What do poor people wear when kayaking?
August 10, 2007 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm going kayaking for the first time on Sunday. I am poor, and I do not own any synthetic clothing except for running shorts and a bathing suit. What on earth can I do?

It will be in the Hudson River (we are going to Bannerman Castle), and the weather is supposed to be sunny and mid-to-upper 80's*F. What is the bare minimum of clothing that I can buy? Where can I get it fast and cheap/free? Am I overlooking some kind of synthetic clothing that everyone already owns? I have Cuddl Duds, but that seems ridiculous.
posted by unknowncommand to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've gone kayaking in colder weather just in my swimsuit (even a bikini), so I don't know why you're worried. Bring a good change of clothes in a waterproof bag and you're set.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:44 PM on August 10, 2007

Yeah, this time of year, I don't know why you would really need anything but a swimsuit.
posted by amro at 12:45 PM on August 10, 2007

I've gone kayaking in shorts and a t-shirt - you'll be fine, you don't need fancy clothes.
posted by jdl at 12:47 PM on August 10, 2007

My dad used to kayak on the Hudson all the time when he lived in New York. He never wore anything special in summer months & milder weather. Shorts & a t-shirt, or a bathing suit & a t-shirt is fine. Definitely bring a change of clothes for the ride home, but you should be fine.
posted by tastybrains at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2007

It's true that you are likely to be more chilly in a cotton tshirt than in no tshirt or a synthetic shirt. It probably won't matter in this weather. If you're worried about it go to a thrift store and buy a cheap soccer jersey (short sleeve & synthetic) and a thin wool sweater (long sleeve and heat conserving). You can easily get out for less then $10 bucks.

But life jackets are pretty warm.
posted by OmieWise at 12:51 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding everyone else; in this weather a normal t-shirt will be okay. If you're worried about being wet for the drive home, just have a separate set of clothes in the car.

At the risk of being off-topic, DON'T FORGET SUN TAN LOTION! The sun reflecting off the water can burn something fierce without you realizing it's happening.
posted by inigo2 at 12:53 PM on August 10, 2007

At the risk of being off-topic, DON'T FORGET SUN TAN LOTION! The sun reflecting off the water can burn something fierce without you realizing it's happening.

Inigo makes a good point - if there was ever a time for waterproof / sweatproof sunblock, this is it. You may also want to wear a hat with a brim to protect your face.

I neglected to mention that if anything, you will probably be hot while kayaking in the sunny, warm weather, so I would not worry too much about catching a chill.
posted by tastybrains at 1:01 PM on August 10, 2007

Wear a hat. Broad brimmed is better, but a ball cap is fine. And bring sunglasses. Nothing worse than squinting through glare as you try to find your way to shore with sunstroke.

Also, I second (or third or fourth) the "regular clothes" answers. If you have waterproof sandals like Tevas, those are handy, but a regular rubbah slippah works fine too.
posted by salishsea at 1:04 PM on August 10, 2007

If the water isn't rough (i.e., you're not doing whitewater stuff), you shouldn't expect to get too wet, so regular clothes oughtta be fine. That being said, you might try your local thrift store (goodwill, etc.). A friend of mine got all of the clothes he neeeded for our whitewater rafting trip for under $20 at goodwill.
posted by !Jim at 1:08 PM on August 10, 2007

If you want something that will shed water quickly, but still protect more than a bathing suit, Walmart (and similar) sell athletic tops for $6-7 that will be much more comfortable than a cotton t-shirt. Look for the workout clothing that runners wear. CoolMax is one common brand. Their major virtue is that they dry very quickly.

With shorts, flipflops and water-proof sunscreen, you're good to go.
posted by bonehead at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2007

Depending on how long you'll be out and how tender your hands are, you might consider gloves. Kayaking tends to give me blisters at the inside base of my thumbs.

