Kayak in the rain

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Kayaking is an exciting outdoor activity that can provide a unique perspective on nature and a thrilling adventure. However, kayaking in the rain can be a different story. As kayaking enthusiasts, we often wonder about the risks associated with kayaking in the rain. Is it safe to go kayaking in the rain? How dangerous is kayaking in the rain? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and explore the risks associated with kayaking in the rain.

What Are the Risks of Kayaking in the Rain?

Kayaking in the rain can pose several risks, especially for inexperienced or unprepared kayakers. The most common risks include:

1. Reduced Visibility

Rain can significantly reduce visibility, making it difficult to see other boats, obstacles, or even the shore. This can increase the risk of collisions and capsizing, especially in crowded areas or near obstacles.

2. Hypothermia

Getting wet in cold rain can quickly lead to hypothermia, a dangerous condition where the body loses heat faster than it can produce. Hypothermia can cause shivering, confusion, and even loss of consciousness, making it challenging to swim or rescue oneself in case of a capsizing.

3. Strong Winds and Waves

Rain often comes with strong winds and waves that can make kayaking more challenging and dangerous, especially for inexperienced kayakers. Strong winds can push the kayak off course or capsize it, while large waves can cause the kayak to flip or fill with water.

4. Increased Risk of Injuries

Kayaking in the rain can increase the risk of injuries, such as slipping or falling while launching or landing, hitting obstacles, or getting caught in currents. Wet surfaces can be slippery, and rain can make paddling more challenging and exhausting, increasing the risk of muscle strains, fatigue, or cramps.

5. Lightning

Kayaking in the rain can also expose kayakers to the risk of lightning strikes. Lightning can strike water, and kayaks are excellent conductors of electricity, increasing the risk of electrocution or severe injuries.

How to Minimize the Risks of Kayaking in the Rain?

While kayaking in the rain can pose several risks, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid it altogether. With proper precautions and preparation, you can minimize the risks and enjoy a safe and memorable kayaking experience. Here are some tips to help you minimize the risks of kayaking in the rain:

1. Check the Weather Forecast

Always check the weather forecast before going kayaking in the rain. Avoid kayaking in thunderstorms, high winds, or severe weather conditions. If the weather looks uncertain, postpone your trip or choose a different location.

2. Dress Appropriately

Wear appropriate clothing for kayaking in the rain, including a waterproof jacket, pants, and footwear. Avoid cotton or other materials that can absorb water and cause hypothermia. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) and consider wearing a wetsuit or drysuit if the water is cold.

3. Bring Essential Gear

Bring essential kayaking gear, such as a kayak paddle, whistle, navigation tools, and communication devices. Pack a dry bag with spare clothing, food, water, and a first-aid kit. Consider bringing a bilge pump, towline, or other rescue equipment, especially if kayaking in remote or challenging areas.

Spray Skirts

Attaching a spray skirt to your sit-inside kayak can be a great way to keep rainwater from entering the cockpit and soaking you. Sit-on-top kayaks may not have this option, but you can make sure that your scupper holes are clear to prevent rainwater from accumulating on your deck. To prepare for any unexpected water, it can be helpful to carry a sponge to mop up any water that does get in.

How to get in and out of a kayak?

Kayak Rain Gear: What Should I Wear?

kayaking in the rain, kayak in the rain

When paddling in the rain, staying dry is the top priority. The clothing you choose will depend on the temperature and your personal preferences. Synthetic fabrics can be a great choice, as they dry more quickly than natural fibers and can wick moisture away from your skin. You’ll likely need multiple layers, depending on how cold it is. Bringing extra layers and spare footwear in a dry bag can be a smart idea.

Drysuit or Wetsuit?

A dry suit or wetsuit can be helpful when paddling in the rain. Both will provide a waterproof layer and help keep you warm. A dry suit will keep you completely dry, while a wetsuit will allow a small amount of water to enter between you and the suit, which then acts as insulation. You may not need additional outerwear on top of your suit, as it should act as your waterproof layer. Your PFD can go directly on top of your suit.


