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December 20, 2022 11 min read

Discover the best kayak spray skirts and why you need one

Man wearing a kayak spray skirt on a recreational kayak

Are you looking to level up your kayak game? A spray skirt may just be the thing you need to take you from a basic paddler to a hardcore seasoned pro in kayaking. This small addition to your gear will allow you to kayak year-round and open up even more routes to paddle.  

Expanding your kayak accessories can be an overwhelming shopping experience. But it does not have to be! With some clear guidance and advice on the best gear out there, you will easily be able to find the best spray skirt for your kayaking level.

From answering the burning question of “what is a spray skirt” to the specific features you should look out for, we have got you covered. Here is your buyer’s guide to the best spray skirts for kayaking along with the top 9 currently available online.

What Is A Spray Skirt?

Man standing next to a kayak while wearing a sprayskirt

A spray skirt is a flexible waterproof cover for a kayak that attaches to the paddler’s waist. They are used to prevent water from entering the boat without restricting the paddler’s stroke or movement. They also create a warm environment for the kayaker to allow year-round paddling in some destinations.

Spray skirts are often used when kayaking in breaking waves or while navigating white water rapids. They are considered more advanced pieces of equipment. Paddlers are encouraged to use spray skirts if they want to progress in kayaking.

Parts of a Spray Skirt

There are four key components that make up a spray skirt:

  1. A tunnel – is worn around the paddler’s torso.
  2. A deck – is attached to the tunnel and covers the cockpit.
  3. A rand or bungee – fastens the deck to the lip of the cockpit.
  4. A grab loop – is located at the front of the skirt on the rand or bungee. Used to pull the skirt off the kayak’s rim when exiting.

Types of Spray Skirts

There are several types of spray skirts to choose from, besides the standard recreational type, when progressing your kayaking career. 

As you become more familiar with wearing a spray skirt, you may want to consider using one with shoulder straps. This maintains tension on the skirt and keeps the funnel fully extended up the paddler’s torso, avoiding water pooling in the skirt.

Here are two more specialized types of spray skirts:

  1. Splash decks – designed for warmer conditions and allows ventilation as the whole cockpit is not covered. 
  2. Tandem spray skirts – fit two paddlers in kayaks with only one opening. They come as two pieces that join together, each with a separate grab loop. If the tandem kayak has two separate cockpits then two separate spray skirts are required.  

Spray Skirt vs. Spray Deck

Spray skirts and spry decks often get confused as the same thing. It is important to note they are different bits of kit.

A spray skirt seals the kayak cockpit rim entirely, whereas a spray deck only covers part of the opening to reduce the amount of splash entering the boat. Spray skirts are used in whitewater kayaking and allow paddlers to perform advanced maneuvers, like Eskimo rolls, without flooding the kayak. 

GILI Top Picks: Best Spray Skirts For Kayaking

Best Overall
Seals Inlander Spray Skirt
Seals Inlander Sprayskirt

The Seals Inlander Sprayskirt is designed for light to moderate paddling conditions, specifically made for recreational kayaks. It is made with a medium-weight coated nylon packcloth that is both durable and water-resistant.

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Best Budget
Attwood nylon spray skirt with mesh storage bag
Attwood Nylon Spray Skirt

The Attwood Nylon Spray Skirt is made with polyurethane-coated 210 denier nylon. It has dual-side adjustability and PVC-sealed seams which make it easy to install and remove.

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Best Lightweight
Seal splash deck version
Seals Splash Deck Spray Skirt

The Seals Splash Deck Spray Skirt is designed for paddlers who do not require a fully closed cockpit. It is great for calm paddling conditions and hot summer days. Not only does it provide splash protection but also good UV protection as well.

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How To Choose The Best Spray Skirt For Kayaking

There are some key features to consider when shopping for a kayak spray skirt. Do not get overwhelmed by it all! Here is your buying guide for the best kayak spray skirts.

Material 

Kayak spray skirt material is a top priority to think about as it affects comfort and performance. Mainly, there are two options: neoprene or nylon.

