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Hey there, adventure seeker! So, you’ve got your kayak ready, a map of Florida’s mesmerizing waterways in hand, and you’re all set to embark on an unforgettable journey. But wait a minute, do you know what to wear when kayaking in the Sunshine State? It’s not just about looking the part; it’s about being comfortable, safe, and prepared for whatever Florida’s diverse waters throw your way. Join us as we dive into the world of kayaking attire in Florida, from navigating the tropical summer sun to braving the occasional winter chill. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a novice just dipping your paddle in the water, we’ve got you covered โ€“ literally!

Navigating Florida Waters: Know What to Wear Kayaking in Florida

Ready to have an adventure on Florida’s waterways? Get your kayak ready, pack your snacks, and….wait, do you know what to wear kayaking in Florida?

โ€Kayaking is a great way to explore the natural beauty of Florida, but it can also be a challenge to dress appropriately for the weather and the water. You donโ€™t want to be too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, or too exposed or too covered. So what to wear kayaking in Florida? Here are some tips and suggestions to help you plan your outfit for a fun and comfortable kayaking adventure.

canoe kayak, sport, kayaking

Best Kayaking in Florida

There’s something magical about kayaking in Florida. The state’s diverse waterways – from the serene inland springs to the vibrant coastal waters – offer an unparalleled kayaking experience that’s hard to match. As an experienced kayaker, I can vouch for the thrill and tranquility that kayaking in Florida provides. However, there’s more to the sport than just hopping into a kayak and paddling away. A significant part of the preparation involves understanding what to wear kayaking in Florida.

Dress for the Water

Choosing the right attire for kayaking can make all the difference between a comfortable, enjoyable adventure and a miserable, possibly dangerous experience. The right clothing protects you from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and even safeguard you in case of accidents. Hence, your clothing choice should be a top priority when planning a kayaking trip in the Sunshine State.

Importance of Choosing the Right Attire for Kayaking


When it comes to kayaking, what you wear is just as important as the gear you use. The right attire can enhance your performance, ensure your safety, and make your kayaking experience more enjoyable. When I refer to what to wear kayaking, I am not just talking about your outerwear. Rather, your entire outfit – from your base layers to your footwear – should be carefully considered.

Consider Current Weather

The right kayaking clothing can help regulate your body temperature, keeping you warm in cold conditions and cool in hot weather. This is especially important in a place like Florida, where the climate can vary drastically from one region to another. Furthermore, the right attire can protect your skin from harmful UV rays, insect bites, and abrasive materials.

Factors to Consider When Choosing What to Wear Kayaking

When determining what to wear kayaking in Florida, it’s important to consider several factors. First, the weather: Florida’s climate can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and precipitation. As an experienced kayaker, I can tell you that it’s essential to dress in layers and prepare for all possible weather conditions.

Warm Water or Colder Water?

Secondly, consider the type of water you’ll be kayaking in. Florida has a diverse range of waterways, from calm, shallow springs to rough, open ocean waters. Each type of waterway presents its own challenges and requires different types of clothing. For instance, you would need more insulating layers for kayaking in cold, deep ocean waters than for paddling in warm, shallow springs.

Understanding Florida’s Waters: Seasonal Changes

Florida’s waters undergo significant changes with the seasons, and understanding these changes is crucial when deciding what to wear kayaking. In general, Florida has a warm, tropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters. However, the state also experiences occasional cold fronts in the winter, which can dramatically lower water temperatures.

Kayaking in the Summer

In the summer, Florida’s waters can be quite warm, especially in the inland springs and rivers. However, the coastal waters can be surprisingly cool due to ocean currents.

Winter and Cold Weather Kayaking

In the winter, the water temperatures can drop significantly, especially in the northern parts of the state. As a kayaker, it’s important to be aware of these seasonal changes and adjust your clothing accordingly.

What to Wear Kayaking in Summer in Florida

When deciding what to wear kayaking in summer in Florida, think light, breathable, and protective. With the intense sun and high temperatures, it’s crucial to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. I recommend wearing a long-sleeved rash guard or sun shirt, which offers both sun protection and moisture-wicking properties.

