Plus-size kayak clothing and handy accessories

Megan Smith
 min read

Let’s be clear about this… Whatever your choice of plus-size kayak clothing, you’re going to get wet, whether from a paddle splash or a total flip.

plus size kayak clothing and handy accessoriesCapsizing is a distinct possibility and usually happens when you least expect it.

The main reason for choosing the right clothes is to remain warm after getting wet as getting too cold can lead to hypothermia, a life-threatening condition.

Always expect and anticipate an unexpected swim

A loose, quick-drying outfit is the best kayaking choice. Synthetic materials dry quicker and will keep you warmer and more comfortable than wool.

Cotton can only be used in hot weather. Once it’s wet, it stays wet, and that goes for underwear too. Experienced kayakers opt for a nylon swimsuit under their layers, even in cooler weather.

Be prepared for cooler temperature levels and heat loss due to wind.

Water temperature VS Air temperature

You need to keep in mind that water temperature is the most crucial consideration, rather than air temperature.

The typical temperature level of spring overflow into lakes etc., can be a freezing 40° F (4.4° C). This is enough to rob you of your strength and energy within a couple of minutes of getting wet.

Constantly expecting to get wet and anticipating an unexpected swim is the smart thing to do.

As you progress, you’ll need to invest in more kayaking gear to carry you through different situations.

If you’re overweight, the following list will help you determine what you really need on top of your high weight capacity kayak:

Plus-size kayak clothing for heavier and taller individuals

Helmet ($45 to $165)

Whitewater helmets need to fit comfortably over your forehead and temples. Check the fit by placing the helmet on your head and trying to move it.

It should not be so tight as to be uncomfortable and must allow for some slight skin movement.

Stick to helmets meant for whitewater kayaking as these drain water quickly!

Sea kayakers rarely use helmets, and then only when checking out caves and inlets in rocky surf.

Paddling jacket ($50 – $120)

Paddling jackets are made from coated nylon and windproof fabric with neck and wrist cuffs.

They prevent water from coming into the sleeves and upper body and retain your body heat.

Paddling coats aren’t usually waterproof, yet they offer a fair amount of insulation when soaked.

Pullover or sweater ($40 – $170) (Plus-size kayak clothing)

When wet, a synthetic sweatshirt or pullover offers additional insulation and repels water.

Wool offers heat but remains wet. Some pullovers have low-cut necks and shorter sleeves to wear under paddling jackets.

First aid kit

Why would you need a first aid kit? Imagine the following happens:

  • Rushing to shore after a flip, you scrape your calf on a rough rock.
  • You cut your thumb while slicing cheese during a lunch stop.
  • While bringing your kayak to the water’s edge, you puncture your foot on a stick poking out of the sand.

These are commonplace injuries and can ruin your trip, so it’s a very good idea to have a first-aid kit on hand.

Emergency treatment kits can be bought for as little as $20. You can make up your own kit based upon your first aid skills, taking into account the sort of trip you’re going on.

Make sure that the quantity of emergency treatment gear reflects the size and requirements of your group.

Know the case history of every group member, and look at everyone’s current health before leaving, whether for an excursion or a weeklong adventure.

Find out if anybody in the group has known allergies and if so, include an antihistamine kit. Trying to leave the water quickly to seek medical attention is not always an option so you need to be prepared!

Shoes ($20 to $80)

Securing your feet from debris on the shore or rocks on the river bottom is essential. We cannot stress this too strongly.

A sturdy-soled shoe or sandal will not only prevent a foot injury but would allow you to chase a boat slipping downriver or a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) that is suddenly caught in the wind and is taking off.

For those starting out in the summertime season: An old set of trainers will do the trick.

Ultimately, you’ll want to go for durable plastic or rubber sandals or neoprene booties that are created explicitly for paddling.

They keep the sand out and protect your feet much better than most sandals or tennis shoes.

Boat rack ($75 to $230)

When you have a kayak, you’ll need to transport it to the water. The best way to do this is on top of your vehicle.

Standard roof racks are rarely appropriate for this kind of transport. Still, if your car has rain gutters, it is very simple to attach a boat rack.

Most bike or (online) paddling stores sell racks that fit perfectly on a vehicle. Tie the kayak safely to the frame with ropes or webbing straps.

An unsecured kayak slipping off a car is a major risk to other vehicles and can cause severe damage to your kayak.

