What to wear kayaking
By Kyle McKenzie | Apr 14, 2020 | Dillon Reservoir, Naples
What to wear kayaking on Dillon Reservoir
If any of you have been on a tour with me before, you will know I have a difficult time giving guests a solid yes or no answer about anything! This blog post is my attempt to answer any guest’s questions about what to wear kayaking with Adventure Paddle Tours. The short answer is below. Please read on further for detailed information.
- Polarized sunglasses
- Synthetic bottoms (boardshorts, hiking shorts/pants)
- Synthetic UPF T-shirt (I prefer longsleeve for sun)
- Water shoes or sandals
- Rain jacket or synthetic fleece jacket (Mainly for our Colorado kayak Tours)
My go-to on every single kayak tour is as follows.
I wear shoes designed for kayaking and my go-to shoes for the last 3 years have been the Astral Loyaks. I wear board shorts, a long sleeve synthetic UPF sun shirt, hat, and polarized sunglasses. Everyday before I leave the house, I apply a base of at least 70 SPF sunscreen and other than the tops of my hands that protocol has done pretty well for me. For our Colorado kayak tours, it is also very important to bring a light synthetic fleece jacket or a rain jacket to cut the wind. IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT GUESTS DO NOT WEAR THE TYPICAL HEAVY COTTON COLLEGE STYLE HOODIES. WHEN THESE SWEATSHIRTS GET WET THEY WILL NOT INSULATE AND WILL IN FACT DO THE OPPOSITE.
So, that is my go to clothing for kayaking, however I do this for a living and that is my uniform. Often, guests will book a kayak tour while visiting say Denver and just didn’t pack for a kayak trip. Don’t worry! Clothing is not going to make or break your guided kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours and we can often provide guests with some additional gear, other than what we already provide. Let’s break down each garment for a closer look on what you should really wear and why it’s important.
Shoes, what to wear kayaking?
Guests have gotten away with everything from cowboy boots, to sandals and standard tennis shoes, shoes, in my opinion, are the most comfortable but please be prepared for them to get a little wet. The two most common types of footwear you will see a kayak guide wear would be a closed-toed low profile shoe designed to get wet and built with a nonstick sole or a beefy sandal made for hiking, again with a solid non-slip sole.
In my opinion, the best kayak shoes and sandals on the market are going to be the Astral Loyak and Chaco’s Z classic sandals. Over the years, most of our guides seem to prefer the sandal route. Myself and Ryan, our lead guide in Colorado, prefer closed-toed shoes due to more protection moving kayaks and running around on rocky shorelines. On all of our kayak tours both on Dillon Reservoir and in Naples, Florida our guests enter and exit our kayaks from dry land so, you do not need to walk in the water.
On our Naples kayak tours, our guest’s feet do tend to get wet since we use open style sit inside kayaks. In Colorado, your shoes should stay pretty dry while kayaking. Finally, the answer to the average visitor joining us on a kayak tour is tennis shoes you don’t mind getting a little wet or sandals are your best option for joining us on a kayak tour.
What type of shirt should I wear kayaking?
For kayaking all day, I prefer a long sleeve synthetic UPF t-shirt since I do wear a life jacket, I prefer a minimal shirt with no pockets or snags that could get uncomfortable under my PFD.
Both my hands and my arms will often get wet while kayaking and sunscreen is usually only waterproof for an hour and a half. Years ago, my doctor warned me about the freckles starting to appear on my arms and from here on out it’s been a long sleeve synthetic shirt.
The material is also very important when thinking about kayaking in colder waters like what we have on Dillon Reservoir. If you haven’t heard the term “cotton kills,” you have now. Basically, when you get wet wearing cotton clothing the cotton has zero insulating properties and will actually pull the heat away from your body and in a serious survival situation, cotton clothing can kill you. This is why almost all outdoor clothing is made of either a synthetic material or merino wool.
What Type of Pants or Shorts Should I Wear on a Kayak Tour?
