What to Wear

This section is aimed at beginners. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to rush out and buy equipment. There are a few items you will need quickly but you can often make do for a while. When you first start you will not know where you will want to be in 2 years and hence what kit you will need then. If you go to a kayak shop you will not be able to ask the write questions and so you will often be sold something that will not meet your longer term needs.

You will get the best advice from coaches and other members who are already doing the aspect of the sport you start to take an interest in. Remember the club has all the equipment you will need, but not personal clothing detailed below. Equipment covered on our Kayaking Equipment page:



You need to keep warm, comfortable and protect your body but be free to move.

Wet Suits

Wetsuits are ideal for begineers as they are warm when wet, readily available and reasonably priced and they can be used for other water sports. There are different types: "Full", "Long John" (salopettes), "Shorty" (combined T shirt and shorts), "Trousers" etc. Thicknesses vary from 2mm neoprene to 7mm. To start: a low cost 3 to 4mm wetsuit is ideal. The wetsuit functions by trapping a thin layer of water next to the skin. So the better the fit the warmer it will be, but remember you must be able to move. Wetsuits are commonly used together with the Layering System described below, especially a cag.


Firstly: never wear cotton.

Layering in kayaking is exactly the same as other outdoor sports. If you have existing old hiking thermals or nylon football shirts these will do fine to start the sport. Insulation comes from several layers, starting with a manmade fabric base layer, then a second layer and if really cold a third layer. The second and third layer could be thick thermals or fleecy fabric. These must be use with a cagoule or ‘cag'. For your first few times paddling any cagoule will do. However, have a good look at the various types available on other paddlers. This will be one of the first pieces of kit will want to buy. Go for quality and durability as you are likely to use it for several years.

Remember wind chill makes it colder on the water especially when you are wet. It is seldom warm enough to take off your cag in the UK.


You must wear footwear with souls to protect your feet. Wet suit shoes or boots are ideal but a pair of wool/nylon soaks and slim trainers which will stay on your feet when swimming will do fine. If you have large feet you may need wetsuit boots to fit into the kayak.

What else to Bring

Make sure you can change out of your wet kayak kit into some warm dry clothing at the end of the trip. Bring a towel as we are normally changing in a car park. Something to eat and a hot drink will help you warm up if you got cold.

Dry Suits

These are great pieces of kit, but they are far more expensive and will wear out quicker than a wetsuit. You may want one in the longer term but take your time to choose the right one.