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Kayaking In The Rain (Safety And Gear)

Mark Armstrong
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If there’s one thing that’s not always guaranteed when you’re outdoors it’s the weather but that shouldn’t mean you can’t still enjoy yourself. Kayaking in the rain can be a lot of fun, so we’re here to help you make sure you’re fully prepared and have the right gear to stay safe and dry.

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Is Kayaking In The Rain Safe?!

Well, first….

Check The Conditions

Kayaking in the rain can be perfectly safe, as long as you know the conditions you’ll be paddling in and you plan ahead. You’ll need to remember that if it’s been raining for a while, the water levels may be significantly higher than normal. For rivers, this means there may be fast flowing rapids where there might not be during a dry spell of days.

Even where there are no rapids, a swollen river could mean strong currents, so it’s important to check with your local kayak outfitters, bait shop or fish and wildlife authorities to determine the water conditions before you head out.

Video: Flash Flood Kayaking

Stay Visible

Rainy weather can mean a reduction in visibility. So it can be even more important to stay visible in the event of an accident and so that other water users can see you. Mostly used by kayakers at night, a white kayak light could be a good thing to have on your vessel in the rain.

Spray Skirts

Attaching a spray skirt to your sit-inside yak can help to prevent the rain from entering the cockpit, meaning you should stay dry.

If you’re on a sit-on-top you won’t be able to attach a spray skirt but you should be able to stop the rain from filling up on your deck by making sure your scupper holes are not plugged. Rain is unlikely to fall fast enough to fill up your deck. But you can always be prepared by carrying a sponge to help mop it up.

Kayak Rain Gear: What Should I Wear?

Staying dry in wet weather will probably be your main focus, so the type of clothing you choose will likely be important. Another factor that might influence your clothing will be the temperature.


Synthetic fabrics can be best for rainy day paddling, as they tend to dry more quickly than natural fibers and can help to wick moisture away from you. The number of layers you’ll need will depend on how cold it’ll be while you’re paddling.

Carrying a drybag with additional layers and spare footwear can be a good idea.

Drysuit or Wetsuit?

Depending on the conditions you’re paddling in, a dry suit or wetsuit could be useful in the rain, as they will provide you with a waterproof layer as well as help to keep you warm. The dry suit will prevent water and keep you completely dry whereas the wetsuit will allow a small amount of water to get in between you and the suit, which then acts as insulation.

You may find that you won’t need outerwear on top of your suit, as it should act as your waterproof outer layer, so your PFD can go directly on top of your suit.

We talk more on this here.

We also have a guide on drysuits.


Regular rainwear can be ideal for paddling if you won’t be wearing a wetsuit. But you should ensure that it’s actually waterproof and comfortable. On a jacket, a hood will be essential in the rain, as will tightly cuffed sleeves; you don’t want water running down your arms.

Waterproof pants can be sufficient, as long as you can move comfortably in them. If you’re likely to be running whitewater, these might not be ideal, especially if they’re loose fitting, as they can hold you back if you need to swim. A wetsuit might be a better option for whitewater.

> What about fishing in the rain?


Rain shouldn’t mean a canceled kayaking trip. Kayaking in the rain can be just as fun, as long as you have the right gear to keep you safe and dry. Just remember to check the conditions before you go.

Share this with your friends to give them a heads up before your next trip, then don’t forget to let us know how it goes – just leave us a comment. 

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