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Paddling Gear for Sit On Kayaking

What you are wearing when you go kayaking can have a big impact on your day on the water. Being cold, wet and miserable is not the way to do it! There are a number of areas to consider including upper body, leg wear, thermals, footwear and one piece suits.

sit on top kayaks

  • Upper Body
  • Leg Wear
  • Thermals
  • Footwear

Upper body

The best thing to keep your upper body comfortable is some kind of cag, a waterproof, wind proof, breathable top. These range from fairly simple cags, suitable for warmer weather use, through to cags with latex 'dry' seals at the wrist and neck.

An easy option is a long john wetsuit like our Quattro with a simpler end of the range are cags like the Palm Vector or Yak Aura, which have snug neoprene seals at the wrist that will keep the worst of the water out, an adjustable neck for comfort and to allow air in and out if you get a bit hot, and a snug waist to keep things tidy. These styles of tops are ideal for warmer weather or paddling in calmer conditions. They are also good for packing away in you boat in case the weather turns while you are out.

Another couple of good options to look at are the Palm Mistral and Peak Tourlite Double which both feature twin waists, latex wrist seals and adjustable necks.

Next up the scale are cags like the Palm Oceana, Palm Thalassa the ladies version and the Yak Pursuit. They feature tougher and more breathable fabrics, built in hoods, watertight latex seals at the wrists and snug adjustable waists. These are great four season tops, they will keep the elements out during the cold damp winter months, but are also fine for keeping wind and spray out anytime you are on the water.
  Kayaks Palm Vector
Palm Vector Kayak Cag

Leg Wear

For warm weather use you can wear neoprene trousers and neoprene lined shorts. The Peak range of neoprene shorts, ¾ lengths and full length leggings as well as the Yak Neoprene lined board shorts are great for use during the summer months. But do be aware that if the wind picks up, or the weather changes that you could get cold quickly

What you wear on you legs is vital to your comfort while on the water. There are trousers and sallopetes, with adjustable ankles, watertight latex ankles, or even built in socks. The lightest weight options are trousers like the Palm Dart Pants, which are made from waterproof breathable fabric, and have an adjustable ankle with a velcro closure and a draw cord waist. This style of trouser is great for keeping drips and splashes off, as well as keeping the wind chill off. However with just an adjustable ankle they will not keep water out if you are stood in the water while launching your kayak. His style of trouser is great for warmer conditions.

The next level in legwear are trousers like the Yak Manta or the Palm Sidewinder trousers, which are tough and breathable, and feature a watertight latex ankle seal, and a high neoprene waist. The latex seals stop water from getting in at the ankle, and the high waist will overlap well with a cag to help keep water out.

The ultimate in leg wear are sallopetes like the Palm Sidewinder Bib, which come with built in socks, a high waist with shoulder straps and a watertight drysuit style front 'relief' zip. Sallopetes like these offer maximum coverage, and the best option of keeping water out. They are breathable and reinforced in key areas, and the high waist will help to keep you warm as well.


It's all very well having nice jackets and trousers, but if you are just wearing your t-shirt and jeans underneath you are still likely to be cold and uncomfortable. Good thermal wear is a priority. Cotton based clothing like t-shirts are just not up to the job, they absorb sweat and moisture and can leave you feeling cold and clammy quickly. After paddling your kayak to get to your favourite spot, you may well be hot and sweaty. Then you stop and the sweat in your t-shirt cools down, taking all your warmth with it.

In cooler weather you should consider two layers of thermals, a base layer and a thermal layer. Base layers are designed to move any sweat and moisture away from your skin to help keep you comfortable. Helly Hansen offers a range of Lifa baselayers, which are designed to be worn next to the skin. They are specially designed base layers that will help to keep you more comfortable. They are also ideal for use on their own during warm weather.

There are a range of thermals that are designed just for paddle sports. They offer great insulation, but are designed to be worn under water proof cags and trousers. The Palm Bhoting pants and Indus top are ideal and the Helly Hansen range of Pro-Wool thermals are warm and comfortable too.


What you wear on your feet is worth considering too. You could just chuck on any old pair of trainers and go, but if your feet get wet launching your kayak, are they still going to be comfortable in a couple of hours time?

You don't have to go for a pair of wetsuit boots, you could keep your old trainers and get a pair of neoprene socks. Palm TI neoprene socks are perfect for wearing inside any footwear, and will help to keep your feet warmer when they get wet.

palm descender shoe  

If you do fancy a pair of wetsuit boots there are lots of styles to choose from. Beware of boots that are designed just for board surfers, these often have thinner lighter soles. Great when you are on a surf board, but not so good for walking in, or getting to and from the waters edge. Instead look out for boots that have a tougher and thicker sole.

The Typhoon Surfmaster boot a firm favourite of ours as its thick warm and easy to get on and off, and the Palm Descender shoe is a slightly lighter option that still has a durable sole.

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