Anyone ever go kayaking in the rain?

The DFW area will soon be underwater if this rain doesn’t let off soon. There’s been a few areas where the fields are probably deep enough to actually paddle on. Anyway, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been out on the water and I’m starting to get withdrawals and figure I’d like to take it out during one of those quick lulls in the weather to a local pond but was wondering if there is anything I’m not thinking about safety wise.

Yes, intentionally and unintentionally

– Last Updated: Jun-03-16 11:07 AM EST –

Of course, for me, I'm talking about using canoes or rowboats instead of kayaks, but the idea is the same. Most outings in the rain just turned out that way, but I've gone out even when a rainstorm was either already in progress or a complete certainty.

There can be all sorts of subtle beauty during rainstorms. One of my favorites is that on ANY kind of flowing water, there will be weaving patterns on the surface formed by the contrast between locations where the raindrops spatter in the normal way, and places where the water tends to remain "slick" in spite of the raindrops. You may not see that during a deluge, but during any normal rain it's pretty cool. You'll even see that within your own boat's wake for several minutes after your passing.

Of course, there are innumerable other ways that rain creates interesting things to see and experience. Never paddling in the rain would be similar to never paddling at night. Paddle whenever you can! As far as safety goes, all I'd say is use common sense when it comes to lightning.

Yah, canoes and rain
The fish were biting and it was just a sprinkle, right? Well, it didn’t stay that way. As the 10 acre lake was nestled in a little valley between tall peaks I couldn’t see what was coming next. Downpour! By the time I paddled to my take-out, small lake remember, I was thoroughly soaked. Ok, I’m not going to get any wetter now. I loaded the canoe on its cart and pulled it back to camp. Finally under my awning, I unloaded the boat and dumped out a couple of inches of water. Rain happens.

Paddling in moving floodwaters with all of the debris that comes with them can be dangerous. But if you’re in a calm body of water, not really. Just use your common sense as GBG says.

yes in touring kayaks
Yes in touring kayaks. For coastal paddles here in California, the water is so cold we always wear wet suits or dry suits, so rain doesn’t really bother anything. Strong winds and lightning would be much more worrisome. And flood currents, which you might have.

Slow moving
Slow moving flood water. No strainers and doesn’t seem to lead to a waterway. Thinking water might be a foot deep. I’m thinking the marina at Benbrook lake might be closed. My other option within a 30 sec drive.

Flooding sometimes allows untreated sewage to escape and things may get flooded and release oil or gas (basement furnaces, lawnmowers and cars, etc). If the water smells funky, steer clear.

potential pathogens
I would be very cautious about paddling in waters in any flood zone especially in urban and suburban areas. Many regions have comingled storm runoff and sewage systems and heavy rains and floods will lead to high levels of coliform and worse pathogen levels in local waterways leading to raw sewage and industrial runoff in the water. I’ve gotten a nasty bout of salmonella from river water in such conditions in the past and even this week have been fighting an intestinal bug I suspect I picked up while kayaking in a particularly nasty creek in New York last weekend (forgot my hand sanitizer).

Check to see if there are health or environmental department warnings on bacteria and chemical runoff levels in the waters. And if you do go out, take along a bottle of hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes and use them liberally on your hands before handling food and to wipe off the lip of your water bottle before drinking. Slap a waterproof bandage on any open cuts, too.

I’m a Brit so…
…I pretty much grew up in the rain!

And actually I rather like taking a kayak out in it. I would assiduously avoid flood waters though, and even the slightest possibility of lightning would turn my high angling paddling style (with a carbon fiber paddle) into the lowest possible angle I could manage!

Of course in the rain
In floodwaters in an urban area no.

Sewage can’t be good for you

I have paddled in flood plains that were flooded. There isn’t any development. It’s neat to paddle the Saco in the woods. Not much current

I love paddling in the rain be not with all the stuff mentioned above and downed power lines.

Rain not floodwaters
Agree with Guideboatguy that paddling in the rain is interesting. Also agree about not paddling in floodwaters where pollutants and floating debris are dangerous.

