Kayaking is an amazing way to explore lakes, rivers, and oceans up close.
But nothing can put a damper on your paddling adventure quicker than getting soaked by splashing waves or an unexpected capsize.
Thankfully, with the right kayak dry top and accessories, you can stay warm, dry, and comfortable no matter what the water throws your way.
As an avid kayaker for over 10 years, I’ve tested my fair share of kayak dry tops and waterproofing equipment.
A quality dry top is absolutely essential for keeping your core body dry and preventing hypothermia.
But a spray skirt, dry bags, and splash-proof gear can also make a huge difference in keeping everything else protected.
Here are my tips for keeping kayak dry top, based on plenty of first-hand experience!
A dry top is a specially designed kayaking jacket made of waterproof, breathable fabric that seals tightly around your neck, wrists, and waist.
It’s your first line of defense against waves, spray, and rain when kayaking.
- Look for a top made with a 3-layer Gore-Tex or other waterproof-breathable material that is durable yet lightweight. Avoid cheaper coated nylon tops that deteriorate and leak over time.
- Try on various styles to find the best anatomical fit. It should seal snugly around your neck and wrists without restricting mobility.
- Get a dry top with latex or neoprene gaskets at openings for the best water-tight seal.
- Choose bright colors for safety and visibility on the water.
I rely on my STOHLQUIST Sedge Rider dry top for staying dry in all conditions. It has never let me down!
Expect to spend $200 to $400 for a high-end dry top that will last for years. It’s worth the investment for serious kayakers.
A spray skirt attaches to the cockpit coaming to create a watertight seal around your waist.
This prevents waves and water from entering the kayak and splashing your lower body. Look for a skirt in neoprene or nylon with an adjustable tunnel to fit snugly around your cockpit rim.
Always practice releasing the spray skirt quickly in case of an emergency.
To keep non-wearable items dry, store gear and supplies in dry bags designed for kayaking and rafting.
These come in various sizes and are made of durable vinyl or TPU material that seals with a waterproof roll-top closure.
Use them to stow away anything that could get damaged by water – phones, keys, wallets, clothes, food, etc.
Strapping dry bags down securely in your kayak is also important to prevent losing possessions if you capsize.
While most kayaking personal flotation devices (PFDs) are inherently buoyant, not all are 100% waterproof.
Getting a PFD soaked diminishes its insulating ability. Look for types designed with waterproof fabric or sealed seams and foam to stay dry when submerged.
This will keep you warmer if you end up in the drink for any length of time.
Even with a dry top, your clothing underneath can still get wet from perspiration or water seeping in at neck and wrist gaskets.
Selecting garments made with quick-dry synthetic fabrics will keep you drier and more comfortable on and off the water.
Avoid cotton which lacks insulation when wet. Merino wool is also excellent at regulating body temperature and resisting odor when damp.
- Waterproof paddle pogies – Neoprene covers that fit over your paddle shaft to keep hands dry and warm
- Dry pants – Made of waterproof fabric to wear over your legs for added protection
- Waterproof kayak shoes – Prevent wet feet from waves splashing into the cockpit
- Dry bags – For electronics, phones, wallets, and keys that need to stay moisture-free
With the proper dry top, spray skirt, storage bags, and attire, you can paddle for hours in the rain, surf, or accidental dunks with confidence.
Staying dry is essential for maintaining body heat, comfort, and safety as you explore the waters by kayak.