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Rainwear and Jackets for Sea Kayakers

Posted by on March 16, 2013

April showers bring May flowers but what do Mayflowers bring?? Well, if you come from my neck of the woods then the answer is: Pilgrims…but I digress…

Rain on the Ocean

Spring is in the air and in a lot of places that means a shift in the weather from frozen and snowy to a bit less cold and rainy! It’s also about that time of year when cabin fever can make even the most “fair weather” of kayakers decide that enough is enough and emerge to brave the rain.  After all, kayaking is a “wet sport” and there’s no reason why a little rain should keep you off of the water this spring! Here are a few pieces of foul-weather gear that can help ward off the elements and make your next rain-soaked paddle a little more enjoyable.


Paddling Jackets:

Paddling jackets offer a sea kayaker the best protection against the rain, wind, and spray. These jackets are packed full of “special” features that make them well adapted for sea kayakers. Most feature wrist and neck “gaskets” of some sort (latex or neoprene) to the water out and overskirts to prevent moisture from wicking up the skirt’s tube and into the jacket.

Kayak Dave is loving the hood on his paddling jacket during a rainy week along the Maine Coast

Kayak Dave is loving the hood on his paddling jacket during a rainy week along the Maine Coast

Another key feature is a hood; it can make a real difference on those days when unrelenting rain would otherwise sock you down mid-trip. If you’re a sea kayaker in the market for a paddling jacket then do yourself a favor and get one with a hood! Also, you really can’t beat GORETEX paddling jackets as they breathe much better than jackets made of other materials. Paddling jackets are a great example of “you get what you pay for” but they’re well worth every penny of the investment!


Storm Cags:

If you’ve been paddling for long enough then chances are that you’ve encountered a pop-up rain storm or two. These experiences make you appreciate being prepared and having the proper rain gear onboard. However, being prepared doesn’t mean that you need to wear your paddling jacket all the time; that’s what Storm Cags are for!

Kokatat Storm Cag

These poncho-like jackets are designed to slip over the paddler and attach to the cockpit rim like a spray skirt. This allows the paddler to “gear up” for the coming rain without having to take off their PFD or struggle to don a paddling jacket while on the water. Storm cags are not a new idea; they were inspired by the seal-skin tunics worn by Inuit hunters. The forecast on storm cags: these proven and versatile jackets will have their place in the “day-hatch stash” until the day when we can predict the weather with 100% certainty!



Budget-minded paddlers will be happy to hear that there’s no need to break the bank on one of the high-end, GORETEX paddling jackets to keep the rain off this spring. Try shopping the clearance racks at your local outdoors store for end-of-season deal on rainwear. The best time to do this is in the fall when the stores transition to their winter merchandise. I got a great deal (50% off) of a Thunderhead rain jacket at EMS a few years back. The jacket folds up into its own pocket and follows me everywhere I go in the outdoors for that chance downpour! Other great places to shop for deals include: consignment shops, classified listings, and websites like

Check out this excellent article by New England Vintage Chic on shopping for outdoor gear deals!


Silly Hats:

Broad-brimmed hats can go a long way toward keeping the rain off of your head! They can also help to ward off sunburn and increase your visibility to others on the water. One excellent option is the Kokatat GORETEX Nor-Wester.

Kokatat Norwester

One of my long-time paddling partners has been wearing this ridiculous-looking hat for years during which we’ve teased him relentlessly for looking like the Captain Gorton Fisherman! Turns out that he was on to something…the sillier the hat looks, the better it is for kayaking!

Stay dry while paddling this spring! (If that’s possible) 😉

-Kayak Dave

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