Dressing for kayaking involves two main issues: comfort and safety. Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.
- Children & smaller people need more protection.
- People with infirmities need more protection.
- There are individual differences: do you run hot or cold?
Dressing for any outdoor activity involves layering. Things you can take on and off easily as the weather changes.
This a layer of thin garment against your skin. Its function is to keep you dry and comfortable. By keeping your skin dry, it keeps you warmer. Many people refer to this as the wicking layer, because it moves the moisture away from your skin to the next layer. Think of silk weight, merino wool, polyester or Polypropylene garments, like Helly Hansen. Cotton is the worst for cool to cold environments!
Depending on the water and air temperature the thickness of this layer will vary. An insulation layer can consist of one medium-weight garment or of two different thinner garments. Things like: fleece jackets & vests, thicker half zips – anything that will keep you warm even if it gets wet. No hoodies! No jeans! Cotton is right out; down is also not a good insulator when wet.
Haida Gwaii is a wet place, so you should have a rain jacket. Rain jackets that have Gore-tex or other types of breathabilty work (though not for extended periods) as do specific paddling jackets. You don’t need to worry about bringing wet or dry suits on any of our tours.
A hat is a must, to keep the sun off your face. Ditto sunglasses. Contrary to popular belief, we do get sunny days on Haida Gwaii, so have sunscreen on hand (reflections off the water can exacerbate sun exposure). Lip chap, small camera, etc may be things you’ll want to bring, but make sure they are protected from wetness (no diving for iphones). Also, if you run cold, consider bring a toque just in case. If your hands are prone to blisters, you can get neoprene paddling gloves in a variety of options.
Consider what kind of footwear you will be using. Anything from rubber boots, neoprene shoes or booties, or chaco-style sandals will work fine. Just make sure your footwear is study enough to deal with sharp barnacles and gravelly beaches. Running shoes can do in a pinch, but they will get soaked and salt water is merciless on shoes.