When it comes to kayaking, there are a few pieces of essential gear that you need in order to stay safe and have a good time. One of these is a spray skirt. This handy piece of equipment fits over the cockpit of your kayak and helps keep water out, so you stay dry even if you take on a bit of surf. But with so many different spray skirts on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? Below we will outline some key factors to consider when choosing a kayak spray skirt. Read on to learn more!
When You Need a Spray Skirt
Before you even start looking for a spray skirt, it’s important to figure out what kind of kayaking you will be doing and what the conditions will be like. If it’s just a fun afternoon on flat water, you probably don’t need more than a basic skirt with minimal features. But if you plan on kayaking in windy conditions or the open ocean, having extra features such as quick-release buckles and adjustable leg straps can make your life easier by allowing for faster rigging and better control over your boat .
How Much Money You Have to Spend
Kayak spray skirts range in price from about $50 to over $300. When choosing one, keep in mind that higher priced doesn’t always mean higher quality – a budget skirt may do just as good a job as a more expensive one.
Features To Look For
The first thing you want to consider is the size of the skirt. Generally, one-piece skirts are more adjustable and suited for rotund individuals, while two piece skirts are better for smaller kayaks. Make sure that the skirt has enough adjustability in order to accommodate your body type.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when buying a spray skirt is material choice. Neoprene will stretch slightly horizontally but not vertically, nylon stretches both ways, Gore-Tex does not stretch at all! Material choice is usually dictated by preference and would be something you might have to try on yourself before purchasing if possible. You can read reviews or talk with paddling buddies to get an idea of what type of material they prefer.
In general, neoprene is a great option as it is very comfortable and stretchy, but it’s also the heaviest. Nylon is a good choice for those looking to cut down on weight without sacrificing too much flexibility. Gore-Tex offers the best protection from water intrusion but typically does not have as much give as other options, so it may be less suited for activities where you want some wiggle room (surfing for example).
3. Toggles & Straps
A spray skirt will always come with associated toggles and straps that are meant to fit snugly around your body or cockpit rim, depending if it’s a one piece or two piece model. Be sure to keep adjustable straps and toggles in mind as they can make a big difference when it comes to the fit of your skirt. Generally speaking, more adjustability means a better overall fit.
4. Buckles & Clasps
Similarly, be sure that the spray skirt you’re considering has buckles and clasps that are easy to use and attach/detach from your kayak’s cockpit rim. Since many spray skirts will not come right off but rather slide or roll off, having those quick-release mechanisms can really help speed up getting ready for a session!
5. Seams & Sealing
Many spray skirts will include some form of seam or seal at their openings. These areas have a greater chance of being breached, so it is important that they are well made and durable. Look for material overlap as well as securely sewn seams on a skirt to ensure a tight fit and a dry interior!
6. Cockpit fit
Kayaks come with a very wide range of cockpit rim shapes and sizes, so it’s important that the skirt you choose fits snugly. A good rule of thumb is that your skirt should not have any slack or bagginess in it when it is pulled over the cockpit rim. If your skirt is too big, seams can be sewn together to reduce its size or a spray deck can be used underneath if necessary!
If you follow these tips when choosing a kayak spray skirt, you will end up with one that fits well and lasts for years on the water. Happy paddling!
How long should a spray skirt be? As mentioned above, look at the length of the cockpit opening of your kayak. Generally speaking, a good length for a skirt will be about an inch or two longer than the cockpit rim.
8. Torso Fit
The torso fit is the length from the skirt’s opening to your waist. Generally, if you are taller with a bigger frame, you need a longer skirt. If you are shorter with a smaller girth, then a short-torsoed skirt should do well. The circumference of your waist should also be taken into consideration as it will help determine the overall “snugness” of the skirt and how much stretch or give there should be (if any).
9. Shoulder Straps
The shoulder straps on a kayak skirt are adjustable and meant to allow you to get the perfect fit around your torso. They should be comfortable and stay in place easily while paddling, but also be easy to tighten or loosen up when needed.