rain jacket essential?

hi guys

i know this a dumb question.

where i live it doesnt rain.

im new at kayaking.

do i need a waterproof jacket and pants?

Where do you live?
I would say that if you live where it rains, or not, no you don’t need a water proof jacket. It might be nice to have one if it does happen to rain when you’re out there paddling, but hey, if it’s also warm–what the heck.

I don’t worry about rain
I don’t worry about rain when I am paddling, as paddling is already a wet sport. Wind, lightning, etc. can be issues, but not rain itself (while paddling - becomes more annoying when you get off the water).

But, is it possible you are looking at something like paddling jacket and calling it a rain jacket? Paddling jackets look a lot like a rain jacket, but have a different purpose (to keep you warm when you might get wet, especially if there is a cooling breeze). Yes, they would help if it rains (and O have worm one off the water to protect from rain more than once), but their main purpose isn’t rain protection.

The goal of your clothing is to stay comfortable under the conditions you may see, including should you accidentally fall in. In my area, the water is generally cold. So we normally wear wet suits or dry suits. Wet suits are good at keeping you warm should you fall in, but are not good at keeping you warm when you are wet and if there is a wind. So a paddle jacket is almost required to help with the breezes.

not dumb, but need more info
It would be easier to give you a useful answer if we knew what kind of boat you have and where and how you plan to paddle. If you are planning to do whitewater you would probably want a paddle jacket – these are different from standard raingear. They have neoprene close fitting neck and wrist seals and also a way to seal tightly around the waist. Even in a dry climate on a relatively warm day, you will be susceptible to hypothermia if you clothing is soaked and there is any kind of breeze due to evaporative heat loss.

If you are going to be paddling only in calm waters, you will still get wet from paddle drip, something most beginners don’t realize. Even if there is little hypothermia risk, it can be annoying to have your sleeves and shirt wet all the time. If you are paddling a sit on top kayak or a recreational style with a huge open cockpit where a sprayskirt is not practical, you will get wet any time you go out and will likely find a simple paddle jacket very useful.

And if you go on extended trips there is always the chance that you will get held up and end up paddling back later in the day than you planned when the temperatures drop. A paddle jacket pulled on over your clothing will help keep you warm, especially useful when you are tired. It is also useful for keeping yourself or another person warm if they capsize and get soaked. I always have one with me stashed in the boat even for day trips on warm days.

Not a dumb question
Where I paddle it’s warm so I generally wear a bathing suit and wicking shirt about 10 months out of the year and have a rain poncho in my ditch bag because it rains alot too.

Generally you want to avoid cotton because when it gets wet it’s heavy and not very comfortable and it stays wet a couple days.

Tell us where and what you paddle and you can get 50 lists of what you need to carry.

If it doesn’t rain where you are,…

– Last Updated: Mar-20-13 12:26 PM EST –

you still might want a splash/rain jacket if you are paddling in conditions where you will get splashed.
Many times in cool weather it is nice to wear a splash jacket in combination with a spray skirt, (if you are a kayaker) or light weight gortex cycling pants (if you paddle a canoe).

Is it essential? - No

Jack L

it doesn’t rain?
Atacama desert?

You don’t mention…
the conditions in which you paddle. I live in Calif. and it seldom rains between May and October. There are still conditions in which I wear the spray jacket, such as:

  • wind blowing strongly enough create spray (yeah, even in summer, the tops of waves can be blown in your face and the weather can be chilly, especially with that much wind)
  • practice sessions where there is some wind that might penetrate my thermal protection (I have a wet suit, not a dry)

    Other than that, there is little occasion for the spray jacket. I have a turtleneck “sweater” from Travelsmith. Sadly, they don’t seem to carry it any more and the material information is long gone. Still, it is a synthetic that stays warm when wet. When cycling in the rain, it even blocks the passage of air through the pores. Marvelous fabric, whatever it is. I use it as a substitute for a spray jacket. It does hold a lot of water in the pores, which may not be a desirable trait for some, but it works for me.

    I’ll try to find the fabric info from the manufacturer since I want more of these :).


Did some research…
The fabric is, I believe, called Coolmax (Dupont trademark - example of better living through chemistry, I guess :). The fabric seems to be available from several sources (including Travelsmith) and isn’t all that expensive.

On a side note, my son just took my shirt into the back yard for testing, got it soaked, and walked around in the air. His response, “It’s nice, I want one.”