Master The Art Of Gear Waterproofing For Kayaking

Master the art of gear waterproofing for kayaking with this informational post. Learn techniques, tips, and maintenance to keep your gear dry and protected.

You’ve set your sights on kayaking and the thrill of adventure awaits you. But before you embark on your water-bound journey, it’s essential to master the art of gear waterproofing. Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or a beginner, ensuring that your gear stays dry and protected from the elements is crucial for a successful and enjoyable trip. In this article, we will explore the best techniques and tips for waterproofing your gear, allowing you to navigate the waters with confidence and peace of mind.

Choosing the Right Gear

When it comes to kayaking, one of the most important factors to consider is keeping your gear dry. Whether you are paddling through white water rapids or gliding across calm ocean waves, having waterproof gear is essential for a comfortable and hassle-free experience. In this article, we will guide you through the process of choosing and maintaining waterproof gear for kayaking, ensuring that you are well-prepared for any adventure on the water.

Finding Waterproof Materials

The first step in waterproofing your gear is to select materials that are designed to keep water out. Look for gear made from high-quality, waterproof materials such as nylon or Gore-Tex. These materials have excellent water resistance properties, ensuring that even under heavy rain or when splashed by waves, your gear remains dry.

Considerations for Clothing

Choosing waterproof clothing is crucial for your comfort and safety on the water. Look for kayaking-specific jackets and pants that are designed to keep you dry while allowing for freedom of movement. These garments often feature sealed seams, waterproof zippers, and adjustable cuffs to provide maximum protection against water infiltration.

For added comfort, consider investing in waterproof socks and gloves. These accessories will keep your hands and feet warm and dry, even when in direct contact with the water. Remember, staying dry is the key to maintaining a comfortable body temperature while kayaking.

Selecting Protective Pouches and Bags

To protect your valuable belongings, such as your phone, camera, and wallet, it is essential to invest in protective pouches and bags. Look for waterproof pouches that seal tightly and are made from durable materials. These pouches can be attached to your kayak or worn around your neck, keeping your essentials dry and easily accessible throughout your kayaking adventure.

For larger items, such as camping gear or spare clothes, consider investing in waterproof dry bags. These bags are designed to keep your gear completely dry, even in the most challenging conditions. Look for bags with roll-top closures and multiple attachment points to ensure a secure and watertight seal.

Prepping Your Gear

Once you have selected the right gear, it is essential to properly prepare it before heading out on the water. Taking the time to clean, inspect, and apply waterproofing products will help prolong the life of your gear and ensure it remains watertight.

Cleaning and Drying

Before applying any waterproofing products, it is crucial to thoroughly clean and dry your gear. This step ensures that there is no dirt, debris, or moisture that could compromise the effectiveness of the waterproofing process. Use a mild detergent and warm water to clean your gear, and allow it to air dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Inspecting for Damage

Regularly inspecting your gear for any signs of wear and tear is essential for maintaining its waterproofing capabilities. Check for any rips, punctures, or loose seams and repair them promptly to prevent water from entering. By addressing minor damages early, you can avoid more significant problems down the line and ensure your gear remains watertight.

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Applying Waterproofing Products

To further enhance the waterproofing properties of your gear, consider applying additional waterproofing products. There are various options available, depending on the type of gear you have. For jackets and pants, there are spray-on water repellents that can be applied to the outer surface to create a hydrophobic barrier. For fabric gear, such as tents or backpacks, waxing or Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatments can be applied to enhance their water resistance.

Follow the instructions provided with the waterproofing products carefully, as the application process may vary depending on the brand and type of gear. When applying the products, ensure that the gear is clean and dry for optimal adhesion and effectiveness.

Waterproofing Techniques

Now that your gear is prepped and ready, it’s time to explore some waterproofing techniques. These techniques will add an extra layer of protection and ensure that your gear remains dry, no matter the conditions you encounter on the water.

Seam Sealing

Seams are one of the most vulnerable areas for water infiltration in waterproof gear. Seam sealing involves applying a waterproof sealant to the seams to prevent water from seeping through the stitching. This technique is particularly important for jackets, pants, and other gear with sewn seams.

To seam seal your gear, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the sealant you are using. Typically, you will apply the sealant along the inside of the seam and allow it to cure for a specific period before use. Seam sealing is an additional step that can significantly enhance the waterproofing capabilities of your gear.

Spray-on Water Repellents

Spray-on water repellents are an easy and effective way to enhance the water resistance of your gear. These products create a protective layer on the outer surface, causing water to bead up and roll off instead of soaking into the material. Spray-on water repellents are particularly useful for jackets, pants, and other clothing items.