A neoprene spray skirt provides superb warmth when the air and water are bitterly cold. They often come with rubber or neoprene rands to secure onto the kayak’s cockpit and can withstand some of the toughest conditions. Neoprene skirts create such a tight seal that they can be difficult to remove when wet, so it is important to practice this so you can perform an emergency wet exit if the need arises.

A nylon spray skirt is a good option for mild/warm weather. Nylon is highly versatile and can be waterproof, breathable, or water-resistant. Often the rand is a bungee cord that provides a tight seal but will not fully keep water out if capsized. However, this does make them easier to detach when in the water.

Some spray skirts use a combination of nylon and neoprene. This is a good choice if the conditions are variable. 

Design

Most spray skirts for kayaking follow the same basic design: tunnel and deck. There is some difference when it comes to the fastening, either offering a rand closure or a bungee. Some will also have an adjustable neoprene waistband to create a watertight seal. 

When shopping for a kayak spray skirt, be sure it is suitable and will fit your sit-in kayak

Features

Shoulder straps and pockets are two examples of some great features some kayaking spray skirts can come with. 

Adjustable suspenders (or shoulder straps) are useful to keep the tunnel fully extended up the torso. It also helps prevent water from gathering on the deck. This can be helped with a tensioned deck feature as well.

Pockets come in different shapes and sizes. Interior or exterior, typically they are located on the deck or tunnel. They can be designed for storage, like a mesh pocket for sunscreen or bug spray for example, or fleece lined to offer warmth for hands in cold weather. 

How To Use A Spray Skirt When Kayaking

Man wearing a kayak spray skirt carrying his red kayak and a paddle

Follow these simple steps to use a spray skirt when kayaking:

  1. Put the spray skirt on over your head and pull down your torso. Depending on the design, you may need to adjust suspender straps or step into leg holes like a pair of pants. You need to ensure you pull the tunnel high up on your torso to get the best performance out of the spray skirt.
  2. Get in the kayak. Be sure you have a safe place to do so.
  3. Attach the back of the spray skirt to the cockpit. Do this by reaching behind you. Take hold of the rand or bungee and attach it to the cockpit rim. Top tip: keep looking forward to staying balanced in the kayak!
  4. Attach the sides of the skirt to the rim. Slide your hands from back to front, securing the rand or bungee to the rim. As you get closer to the front it will get more difficult, especially with a neoprene type.
  5. Attach the front of the skirt using the grab loop. Ensure the grab loop is on the outside of the spray skirt. This is a safety feature to allow a quick release in case of an emergency.

Best 9 Kayak Spray Skirts

Here is your run down on the top 9 kayak spray skirts available online at the moment.

Seals Inlander Sprayskirt

Best overall spray skirt for kayaking

The Seals Inlander Sprayskirt is designed for light to moderate paddling conditions, specifically made for recreational kayaks. It is made with a medium-weight coated nylon packcloth that is both durable and water-resistant.

With an adjustable tunnel for comfort and fit, this skirt is accommodating for many kayakers. The rim grip/safety slip technology keeps the skirt on your cockpit rim. There are also double-stitched and sealed seams, making this a good overall option for recreational kayaking. 

Seals Inlander Spray Skirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Nylon material
  • Recreational kayaking
  • Under $70

What we like:

  • A good range of sizes is available
  • Good overall option
  • Adjustable tunnel

What we don't like:

  • Not fully waterproof

Attwood Nylon Spray Skirt

Best budget spray skirt for kayaking

The Attwood Nylon Spray Skirt is made with polyurethane-coated 210 denier nylon. It has dual-side adjustability and PVC-sealed seams which make it easy to install and remove. 

This kayak spray skirt folds to a compact size and can be stored in your kayak. A mesh bag is included for safe storage. Overall, this kayak spray skirt is great value for money and will suit those on a tighter budget.

