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Base Layer / Thermals

"It is better to be hot and sticky than cold and emotional!"

The principal behind being comfortable on and off the water is layering - add more thermal layers in cool weather and thicker thermals, and lighter layers in the warm seasons.

In Tropical locations and northern Australia lighter clothing is appropriate - quick-dry Sunsmart clothing is preferred.


In southern Australia and other temperate locations we prefer a thermal top on all but the very hottest days. As a 3 to 3 & 1/2 season top we prefer the Adrenalin 2P Thermal Long Sleeve Rash Top - it is a medium weight thermal top which stays warm when wet, dries quickly and in our preferred colour, yellow, highly visible if we are paddling without a jacket/cag.

In winter and really cold locations the Vaikobi VCold Flex or Hydroskin Paddling Tops is ideal - it is a thicker thermal with a water repelling outer layer. Colour is not so important here - it will be under a cag or paddling jacket!

We do not recommend you wear a nylon rashie for paddling - they can wick the warmth away and you chill down quickly, particularly if you are wet. They are almost as bad as cotton!


Long pants serve the dual purpose of keeping legs warm and the sun (and bugs) off - particularly when in an open canoe, sit-on-top or fishing kayak. In a sea kayak the lower legs are protected from the sun by a spraydeck or at least partly by being in an enclosed cockpit, so you can get away wearing board shorts or paddling shorts in warmer weather.

Paddling shorts are available in different fabrics - choose between a medium thermal material (Adrenalin 2P Shorts or Vaikobi CCold Flex Shorts) or thin flexible neoprene. Both will keep you warm when wet and dry quickly so it is a personal choice which fabric you prefer.

Long pants are essential for prolonged sun exposure and for cold and windy environments. For hot weather choose Sunsmart cargo pants. When the weather is cool and/or windy we recommend thermal pants - Adrenalin 2P Thermal Long Pants or Vaikobi VCold Flex Paddling Pants. For added warmth in wet environments add a pair of dry pants over the thermals.

Thermal pants can be rather form-fitting! Some guys (& girls) like to wear their boardies over the top. We do recommend ditching the undies (no cotton!) and speedos - these can draw the warmth away from your body so that even if you are wearing thermals you are experiencing a cold bottom! Also compression pants are usually not thermals - unless they have a fleecy lining, so these are not recommended for paddling either - they are designed for compression during recovery, not watersports.

We love our Vaikobi gear - here is a guide to layering:


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