Fingerless synthetic bike gloves or golf gloves work fine -- just stay away from dark-dyed leather as it may stain your hands when it gets wet.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:17 PM on August 10, 2007

My fiancé is a die-hard kayaker. In summer, he usually only wears swimming trunks, cotton t-shirt, and a PFD. He has all the fancy, expensive stuff, and still forgos it.
posted by desjardins at 1:42 PM on August 10, 2007

Sunblock. Swimsuit. Hat. Maybe some shorts. Bug repellant.

Be careful getting out of the kayak--if you are in there for a while, your legs can fall asleep. I was kayaking in the ocean once and my legs fell asleep. I got out of the kayak and promptly fell, cutting one of my legs wide open. I have a pretty good scar and now my chances of leg modeling are blown. :)
posted by FergieBelle at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2007

Nthing you'll be fine with a bathing suit, pfd, and sunblock. Put the sunblock on liberally and make sure you get all those random places- I was kayaking last week and I forgot to do my knees, and yeah, they are very burnt.
posted by rmless at 1:57 PM on August 10, 2007

One thing to consider is that synthetic t-shirts last at least 3-5 times as long as cotton t-shirts. So long-term they are actually cheaper than cotton t-shirts since they generally cost 2-3 times as much.

I have polypro undershirts from MEC that are 12 years old, that have gone through probably 250 washes or more.
posted by lastobelus at 2:48 PM on August 10, 2007

only proviso I have is pack a wind proof top as if it's windy it can quickly strip the heat away from your core.
posted by arcticseal at 5:11 PM on August 10, 2007

I enjoy being wet when kayaking on a summer day. That said, I don't mind being wet kayaking in England in November.

I kayak wearing a t-shirt, cotton trousers and (if I'm worried about getting chilled) a sweater and/or a windbreaker (it's easy to throw a windbreaker in the boat - even if it's soaked, it will trap heat in a bit). And a pfd, of course. I wear sandals, but like to kick them off while I'm in the boat.
posted by jb at 5:14 PM on August 10, 2007

Also - ziplock bags (or knockoff equivalent) are your friends when it comes to keeping wallets, cell phones, etc dry. If you puff them up a bit, they also float, which is always good around boats. But usually I just put my mobile into a zip lock bag and then into my pocket.
posted by jb at 5:18 PM on August 10, 2007

Walmart sells Starter Dri-Star tops and shorts for $10-12. That's like half the price of anyone else.
posted by smackfu at 7:18 PM on August 10, 2007

I wore a fleece vest over a t-shirt the last time I kayaked.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:45 AM on August 11, 2007

If you do end up going to somewhere like REI, and you happen to be women's medium, try children's extra large, for about half the cost.
posted by salvia at 12:00 AM on August 12, 2007

Response by poster: Yes! You all were 100% correct: bathing suit, shorts, cotton t-shirt. I was worried because the people leading the expedition kept saying, "NO COTTON NO COTTON," and I had anticipated falling over and somehow drowning in my forbidden cotton shirt, which I did not (fall or drown). It was a blast. Thanks for the help.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:39 AM on August 13, 2007

I'm curious - did they say why they were against cotton?

I've heard that cotton isn't ideal for long periods outside (like long distance hiking) in wet and cool environments, since it dries slower than synthetics and doesn't keep you warm when it is wet like wool. But that's more of a worry when hiking in the mountains in May. Whereas it's very unlikely that anyone would get chilled while on the Hudson River in August. But as I said, I went kayaking in England in November, and I wore cotton trousers, with a cotton tshirt, an acrylic sweater and a light coat. It was a uncharacteristically warm November day, and the kayaking itself warmed me.
posted by jb at 4:10 PM on August 13, 2007

A wet cotton t-shirt can get awfully cold if it gets cloudy, even on a warm day.
posted by smackfu at 6:10 PM on August 13, 2007

Wet cotton is the classic way to get cold and ruin a day. I've seen people get hypothermic even on warm days being active in wet tshirts. As smackfu says, just sitting down in the shade in wet cotton for ten minutes will do it for most people. It can make a otherwise fun day a real misery.
posted by bonehead at 9:47 PM on August 13, 2007

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