How To Choose The Right Spray Skirt For Your Kayak
So Many Spray Skirts – Which Spray Skirt is right for me and will fit my Kayak?
To start things off we should talk about what the heck is a spray skirt?
What is a sprayskirt?
A sprayskirt is worn by a paddler, a connects to the cockpit of the kayak to create a watertight seal, both keeping the paddler dry and preventing the kayak from filling with water. Not all kayaks or paddlers require a skirt, although you might be interested if you are paddling in rough conditions, or looking to stay dry.
When looking for the proper sprayskirt for your kayak, you’ll want to consider three main points: deck sizing, tunnel sizing, and bungee vs rand.
- Deck Sizing
Deck size relates to the area that fits around the kayak cockpit. A good rule of thumb for sprayskirt fit is that it should be slightly difficult to put the skirt on your kayak, but not impossible. Most importantly, the skirt must be easily removed whenever necessary or during an emergency.
Pro Tip: While most manufacturers’ skirt “fit” is similar, there are some slight differences in sizing between brands. Also note, there may be differences in cockpit sizing between different years of the SAME kayak! To avoid any confusion, look for a manufacturer’s “Fit Guide” to help you find the deck size that best fits the Make, Model and Year of your kayak.
- Tunnel Sizing:
Tunnel sizing relates to the area of the skirt that fits around your abdomen. Generally speaking, tunnel sizing is personal preference; however, you want to be sure the skirt is not falling off of you when you’re wearing it, but also not so tight that it’s uncomfortable.
To find the best-fit tunnel size, I highly suggest trying skirts on. You want the skirt to be functional, but you also want it to be comfortable. Try a range of sizes, see which stays on, and feels the least range-of-motion restricting.
Pro Tip: Try the skirt on over a t-shirt or two. Generally speaking, when paddling, you’ll always have a layer or two under the tunnel.
- Bungee or Rand?
Bungee or Rand refers to the piping around the edge of the skirt that provides the seal around the kayak’s cockpit. A bungee skirt is generally stretchier than a rand skirt, making it easier to put on. The rand, however, typically makes for a drier kayak, and is less likely to implode off waterfalls, etc.
Personally, as a professional paddler of over 9 years, I choose to use a bungee skirt for its ease of use.
- Skirt Material:
Depending on the application, you may choose a specific material: Neoprene, Nylon, or a Nylon/Neoprene combination.
Neoprene is generally tight fitting, and snug to both keep water out and warmth in. Neoprene skirts can withstand rolling, bracing, wind and waves. Whitewater skirts are strictly neoprene, while some touring skirts may be neoprene as well.
Nylon skirts are easy to put on, as well as take off. They offer a decent seal, but generally are not as water-tight as a neoprene. Nylon may be breathable and/or waterproof, and are generally used for recreational touring during warmer weather. Nylon skirts even come in half-skirts for sun protection!
Nylon/Neoprene offers the best of both worlds, with a nylon torso and neoprene base: comfort as well as a better watertight seal.
- Added Features
Some skirts will have added features such as a stow-pocket, adjustable waist band, and suspenders. If you’re going for an ocean tour, consider looking for a skirt with some or all of these features.
For a complete selection of all the sprayskirts we offer at the Kayak Shed please click here.