To apply a spray-on water repellent, simply spray the product evenly onto the outer surface of your gear. Ensure complete coverage and follow the recommended drying time before using your gear. It is worth noting that spray-on water repellents may need to be reapplied periodically, depending on the intensity of use and exposure to water.

Waxing and DWR Treatments

For fabric gear, such as tents, backpacks, or dry bags, waxing or Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatments can be used to enhance their waterproofing capabilities. These treatments create a hydrophobic barrier on the fabric, causing water to bead up and roll off instead of saturating the material.

To wax items such as tents or backpacks, apply a waterproof wax, such as beeswax or paraffin, evenly onto the fabric. Use a heat source, such as a hairdryer or heat gun, to melt the wax slightly, allowing it to penetrate the material. Once dry, the wax will create a protective layer, ensuring your gear remains dry under wet conditions.

DWR treatments, on the other hand, are typically applied directly to the fabric and do not require heat. These treatments are available in spray or wash-in forms and are designed to restore or enhance the water repellency of the fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific product you are using, as application methods may vary.

Waterproofing Kayak Equipment

Now that you have a good understanding of general waterproofing techniques, let’s explore how to apply them to specific kayaking equipment.

Waterproofing Your Paddle

Your paddle is an essential piece of equipment that deserves proper waterproofing attention. Start by inspecting the paddle for any damages, such as cracks or chips, and repair them promptly. Next, clean your paddle with mild soap and water, ensuring it is free from any dirt or debris. Finally, consider applying a spray-on water repellent to the blade and shaft to enhance its water resistance. This will help prevent water from being absorbed into the paddle and ensure optimal performance.

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Sealing Hatches and Compartments

In kayaks with hatches and compartments, it is crucial to ensure they are properly sealed to prevent water from entering. Start by inspecting the seals and gaskets for any signs of wear or damage and replace them if necessary. Apply a waterproof sealant or silicone-based grease to the seals and gaskets to enhance their water resistance. Additionally, consider using dry bags or waterproof containers to further protect your belongings inside the hatches and compartments.

Protecting Your Electronics

If you bring electronics, such as a GPS device or a camera, on your kayaking adventures, it is essential to protect them from water damage. Invest in waterproof cases or pouches specifically designed for electronic devices. These protective accessories will keep your electronics dry and functional throughout your kayaking trips. Additionally, consider applying a spray-on water repellent to the outer surface of the devices to provide an extra layer of protection.

Gear Maintenance and Storage

Proper maintenance and storage of your waterproof gear are essential for ensuring its longevity and effectiveness in keeping water out.

Rinsing and Drying After Each Use

After each kayaking trip, take the time to rinse your gear thoroughly with clean water. This removes any salt, sand, or dirt that may have accumulated and could compromise the waterproofing properties of the gear. Once rinsed, allow your gear to air dry completely before storing it, ensuring that no moisture remains trapped inside.

Proper Gear Storage

Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your waterproof gear. Choose a cool, dry area for storing your gear, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Hang clothing items to prevent creasing and store gear in dry bags or waterproof containers for additional protection. Proper storage will prevent mold, mildew, and other damage that can compromise the waterproofing capabilities of your gear.

Inspecting and Reapplying Waterproofing

Regularly inspecting your gear for any signs of wear and tear is essential for its longevity. Check for any damages, such as cracks, rips, or punctures, and address them promptly. Additionally, periodically inspect the waterproofing treatments or products you have applied and reapply them as recommended by the manufacturer. This will ensure that your gear remains in optimal condition and continues to keep water out effectively.

Troubleshooting and Repairs

Even with proper maintenance, waterproof gear can still encounter issues such as leaks or condensation. Knowing how to troubleshoot and make repairs will help you prolong the life of your gear and prevent any surprises on the water.

Dealing with Leaks and Condensation

If you notice leaks or excess condensation in your gear, it is crucial to identify the source and address the issue promptly. For leaks, inspect the seams, zippers, and any potential areas where water may be entering. Patch any holes or cracks using appropriate repair materials, such as seam sealants or waterproof patches. For excess condensation, ensure proper ventilation by opening ventilation panels or using absorbent materials inside your gear to absorb moisture.

Repairing Damaged Gear

Accidents happen, and sometimes our gear can sustain significant damages. If your gear becomes damaged to the point where a repair is necessary, take the time to assess the extent of the damage. For minor damages, such as small tears or punctures, use repair materials specifically designed for the type of gear you have. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure a proper repair. For more significant damages, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance or consider replacing the gear.