For your lower body, opt for quick-drying shorts or convertible pants. These provide flexibility, allowing you to adjust to changing conditions. Warm weather kayaking is fun but it’s easy to feel overheated. Convertible clothing allows you to adjust as the air temperature changes.

Don’t forget to wear a hat for additional sun protection. Even in cooler weather conditions, Florida lives up to it’s nickname, the Sunshine State. Use proper sun protection. Think of a hat, sunglasses, and a good sunscreen lotion. You might not even consider the affects of sun exposure until your face is burnt.

Thin Layers

When we start out in the early morning, we dress in thin layers. Often, the air temperature warms quickly as the sun rises. Layers allow us to start warm enough, then adjust to the air and water temperature as the day emerges.

Dress for the Water, Salt Water vs Fresh Water

Are you kayaking in a freshwater river or lake? Or will you be navigating through salt water?

There are a few key differences between kayaking in salt water and fresh water that can affect what a kayaker should wear.


Salt water is generally colder than fresh water, so kayakers in salt water may need to wear more layers to stay warm.

Waves and currents:

Salt water environments can have stronger waves and currents than fresh water environments. Kayakers in salt water need to be prepared for this by wearing clothing that will protect them from the elements and help them stay safe in the event of a capsize.

Marine life:

Salt water environments are home to a variety of marine life, some of which can be dangerous to kayakers. Kayakers in salt water need to be aware of the potential hazards and dress accordingly.

Kayak Shoes

Consider investing in a good pair of water shoes to protect your feet from sharp rocks and shells. Some people also wear waterproof socks to keep their feet warm and comfortable in cold conditions.

Flip flops might seem like the ideal water gear but they don’t offer the support you need outside of the kayak. Even in warm conditions, they are less than idea. Invest in a good pair of water shoes.

What to Wear Kayaking in Winter in Florida

Winter kayaking in Florida requires a different clothing strategy. While Florida winters are generally mild, the waters can get quite cold, especially in the early mornings and late evenings. Therefore, it’s important to wear insulating layers to retain body heat.

Dress in Layers When the Air Temperature Is Cooler

Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, followed by an insulating mid-layer like a fleece jacket. For the outer layer, consider a waterproof paddling jacket to protect against wind and spray. Wear long pants or wetsuit bottoms to keep your lower body warm, and don’t forget insulating footwear and gloves.

Winter weather also calls for those waterproof socks and good kayak shoes. While you might feel warm as you paddle through the waters, your core body temperature is affected by the cold air temperatures. If you get wet, that matters even more.

Also, wear waterproof clothing, even if you plan on staying in your kayak. Accidents happen. You might find yourself wishing that water temperature was a bit warmer. Even if the air and water temperatures are not too cold, you will notice a chilling effect when your clothing is wet.

Sunshine State in Winter

As mentioned before, even in winter, the Florida sunshine shines quite brightly. While we welcome our year-round sunny conditions, you need to remember those sunglasses, hat, and even sunscreen lotion. The air temperature might be cool but sunburn is still possible.

Essential Kayaking Clothing Items

There are a few essential items that should be part of every kayaking outfit, regardless of the season or water conditions. A good Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is a must for safety, and it should be comfortable enough to wear for extended periods. Good swimmers often neglect a good life jacket but accidents happen and wearing that life jacket might save your life.


For sun protection, always bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Yes, even in winter, the sun in Florida creates a glare on the water. Winter sunburn is a thing, too. Protect your skin and your eyes.

Keeping Dry When on the Water

A wetsuit or dry suit offers invaluable help for cold water kayaking. Remember to bring along a change of dry clothes for after your adventure, too.

Kayaking Outfit Ideas for Florida Waters

Putting together a kayaking outfit for Florida waters can be fun and creative. For summer kayaking, consider a colorful rash guard with coordinating shorts, a wide-brimmed hat, and sporty water shoes.

