As much fun as kayaking can be, it also presents its own set of challenges, one of which is keeping yourself and your kayak dry, as water can seep into kayaks through various openings, and the last thing any kayaker wants is to be soaked and uncomfortable while paddling.
That’s where kayak spray skirts come into play. But you might be wondering: do I need a kayak skirt? And how to choose the right kayak skirt?
You will need a kayak skirt to keep water out of your kayak and stay dry. To choose the right kayak skirt, you need to consider your kayak size, your waist size, and the type of kayaking you will be doing. It’s better to get a skirt made of durable material and has easy-release features for safety.
Please keep reading to learn more about kayak spray skirts, why you need them, and how to choose the right spray skirt for you.
Table of Contents
What Are Kayak Spray Skirts?
Kayak spray skirts are a piece of gear that covers the cockpit of a kayak, forming a watertight seal around the paddler’s waist.
They typically consist of a neoprene or nylon deck that covers the cockpit and a tunnel that fits around the paddler’s waist. Some spray skirts also have braces or suspenders to keep them in place, and they may include a release strap for quick removal in case of emergency.
Are Kayak Skirts Safe?
Kayak spray skirts are generally safe when used correctly and in appropriate conditions. However, there are some situations when you should not wear a kayak skirt.
- Whitewater kayaking: If you’re kayaking in whitewater or rapids, there’s a higher risk of capsizing or getting pinned against rocks.
- In this situation, wearing a spray skirt can make it more difficult to escape from your kayak quickly.
- It’s important to weigh the benefits of a dry cockpit against the potential risks of wearing a spray skirt in whitewater conditions.
- Cold water immersion: Wearing a spray skirt can help keep you dry and warm if you’re kayaking in cold water.
- However, it’s important to weigh the benefits of insulation against the potential risks of cold water immersion.
- If you’re not properly prepared for cold water immersion (e.g., wearing a wetsuit or drysuit), wearing a spray skirt can increase the risk of hypothermia or other cold-related injuries.
- Inexperienced kayakers: If you’re a beginner kayaker, practicing using a spray skirt in calm water before wearing it in more challenging conditions is important.
- Wearing a spray skirt can increase the risk of entrapment or difficulty escaping from your kayak, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the proper techniques.
Do I Need a Kayak Skirt?
You will need a kayak skirt if you want to keep water out of your kayak, stay dry, and improve your overall performance on the water, especially if you’re kayaking in rough waters, windy conditions, or rainy weather.
Generally, using spray skirts can offer kayakers many benefits, such as:
- Protection from wind, waves, and rain, which can cause discomfort and fatigue.
- Improved stability and control, as water intake is minimized.
- Reduced risk of capsizing, especially in rough waters.
- Protection from spray and splashes, which can be cold and uncomfortable.
- Enhanced buoyancy, as water is prevented from entering the kayak.
However, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the potential risks and to make informed decisions about when to wear a spray skirt based on your skill level, kayaking conditions, and equipment.
How to Choose the Right Spray Skirt?
Choosing the right spray skirt is essential for a comfortable and safe kayaking experience. So, here are some factors to consider when choosing a spray skirt:
- Cockpit Size: Spray skirts come in various sizes to fit different cockpit sizes. So, it’s important to measure your kayak’s cockpit and choose a spray skirt that matches the size.
- Waist Size: The waist tunnel of the spray skirt should fit snugly around your waist to prevent water from entering. So, make sure to measure your waist size and choose a spray skirt that fits comfortably.
- Material: Spray skirts are made from neoprene or nylon. You need to choose the material that best suits your needs and preferences.
- Neoprene is more durable and offers better insulation, while nylon is more lightweight and breathable.
- Deck Style: Spray skirt decks come in bungee and rand. You need to consider the style that best suits your kayaking style and preferences.
- Bungee-style decks are easier to put on and take off, while rand-style decks offer a tighter seal around the cockpit.
- Additional Features: Look for additional features that may enhance your kayaking experiences, such as braces or suspenders to keep the spray skirt in place or a release strap for easy removal in case of an emergency.
Overall, choose a spray skirt that fits well, is made from durable materials, and offers the features you need for your kayaking style and preferences.
Best Kayak Spray Skirts
This Seals Inlander Spray Skirt is my top pick for a reliable spray skirt. Its excellent performance, ease of use, and durable construction make it the perfect choice for recreational kayakers of all skill levels.
It’s crafted from high-quality double-stitched nylon and designed to fit most kayaks, with an adjustable bungee cord rim that ensures a secure and watertight fit around the cockpit. It also features an adjustable waistband that provides a comfortable and customizable fit.
Another recommendation is the Attwood Kayak Spray Skirt, which is an ideal choice for kayakers on a budget. Despite its affordable price, this spray skirt doesn’t compromise on quality or performance.
It’s crafted from high-quality nylon with PVC-sealed seams and features adjustable cords to ensure a secure and watertight fit around the cockpit and your waist. It also comes with a mesh bag for easy storage.
Making a DIY Spray Skirt
To make a DIY kayak skirt, you’ll need some basic materials such as waterproof fabric, elastic, and a sewing machine. You can also find detailed instructions and patterns for kayaking online or in kayaking magazines and books.
However, keep in mind that this can be a challenging and time-consuming project, especially if you don’t have experience with sewing and working with waterproof materials.
It requires precision and attention to detail to ensure a proper fit and a watertight seal. Using high-quality materials and testing your skirt in calm water is also important before using it in more challenging conditions.
So, if you’re not confident in your sewing skills or want a skirt guaranteed to fit your kayak properly, it may be worth investing in a professionally-made kayak skirt.
How to Use a Kayak Spray Skirt?
Using a kayak spray skirt is a straightforward process, but it’s important to do it correctly to ensure a safe and comfortable kayaking experience. So, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Put on your PFD: Always put on your personal flotation device (PFD) before putting on your spray skirt.
- Position the spray skirt: Hold the spray skirt in front of you, with the cockpit cover facing down. Position the waist tunnel around your waist, with the cockpit cover facing up.
- Secure the spray skirt: Pull the cockpit cover over your kayak’s cockpit, ensuring the cover is centered and aligned with the kayak. Secure the edges of the cover around the cockpit using the rand or bungee cords, depending on the style of your spray skirt.
- Adjust the fit: Adjust the fit of the waist tunnel so that it fits snugly around your waist without being too tight or restrictive. Make sure the spray skirt forms a watertight seal around the cockpit.
- Test the fit: Lean forward, backward, and to the sides to test the fit of the spray skirt. Make sure the spray skirt stays in place and doesn’t allow water to enter the cockpit.
To remove the spray skirt, grab the release strap on the front of it and pull it towards you. This will release the rand or bungee cords, allowing you to remove the spray skirt.
Remember to practice putting on and taking off your spray skirt before heading out on the water to ensure you’re comfortable with the process. It’s also a good idea to test the fit of your spray skirt in calm water before using it in more challenging conditions.
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