Categories :

Water Sports Clothing

The human body loses heat in four ways: radiation, evaporation, conduction, and convection. A brief explanation of each of these ways will be instructive in helping the boater avoid the potential problems associated with braving the elements, staying dry and having fun. However, it should be noted that the boater should always be dressed to take a swim, should you and your boat part company.

Evaporation is defined as the transformation of a liquid into a vapor, In this case usually water. Evaporation is essentially is a cooling process, I am sure you remember this from high school physics. So, when you get total sports apparel wet from perspiration or a splash from a passing motor boat or ocean swell you will feel chilled until your body or clothes dry out. Therefore staying dry is an important part of remaining warm and comfortable.

Conduction is the transfer of heat through one substance to another; usually from a warm object to a cooler one. So, if you are sitting in the bottom of a kayak, you should make some effort to insulate your butt from the cooler water that is easily transferred through the boat’s hull. It should be noted here that we are referring to the sit-in type of kayak. This can easily be done with some type of foam pad or seat that elevates you from direct contact with the bottom of the boat.

Convection is the flow of heat from a warm object into a gaseous liquid by the circulation of that gas or liquid. So if you feel warm, the breeze blowing by your body it is actually warming the atmosphere behind you. In most cases you would be hard pressed to actually measure this effect. In effect a cool wind blowing by your body steals heat from you and warms the atmosphere behind you. Wearing clothes that minimize this heat transfer by non-absorption you will help you stay warmer.

Lastly, radiation is heat that is either absorbed by your body or removed from your body by some external heat source such as the sun or by the heat sitting near a glowing fireplace or block of ice. The color of an object can also magnify this effect as evidenced by walking on a black tar roof in the summer or wearing light colored clothes on a hot summer’s day.

So what does all this technical stuff have to do with what the boater should wear as he/ she launches the boat from the beach, dock, or river bank? The most important part of the body to keep warm is your core (the torso, neck and head). If you can keep your core warm and dry, you should be relatively comfortable, even if your hands, feet and ears, may be a little chilly. The loss of body heat by convection is one of the most important things to consider. The remedy for this type of heat loss can be accomplished by using sports apparel waterproof gear that pretty much eliminates evaporation and convection preventing you from getting wet. Under the outer most waterproof layer, evaporation can be controlled by using clothing that absorbs moisture from you body. Certain garments such as the ubiquitous fleece jacket are excellent for this task.

These clothes will slowly release the moisture generated by the body’s exertion without the rapid cooling associated with sweating and getting your inner layers of clothes wet. Conduction can also be eliminated by the use of some kind of fleece garment. Radiation is probably the most difficult of the four heat loss elements to control. Usually radiation has to be reflected to minimize the flow of the electrons and has to be either reflected or absorbed. Dead air space is good at minimizing this problem and the fiberglass insulation in your house in the form of bats between the studs creates a dead air space that cuts down on radiation and air movement. A bulky, heavy wool sweater creating small pockets of dead air under the outer layers can have the same effect. You should avoid cotton clothes, since they absorb moisture and will remain moist preventing the dispersal of the body’s fluids.

There is one whole class of garments that have not been mentioned that we will save for another article or blog and that is the wet and dry suits which are a major upgrade to the average boater’s general wardrobe. Most of the time this type of gear would be used only in extreme conditions such as very cold water kayaking or extremely long voyages.

Visit for more information:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *