Gone Outdoors

How to Dress for Canoeing

by Sports & Fitness Editor

When you head out for a canoe trip, remember that wearing the proper clothing is critical if you want to be safe, somewhat dry and comfortable. The following steps provide guidance for planning and selecting appropriate attire for your canoeing activity.

Plan what you'll wear around your location and the weather conditions. In warm weather, as long at the water is relatively warm, you can wear shorts or quick-dry pants with a T-shirt. It's wise to bring a long-sleeved shirt, even in warm weather, in case you need protection from bugs.

Dress for comfort when you're planning to canoe in a raging river or in colder weather. Dress to protect yourself from cold water, because there is a lot of splashing and spray on a canoe trip and hypothermia can plague paddlers who aren't careful.

Put on a base layer of clothing, the layer closest to your skin, using fabrics that will retain very little water if you get wet. Good fabrics for this layer can include polyester or silk. Cotton clothes should be avoided at all costs.

Follow the base layer with a layer that adds warmth. Wool or fleece will insulate you from the cold. You will need warmth and wind-proofing.

Wear jackets and pants as your outside layer, In particularly cold weather or if you're going to meet up with whitewater, you might want to purchase or rent a completely sealed dry suit, which will seal out the water. Dry suits are waterproof, coated outfits that have gaskets at the cuffs and neck to keep out the water.

Choose shoes that will keep the rocks and sand out. In warm weather and water, you can wear sandals, water slippers or even old sneakers. But in cold conditions, it's wise to wear calf-high rubber boots

Rent or purchase a helmet if you will be tackling whitewater to protect you against hard knocks that may come your way. Bring your own insect repellent and sunscreen.

Wear a hat that protects you from the sun and other elements. A baseball cap is fine during warm weather, and a wool ski cap is good protection in cold weather. Any hat you wear should include a strap so it stays on your head when the going gets rough.

Determine if the outfitters you use or your guides provide personal flotation devices. State laws vary regarding the use of these devices, but in the absence of a state law, federal law requires that children under age 13 wear them while in moving watercraft.