Hot Kayak-would different skirt help...?

So, I have a dark grey feathercraft that is of course all black on the sides and bottom, and I usually use a black neoprene sprayskirt with it. Now, this combo worked beautifully when I lived in alaska, but since the army has moved me to Louisiana I have basically never been comfortable. Was thinking of replacing the black neoprene sprayskirt with a lighter colored one (probably yellow since they don’t seem to make white) made of tropos or nylon. Looks like this would cost a hundred bucks or so, so my question is, would there be a noticeable difference in the kayak temperature from this, or would it be a waste of money and I should just suck it up and get used to drinking a gallon of water per outing…oh, and those whose answer to temperature is just roll the kayak every 20 minutes or so obviously haven’t looked at the water in Louisiana lately. Any advice?


I paddled all over the Naw’lins area…
…for 5 years with a black neo skirt. If you get hot, roll.

'course I’m a Marine and not used to being pampered.

Hot Kayak-would different skirt help…?
hahaha, yes yes, but service rivalry aside in this AO I prefer to only roll if necessary, I’ve sucked down more than enough sulphur dioxide during deployments and would like to limit my carcinogen intake if possible…have you ever looked at the water around lake charles…? Not my cup of tea (though the color is very similar


I love a cheap shot…
…you might try one of the nylon skirts or one of those half-skirts. Just keep in mind that skirts keep your thighs from burning as well.

Long after my active duty was over I was working at a big DOD computer center in Bay St. Louis, Ms just over the La/Ms border.

There is a SEAL team there that trains in the swamps. I asked one, “Why did you join the Navy if all you want to do is pretend to be a Marine?”

A Kodak moment. We became friends and he helped me get my arm off the roof of the building.

the sun is heating your entire kayak
which I assume is mostly black. If you switch it a different color skirt then you will absorb less solar heat there, but the same amount for the rest of the kayak.

Didn’t make any difference
that I could tell when I tried a “breathable” skirt in Hawaii. I used to put the skirt on my waist but not on the cockpit rim unless things got splashy.

Half skirt
Perhaps the half skirt would allow some of the heat that’s building up inside your kayak to escape; it’s what I use most of the time in hot weather. It shouldn’t be an issue if you have no intent to roll.


I’ve been using a white akuilisaq…
…for several years and it’s considerably cooler than a typical black skirt. However, I was told by the manufacturer (Brooks) that the white material is not as durable as black neoprene, though the only sign of that is that the fabric delaminates from the underlying neoprene, which is still intact and doing its job.

Unless you replace Louisiana with Alaska again, you probably won’t gain much in temperature relief. My lighter colored kayak with lighter skirt is not noticibly different than my darker kayak with the black skirt. It is just darn hot when the skirt is on.

You might try
a nylon skirt with an extra large tunnel and suspenders. This allows you to wear the skirt over the top of your PFD and gives you 3 modes of wear. For mild conditions you wear the tunnel completely down and open (suspenders off). This covers less of you body and gives max ventilation for getting heat out of the kayak. For small waves pull the tunnel up with the suspenders, but leave the top open for some venting. For rougher conditions pull up the tunnel and cinch it as tight around the PFD as possible. It is not as tight as a neoprene skirt but it does keep out most of the water even during a roll. The large tunnel for over PFD wear allows you to easily change the modes as conditions change without having to remove the PFD.

I paddle in South Texas and we consider the Lake Charles area northern cold water paddling :).

PS - Inflatable PFD’s are so much cooler for summer paddling in the south.


Yup, and there’s a 4th mode
When it’s NOT hot, wear the PFD over the tunnel. It seals out water much better that way. (I used to roll my first sea kayak with this set-up).

But the best move would be to make the next kayak a light-colored one. I put my hand on a yellow kayak and then on my (former) medium-blue kayak that were next to each other. Temp difference was like night and day…like my husband’s light brown hair and my black hair.

not a tough-guy solution but…
Yeah, I’ve seen that water, and I wouldn’t want it touching my skin any more than necessary.

