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Paddling Apparel

Types of Paddling Apparel

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Dry Suits

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Wet Suits

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Paddle Jackets

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Paddling Gloves

Top Picks

How we choose: The best paddling apparel highlighted here were selected based on 23 reviews of 17 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a paddling apparel that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Top Dry Suit

NRS Extreme SAR Drysuit

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

It is what it says it is — an EXTREME search and rescue drysuit!

Reasons to Buy

  • Durability
  • Visibility
  • Warmth

Reasons to Avoid

  • Difficult to get feet into neoprene overboots

I work on a Fire Department Swift Water Rescue Team. Because of my familiarity with drysuits from my Dive Rescue experience the chief asked me to choose a drysuit for the team. I chose this one for a number of reasons foremost amongst those was the welded seams. Most kayaking drysuit come with taped seams and I just didn't feel that would stand up to the demanding use of our rescue team.   Other features are the glow-in-the-dark sleeve patches, the durable cordura construction, and the team size concept.

Read more: NRS Extreme SAR Drysuit reviews (3)

Top Long Sleeve Paddling Shirt

NRS H2Core Silkweight Hoodie

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A super comfortable, sunproof, and fast-drying hoodie that works as well as for home, hut, and camp lounging as on the river.

Reasons to Buy

  • Sheet fabric and loose fit for maximum comfort
  • SPF50 sun protection from top the head to waist and knuckles
  • Fast drying polyester

Reasons to Avoid

  • Polyester fabrics contribute to microplastic pollution

On our May 2018 raft trip through Cataract Canyon, most of the guides and some of the repeat clients wore these hoodies all day out on the river, often with the hood up as full protection from the relentless Utah sun. My wife and I ordered a pair after getting back to Tucson and haven’t been out on a river since. But right now these shirts are on closeout at NRS for a nice price, so maybe it’s worth sharing what experience I have with it. The rugged guides and clients from the river trip will model the shirt in various colors.

Read more: NRS H2Core Silkweight Hoodie review (1)

Top Paddling Pant

Kokatat Tempest Pant

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

I use these pants for whitewater kayaking. The ability to stay dry is a must, when paddling in Alabama during the winter. I have had these pants for two months and love them. Best practice, stay in your boat, but if you swim these pants will work.

Reasons to Buy

  • Keeps you dry

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not sure of the durability (still new)

Before I began using these pants I had been suffering form having no way to paddle in the COLD waters in Alabama. After a friend purchased a pair I had to get some myself. I now have the ability to paddle on the colder days of winter.   The built-in socks are also nice to have, keeping your feet from in the freezing water on those frigid swims. A must for every paddler looking to stay dry. 

Read more: Kokatat Tempest Pant reviews (2)

Top Paddling Glove

NRS Maverick Glove

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

An awesome, all weather DRY glove!

Reasons to Buy

  • Dry

My Fire Department Swift Water Rescue team trains in the river 12 months of the year and is called on for rescue efforts in all conditions. These gloves work well in snow, sleet, ice cold water — you name it they work!   When our swift water team was formed we specced out some cheap neoprene gloves in an attempt to save the taxpayers money. As it turns out those gloves were near unusable during the winter months and a lot of  the guys were going gloveless rather than wear neoprene.   We then went to the NRS Maverick Glove which remains dry provided you spend the extra thirty seconds or so required to get a good seal over your dry suit wrist seals.

Read more: NRS Maverick Glove review (1)

Paddling Glove

Stohlquist Contact Fingerless

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

A surprisingly good pair of gloves for the price. Decent fit and breathable enough in most conditions. Have held up really well over the past few years.

Reasons to Buy

  • Successfully prevents blisters
  • Fuzzy spot for wiping water off your sunglasses

Reasons to Avoid

  • Tight on fingers, while loose on wrists

I bought these because they were on sale and I need something to stop my hands from blistering. I get terrible blisters on the sides of my thumbs and between my thumb and first finger when I kayak or canoe without gloves. I’ve been using them for about three years now, and they have minimal visible wear. There’s nothing that stands out as making these gloves super awesome, but they perfectly fulfilled my expectations and perform the task I got them for without me ever having to think about it.

Read more: Stohlquist Contact Fingerless review (1)

Paddling Glove

NRS Boaters Gloves

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

Great blister and sun protection, but the palms "pill" quickly.