Same story here, I always wear board shorts and if we are kayaking in early May on Dillon Reservoir or late September I might wear black synthetic long johns under my board shorts. Now, while on vacation in Colorado guests often pack jeans and do fine on the kayak tours but please remember cotton jeans are not comfortable at all while kayaking and if you have the option of athletic shorts or hiking pants, wear those.
Please, everyone, remember we will not cancel our kayak tours due to cooler weather and it is your responsibility to dress appropriately. So, on our morning tours in July jeans and t-shirts might be okay but if it’s an overcast day with a little wind proper clothing is important.
Should I Wear a Jacket for My Kayak Tour?
When kayaking in Florida, you almost never need a jacket even in the winter. Our kayak tours in Colorado are a different story.
Almost every morning until mid July I will show up to work wearing some type of light jacket. If you are only going to bring one type of jacket while vacationing to Colorado, it should probably be a rain jacket. Obviously, these are great for rain but they are also perfect for windy days while kayaking or at the top of peaks where it can be cold and windy. The wind stopping properties of most rain jackets are perfect for just about every summer day in Colorado at 9,000 foot elevation.
For most of our visitors on our kayak tours, almost all guests have some type of synthetic fleece. If you don’t own a fleece it might be time to trade in that cotton sweatshirt for a synthetic or even marino wool fleece jacket. The takeaway on the jacket conversation is try not to wear cotton sweatshirts and if you have both a wind stopping rain jacket and a light fleece that is absolutely perfect for kayaking in Colorado and even Florida. We will often get short periods of rainfall. Sometimes even just 5 minutes but if we got soaked for 5 minutes and you are wearing cotton you might regret that decision for the next 2 hours of kayaking.
Should I Wear Sunglasses for My Kayak Tour?
Let me preface this subject with the fact that I am a pyscho when it comes to wearing sunglasses and a hat.
I will search my house for 30 minutes to find my sunglasses before going to the truck for something. So, with that in mind, it makes sense that I won’t be caught dead on the water kayaking without a good pair of sunglasses.
Sunglasses are also not all created equal and the number one most important feature with a pair of sunglasses for kayaking or fishing on the water is the fact that they should be polarized.
Polarized sunglasses essentially give you better vision through the water by cutting the horizontal glares reflecting off the water. Polarized sunglasses aren’t crazy important on our Colorado kayak tours since we aren’t pointing out things like Manatees, bull sharks and alligators like we see on our Florida kayak tours but if you plan on doing some fly fishing while visiting Colorado you definitely want a decent pair of polarized sunglasses. You will be amazed how much more stuff you will see on our Naples kayak tours if you wear polarized sunglasses, especially on our Manatees and Mangroves kayak tours. On a side not polarized sunglasses are great for driving through those light rainy days with tons of glare.
Should I Wear a Hat for My Kayak Tour?
Again, I don’t go outside without a hat but we do get a number of guests that just don’t wear hats and that is perfectly fine. I personally prefer a full brim stiff hat with a cord for windy days kayaking and it can often get windy on Dillon Reservoir. If you want to take it one step further be sure to buy a hat that has a dark underside on the brim. You might laugh but it does make a difference for anyone that loves to fish or tends to get eye fatigue in the sun.
Book Your Kayak Tour with Confidence
So, hopefully, I have answered more questions rather than created them with this blog post. Please, remember that less than optimal kayaking clothing won’t make or break a kayak tour in during perfect weather. However, perfect weather is definitely not the norm for both Colorado and Florida and guests should try their absolute best to be prepared for any type of weather that can roll in on our Florida Kayak Tours and our Colorado Kayak tours. Also, this blog was not intended for the safe kayaking clothing but was written with guest’s comfort while on a kayak tour with Adventure Paddle Tours. Please, remember if you are kayaking in colder weather or colder water their are important variables you must take into account.
To learn more about our kayak tours in Naples or our kayaking tours in Lake Dillon, click here.