How do you not get wet while kayaking?

Nobody likes getting wet, at least by accident anyway, but unfortunately, that’s part and parcel when it comes to watersports and kayaking in particular. That being said there are some tips and tricks that’ll help keep you as dry as possible when you’re out on the water. In this article, we’ll look at some ideas for how you can not get wet when kayaking.

1. Don’t tip over your kayak (obviously)

This is the most obvious way to stay dry while kayaking but also the most difficult to control. Even the most experienced kayakers will likely have some trouble staying out of the water altogether so if this does happen to you, just accept that it’s part of the game and try to get out of the water as quick as you can. Sadly, it’s just one of those things.

If you do tip over, the first thing you should do is get back in your kayak as quickly as possible. You can use a paddle float or rescue sling to help you get back in if needed. When in the water, your body temperature will drop quickly so there’s an added incentive to get back into your kayak as quick as you can. 

2. Use a spray skirt

A spray skirt is a piece of equipment that helps seal the cockpit of your kayak so that water can’t come inside. This is especially useful in rough conditions when waves are crashing over your kayak or on whitewater when there’s a lot of spray flying around. It’s not foolproof though and you can still get wet if you capsize or if water comes up from underneath your kayak.

This does come with its downsides, such as it being a tad harder for you to get out if you do capsize, but if staying dry is the aim then this should help a lot. That being said, many performance kayakers use spray skirts and rarely have any problems getting in or out, even when under pressure, so after some practice you should be fine too.

3. Wear appropriate clothing

Wearing quick-drying and waterproof clothing will help keep you dry while kayaking. Synthetic materials such as polyester is a good choices, although they can sometimes feel clammy against your skin. Nylon is also a good option as it insulates even when wet and doesn’t hold onto smells as synthetics can. 

Avoid cotton though as it takes ages to dry and gets cold when wet. While many of the clothes you have in your wardrobe may be cotton, they won’t be of much use as they’ll often hold water much more than most other materials, with wool also being a big offender here. If in doubt, go for the synthetic choice as they’re usually designed for sport.

4. Use a bilge pump

A bilge pump is a small hand-operated pump that’s used to remove water from your kayak. They’re not 100% effective but can help reduce the amount of water inside your kayak, especially if you tip over or get hit by waves. This will help keep you drier and also make it easier to paddle as you won’t have as much weight to carry around.

Water in the cockpit is an unavoidable part of kayaking, and even the best stay skirt might still not be able to ensure it’s completely sealed, but having a pump on hand can be super useful in getting any excess water out. Sitting water can get you cold fast as well as being more likely to soak into your clothing. It’s far from ideal!

5. Cover up exposed skin

Exposed skin is more vulnerable to the cold so it’s a good idea to cover up as much as possible when kayaking. This doesn’t mean wearing a full body suit (although that would work) but simply making sure that any exposed areas are covered, such as your arms and legs. Wearing a hat will also help keep your head warm in colder conditions. 

If you really don’t want to get wet, wearing a drysuit is the next step from here as they’ll do a great job at preventing any water from getting in thanks to the seals along any vulnerable points. The downside is that they can be quite bulky and restrictive, which isn’t ideal when you’re kayaking, especially at speed.

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