If you won’t be wearing a wetsuit, regular rainwear can be suitable for paddling. Make sure it’s actually waterproof and comfortable, with a hood and tightly cuffed sleeves to prevent water from running down your arms. Waterproof pants can be sufficient, as long as they allow you to move comfortably. For whitewater paddling, a wetsuit might be a better option, as loose-fitting pants can hold you back if you need to swim.

4. Follow Safe Kayaking Practices

Follow safe kayaking practices, such as staying alert, paddling with a partner or group, avoiding alcohol or drugs, and avoiding overcrowded or hazardous areas. Keep a safe distance from other boats, obstacles, or shorelines, and be aware of changing weather and water conditions. Practice self-rescue techniques, such as getting back into the kayak after a capsizing or paddling towards the shore in case of an emergency.

5. Stay Informed and Prepared

Stay informed and prepared for the risks and challenges of kayaking in the rain. Take a kayaking course or seek advice from experienced kayakers. Learn how to read water and weather conditions, navigate safely, and communicate effectively with others. Plan your trip carefully and inform someone of your route, expected arrival time, and emergency contact information.


Kayaking in the rain can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, but it can also pose several risks if not done safely and responsibly. Reduced visibility, hypothermia, strong winds and waves, increased risk of injuries, and lightning are some of the hazards associated with kayaking in the rain. However, with proper precautions and preparation, you can minimize the risks and enjoy a safe and memorable kayaking experience. Always check the weather forecast, dress appropriately, bring essential gear, follow safe kayaking practices, and stay informed and prepared. Remember that safety should always come first when kayaking, and that the joy and adventure of kayaking in the rain can only be enjoyed if done responsibly.

Check our Kayak Safety Tips guide

Will I Get Wet If I Go Kayaking?

Yes, it’s likely that you will get wet when kayaking. Kayaking involves being on the water, and water is bound to splash on you, especially if you’re paddling through waves or rapids. Even in calm waters, the paddles can drip water on you. However, the amount of water you’ll get on you depends on factors such as the weather, the water conditions, and your paddling style. So, while you can’t completely avoid getting wet, you can take steps to minimize how wet you get.

How do you stay dry when kayaking?

Staying completely dry when kayaking is challenging, but you can take some measures to minimize how wet you get. One way is to dress appropriately for the weather and water conditions. Wear quick-drying and moisture-wicking clothing, and avoid cotton, which can trap moisture and make you feel colder. Additionally, wear a waterproof or water-resistant jacket or wetsuit to keep your upper body dry. You can also wear splash pants or a spray skirt to keep water from entering the kayak. Finally, use proper paddling techniques to minimize splashing and avoid capsizing.

How wet is kayaking?

Kayaking can be as wet or as dry as you want it to be. It largely depends on the weather and water conditions, as well as your paddling style. If you’re kayaking on a calm lake on a sunny day, you may stay relatively dry. However, if you’re kayaking in choppy waters or rain, you’ll likely get wetter. Similarly, if you’re a beginner or paddling with poor technique, you may generate more splashes and get wetter than an experienced kayaker. Nonetheless, it’s important to expect to get wet and to prepare accordingly.

Can you get in a kayak without getting wet?

Getting in a kayak without getting wet is challenging, but not impossible. One way is to use a dock or a platform to enter the kayak. This allows you to step into the kayak without touching the water. Alternatively, you can try the “cowboy” method, where you straddle the kayak and then swing your legs in. This can work if you have good balance and flexibility, but it’s not recommended for beginners or in rough waters. In any case, you should expect to get wet at some point, and it’s essential to wear appropriate clothing and gear.

When should you not kayak?

You should not kayak in certain conditions or situations, as they can be hazardous or even life-threatening. For example, you should not kayak in strong winds or lightning storms, as they can create dangerous waves and pose a risk of capsizing or electrocution. You should also avoid kayaking alone, especially if you’re a beginner or paddling in unfamiliar waters. Additionally, you should not kayak under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as they can impair your judgment and coordination. Finally, if you have any medical conditions or concerns, such as a heart condition or a history of seizures, consult your doctor before kayaking.

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