What you wear when you head out kayaking in Ireland and Britain is very important. Nobody should leave the shore without a PFD or Personal Floatation Device. A PFD is arguably the most important piece of safety equipment that one can bring afloat. Everything else is rendered useless if you sink like a stone! Even short trips in shallow bays demand the use of a PFD and I would very much like to see a law introduced where the wearing of one became mandatory. There are so many arguments for their use and I am yet to hear one logical point in favour of their non-use.
A drysuit is the next consideration and this piece of kit does exactly what the name suggests; it keeps you dry. Should the unthinkable happen and you take a dunking, the drysuit will keep you totally dry apart from exposed areas which are generally the just the head and hands. Staying dry goes a long way to warding off hypothermia which can be devastatingly fast to affect the human body in our cooler waters. Drysuits are breathable and possess no thermal qualities at all; the warmth you will get depends on layering your clothing accordingly underneath. For summer mackerel this means shorts and a T-shirt underneath, for winter fishing look at multiple thin, warm layers to keep you warm for the day.
Most drysuits are finished with ‘socks’ where the legs end. You still need to get something to go over these ‘socks’ and a pair of soled, neoprene boots are ideal. The soles make walking any distance more comfortable and will offer a small degree of grip on slippery surfaces. The boots will also drastically reduce the wear and tear encountered by the drysuit ‘socks’ if boots were absent.
Have a look at a couple of different hats for your kayak fishing. A wide brimmed hat will keep the sun off your head and face in the summer. Look for something warmer in the winter. Gloves are also a good idea for the colder months and sessions. I am still looking for the perfect set of gloves; something waterproof that is also breathable. Neoprene gloves are fine but I find that with them not being breathable they encourage my hands to sweat, wetting the neoprene and eventually allowing the hands to get cold.
Which suit you pick depends entirely on you. When you do go to try a suit make sure that it fits well but still allows plenty of movement, especially in the shoulder, chest and arm areas. A relief zipper on the crotch area of the suit is a very handy addition for obvious reasons. Rinse the suit down with freshwater after each use and pay particular attention to the zippers to prolong the life of your investment. Hanging the suit when not in use is the best way to store it.
A quick word about wetsuits; wetsuits are suitable for certain applications. They will work during the warmer months and I sometimes wear one if I know I will be snorkelling/diving. If you get wet they will keep you warm while in the water but as soon as you are out and the breeze hit them they will chill you very quickly. They also promote excessive perspiration which does not make for a comfortable session. A drysuit teamed with a PFD is bar far the safer and better option.
Article seen in Sea Angler