For summer kayaking what type of shirt under pfd and shorts

I’ve got some Columbia PFG long-sleeve shirts I wear for outdoor recreation. Nylon, SPF 50, dries real quick, tough as nails.

Those are the shirts I use. Very nice shirts. Mine say 100% polyester, and they are quick dry. I would get them again, if they wear out.

Well shucks! I prefer light to ultralight merino wool t-shirts and long sleeve t’s. The way I sweat when I paddle I turn anything synthetic into into reeking toxic waste. Wool lets me sweat without the stink and I find it has a much wider temperature comfort range when wet or dry. Maybe that’s just me.

They ain’t cheap but make a much better paddling layer for me.


Wool seems to stretch out easier on me.

Is that a good or bad thing?

I wear fairly loose-fitting 100% polyester long sleeve shirts with a collar and zip-neck that I can tighten up to protect my neck. Similar to Dri-Fit, I think one actually is. My wife likes to hunt for bargains at a local clothing thrift store and those are on her list to watch for.

With a wide-brim hat, I’m reasonably protected from the thighs up. I wear shorts with abundant sunscreen on my face and tops of legs, but a spray skirt often protects the legs anyway.

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Good advice on the zip-neck. My best pieces are zip-neck. Also, I have some Dri-Fit pieces from Nike that have worn like iron. I can’t seem to wear them out but like all synthetics, IMPE, they stink like all synthetics. It took a little longer and I still love them dearly but they are not like wool. Just sayin’.

OK. I’ll say it. Nevermind if you are male or female how are you going to urinate? What do you wear to address that? in your boat? Never have to? How nice to be you and never have to plan for that but what if you do? What’s your plan?

Shall I start another thread?

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I’d say yes.

In my case, so far, I’ve always been able to find land but I’m usually on rivers of not too far off shore.

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Off shore or in the middle of a larger body of water, empty 32 oz Gatorade bottle. Or, it’s a good time to practice a wet exit and reentry, but just take an extra minute in the water.

Or, set up a paddle float outrigger if you do not want to completely exit the sea kayak.

Did that just this week as I was in a known shark area (that I have fished most of my lifetime) 3 - 4 miles offshore. Though I did not see any this trip.

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I always wear shirts with seams like that inside out. Actually, I almost always wear any paddling shirt inside out, especially in the summer. Much easier on the pits.


I’m a simple guy, I choose one thing I like and buy 20x of it. In this case, I love Kohl’s choices in Tek Gear Dry Tek t-shirts, polyester. They’re regular $15 ea but with coupons etc. You can get them down to $10 or $8. I probably own 8+ of these, and they’re my go-to for general outdoor wear in the summer or just working around the home. They make a long-sleeve version but I’m not sure the price, maybe $25 or so. I like the other commenter’s suggestion about cheap windbreaker in storage.

I paddle SOT. SCUPPERS come in handy.


Flat seam interior of Kokatat. Outside is the same also. Last forever. 12 years old pennies per paddle outting.

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Just wanted to mention that a lightweight neck gaiter (like the ones made for fishermen) can also provide a lot of sun protection and they are usually under $10.


Many comments mention sweating. If you use evaporative cooling - by wetting your clothing - you can offload excess heat and never get hot enough to sweat. This works for warm air / warm water paddling as well as paddling with a wetsuit or drysuit on cold water. Evaporation is a well-known, time-proven technique that every paddler should be familiar with. It’s also the key to “keeping your cool in the heat”.

Polyester and other fancy synthetics are fine for cold weather in those situations where cotton would get damp, chill you, and be very hard to dry. But in hot weather, there is no better fabric than cotton if you’re using evaporation to keep cool. The fibers soak up water and continue to cool you for a longer period of time. Synthetics have to be re-wetted more often. If chafing is an issue, wear a thin rash guard and, if necessary, cover it with a wet cotton shirt. If your legs are exposed to the sun, wear long pants. If you start to get too hot, get them wet. Yes, you can be perfectly cool and comfortable on a very hot day when wearing a long sleeved shirt and long pants. (See links below)

There’s a lot of expensive (I would say “wildly overpriced”) gear on the market that is supposedly designed for hot weather. When compared to a cheap, long-sleeved wet cotton shirt, all of it performs poorly in terms of keeping cool on a hot day When using evaporative cooling, “quick-drying” isn’t a good feature. Paddling is a “water sport”. Don’t like getting your clothes wet on a hot day? Maybe find another sport.

Getting chilled when the wind starts blowing: Any windbreaker will eliminate evaporation. In a pinch, a contractor garbage bag will do just fine.

On the National Center for Cold Water Safety website, we have an entire section devoted to keeping cool. Visit it here:

We also have a video that walks you through the process. View it here:


In my canoe or SOT, I wear light weight long sleeve fishing shirts and long pants all year along with my Tilley and the Neutrogena zinc sunblock.
You can get great deals on fishing shirts at the end of the season and I always shop the clearance at REI, NRS, Cascade and others for bargains.

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I like a non-cotton button down long sleeve and a wide brim hat. It has pockets and the sleeves will roll up or down. It has been drenched in bug repellant and smells that way. I suppose it has developed some BO but hard to notice under the bug spray and sun screen. Hey I put it on when I am getting in the car to go and take it off & hang it on the line when I get home. It works for me.

Several sources, including articles in medical journals, report that cotten does not provide good UV protection whereas polyester, most other synthetics, and wool do.
For the summer, I recommend a Columbia PFG Zero Rules shirt with Omni Freeze Zero cooling treatment. It does feel cooler than other shirts that I have tried. It has a soft stretchy material and flat seams at the pits. After about 500 hours of paddling, it shows no signs of deterioration. The list price is $40-45.
I also recommend Pubolla Men’s Workout Athletic Pants (long), made of nylon and spandex with an elastic tie waist and three zippered pockets, sold on Amazon for $32.99 (as of today). I only have about 150 hours of paddling in these, but there is no sign of wear on the butt or knees. When they start feeling warm, I splash them down and there is some evaporative cooling.
Assessories always include wrap-around sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat with a chin strap, high SPF gloves. and sunscreen on my exposed skin.

You should dress for immersion no matter what. For me in the PNW, that means drysuit or wetsuit. For your lakes, they might be warmer, but know the conditions for sure and dress for the worst case scenario. (It’s tricky with the drysuit because it can be hot in hot weather, even when the water is ~45 degrees F which makes it necessary to have insulated layers to prevent hypothermia. Sometimes a wetsuit is better because I can get water on my skin for cooling. I have a sleeveless overall and then a 1.5mm long sleeve top (NRS Hydroskin- they also make 1mm and .5 mm)). And a dry top, just in case, because as others have mentioned it doesn’t take much of a breeze to cool you off quickly.