At the very least, it should be secured by a rope connected throughout to each side of the rack and by a bowline and a stern line to the front and back bumpers of your automobile.

This will guarantee that you’ll reach the water’s edge safely and with your kayak intact.

Drysuit ($180 to $380): Plus-size kayak clothing

Drysuits are like dry tops without a waist seal. They extend down the legs to ankle seals.

Drysuits are terrific as they’ll keep you dry, especially if you end up in the water more than once.

The downsides of a drysuit? There is the discomfort of a tight neck gasket and getting in and out of some of these suits is no easy chore.

Spray skirt ($55 – $130)

The spray skirt fits around your waist and the rim of the kayak’s cockpit.

A spray skirt has a flexible edge that seals firmly to the rim and tapers to fit around your waist. When the skirt remains in place, the inside usually remains dry.

The majority of paddlers use neoprene skirts that fit securely and keep water out.

Sea kayaking skirts are sometimes made from nylon, which is a material well-suited to the boat’s big cockpit and the weathering impacts of saltwater. It is not, however, water-resistant.

Spray skirts are meant to fit your waist and the boat’s cockpit and are released by a pull (which is necessary for a quick exit).

Even without pulling the loop, a spray skirt should not restrain your movements. Well-supervised and practiced wet exits will give you self-confidence in your abilities and devices.

Dry top ($120 – $220)

Dry tops are an alternative to paddling coats. While the tight seals at the wrist and neck are less comfortable, they are excellent at preventing water from coming in.

While a dry top enables you to stay dry and warm, this type of plus-size kayak clothing does not offer much convenience and typically costs more than paddling coats.

Helpful add-ons and kayak accessories

Personal preparation goes beyond clothing! It also includes accessories that are convenient and practical.

A baseball cap or a hat with a large brim helps safeguard against the sun. Since water reflects and enhances the sun’s rays, it’s not surprising to hear the unprepared paddler complaining of a headache.

But it’s not only the sun that causes headaches. Sometimes it’s dehydration. Since kayakers engage in vigorous activity, they underestimate their need to drink water.

A water bottle that can connect or clip onto the boat within easy reach will prevent headaches, which are the first signs of dehydration.

Good quality sunglasses help reduce the glare reflected off the water. Croakies, Chums, or other tie-on straps for your glasses will keep them safe.

Paddlers who use contact lenses instead of glasses could be at an advantage as they are well used to using sunglasses. Many paddlers use disposable contact lenses and discover that they work very well, even in whitewater.

A dry bag or a dry box serves as a waterproof container to safeguard your extra clothing and food. Available in multiple sizes, they can cost anywhere from $15 to $135.

A little waterproof bag works for storing your sunblock, lip balm (ideally the kind with sunblock), and, depending on its size, a first aid kit.

Here’s a little tip: Keep a high-energy snack bar stashed away in your back. You’ll be very grateful for it at the end of a long paddling day. Getting fit for kayaking is also a good idea so you can last longer without getting tired.

Farmer John wetsuit ($70 to $220)

The Farmer John wetsuit is the paddler’s favorite winter wear. It is a one-piece body fit with thigh- or calf-length legs and a sleeveless top made of neoprene.

Cold-water divers use this classic wetsuit for decades (it is a sleeveless suit that covers the legs and torso).

A zippered front or a Velcro or breeze closure at the shoulder allows for easy donning and removal. The most popular density is 3/16 to 1/4 inch (5 to 6 mm).

The Farmer John wetsuit is designed to get wet and provides padding for those swims in rocky waters.

Its neoprene insulation works best when wet! Warming a thin layer of water with your own body temperature and keeping it between your body and the suit will maintain your heat levels.

The Farmer John wetsuit is excellent for newbies when it comes to warmth and sturdiness.

Tip: The best plus-size kayak clothing combination would be to use a Farmer John wetsuit and a wool or synthetic sweater covered by a paddling jacket or a dry top.

Headgear ($15 to $75)

Almost 75 percent of your body heat escapes through your head and neck. A hat will keep you warm on cold days, whether you get wet or remain dry.

On the coldest days, a neoprene cap can save your life, especially in the event of a flip.

An extremely convenient and inexpensive alternative is a swimming cap combined with a wool hat.

Paddling gear

Discover all the details about paddles on how to pick a quality paddle to have fun kayaking.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More