Hold up, is it even necessary to have quick-dry pants for kayaking?
Surely, if you love kayaking, you obviously enjoy the outdoors and don’t mind a little water splashing on your face and clothes while paddling
Let’s face it — after a relaxing fishing trip on a calm lake, you might come home completely dry in the evening. But if you’re dabbling in whitewater, you won’t have a single dry spot left on your body.
You’ll want to pack lightly but efficiently for longer trips, which can last up to several days. And you certainly don’t want to put on wet pants first thing in the morning when it’s coldest anyway.
Therefore, your kayaking pants must dry quickly so that you can kayak with them for several days in a row, even in cool temperatures.
What Are Quick-Dry Pants?
Quick-drying kayak pants are the first choice for kayak clothing. Ideally, they should dry so quickly that they are dry in the morning, even after a windless night.
Good models should not stay wet even if you accidentally capsize and should dry as quickly as possible. Because if then further paddled and it is slightly windy, colds are otherwise pre-programmed.
Prepare an extra set of clothes for changing in a waterproof bag, just in case!
Quick-dry pants can simply be pulled over regular clothing and then taken off again. This gives the wearer the best possible protection against splashing water, wind, and cold on the legs.
Some kayak pants close at the feet, and others have integrated booties. This also keeps your toes dry and warm. Otherwise, you should wear warm socks and even special neoprene shoes, especially when paddling in low temperatures.
Do You Really Need Quick-Dry Pants For Kayaking?
Kayak experts advise, “Dress for the water, not the air.” That is to say, take the water temperature into account, and prepare for the paddling you’ll be doing.
If you are going to paddle in calm waters (dams, lakes), dress according to the air temperature. When paddling in fast water or in sea conditions where the chance of getting wet or capsizing is significantly higher, we need to tailor our clothing accordingly.
When packing for your kayak trip, don’t be fooled by good weather conditions. Even if you’re out in pleasant spring or summer temperatures, your kayaking clothes will likely get wet.
Wet clothes can draw heat from your body even if it’s sunny outside, and not only is that uncomfortable, but it can also cause you to catch a cold or pull a muscle. But it can get much more severe than that.
Hypothermia, cold shock, and drowning are real and fatal risks when kayaking in cold weather unprepared.
What Fabric Dries The Quickest?
Wool probably wasn’t on your list for quick-drying pants and outdoor clothing for kayaking, let alone the best possible choice. Traditionally, you probably think of wool as a thick and dense material that gets very heavy when wet and dries exceptionally slowly.
That may be true of your wool sweater or hand-knit socks, but you’ll be surprised. Merino wool has revolutionized outdoor clothing and sportswear.
This is because it is a natural material that is very skin-friendly. It’s also very durable when properly cared for and very odorless – even when you sweat, merino wool doesn’t develop an unpleasant smell.
A thin merino shirt will take only from noon to dusk to be dry again. Plus, it warms even when wet (sheep grow wool to keep warm, remember?)
Since merino wool is an animal product, it’s not suitable for a vegan lifestyle. However, if you choose this product nevertheless, make sure you select manufacturers that take responsibility for people, animals, and nature.
Examples of such companies are Woolpower from Sweden and Aclima from Norway.
Polyester fabrics are fast-drying, sufficiently warm, and cheap. The polyester fleece dries quickly after immersion and provides ample warmth once out of the water.
Fleece insulation is warmest when dry. In the water, fleece offers little insulation. For this reason, fleece insulation is best worn in combination with a neoprene layer that insulates against cold water.
An obvious downside is that it’s synthetic, so it usually doesn’t provide good moisture transport. Water might not get in from the outside, but it also won’t get out from the inside. So when you sweat from the paddling, sweat won’t be able to escape and dry – and that can be a sticky and uncomfortable feeling.
Neoprene is not a fabric but a rubber used to make wetsuits. It works by trapping a thin layer of water between the neoprene and the wearer’s skin. So, the wearer is always wet — that’s why it’s called a wetsuit. Body heat warms the layer of trapped water and helps keep the wearer warm.
Neoprene is all about embracing the wet element and using the natural properties of water to keep yourself warm when wet. Neoprene pants are a good choice for activities in warm waters when you don’t need the protection of a full wetsuit.
