What Should I Wear Kayaking/Canoeing?
The first thing to remember is that kayaking is a water sport, which means getting wet.
That is a given. The reality of living in upstate New York is that it rains, quite frequently in
fact. We wouldn't have this gorgeous scenery here if it didn't. It is important to plan for the weather,
or rather, the very real possibility that five minutes after you leave the dock under clear skies, you will
find yourself the victim of a downpour of biblical proportions. However, there is perhaps no better time to
paddle Cayuga Lake than during our frequent drizzles. The wind dies down to nonexistent and the power boaters
leave the lake to drink indoors, rather than behind the wheel of their boat. A rather modest collection of
rain gear can turn a gray day into an amazing paddle. You are going to get wet anyway. Why not take advantage
of the squeamishness of others?
In the Summer, swimsuits are a good idea. It is important to stay away from jeans, miniskirts,
and other restrictive clothing as often the need for freedom of movement is paramount to not flipping over.
Low-volume shoes are always a good idea, and it is entirely possible for people to go barefoot. Clothing
which protects you from the rays of the sun is very important, as is the sunscreen for those areas
that can't be covered.
In Spring and Fall especially, it is important that you stay away from cotton clothing
as cotton draws the precious heat off your body. Polypropylene, Polartec, nylon, and Lycra (just remember
its a privilege, not a right) are all good things to wear, as are low-volume sandals, aqua-socks, or
wetshoes. Even in the Summer, non-cotton clothing is a good idea, especially if you are paddling late
in the day or on a lesson.
For the Winter months (and there seem to be a lot of them), a drysuit is ideal, but combining a
wetsuit with a companion drytop or semi-drytop and non-cotton fleece, can allow you to paddle in the
coldest conditions (where again, you won't be finding too many, if any, power boaters or that cursed race
of individuals we refer to unflatteringly as "jet-skiiers"). It is important to 'build out,"
starting with a base layer for comfort and the wicking-away of moisture; an insulating layer
of neoprene, fleece, or wool; and an outer layer of water- and windproof materials like Gore-tex or
coated nylon that keep you dry and warm. Don't forget to protect your extremities with hats, hoods, gloves,
and boots as necessary. A warm core will keep you alive, but you hands and feet help get you where you need to go.
No matter what the season, a good pair of gloves is essential to a blister-free paddling experience.
For the Summer, Boater's Gloves. For the Spring and Fall, Hydroskin Gloves provided needed warmth, while thicker
Reactor Gloves and Toaster Mitts protect one's precious digits.
For those taking lessons in particular, clothing you can get wet in is
important. We have wetsuits for those chilly days, but low-volume shoes are an important addition. Remember
to leave the cotton at home!