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Tips on Choosing Kayak Canopy or Sun Shade

Summer is one of the best times to go kayaking. But the intense heat of the sun can sometimes ruin your kayaking experience as you feel like you are being baked alive. Before you know it, you have sunburns and sunstrokes.

Many kayakers have cut their kayaking expedition short due to the sometimes unbearable heat of the summer sun. But the sun doesn’t have to stop you from spending time on the water, not if you have a kayak canopy.

Kayak canopies, sometimes called kayak bimini tops, are designed to protect you from the sun, rain, and the elements in general. You may consider wearing hats, sunglasses, and layers under the summer sun but all these can’t compare to the superior protection you’ll get from a kayak canopy.

There is no shortage of kayak canopies on the market and choosing one from the numerous options available may be a daunting task. This article aims to discuss what are the most important points to take into consideration when getting a sun shade for your kayak. Continue reading to learn more!


Below you’ll find the benefits of a kayak canopy, how to install one, and factors to consider when buying a kayak canopy.

Benefits of Using a Kayak Canopy / Sun Shade

A common rule of summer is to always put on a generous amount of sunscreen even though most of us don’t follow this rule. When you are kayaking, you are exposed to a lot of harmful UV rays from the bright summer sun.

While there is the option of wearing layers, most people don’t want many clothes on while kayaking which totally makes sense.

A kayak canopy will provide you with a lot of respite from the scorching summer sun and make your kayaking trips more enjoyable. You are also protected from other elements like wind and water.

How To Install a Kayak Canopy?

Manufacturers usually include detailed installation manuals in the package or provide installation videos. Installing a kayak canopy is easy as long as you follow the instructions.

You’ll need the manual in the package as it’ll show you how to properly align the frame sections. Also, the manual will tell you how the screw holes are arranged throughout the frame sections.

Using a screwdriver, tighten the screws on the frame while being careful not to tear the canopy top. The next step is to take the straps and attach them carefully to your kayak.

Unfold the canvas/cloths very carefully and insert them into the frame using straps. Buckle up the straps tightly to prevent the canopy top from being blown away by the wind.

How to Choose Your Kayak Sun Shade?


Popular materials for kayak canopies include canvas, polyester, and nylon. All these materials are very durable, lightweight, and resist water quite well. However, canvas offers the best protection from UV rays while polyester has the advantage of being more durable.

When it comes to frame materials, you should ideally go for aluminum or fiberglass as these two materials are sturdy, durable, and corrosion-resistant.


Measure your kayak to know the exact size. This will guide you when choosing a canopy. Most kayak canopies are designed for medium to large kayaks. There are also models for smaller yaks but you need to know your kayak’s size so you can choose the right size for your yak.


The purpose of your kayak canopy should be put into consideration. Obviously, you want sun protection. However, the water-resistant of canopies will vary as some are more suited to protect you from drizzle while others can withstand more downpours.

If it’s windy where you are kayaking, go for canopies that work very sturdy frames to prevent the top from blowing away, or worse, acting as a sail and potentially moving you off course.

Kayak Compatibility

Check that the canopy you are buying is compatible with your kayak. Not all canopies can be used on inflatable vessels and you should read the descriptions of a canopy before buying it.

Also, check if the canopy is tall enough to be comfortable for you. People carrying a lot of gear should also consider the added weight of the canopy and determine if it’ll be suitable for their kayaks.


Basic science tells us that dark colors absorb heat the most while lighter colors absorb less heat and reflect more heat instead. This is why the color of your canopy matters and you should go for lighter colors like grey, yellow, white, and so on.

Final Thoughts

If the scorching heat of the summer sun is ruining your kayaking experience or cutting your time on the water short, all you need is a kayak canopy to get the much-needed protection from the sun.

They are available in different sizes and colors and you will have no problem finding one that fits and match the color of your kayak. Happy summertime!

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