This is kind of a wimp suggestion maybe, but how about packing some ice inside somewhere? Maybe build some compartments where you can pour in ice like on the seat back or near your legs, or rig some tie-downs for a dry bag filled with ice. And once it all melts, you’d have some clean water to douse yourself with.

Not an all day solution, but might help for a 3-4 hour trip. And I’ve heard that military bases have some great ice-making machines.

Answer = Air Exchange
Air Circulation is key…Burp the skirt regularly…

Fantasy idea I’m toying with:

I’ve been thinking about using a computer fan and a few hard rubber hoses to recirculate the air in the boat; Battery powered Fan to funnel shaped shroud(mounted rear deck like a kayak compass), to hose in, side by side hose from inside to out…hoses run through the tunnel of the skirt…Idea is to force air in which pushes hot air out…

done well, night work…

Better idea maybe, battery and fan INSIDE Boat, blowing OUT…use the side by hose to draw in cooler air… hose placement critical, warm air out the back (Behind seat? cool air in near the feet?)

'course, I’m the guy using Pool Noodle outriggers on my 17 foot Perception Eclipse to AVOID rolling (Also aid sailing)…in short, an equipment/idea geek…experimenting with kayak related stuff is as fun as paddling is for me…

of ice between your knees.

interesting idea
That’s an interesting idea, and one that’s pretty conducive to measurement. Have you ever tried measuring the actual temp inside the kayak? One device that might be helpful (and also useful later when the system is up and running) is one of those automobile temp guages designed to read outside temps. You can get them pretty cheap, like under $5, although quality is suspect so be sure to test it under controlled conditions. The devices have a remote sensor on a long wire leading to a read-out panel.

If you have a temp differential of at least 10 degrees (i.e., air temp in shade 90 outside, 100 inside kayak, which seems likely in an all black kayak and might be as much as 20-30 degerees ), then you might be able to achieve major benefit with a passive system - i.e., just using well-placed vents and no fans or other devices. The force of warm air tying to rise is pretty powerful (witness the passive cooling systems in the attics of many houses).

To use a passive system, the first step would be to install a vent to let hot air out near the top of the air chamber - directly behind you might work. This vent needs to be pretty big - I would think you’d want at least 10 inches of area (like 2x5 inches), more if convenient. And you’d want some kind of splash covering over the vent that tends to resist water intake without impeding air outflow too much (I’ve seen them, but forget what they are called - check yacht/sailboat store), so you don’t take in a lot of water when you roll (you’ll still take in some or the vent won’t work right, so that’s a disadvantage to the system - but, rememeber,the system is designed for places where you don’t want to roll anyway, otherwise that would be a better way to stay cool).

The air intake might be a little trickier. You’ll want it feeding in near the bottom of the kayak, but it can come from anywhere outside. Warm air trying to leave the kayak top vent will create a siphon effect on the hose, so it’s diameter can be much smaller than the vent, but I’d think you still want at least 1-2 inches diameter to avoid hindering the flow.

Now, adding electric fans and ice blocks and other stuff might make the system work much better, but it’s also going to complicate things pretty quickly. Before doing that, I’d start with a passive system and see how much that helps.

do you need a skirt??
Coomon practice here is to carry skirt within reach and just put it on whne you need to. This keeps the cockpit much cooler.

You do need to anticipate changing conditions for this approach. Once the waves have kicked up and you start shipping a little water, it is pretty tough to park your paddle and put on your skirt.

Seal Sneak Skirt
I use the Seal Sneak Skirt. It’s a full skirt with a zipper front that allows venting. It’s a “light conditions” skirt and I wouldn’t make a habit of rolling in it unless your roll is top notch, but during the summer in open water (Long Island Sound, CT) it’s nice to be able to vent without taking off the skirt. Personally I don’t like the half skirt. Boat wakes and crossing swells send water over the cockpit behind my seat at the hips.