Cold Weather Paddling Clothes: What to Wear on Top

kayaking in a fjord

(photo courtesy of @tfbergen)

As the weather cools down into fall and turns cold for those in the north, you can get by wearing anything in your closet for paddling. But there are tops designed specifically for paddling that’ll be more comfortable, and keep you warm and dry even in the coldest weather.

Watch this video from Paddle TV with Ken Whiting as he explains and shows us the best tops for cold weather kayaking, canoeing, SUP and packrafting…

The Best for Cold Weather Paddling: Dry Top

Dry tops are the best, bar none, for cold weather paddling. There are a couple reasons for that:

kayaking dry top

  • Dry tops have latex gaskets that provide waterproof, watertight seals at the wrists and neck. The latex is somewhat of a necessary evil, since it can be uncomfortable, especially around the neck. But it’s the best option available for cold weather tops.
  • Dry tops have a double tunnel system around the waist to keep water completely out of your boat when you use a skirt.

A Good Alternative for Cold Weather Paddling: Splash Jacket

A splash jacket still has latex gaskets at the wrists to prevent water from dripping in, but uses a neoprene gasket for the neck. It’s not quite as drip-proof as the latex neck gasket, but it’s more comfortable.

splash jacket for kayaking

Splash jackets also feature:

  • A hood for added warmth and keeping that water out.
  • The same double tunnel system as dry tops.

Splash jackets are like glorified, paddle-specific raincoats.

A Good Alternative for Warmer Days and Warmer Water: Shorty Splash Jacket

If you sea kayak, canoe or whitewater paddle in rougher conditions but you don’t need quite the cold protection of the two jackets above, a shorty splash jacket will do the trick. It’s similar, but with short sleeves instead of long.

kayaker's shorty splash jacket

It features neoprene gaskets at the neck and arms for comfort and will keep most of the drip from getting inside. It also has the double tunnel feature at the waist to keep water out of your boat when it’s attached to your skirt.

Tops for Warm, Calm Days and Warm Water

There are many options for quick-drying tops that have plenty of stretch in the shoulders for paddling comfort. Ken mentions a couple in the video that also make a good base layer if the temps will go up during your paddle day and you want to take off your outer layer.

kayaking warm weather top

The best tip for paddling in any weather: don’t wear cotton. It dries very slowly and if the air temps cool down, you can easily get chilled.

What paddle questions can we help you with? Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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