pockets and other advantageous features.

Lower Body and Feet – Don’t Get Cold Feet!

Due to open scupper holes, ocean water makes its way into the kayak and wets the kayaker’s lower body. On longer trips, it’s not safe to keep your feet and legs wet. A kayaker would feel heavy and cold with a wet body.

Regular and four-season kayakers have to be extra careful about their lower body clothing. Little investment in the right kind of outfit can help them earn more pleasure out of their hobby.

Amidst the cold season, people should go for apparel that can keep them warm and trap cold air well. But for summers, breathability is the most important thing to consider in the clothes you select. Also, look for a higher SPF rating in the products so that UV rays don’t ruin your skin.

Here we have compiled the options of outfits according to the lower body requirements, keeping everything simple for newbies. Go through this section and discover how to prepare the lower body for kayak fishing.

Long Pants

Kayakers like to wear shorts in the summers. The problem is that in short pants, most of the leg portion stays revealed and exposed to the sun for the time paddlers are on board. Hence, the chances of sunburn are multiplied.

The most conducive alternative to short pants is long trousers. You can wear a set of thermal underwear beneath long pants in case the weather turns windy.

Again, neoprene and polyester are our top material recommendations. The most interesting thing about these two fabrics is that they dry sweat within minutes and are lightweight too. By absorbing moisture quickly, they also nullify the growth of microbes and boost air regulation.

Most aqua pants also embrace SPF 30 or SPF 50 treatment. Such trousers ensure a safe and healthy sun exposure to the wearer. Therefore, always invest in SPF-protective bottoms, whether you are an all-season kayaker or not.

During the purchase of pants, make sure the product owns the following three qualities. The first one is flexibility. Bottoms’ design and fabric should not hinder your mobility. Rather, consider stretchable ones. Secondly, check the quality of the fabric. If it is likely to undergo chafing, avoid it and go for a durable and tear-resistant one that goes a long way without abrasion. Last but not least, look for breathability in the pair of pants.

Bib and Braces

For hot weather kayaking, we have another type of garment that will surely meet your expectations and suit your iconic style.

In bibs and braces, the bottoms are stitched together with an upper supported by adjustable shoulder straps. Kayakers can wear thermals along with bibs and set out for off-shore kayaking in a hot climate. In this way, bibs serve as a one-piece outfit as well.

Bibs are made from sun-protective, waterproof, and flexible material, which is nylon in most cases. This type of wardrobe does not act upon the kayaker’s movement abilities.

In short, if you are in the mood to try something comfortable yet different, bibs and braces would be the best pick for summers.

Water Shoes and Boots

Now comes the turn of covering the feet, which remain solely in contact with water due to the presence of scupper holes at the bottom. Ocean water still enters the kayak as a result of equipment’s propagation even when the holes are plugged.

Kayaking barefoot is not a sensible idea as saltwater can tarnish the feet skin and also make you feel cold on a breezy day. That’s why we need appropriate footwear, even when it’s hot outside.

Rubber shoes are waterproof and highly recommended for off-shore and year-round kayaking. While shopping for kayak shoes, check the sole comfortability and stability on the ground.


So, this was a detailed wardrobe guide for those who are new to kayaking and want to dress up perfectly according to the climate. In warm weather, the sun becomes a threat to the skin and the internal body functions. Therefore, the primary purpose of summer kayak attire is to stop sun rays from reaching the skin. The head has to be covered properly, but not too much that breathability is compromised.

Also, use eyewear for the protection of the eyes. Sunglasses perform the task of keeping harmful and overly bright sunlight from falling on the eyes. If a kayaker avoids sunglasses, he might notice the burning of his eyes after a while.

Sunscreen is also important to use. This skincare product provides inch-to-inch SPF protection. Use sunblocks liberally after intervals of a few hours. To maintain the hydration of lips, apply lip balm before leaving the house and in between the session. Lip balm also offers protection against extreme sun rays.

The upper body needs fresh air, but saving it from the dire consequences of sun rays is also needed. Thus, wetsuits are what play ideally in summers. A wetsuit has a unique property to trap water layer over the body, which it uses to maintain the body temperature. Wetsuits also work great for kayakers who are fond of swimming.

Long sleeve shirts are also a go-to option for warmer days. Opt for polyester shirts for a good amount of airflow. Long sleeve uppers can be combined with additional base layers or thermals if the weather gets colder unpredictably.

For skin-sensitive kayakers, a rash vest is the best apparel to choose. As the name implies, it is constructed from skin-friendly materials and proposes maximum comfort, and soaks sweat at a higher rate. Always wear buff gloves with an SPF 30+ protection.

For bottoms, you can pick anything in which you feel easy. Long pants and bibs will be a nice outfit for hot weather surfing.

The feet also demand protection and coverage from unpleasant weather and sun rays. Wear breathable shoes and apply sunscreen on your feet as well. We hope this guide would be enough for you to understand what sort of kayak dress you should have on sunny days.