What To Wear Canoeing (Your Guide)

What to wear canoeing

Canoeing is very different to kayaking in the sense that with kayaking you’re actually closer to the water’s surface which makes you more prone to watersplash so you’ll be needing the use of a wetsuit.

As a canoe has a hollowed out hull with taller sides that you sit in, it means there is less chance of getting wet. Basically when you’re canoeing you are further away from the water’s surface and as result of this you don’t necessarily need to wear a wetsuit, your own clothes may suffice here.

However, there are some things you need to consider before you take your canoe out on the water:


This is an absolute must!

Anytime you’re out on the water, you want to make sure that you have a lifejacket on. It’s only for precaution but if something does go wrong, it can save your life. They are there not only to increase you’re buoyancy in the water but also reduce the risk of hypothermia.

Even if you are an experienced swimmer and excellent at keeping afloat, one thing you can never control is the current or coldness of the water. If you do accidentally fall into the water, you may start to panic but with a lifejacket on you’ll be sure to stay above the water’s surface.

Wear something warm

This depends entirely on the type of day you are going canoeing. During the summer months, it may be okay to wear a t-shirt and bottoms but if you’re canoeing into the autumn or winter months, I highly recommend wearing something that’s going to keep you warm.

Even if it a warm enough day, temperatures can be lower near water sources as the wind travels easier over water than land, this can add a certain chill factor to it.

Bring a hoodie, fleece or thick jacket just in case, it’ll allow you to stay warm, keep paddling and enjoy your day out more.

If it is too warm to wear an outer layer, try and get hold of a baselayer. This will keep you cool but also make sure that you’re not losing too much heat.

Wear effective footwear

Having on a good pair of shoes, trainers or boots that are securely fastened is essential when canoeing.

You want to wear good footwear so that you can move around the canoe if needs be.

The last thing you want to wear is sandals, these can easily slip off or may even make you trip over and in this case you may be a man overboard!

Don’t forget a waterproof jacket

Always make sure to take a waterproof jacket with you in case it rains.

The weather can change in an instant and you don’t want to be caught in a downpour when out on the middle of a lake or river wearing a t-shirt. It can be a long way back to the shore!

Just having a waterproof jacket to hand, will keep you dry and stop you from catching a cold.


On a hot day with the sun beaming down on you, it is an absolute must that you take suncream with you.

There is no shelter from the sun on a canoe so you’re completely exposed to the UV rays that can be harsh on your skin. Simply take suncream with you and apply it before you get out on the canoe.

If you’re out all day, make sure to reapply every few hours.

Take a hat

Once again, with the sun constantly shining down it advisable to wear a hat. A simple peak cap will do. It’ll just help to protect your head from sunburn and keep the sun out of your eyes so that you’re not constantly squinting.

Grab your sunglasses

A pair of sunglasses are also great to bring along with you. Along with the hat, they’ll protect your eyes from any UV rays and allow you to see better. They’ll stop you from squinting especially if you get a really sunny day where the sun is reflecting off the water’s surface.

Bring an extra pair of clothes

You don’t need a full wardrobe change but it’s handy to have a few items of spare clothing with you, just in case the clothes that you’re wearing get wet.

Even though the chances of getting wet in a canoe can be low, you still have to think about the weather, water-splash or an expected wave. If the clothes that you wear do get wet, you don’t want to be sitting in them the entire time your canoeing in case you catch pneumonia.

Take a towel with you

This is just in case of a little water splash or even if you decide to anchor your canoe and take a dip in the water (only if it’s safe to now).

Bring a dry bag

Always take a dry bag with you. These are great at storing items of clothing that are guaranteed to keep them dry even if it was to fall in the water.

They come in a range of sizes so choose one that you can fit an extra pair of clothes into or even store your electronic equipment.

Now, understandably from time to time you may get a little wet, you are on open water after all but due to the size and design of canoes, the majority of the time you will stay dry.

A lot of the time people do get confused about the differences between a kayak and a canoe. Even though they look the same, they do have different features.

—-> Check out the differences between a kayak and a canoe here <—-

It’s just about being prepared and and making sure to have these certain items with you any time you go canoeing, whether it be a warm sunny day or even a cold, rainy day. It’s good just to have them to hand.

If you have any questions, drop me a comment and I’ll get back to you

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