by Kevin

November 17, 2021

How to Choose Spray Skirts for Kayaks

In the kayaking world, the chances of encountering humid conditions on your usual sunset paddles are not to be overruled. Weather changes can be predicted, and if it’s going to be cold with choppy seas, kayaking may seem inappropriate. However, there is always a solution to that, spray skirts.

Spray skirts are purported to make whitewater kayaking or exploring choppy lakes worth it. As much as they are unnecessary in warm weather, not every kayaking activity will happen in balmy weather. Sooner or later, you will need a skirt. 

There’s a greater need for you to understand the steps on how to choose spray skirts for kayaks. As you may already know, there are different skirts with variations starting from price, material, and function. The guide below will go through the necessity of skirts, material making, features, and how to get the perfect fit.

Why is a Spray Skirt Necessary?

Why is a Spray Skirt Necessary

In warm weather conditions, a spray skirt for kayaking is not necessary at all. However, if the sea is particularly rough, it will help prevent waves from splashing over the deck. In turn, this keeps you warm and ensures that the kayak is moving stably.

How to Choose Spray Skirts for Kayaks Based on Materials?

The tunnel, the vertical component of the spray skirts, and the horizontal deck covering the cockpit from the rim are made from water-resistant neoprene. Again, other spay skirts combine the two materials to make waterproof decks and tunnels that can be modified or ventilated in warm temperatures.

Spray Skirt Parts

Spray Skirts Parts for Kayaks
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Neoprene vs. Nylon

Spray skirts for kayaks are often constructed of neoprene and nylon. However, each of the materials has its advantages and disadvantages. Kayaking skirts for recreation and tour use are commonly composed of breathable, water-resistant nylon. Also, nylon tunnels may feature a spandex midsection, drawcords, or even a hook-and-loop closure to modify the fit.

The design allows for cockpit ventilation but does not provide a water-resistant cover over the torso region. Still, other skirts come along with bands to keep the tunnel in place. The work of the drawcord is to seal the cockpit’s perimeter. Although nylon skirts are not waterproof, they are snug and functional for less intense kayaking.

You will spot neoprene on kayaks designed for whitewater. Neoprene has a greater margin for flexibility and forms a tight, waterproof seal around your watercraft. If you are lucky, you may get neoprene skirts that are stiffer or even reinforced. Despite these superb qualities, the disadvantage of neoprene is that it can get quite hot due to no ventilation.

Nylon & Neoprene: This combination blends the ventilation luxury of a nylon duct and the super-tight sealing of neoprene decks. Neoprene models are the perfect skirt for cold weather and choppy seas.

How to Get the Perfect Spray Skirt Size for a Kayak? 

Apart from the material, you also have to consider how a skirt fits your kayak before buying it.

How Should the Cockpit Fit?

An allrounder-fitting skirt isn’t a possibility with so many different cockpit dimensions and shapes. You have to start by getting your cockpit’s dimensions. The simplest way for you is to call the manufacturer of the kayak you choose.

Also, the information can be found on their website, so ensure you look at your kayak model and size. If it’s hard to reach your kayak’s brand, you can still practically take measurements of the cockpit.

Spray Skirt Features to Look for

How Should the Torso Fit?

Nylon tunnels are usually flexible, and all sizes fit. Nevertheless, should you buy a skirt featuring a neoprene passageway, you must quantify your midriff perimeter. Then choose your tunnel size based on those measurements and the sizing guide of the tunnel.

Consider the following:

How the skirt connects to the kayak is critical and will be influenced by the type of kayaking you practice. Also, there are drawcords on several leisure skirts. They make it a little easier to integrate the skirts, but they also increase the chances of water getting in.

Bungee vs. Rubber Rand 

Skirt decks always have a bungee at the base to fasten them to the cockpit rim. The width and elasticity of the bungee vary depending on the application. 

The spray Skirts built for choppy waters are hard to dress or undress around the cockpit rim. Unlike the rand versions, bungees are relatively warmer, hence the less frequent need to dress or undress regularly.

On the other hand, whitewater skirts feature a rubber rand-a a firm rubber border that rests flat underneath the cockpit’s rims. It’s entirely waterproof and won’t be ripped off by running water. Since it’s a tight fit, it’s imperative that the cockpit’s dimensions precisely match the neoprene skirt.

Other Spray Skirt Features to Look for:

How to Choose Spray Skirts for Kayaks Based on Materials

Shoulder straps 

Its function is to keep the duct completely stretched, preventing water from accumulating inside the tunnel.


The pockets function as bags and can be found in the tunnels or on the deck. The perforated pockets allow for rapid drainage, while the zip-design pocket attachment keeps items safe. Lastly, the fleece-lined pocket’s function is to warm your hands.

Coated materials

Coated skirts are suitable options for hobbyist kayakers who occasionally use the skirt and search for a low-cost solution. These skirts are perfect for plain water and are a little less costly at the expense of durability.

Such skirts feature a waterproof covering placed on their insides. The disadvantage is that the more you use the kayak and scratch that covering, the faster it gets damaged.

Laminated skirt material 

Laminated spray skirts work well in plain waters since the fabric will not stretch too much while kayaking. The endurance of the laminate material is one of its advantages. This design considerably increases longevity and offers better breathability.

Final Thoughts on How to Choose Spray Skirts for Kayaks

There are plenty of spraying skirts for kayaks, and the choice will depend on the type of water setting and kayak activity.

If you are still in spray skirt limbo, consider the material used in the skirt’s structure and how durable it is. Also, check on its ventilation and ensure the skirt’s dimensions are a match with your kayak.

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About the author 


Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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