Paddling in the rain is just part of paddling. I just where good rain gear and carry a bailer to get the rainwater out of my canoe.

While I haven’t paddled a kayak in over 15 years, one of my most enjoyable paddles was years ago when a friend and I went to northeast Iowa for a fall colors paddling weekend. On the second day out we had a steady gentle rain all day with temps in the low 50’s.

We wore fleece vests under our rain jackets and were very comfortable in our kayaks. Between the good rain gear and using kayak skirts we were also very dry. All in all and very pleasant nature paddling experience.

Sure, many times

– Last Updated: Jun-03-16 3:43 PM EST –

sometimes on purpose, a lot of times not. As long as there isn't lightning you're usually pretty safe. Your plan to paddle in a familiar pond sounds perfectly safe. What I worry about is people paddling in actual flood waters, whether swollen creeks or flooded streets and whatnot. Currents can be unpredictable and there can be underwater debris that causes hazards. Plus pollution and pathogens. Not to mention that's when the water mocassins and alligators get displaced.

I feel your pain about the rain, I'm down here in Houston, on the west side of town so not that far from Fort Bend which is getting really hammered.

Sure! In Alaska every day.
Also in the ADK 90 miler, it is a sure bet that it will gully wash when we are on the Raquette river

In the Florida Keys, when we are eight miles out in the Gulf.

The first drop is the worst ! The second isn’t too bad, and from the third on it is fun

Jack L

Beware of lightning strikes, and if you wear glasses you’ll want windshield wipers - you can try a billed hat… but beyond those I think you are fine in terms of any risks from the weather anyways.

eech, I neglected to mention that.

mucho water means mucho opportunity
everything has its window of opportunity- when things get “blown out” other runs become available- think of normally unrunnable intermittent streams, wet lands that are normally to dry to paddle, and yes even bottom lands that lie in the floodplain.

I’d add navigation to the list of concerns. If you’re paddling in forested areas that are flooded that can be a real issue. You can’t always follow the flow when tributaries or the main stems are backing up and changing the direction of flow. GPS can helpful in that situation. Or take small bites- up and back paddles until you get a feel for it.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of paddling in the rain but a day in the rain still beats a day of not paddling at all. I’ve done my share of videoing commercial raft trips from under an umbrella- glad I was getting paid to do it! Now I’m a bit more of a fair weather paddler.

Will probably be a bit conservative
I am going to probably take it easy. The rain lately has gone from light rain to heavens opening up and letting go and resulting info flash floods.

My goal was to paddle around some of these flooded plain areas out in the country with no currents and minimal obstructions. I’m a big nature lover and birder and was surprised at what pops up when you can paddle around some of these areas after folks leave it alone for a couple of days.

My problem now is that I’m not sure if I’ll be trespassing since some of the property markets and signs maybe under water. Here in TX, some folks don’t take kindly to strangers on their land so I’m thinking about playing it safe. I’ll stick to the parks, ponds, and lakes.

Rainy day paddlin’
No problem, as long as there is no lightning, and you have quality rain gear, and a sponge or bailer.

I rather enjoy paddling with snow on the ground, and a light snow falling. The river seems abnormally quiet. The drunks & river dorks have stayed home.

Freezing rain is the worst in my opinion. Giant hassle trying to keep ice out of your beard(if you have one), and your eyelashes. Any exposed gear(including your paddle)is covered with a layer of ice. Setting up tent/rainfly/camp is a big hassle; packing gear after a night of freezing rain is a “giant” hassle.

Backpacking in freezing rain is also not much fun to me.


I agree…
with Peter here. I LOVE paddling in the ocean in the rain, even if there is a bit of wind. It doesn’t seem to bother the marine mammals, there are fewer motor craft, and the wind and weather makes for interesting paddling.

In rivers and creeks, however, you have to be aware that water levels can elevate VERY quickly and create dangerous conditions and currents. Lakes, as long as there is no lightning, should be fine.

You have to be dressed for the weather or you will likely be miserable in a very short time.