Summer is a fantastic time to be out on the waters kayaking, but all that sun exposure has some danger involved as well. Learn how to keep safe kayaking without sacrificing your skin!

  1. Avoid The Heat of the Day (10am – 4pm)

The sun is generally at its most powerful between 10am-4pm, and you’ll be more susceptible to burns during this period (not to mention this is the hottest time of the day as well).

If possible, try stick to early AM or late afternoon kayaking trips. You’ll be more comfortable due to the cooler temps, and your skin will thank you for it!

If you want to better understand your chances of getting fried, check out the UV Lens app, which allows users to input their skin type and then see customized info on, taking into account the UV index and the time of day, how quickly they may get burned.

If you’re a very pale, very Irish girl like me, you won’t have much time you can be outside without the sun hitting you hard. If you do end up kayaking during peak UV exposure hours, plan ahead and make sure you have the gear you need to protect yourself!

  1. Gear Up With Sunproof Clothing

Sunproof clothing are clothing articles with tight, specialized weaves or dusted with certain additives to give them a specific UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating.

The UPF rating explains what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate through the fabric. If you have a shirt that boasts a UPF 50 rating, this means that only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays can get through the fabric and reach your skin.

50 UPF tends to be the standard for sun protective clothing, so we suggest holding out for that rating and not settling for anything lower!

There are some great sun protective clothing options for kayakers, and while there are shirts of all lengths and sizes, long sleeves tend to be best for sun protection, providing the most skin coverage.

Long sleeves may not sound fun in the summer, but these pieces of clothing usually feature ventilation panels and moisture-wicking properties to keep you cool.

  1. Don’t Forget Your Hat

Wearing a hat is key for protecting your lovely face from the sun’s harmful rays. Sun exposure can lead to wrinkles and premature aging, so keep that mug of yours safe!

We suggest opting for a sun protection hat with a wide brim, which provides more shade cover. Also look for hats with adjustable drawstrings that can be tightened to ensure your hat stays atop your head when a gust of breeze sweeps down the river!

There are outdoor sun hats for every style and preference, and most are affordable enough to fit in any kayaker’s budget.

  1. Stick to the Shade

When possible, try to stick to kayaking routes that provide plenty of shade.

Many tracks of river have enough tree cover to provide a decent amount of protection – make sure to take advantage of these opportunities when they arise!

  1. Pack Extra Sunscreen (And Reapply)

Of course, always pack plenty of sunscreen for your day out on the water. Whether you prefer lotion or spray, make sure you select a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply liberally!

As always, make sure to re-apply every two hours or however often as is advised on the instructions (you’ll need to re-apply sooner if you go for a swim).

Your adventures out on the water don’t have to be at your skin’s expense! Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun, and your kayaking trips will be sunny and stress-free!

Do you have any tips for sun safety while kayaking? Share your own tips in the comments!

About The Author

Pete is the Owner of KayakAdvisors.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.