Quick-dry pants made of neoprene will take only an hour or two to dry, whereby smaller and thinner pants will dry faster than larger or thicker ones.
As for comfort, neoprene pants will be only between 0.5mm and 2mm thick, but they can be pretty snug and feel uncomfortably tight when you put them on for the first time.
GORE-TEX is not exactly a fabric but rather a combination of materials developed for outdoor clothing and gear. An integrated GORE-TEX membrane makes fabrics waterproof, windproof, breathable, and perfect for wet and cold weather conditions.
GORE-TEX clothing is always equipped with a Durable Water Resistant finish to make the outer material water-repellent.
Also, sweat can escape during strenuous activities or rising temperatures. This breathable property makes products with the GORE-TEX membrane much more than simply waterproof.
Which Fabric Not To Wear When Kayaking
Cotton is a terrible choice of material when kayaking, especially on cooler days. It absorbs a lot of water, provides no insulation when wet, and takes forever to dry.
You can wear a thin cotton underwear layer if you must, but be sure to cover it with wool and an extra waterproof layer.
As previously mentioned, fleece is also a hot fabric but will not be of much use when wet. You need more than one pair of fleece pants to change into and out of, and you need to let them dry for a few hours or overnight.
The critical concept is layers. Several thin layers of clothing will retain heat, and you will be much more mobile with them than one thick layer. Remember, it’s better to be comfortable, and when you have several thin layers of clothing, you can always take one of them off.
How Long Do Quick-Dry Pants Last?
Kayaking sometimes gets rough and dirty, so think twice when you buy an expensive pair of pants and buy them for life. Take good care of them, so they last for as long as possible.
Specialized kayak pants are designed for extreme conditions. In addition, many of them provide exceptional comfort thanks to well-placed seams and a cut optimized for a seated posture.
Quick-dry pants won’t get wrecked as quickly as other “misappropriated” garments like everyday pants or runner sweatpants. They are designed to resist abrasion and can withstand wear and tear, both from the kayak and from sand or water.
They will also most likely be free from rusting zippers, fasteners, and buckles, as water would otherwise break down the metal parts and cause damage to the adjacent fabric.
5 Best Quick Dry Pants for Kayaking
1. Lemorecn Wetsuits Pants
These neoprene pants are thicker (3mm) but ultra-soft and comfy, thanks to combining two different super stretchy fabrics.
Flat stitches add more to the smooth and comfortable fit: added durability and abrasion resistance to knee and seat pads.
They are designed to keep you warm in all water conditions: high waist and high back.
2. NRS Womens Paddling Pants
Lightweight waterproof, breathable HyproTex™ 2.5 material to block wind, spray, and rain.
They are designed to slip easily over insulating layers without restricting movement.
Double-layered seat and knees for extra durability.
High-rise waist combined with a wide neoprene waistband keeps water out when sitting.
Thigh pocket with a water-resistant Aquaguard zipper.
3. BARE Drysuit Fleece Undergarment
Very flexible, warm enough on its own, or with a waterproof layer on top.
Smooth stretch face for easy layering, fleece-brushed back for warmth.
Moisture-wicking & Microban odor control
Quick-drying when vented or removed.
4. Enth Degree Aveiro Pants
Great for high-activity sports like kayaking, don’t slide up when worn in combination with a top layer.
Water-repellent outer treatment and a windproof, breathable PU membrane
Soft-touch moisture-wicking fleece, high-stretch neoprene waist with angled seams for the ultimate anatomical fit
5. KOKATAT Gore-Tex Tempest Pants
Popular among paddlers and kayakers to stay completely dry with these dry pants – thanks to a tall neoprene waistband and integrated Hydrus 3-layer socks.
Exceptionally waterproof and breathable patented Hydrus 3.0 material with a lifetime warranty
Factory-sealed seams and adjustable “hook & loop” tabs.
In kayaking, as in any other sport, you need clothing that helps with temperature and provides insulation, durability, versatility, and comfort when you’re out and about.
However, kayak clothing should also protect you from cold and wet weather conditions.
You might just put on your favorite sweater and a jacket when you climb a nearby hill, but kayaking requires more planning.
As the saying goes: There is no bad weather, only inappropriate equipment! Match your clothing to the weather conditions and the bodies of water you are paddling in, so you can fully enjoy kayaking.