Reasons to Buy

  • Blister protection
  • Sun protection
  • Fit nicely

Reasons to Avoid

  • Palm material could be better
  • I wish the palms weren't white—show dirt easily
  • Don't dry quickly

I like these fingerless gloves a lot, but I'm not sure I will buy another pair when these wear out. They do keep my hands from getting blistered, and the fingerless design allows for good digital dexterity. However, I don't like that the material on the palms is white—after one use they looked pretty grubby, and the suede was "pilling" (like a sweater).  On hot days, it is nice to wear these because you can dip your hands in the water and the fabric retains it so it keeps you cool. Transversely, that same quality is not so great when you'd rather be warm and dry! I would recommend them if blisters are a big problem for you. They are better in hot weather than cold.

Read more: NRS Boaters Gloves reviews (4)

Dry Suit

Stohlquist Amp

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Best drysuit I've ever owned.

Reasons to Buy

  • Price
  • Works to keep you dry!
  • Made in USA
  • Pretty darn comfortable for a drysuit
  • Adjustable waist
  • Relief zipper
  • Pretty darn easy to put on and take off for a drysuit

Reasons to Avoid

  • Only comes in red
  • Longevity?

This is my second Stohlquist drysuit, and it's a replacement for a Stohlquist Multi-Sport that I got on sale nearly 10 years ago. The Multi-Sport was imported from China, was very difficult to put on or take off, and ultimately leaked like a sieve through the fabric when I used it on a Memorial Day Middle Fork Salmon trip (i.e.; when I really needed it) in 2013, about 7 years into my ownership. It supposedly was under a lifetime warranty, but to Stohlquist that meant lifetime of the product, which, coincidentally, was deemed to be 7 years.

Read more: Stohlquist Amp review (1)

Top Long Sleeve Paddle Jacket

Level Six Bonavista

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

This paddle jacket is completely windproof and rainproof. It keeps me warm on rainy days paddling, when I wear it over a shortie wetsuit or over a merino wool shirt and shorts. This men's jacket suits women too. It's a fairly close-fitting style, so buy a size larger if you plan to layer it over a thick sweater.

Reasons to Buy

  • Rainproof!
  • Windproof!
  • Velcro fasteners to tighten wrists and waist
  • Hood rolls away neatly in collar
  • Velcro pocket to hold key or bus pass

Reasons to Avoid

  • Takes an effort to pull it off over my head

Kayaking on the West Coast near Vancouver and Seattle means needing rain gear — the real thing, not cheap stuff. This jacket is listed as "Made of eXhaust 2.5-ply waterproof-breathable nylon." I wear it in the rain without getting any water seeping in at wrists, waists, or seams. The jacket is also completely wind-proof. In a men's medium I have enough room to wear a light sweater under the jacket, and usually I wear just a long sleeve merino wool shirt. Don't know how "breathable" this jacket really is in challenging conditions, but it's breathable enough for me.

Read more: Level Six Bonavista review (1)

Long Sleeve Paddle Jacket

Kokatat Tropos Light Drift Jacket

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

This is a reasonably priced paddle jacket, very roomy and comfortable for paddling. I use to for cool weather canoeing, and it has served me well for that use. I have room for a light fleece under it, and room for a PFD over it. Though I am a woman, I use men's jackets, as I really prefer LONG sleeves.

Reasons to Buy

  • Bright safety orange color
  • Comfortable
  • Soft cuffs and neck
  • Zipper pocket on sleeve

Reasons to Avoid

  • I am not sure how durable the lightweight fabric of this version will be, over time.

The jacket is very comfortable to wear while paddling, even as I wear it under a PFD. The sleeves have a roomy cut, and the velcro splash cuffs are soft, and not irritating as some velcro cuffs can be. The neck is very soft, and the quarter-zip zipper is a fine length. I have used the jacket in air temps of 34-50, comfortably. The pocket on the left sleeve is very handy, and easy to access. This is just a lightweight jacket, and I opted for a model without a hood (I find hoods impair my lateral visibility too much). The fabric is definitely lightweight, and since I have only used the jacket for this past season, I can only anticipate that it will reflect the quality of the jacket overall, and will hold up well.

Read more: Kokatat Tropos Light Drift Jacket review (1)

More Paddling Apparel

Trailspace reviewers have shared 23 reviews of 17 different paddling apparel. Narrow your search and view more specific paddling apparel recommendations in these categories:

Dry Suits

Wet Suits

Paddle Jackets

Paddling Gloves

All Paddling Gear

Other Types of Paddling Gear

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