Cold Weather Kayaking

For winter kayaking, a stylish fleece jacket with matching pants, a beanie, and waterproof boots could be a great look. Remember, the key is to choose clothing that’s functional, comfortable, and suitable for the conditions.

Safety Considerations for What to Wear on a Kayak

When considering what to wear on a kayak, safety should always be your top priority. Avoid loose clothing that could get caught in equipment or restrict your movement. Similarly, flip flop shoes don’t offer the support you need and might catch on rocks, causing injuries.

Bright Colors Ensure Visibility

Bright colors are advisable for visibility, especially in busy waterways. If you’ll be kayaking in cold water, remember that hypothermia is a real risk, so dress warmly and bring a change of dry clothes. Always wear a PFD, and consider other safety gear like a helmet and whistle. For safety, kayakers should always wear their life jackets, even in calm waters. Accidents happen and life jackets save lives.

Cold Conditions Affect Hands, Too

kayak, on the water, lake

Winter in Florida is usually quite mild. The central and south areas rarely see freezing temperatures. Still, the cold weather provides chills. When planning your kayaking clothing, don’t forget your hands. Water might splash on you and unprotected skin feels even colder when wet. To keep your hands warm, consider waterproof gloves. I prefer those with a thin layer of protection to allow my hands to move freely.

Core Body Warmth

You know, when you’re out there on the water, your core is like your body’s secret superhero โ€“ it’s got those vital organs under wraps, and it’s working hard to keep you going strong. But here’s the thing, in chilly weather, it’s not just your core that needs some TLC. Your feet, legs, hands, and arms can easily turn into ice pops, especially if they take a dip. That’s where your kayak clothing comes to the rescue!

So, what’s the secret to staying warm and dry? It’s all about picking the right gear. Think about cozy layers that trap in heat and ward off those shivers. Your lower body will thank you for waterproof pants or a snug wetsuit to keep the cold water at bay. And don’t forget those extremities โ€“ insulated gloves and warm, waterproof boots can be real lifesavers when the mercury drops.

Remember, it’s not just about being comfy; it’s about staying safe and enjoying your kayaking adventure to the max.

Dressing Right for the Ultimate Kayaking Experience

So there you have it โ€“ the inside scoop on what to wear for your kayaking escapades in Florida. Remember, your choice of attire can be the difference between a carefree, enjoyable adventure and an uncomfortable one. Keep those local conditions in mind, layer up sensibly, and always keep safety at the forefront.

Now, with your attire sorted, it’s time to hit the waters and savor all the natural wonders that Florida has to offer. From crystal-clear springs to captivating coastal treasures, may your kayaking journeys in the Sunshine State be filled with unforgettable memories and countless close encounters with its vibrant wildlife.

Here’s to many more thrilling kayaking adventures ahead! Stay safe, stay stylish, and paddle on!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear for kayaking in Florida during the summer?

When kayaking in Florida’s summer heat, it’s best to wear a long-sleeved rash guard or sun shirt to protect yourself from the intense sun. Pair it with quick-drying shorts or convertible pants for comfort and flexibility. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun’s rays.

How should I dress for kayaking in Florida during the colder months?

In colder weather, especially in Florida winters, layering is key. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating mid-layer like a fleece jacket, and top it off with a waterproof paddling jacket to protect against wind and spray. Wear long pants or wetsuit bottoms to keep your lower body warm. Insulating footwear and gloves are essential for keeping your extremities warm.

Are there specific considerations for kayaking attire if I'm paddling in freshwater versus saltwater in Florida?

Yes, there are differences. Saltwater is generally colder, so kayakers in saltwater may need more layers to stay warm. Saltwater environments may also have stronger waves and currents, so clothing that can protect you from the elements and help in case of a capsize is crucial. Additionally, be aware of marine life in saltwater, and dress accordingly.

Why is it important to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when kayaking in Florida?

Wearing a PFD is vital for safety. Accidents can happen, and a good PFD can save your life by keeping you afloat. Make sure to choose a comfortable PFD that you can wear for extended periods while kayaking in Florida’s beautiful waters.

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