Hot Weather Kayaking
This tip is all about how to protect yourself while kayaking in hot weather. For most people, hot weather kayaking draws two key questions:
[list][item icon=”128077″ ]What gear do I need?[/item][/list]
[list][item icon=”128077″ ]How do I stay cool?[/item][/list]
I will explain how the right gear choices can cover both of these questions and I will break down the entire set up. First thing to cover is why we need protection while out in the kayak. This is specifically important during these summer months, but this can also be equally important to us in the southern states even during winter time fishing.
I have been told by the doctor that I have severe skin damage from sun exposure and have a couple spots that might be cancer.
These are the last words you will want to udder to yourself. Though most types of skin cancers are treatable, all types of sun exposure related skin damage is preventable. UV rays blasting at you from above and reflecting from the water below is your worst enemy for a regular kayak fisherman. It is that simple fact that makes hot weather kayaking protection not only specific to summer, but can even effect you on cool days when the sun is still glaring in the winter months. UV protection goes beyond sun screen and shade. It is essential to make it part of the gear that you wear while hot weather kayaking.
UV rays from the sun not only affect your skin, but your eyes as well. This condition results when sun damages the thin membrane covering the surface of the eye. The problem comes from a combination of UV light exposure (from the sun and reflective glare of light off water), wind, and dust from sand. No treatment is needed other than using drops of artificial tears to relieve any discomfort and reducing UV light exposure. But why go through that?
The Hot Weather Kayaking Gear Overview
So lets get into the gear recommended for hot weather kayaking and extreme UV exposure protection for the kayak angler. Below you will find a picture pointing out each piece of gear. Below the image I will break down what each one is.
1. The Hat
A full brimmed light weight and breathable hat is the most primary source of face and eye protection from above. A full brimmed hat will safe guard not only your face and eyes, but also your neck and ears. This hat is made of very lightweight and breathable material with a mesh zone around the top for heat transfer away from the body. The hat here is a Columbia Bora Bora Booney (since replaced by the Bora Bora Booney 2) made from their Omni-Shade material.
2. The Sunglasses
Polarized and 100% UV filtering sunglasses are a must. These block the glare from the water as well as the glare from above. And for us anglers, allows us to see into the water with little effort.
A lot of people will see gloves as a bit overboard, but the right gloves can offer protection on multiple levels. UV protection for the hands, less soreness from holding the paddle for long durations, and for fish handling. Unfortunately fishing gloves themselves are usually rubberized and can be quite uncomfortable while hot weather kayaking. What you see here is something I found to work the best for me. These are Under Armor hot weather football gloves. The material is completely breathable and so comfortable I forget I have them on during hot weather kayaking. While the primary gripping zone is paddled with tougher material and all points of movement easily stretch.
4. Buff or Sun Mask
The ultimate in face and neck protection from the upward glare of the sun off the water is the Buff or Sun Mask. These are 100% breathable, offer 100% UV protection, and are offered in hundreds of designs to go with your own personal vibe.
5. Long Sleeved UV Shirt
Yes long sleeved. You have to remember that all UV specific clothing designed for hot weather are highly breathable. I can spend 12 plus hours in the summer heat hot weather kayaking on open water without as much as an uncomfortable moment. Again you are looking for breathable and 100% UV protection. This shirt is a Columbia PFG (Performance Fishing Gear) made from their Omni-Shade material.
6. Your PFD
A PFD is essential to safe kayaking. Let me just hit a point opposing the usual arguments not to wear them. The usual comment is “I only paddle in shallow water, I can get out and walk.” Sure, this may be true. In that picture above I am in Flamingo, Florida and getting out to walk in that will get you quick sunk and stuck in the mud that lies underneath. Most importantly is the fact that you are in public waters with boating traffic. You get hit by one or thrown over and knocked out without a PFD – Your Sunk.
A lot of people ask which PFD is good for hot weather kayaking. Honestly speaking, inflatable PFD’s offer the lowest profile and least amount of obstruction to wear. Personally, I have seen too many that fail random inflator tests, but with proper upkeep they should operate fine. Buoyant foam does not fail. So that is my choice. What you want is a kayak fishing specific designed PFD. These are usually net mesh in between the major components and are cut to not only allow freedom of movement for your arms and upper body, but they are also designed in the back to fit above your kayaking seat back. With all of the mesh and specifically cut components, most offer fine breathablity in hot weather. The one pictured is a Stohlquist Fisherman PFD .
7. Leg Protection
For UV protection for my entire lower body I ventured into the world of hot weather hiking apparel. Here you will find long pants that are completely breathable, offer 100% UV protection, dry easily, and zip off into shorts if that is your desire. The ones pictured here are an REI brand but nearly all outdoor stores carry these items under various branding.
8. Footwear (Out of view in the image)
Again, in the heat most kayakers kick their shoes off. This I understand but do not personally follow. I burn when exposed and I over heat with the best of them. So again I have found what works for me given those two points. I use highly breathable low cut socks (from the world of high heat hiking) and breathable shoes designed for the water. The best shoe choice I have made is with the Salomon Techamphibian. Simply the best all around shoe for kayaking and venturing out of the ‘yak.
9. Sun Screen and Bug Protection (Out of view in the image)
I know a lot are thinking that sun screen should be number one but I differ on this. Though sun screen must be packed along, it is not your primary source of protection during hot weather kayaking. After time the sun screen applied will wash off and diminish through both sweat and splashing water. The gear listed above is your primary guards, sunscreen is a secondary guard for exposed areas (such as your nose, wrists, and ankles). The same rule applies for bug protection. Bug screen will also wash away, the gear above does not. This is again for exposed areas where the bugs are still biting and your gear is not covering.
I hope these views and tips I have expressed will help you decide what hot weather kayaking protection you need and please stay safe on the water.