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Choosing and Using Kayak Spray Skirts – Our Guide

Kayaking is a water sport and you can expect to get wet by currents and during paddling. Water may also get into the cockpit of your kayak. Most times, especially during the summer, getting wet is desirable as the water keeps you cool in the hot weather.

But there are times when you may want to avoid contact with water or water getting into your kayak. Kayaking in cold weather is one such situation. Except you are Sub Zero or Iceman, there’s no way you’d want to get wet by the freezing or really cold water in cold weather. And this is where a kayak spray skirt comes in.

Kayak spray skirts are designed to protect you and keep you dry during your time on the water. They also completely seal off your cockpit preventing any splash from getting in.

Choosing a spray skirt for your sit-in kayak may be a bit tricky especially if it’s your first time buying one. I’ve put together a buying guide to help you choose the best spray skirt for your vessel.

Why Use a Kayak Spray Skirt?

When the air and water are cold, using a kayak spray skirt will make you comfortable as it creates a warm environment inside your sit-inside kayak. Also, the spray skirt will keep out rain and splashes.

Using a spray skirt in choppy waters is also beneficial as the spray skirt will prevent waves from washing over your deck and potentially destabilizing or capsizing your vessel.

However, using a kayak skirt when the water and air are warm may be slightly uncomfortable as you might feel a little stuffy inside your yak.

How To Get Into a Spray Skirt – How To Get Into The Kayak?

Put on your spray skirt before wearing your PFD to achieve a good fit at the waist and start behind you when attaching the skirt to your vessel.

The next thing is to slip the rand edge underneath the coming at the rear of the cockpit. Hold the rand edge in place as you then work your way towards the front of the cockpit and continue to skip the remaining rand edge under the coaming as you do so.

Should your skirt come with a shoulder strap, readjust the strap after you finish attaching the skirt rand to your cockpit. Overall, make sure you have a taut deck surface.

It’s important the grab loop of the spray skirt is on the outside. The reason for this is to be able to find the loop and pull or yank it to release the skirt.

Spray Skirts vs. Spray Decks

Spray decks differ from spray skirts in that they come only with the deck and rand as the tunnel is absent. This makes spray decks suitable for warm conditions where wearing a spray skirt will make you uncomfortable or stuffy.

Spray decks prevent water from getting inside the cockpit while allowing your upper body to breathe and move freely.

How to Choose Your Spray Skirt?


Neoprene and nylon are the most common materials used to manufacture spray skirts. Sometimes, a combination of the two materials is used.

Neoprene is a thermal insulator and will keep you warm on bitterly cold days. The material is also ideal for whitewater as it usually comes with terminal ends that will attach firmly to your cockpit.

Nylon is better suited for moderate conditions and can be designed to be fully waterproof, waterproof/breathable, or highly water-resistant. Nylon also provides ample space for paddling but doesn’t offer the right seal that makes neoprene suitable for whitewater kayaking.

Sometimes, a combination of nylon and neoprene is used and this combines the super tight seal that neoprene provides with the superb venting ability of neoprene. Ideal for when conditions are variable with the possibility of waves developing later on.

Size and Fit

Spray skirts are not universal and there is no one size fits all. The reason for this is the variation in kayak cockpit sizes. Manufacturers have made life easy for paddlers by creating a sizing chart based on the cockpit size or length of the kayak. Some sizing charts are based on the brand and models of kayaks and make it extremely easy to find the right fit for your kayak.

Water Resistance

The Water-resistance of your spray skirt will depend on the material. Neoprene is waterproof and durable and that’s why it’s used for whitewater paddling. Nylon, on the other hand, can be designed to be fully waterproof, waterproof/breathable, or highly water-resistant.

Final Thoughts

A kayak spray skirt can extend your padding season by making it more comfortable to paddle in cold conditions. It can also keep water off your vessel in warm weather and prevent your vessel from filling up with water or worse, capsizing.

You should give kayak spray skirts more thought and consider getting one for your next kayaking trip.

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