Going kayaking is one of the best experiences you can have if you’re into the thrill-seeking lifestyle. It’s equal parts adventurous and peaceful, depending on what sort of weather you are kayaking in. If you go kayaking in a still stream, you can relax, sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around you, while going kayaking in turbulent whitewater can become an extreme sport even for experienced kayakers. You can enjoy the still waters or slip off your shoes and paddle to the shore, but you have to be prepared for all of this.
With so many people recently developing an interest in kayaking, you might think that it’s a relatively newer sport, when, in fact, kayaking has been around for the longest time, both for traveling and fun. Kayaks are super sturdy and can traverse long distances and turbulent waters, making them a great way to cross large rivers and streams. In 1934, a man crossed an ocean in a kayak, setting a world record in the process.
Kayaking may look scary, but one reason for its popularity and appeal is that it is an activity that can be gradually increased in intensity and difficulty. Flat-water kayaking is ideal if the person is learning to adjust and handle the paddles. Once they’ve learned the ropes, kayakers can take it up a few notches and go kayaking in raging rivers between high cliffs. However, one thing that beginner kayakers should be taught is how to dress for their kayaking adventures.
Dressing appropriately for your kayaking time is necessary because you might not anticipate the changes in weather and the dangers of being out there unprepared. You don’t want to be too hot or cold, sunburned, or windblown, and so it is always best to do your research and always be prepared so that you can make your kayaking journey comfortable, fun, and stress-free.
What to Wear Kayaking
The prime concern when considering what to wear when kayaking should be safety and comfort. Your clothing should protect you from extreme weather conditions and wetness, while also giving you the comfort and luxury to move around as you please.
What material and layers you don on largely depends on the weather and water temperature of the place where you’re going kayaking. Regardless, some of the things you should consider wearing or packing include:
Kayaking experts advise you to layer up for your kayaking trip. Now, you might be wondering why you need to layer up for a summer day trip. Well, that’s why it is not advised to wear something too light or too heavy. The temperatures can vary significantly on land and in the middle of the river, or you might start feeling hot and sweaty with the effort of paddling so hard. Layering provides you with the option of putting on more layers or discarding some according to the temperatures so that you are always comfortable. Use clothing made from synthetic fabric, as they don’t get wet as easily and dry up quickly as well. Cotton is definitely not the right choice, as it absorbs water very well and takes a long time to dry up. Choose light, synthetic fabric shirts, and layer up.
Hat, Sunscreen, Sun-Protective Sleeves
You don’t want to be halfway in the excursion and discover that your arms are badly burnt and hurting, do you? You will be under the direct sun for a while, so you need to protect yourself by slathering on a lot of sunscreen. Need we even mention the dangers of going out without proper sun protection? While sunscreen and hat might protect your face, your arms are going to be exposed and working those paddles all day and might need more protection than mere sunscreen that might wash or wipe off. Keep sun-protective sleeves with you, and wear them for short intervals if you feel too hot.
Wetsuit or Drysuit
Investing in a wetsuit or drysuit is a good idea. Both are designed to keep you safe from the cold water temperatures and to keep you protected from hypothermia. A wetsuit or drysuit is to be worn directly against your skin, so you can wear your regular t-shirt and shorts over that. The temperature of the air and water can be very different, and a drysuit/wetsuit will allow you to go for a swim even if the water feels slightly cold. A drysuit/wetsuit is especially necessary for people who are going kayaking in whitewater. The water is generally cold where there is whitewater involved, and the suits help keep you protected from getting wet, cold, and hypothermic.
Windproof and Waterproof
Depending on the weather forecast for the day, how far out you plan on going, and if you are going kayaking in flat-water or whitewater, you should also purchase and sport a windbreaker and raincoat. While you can definitely discard these for a light, flat-water kayaking excursion in the summer, and dress up as you would for a normal day at the beach, if you are going whitewater kayaking, you should always have these handy to keep you from getting wet and hypothermic.
PFD (Personal Floating Device)
Your PFD is your life jacket, which will help keep you above the water in case your kayak turns over while you’re whitewater kayaking. The strong river currents can be more powerful than you can imagine, and they are very good at pulling even experienced swimmers and kayakers underwater. Your PFD will keep you afloat so you can get back into your kayak, or get help. There are specific PFDs made for whitewater kayaking, which are stronger and help keep you afloat for longer.
A helmet is also a necessary part of your safety equipment, especially for whitewater kayakers. If you are ejected in a whitewater area, the currents will toss you one way and the other, banging you against large rocks and sharp ridges underwater. Chances are, the rocks are what will be the end of you in such a situation and not the drowning. A helmet strapped to your head can save your life. Again, there are whitewater specific helmets available that dry and drain quickly and are strong enough to withstand the pressure of a collision with a rock.
Hate the clamminess from wearing gloves for too long? Trust us; you would rather have clammy hands than sore ones. It’s a good idea to keep a set of gloves and wear them while you’re paddling. While gloves protect your hands from abrasion from the constant paddling, they can also keep your hands protected from harsh sunlight or cold water in the winters.
The right footwear is so necessary! You won’t be doing much walking unless you’re getting off at an island or shore, and yet your shoes are super important. On calm waters, you can either wear normal sandals or flip flops as your legs are only going to be inside the kayak the entire time anyway, but in rough whitewater, you should opt for waterproof shoes, so the cold water does not make your feet freeze.
Change of Clothes
It is always wise to keep a change of clothes with you, in case you cannot resist the urge to take a quick dip into the clear, inviting waters! You can change out of your wet clothes and change into something else if you have kept a spare outfit with yourself. Also, keep a spare set of footwear available too, for those times when you want to step onto the land and explore the nearby forest, beach, or shore.
If you have dressed up for the occasion and have packed a bag full of essentials, you are ready to leave for your kayaking excursion. Stay safe and comfortable while you have the time of your life paddling across beautiful rivers, enjoying the perfect day, and spending quality time surrounded by nature.
What is the difference between canoeing and kayaking?
The major difference between kayaking and canoeing is in the vessels used. The kayak is a tighter fit, while a canoe can still seat a bunch of people. The sitting position is also different for both; the kayak is supposed to house just one person sitting with their legs spread straight ahead, while in a canoe, the canoer sits with his legs bent at the knees or on the benches. The paddles for both are also slightly different.
Can you assess the intensity of the river rapids?
The difficulty level of kayaking largely depends on the river rapids. You can assess the intensity of the rapids with a solid, objective measure, which intends to ascertain the difficulty levels of the kayaking with an international scale.
What is whitewater, and how does it affect kayaking?
Whitewater is a layer of frothy water on top of turbulent waves that appears white. It is formed when the river’s steepness changes so much that it causes turbulence, allowing air to enter the water body, causing the bubbles or froth on top. Whitewater kayaking is considerably difficult because of the turbulence. It is also pretty cold, too.