Beginner question about spray skirts

I have a couple of kayaks (one rigid, one inflatable) that I use to paddle around the lakes and rivers here in Alabama. I’m looking to learn how to Eskimo roll them, and to move into some basic whitewater kayaking. I know for this I need spray skirts, which leads me to my newbie question:

Can I buy just any spray skirt(s) for my kayaks, or am I supposed to get ones made specifically for the kayak models I have? All the ones I see seem to be fairly standard, but several places also mention certain models the skirts fit. Anyone have words of wisdom on selecting a spray skirt?

Thanks in advance.

I would imagine that you would need a good fit for whitewater as you wouldn’t want the thing popping off in such conditions.

You might want to check something like Seal at… and check their sizing section.


Many sizes out there.
The fairly standardized whitewater size is 34"X19", but that doesn’t mean every whitewater kayak has a 34"X19" cockpit by any means. Here’s one manufacturer’s fit list:

Notice the LK-200 occurs the most, but not even every time for the same manufacturer. The comparable size in the brand Harmony is LC-1. I’m sure if there is a spray skirt or deck designed for your IK, and there are some out there, it will have to come from that same manufacturer as they’re pretty specialized. Now, what hard shell kayak are we talking about? Some skirts fit different boats better or worse than others, even in the correct size. Oh, and consider neoprene if it’s in the budget.


Here’s my 2 cents as a relative beginner.

#1-if it fits, it FITS and thats that. obviously different makes/models will have different cockit size. some skirts have more stretch than others so will fit more than one cockpit circumference, but the whole ’ this skirt fits boat X’ is just so you don’t have to deal with measuring size yourself.

For rolling and whitewater you want something that will keep the water out good,ie an all neoprene skirt,ideally with a tunnel that fits you just right. the cheap all nylon skirts will leak bad if youre gonna do multiple rolls.

Can’t speak for the combo skirts with neo deck and nylon tunnel, i assume they’d seal good around cockpit but let some in through the tunnel if its not tight enough.

Cockpit Size And Your Size
The spray skirt you need will have to fit the size of your cockpit coaming. It will have to be secure enough so that it will not pop off yet loose enough so that you can easily remove it during a wet exit. You will also want a skirt that fits your torso. There are many differant types of skirts and there have been many threads on P.Net extolling the virtues of each type. The two basic types are vinyl and neoprene. The vinyl skirts normally are lower cost, eaiser to put on you, and are not completely waterproof. The neo skirts are generally more of a hassle to put on you, they are more expensive, and they are more water resistant.

That said there are lots of variables in terms of closures, pockets, materials…


NRS, Island Outfitters (tel. 1-866-445-7506), or any number of outfitters out there. They should be able to look up your boat and give you just what you need.

Your question cannot be answered
with the information you provide. To begin with, I do not believe you can use a skirt with an inflatable kayak. Second, not every kayak can be rolled. Most recreational boats cannot even though there are skirts for many of them. It is important to know what kind of kayak you have. So a description of your boat, how it is outfitted, and what your paddling goals are would be very helpful.

Rare IK’s with spray skirts, like this:

Now THAT’S the picture
I want to see in SI!


But I doubt he has one. :slight_smile:

What boats?
While the skirt has to be fit to your boat, as above you will also find that some boats will make learning to roll a lot tougher. If you include what boats you have, it’ll be easier to respond to the issue of how best you could set up for learning to roll. For example, it may turn out to be best for you to learn to roll in an outfitter’s boat for the class then apply that to altering your fleet.

Thanks for the suggestions, guys - it looks like Seals Skirts has what I need. My two kayaks are recreational, not whitewater, but I figure if I can learn to roll a big one on the river I can use that knowledge when I move to whitewater and a smaller kayak.

Seals skirts
Seals makes very good spray skirts. However, their sizing can be odd. It is best to try the skirt on the boat for which you intend to use it.

-what- boats???

What boats, exactly, are you paddling?

You’ll probably find learning to roll an appropriate boat will be much, much, easier. It’s quite possible that the boats you have (whatever they are) will make learning to roll difficult. Also, you should probably seek out a rolling instructor.

As others have said …
You are probably making a mistake. At least ask a knowledgable person whether either of your boats can be rolled and with what difficulty. Many rec boats have inadequate thigh braces for rolling (if they have any at all) and their cockpits are very large (requiring that you pad out the hip area so your butt does not slide around). The width will also be a problem, especially for learning to roll. It would be a shame if you were put off of river running because of a bad experience trying to learn to roll with an inappropriate boat.

I second the above
and add: learn to wet exit first. Rolling comes later :slight_smile:

North Alabama

Learn to roll…AND wet exit…