Replacing Irreparable Gear

While it is always disappointing to have irreparable gear, it is essential to recognize when it is time to replace it. If the gear’s waterproofing capabilities are compromised beyond repair or if the gear becomes unsafe to use, it is best to invest in new equipment. Remember, safety should always be your top priority, and compromising on gear that is no longer effective could put you at risk on the water.

Safety Considerations for Waterproofed Gear

Ensuring your waterproofed gear does not only keep water out but also contributes to your safety while kayaking. Consider the following safety aspects when preparing and using your waterproof gear.

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Ensuring Buoyancy and Personal Flotation Devices

While waterproof gear plays a significant role in keeping you dry, it is crucial to remember that it does not provide buoyancy in the water. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when kayaking, regardless of the weather conditions or the effectiveness of your gear. A PFD will keep you afloat in case of an accident, providing an additional layer of safety.

Emergency Gear Accessibility

In the event of an emergency, it is essential to have quick and easy access to your safety gear. Ensure that your emergency equipment, such as a whistle, flares, or a rescue knife, is easily accessible and securely attached to your gear or PFD. This will enable you to react promptly and efficiently in case of an emergency situation and potentially save lives.

Visibility and Reflective Markings

In situations where visibility is reduced, such as low light conditions or fog, it is crucial to make yourself as visible as possible to other kayakers and boaters. Consider wearing bright, high-visibility clothing or gear with reflective markings. This will make it easier for others to see you and reduce the risk of accidents or collisions.

Best Practices for Waterproofing Gear

To ensure your gear remains watertight and ready for any kayaking adventure, follow these best practices.

Testing Gear Before Each Trip

Before setting off on any kayaking trip, it is essential to test the waterproofing of your gear. This can be as simple as performing a dunk test for dry bags or wearing your gear in the shower to simulate water exposure. Testing your gear beforehand will give you confidence in its effectiveness and allow you to address any issues before hitting the water.

Regular Maintenance Routine

Make gear maintenance and inspection part of your regular kayaking routine. Dedicate time after each trip to clean, dry, and inspect your gear, as well as applying any necessary waterproofing treatments. By incorporating maintenance into your routine, you will ensure that your gear remains in top condition and your kayaking experiences are hassle-free.

Seeking Professional Advice or Assistance

If you are unsure about any aspect of waterproofing your gear or have encountered significant issues, do not hesitate to seek professional advice or assistance. Outdoor retailers or gear manufacturers often have experts who can provide guidance and recommendations based on the specific gear you have. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – it’s better to get professional advice than risk compromising your gear or safety on the water.

Waterproofing Gear for Specific Kayaking Situations

Different kayaking situations may require additional considerations when waterproofing your gear. Let’s explore some specific scenarios and how to adapt your waterproofing techniques.

Whitewater Kayaking

Whitewater kayaking presents unique challenges due to the intense waves and rapid water movement. When waterproofing gear for whitewater kayaking, prioritize the secure closure of hatches and compartments to withstand the force of the water. Consider using dry bags or gear-specific float bags to keep your belongings dry and prevent water from entering your kayak. Additionally, choose gear made from durable materials that can withstand the rigorous conditions and impact of whitewater kayaking.

Sea and Ocean Kayaking

Sea and ocean kayaking often involve exposure to saltwater, strong winds, and unpredictable weather conditions. When waterproofing gear for these situations, pay particular attention to the corrosion resistance of zippers, buckles, and other metal components. Rinse your gear thoroughly with fresh water after each use to remove salt deposits that can cause damage over time. Consider using advanced waterproofing treatments, such as marine-grade DWR or waxes, to ensure optimal water resistance in the harsh sea and ocean environments.

Long-distance Kayaking

For long-distance kayaking trips, where you may be exposed to rain or wet conditions for extended periods, choose gear with long-lasting waterproofing capabilities. Prioritize waterproofing treatments that offer excellent longevity, and consider carrying extra waterproofing products to reapply during the trip. Additionally, pack your gear in a way that allows easy access to any items you may need, even during heavy rain. This will ensure that your gear remains protected while still allowing you to reach important belongings without compromising their dryness.


Mastering the art of gear waterproofing is crucial for kayaking enthusiasts who want to take their adventures to the next level. By choosing the right gear, properly prepping it, and employing effective waterproofing techniques, you can ensure that your gear remains dry and in optimal condition. Regular maintenance, troubleshooting, and adhering to safety considerations will ensure both your gear’s longevity and your safety on the water. So take the time to properly waterproof your gear and enjoy the benefits of a comfortable and worry-free kayaking experience, no matter the conditions you encounter.