Guide To Kayak Spray Skirts
Adding a kayak spray skirt to your vessel can give you added protection against sun, rain and splashes. But trying to find the right one for your kayak may not always be easy.
We have put together a short guide to help you discover some of the benefits and the features you might want to look out for when you choose your own.
5 Best Spray Skirts For Kayaks
1: Seals Sea Sprite Spray Skirt (best overall)
This Seals Sea Sprite Spray Skirt comes in a range of sizes to suit various sit-inside kayaks. This is a high performance spray skirt that features a combination of neoprene and nylon and is recommended for moderate to extreme paddling conditions.
The deck is made from 4mm neoprene with a three layer waterproof, breathable nylon tunnel for added comfort. There is also a 3 inch neoprene transition between the deck and the tunnel, as well as an adjustable neoprene chest band.
It features a ⅜ inch bungee rim attachment and benefits from sealed seams and a grab loop with a built-in safety whistle.
Another great feature of this Sea Sprite spray skirt is the adjustable and removable suspenders, which can allow you to get a more secure fit.
2: Seals Shocker Whitewater Spray Skirt (best for whitewater)
The Seals Shocker Whitewater Spray Skirt is designed for extreme paddling conditions and can be ideal for whitewater kayaking. It is made from 4mm neoprene and has a 9 inch tall form fitting neoprene tunnel.
The skirt has a ⅜ inch bungee that secures tightly around the rim of your cockpit and benefits from rim grip/safety slip technology to help the skirt stay in place. It has a Sealtex wear guard, as well as glued and sealed seams with double stitching for added durability.
The skirt also has a handy high visibility grab loop with an integrated whistle for increased safety.
3: Seals Coastal Tour Spray Skirt (best color)
The Seals Coastal Tour Spray Skirt is designed for moderate paddling conditions and can be ideal for sea kayaking and touring. It is made from medium weight coated nylon packcloth for increased durability.
The fabric comes in bright yellow which can be ideal for paddling in open water where visibility can be important.
The spray skirt has a tensioned deck stay to help the skirt stay tightly sealed around the cockpit, limiting water from pooling on top. There are also lash loops and a mesh pocket for storing small items that you want to have access to while paddling.
Another useful feature of this spray skirt is the adjustable neoprene chest band and the adjustable shoulder straps. The shoulder straps can also be removed if you don’t need them.
4: Seals Splash Deck
This Seals Splash Deck is designed for lighter paddling conditions. It is a spray deck that is made out of medium weight coated nylon packcloth.
It features a bungee cord rim attachment that can be adjusted to fit different sizes of cockpits. Because it’s a spray deck it doesn’t offer full cockpit protection, so it may not be ideal if you’re paddling in very cold or rough conditions, as it is built to limit splashes hitting your legs.
The Splash Deck features a large zippered mesh pocket for keeping your essentials within easy reach. It also benefits from having a tensioned deck stay to help prevent water pooling.
5: Attwood Universal Kayak Spray Skirt (best budget option)
The Attwood Universal Kayak Spray Skirt can be an affordable option if you’re on a budget.
It features an adjustable bungee cord that is designed to fit various cockpit rims, up to 40 inches long and 22 inches wide. It also features an adjustable bungee cord on the tunnel to allow you to customize the fit around your torso.
This is a lightweight spray skirt that can be ideal for paddling in light conditions but may not be suitable for whitewater conditions. It has a grab handle to let you exit quickly and features PVC sealed seams to help keep the skirt waterproof.
What Is A Spray Skirt?
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Spray Skirt?
Spray skirts are designed to provide sealed cover for your sit-inside kayak. They can keep you sheltered from the elements and can help to prevent water from entering your cockpit.
Spray skirts can take some getting used to, especially when it comes to escaping during a wet exit, where you need to grab the handle to release the seal. If you’re paddling in warm conditions, you may find it uncomfortably warm, as they might not all be breathable.
Video: Kayaking Expert Advice - Wet Exit
What Size Spray Skirt Do I Need?
The size of spray skirt you need will usually depend on the size of your cockpit. The measurement you will need is usually the circumference of the cockpit, around the outer rim.
Some spray skirt manufacturers have sizing guides to help you choose the correct size based on the brand and model of your kayak.
You will also likely need to know your own waist or midriff measurement, as most spray skirts will be attached to both you and your kayak. Some skirts fit at the waist but some skirt tunnels fit at the midriff, between your waist and chest.
What Features Are Important When Choosing One?
Spray skirts usually come in neoprene or nylon, or a combination of the two. Neoprene will generally be warmer than nylon and can be tougher for conditions like whitewater.
Neoprene decks can sometimes be more difficult to attach and remove, which could be a struggle if you have limited experience.
Nylon can be lighter, providing less insulation, which could make it more suitable for light to moderate conditions. It can also be easier to remove and attach a nylon skirt compared to a neoprene one.
The type of rim attachment, or rand, that a spray skirt has can vary between models. Many of them tend to have a type of bungee attachment that seals around the outer edge of the cockpit. But even this can vary between models, with some having a more advanced style bungee with additional neoprene.
You may also find rands that are made from rubber, which can give a tighter and more secure fit around the cockpit. This can be more difficult to attach and remove because it can create a tighter seal. This is often found on neoprene skirts and useful in extreme whitewater conditions.
Video: Choosing a Bungee Or Rand Sprayskirt
Tensioned Deck Stay
This can be a handy feature as it is designed to help keep the deck of your skirt taut and tight around the rim of the cockpit, similar to guy lines on a tent. This is so that water doesn’t pool on top of your skirt.
You may find this feature more on nylon spray skirts because of the looser nature of the fabric.
The style and height of the spray skirt tunnel can vary. The tunnel is the section that is secured around your torso.
Some spray skirts have neoprene tunnels that can create a tight fit around your waist and/or just below your chest. Others have an adjustable strap that can allow you to modify the fit.
Shoulder straps can be a handy feature to help improve the fit of your skirt, as they can usually be adjusted and can help to keep the tunnel taut with the deck.
Pockets can be a useful feature to have if you’re paddling in moderate conditions or touring, as it means you can have easy access to some of your essentials. Pockets on a spray skirt, however, might not always be waterproof. Some are quick-drying mesh.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Difference Between A Spray Skirt And A Spray Deck?
A spray deck will generally offer less protection than a spray skirt. However, these terms can often be used interchangeably.
A spray deck may not cover the entire cockpit and you might also be able to get in and out of your kayak while keeping the spray deck in place on your vessel.
How Do You Measure A Spray Skirt For A Kayak?
Measure around the outside rim of your cockpit. You may also need to consider your waist size for the tunnel to make sure the spray skirt fits you as well as your boat.
For a good all-around spray skirt, we think the Seals Sea Sprite has the edge. It has a combination of nylon and neoprene for optimized performance and comfort. It also has the benefit of having shoulder straps and a highly visible grab handle with included safety whistle.
A good runner up is the Seals Coastal Tour spray skirt. This one can be a good option for ocean and open water paddling because of its highly visible exterior. The shoulder straps and adjustable waistband can make it more comfortable to wear.
Remember to measure around the rim of your cockpit or check online sizing guides with the manufacturer for size recommendations. You may want to have a note of your waist or midriff measurements too, for a correct fit around your torso.
Not all spray skirts will be suitable for all kayaks or all types of paddling. So before you choose one, think about the paddling conditions and your skill level so that you can stay safe out there.