Attwood nylon spray skirt with mesh storage bag

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Nylon material
  • Recreational kayaking
  • Under $50

What we like:

  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Good budget option
  • Adjustable sizing

What we don't like:

  • Sizes are limited

Seals Splash Deck Spray Skirt

Best lightweight spray skirt for kayaking

The Seals Splash Deck Spray Skirt is designed for paddlers who do not require a fully closed cockpit. It is great for calm paddling conditions and hot summer days. Not only does it provide splash protection but also good UV protection as well. This splash deck keeps the interior of the kayak cooler and more comfortable on warm days while also keeping the paddle drip off your lap.

There is an assortment of sizes, so be sure to measure up against your kayak cockpit. The materials used are lightweight, as is the mesh pocket on the deck.

Seal splash deck version

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Nylon material
  • Light kayaking
  • Under $60

What we like:

  • Excellent splash protection
  • Good lightweight option
  • Breathable material

What we don't like:

  • Limited sizes

Seals Extreme Tour

Good spray skirt for extreme kayaking

The Seals Extreme Tour Kayak Spray Skirt is designed for extreme paddling conditions. It has been constructed with a high-performance 4.0 mm neoprene deck with a waterproof, breathable fabric tunnel and adjustable neoprene waistband. 

If whitewater rapids are calling you, then this may just be the spray skirt you need!

Seal extreme tour spray skirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Neoprene material
  • Whitewater kayaking
  • Under $200

What we like:

  • Removable suspender design
  • Good for serious paddling
  • Adjustable neoprene waistband

What we don't like:

  • Not the most comfortable under a PFD

NRS Drylander Shock Cord

Good spray skirt for watertight kayaking

The NRS Drylander Shock Cord Sprayskirt is designed to stretch and fit tightly to both the kayaker and the kayak. A rubberized inner deck coating grips the kayak combing from the inside, resisting slippage, while the tough 4-mm neoprene surface holds well under pressure.

It performs exceptionally well in whitewater conditions and is ideal for more advanced kayaking techniques. Just be aware that the neoprene is super tight when brand new and can be challenging to put on and take off.

NRS drylander shock cord sprayskirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Neoprene material 
  • Whitewater kayaking
  • Under $120

What we like:

  • Good sizes and reliable measurements
  • Durable materials
  • Good for serious paddling

What we don't like:

  • Difficult to put on properly

Immersion Research Lucky Charm

Good spray skirt for premium kayaking

The Immersion Research Lucky Charm Rubber Rand Kayak Spray Skirt is the first skirt introduced with their 3-fin style rand. It not only offers a wide variety of rim shapes but also provides great implosion resistance. 

It is the go-to deck for serious river runners. If the budget allows, this is a fantastic spray skirt for advanced kayaking.

Immersion research lucky charm kayak spray skirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Neoprene material
  • Whitewater kayaking
  • Under $250

What we like:

  • Good range of sizes
  • Designed for river runners
  • Top-quality materials

What we don't like:

  • High price tag

NRS Basic Nylon Kayak Sprayskirt

Good intro spray skirt for kayaking

The NRS Basic Nylon Kayak Sprayskirt is a basic option that is affordable and gets the job done. It is ideal for gentle touring or learning how to use a spray skirt while kayaking. Designed with sturdy urethane-coated nylon, the skirt has an adjustable bungee for the deck and a drawcord for the waist to provide full mobility. 

It is perfect for paddling on the river or exploring a lake. Although it is basic, this spray skirt is a great fit to keep rain and water out, keeping you dry for the whole session!

NRS Basic nylon kayak sprayskirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Nylon material
  • Touring and learning kayaking
  • Under $60

What we like:

  • Durable and flexible materials
  • Designed for gentle kayaking
  • Easy to use

What we don't like:

  • Sizes are limited

Perception Truefit Spray Skirt

Good spray skirt for general kayaking

The Perception TrueFit Spray Skirt is a good all-around option for water-resistant kayaking. A water-resistant tunnel zipper allows hot air to vent out when unzipped and keeps you dry when zipped closed, making it one of the most breathable skirts available.

All of the seams are double-stitched and seam-taped for premium durability and waterproof performance. There is a large zippered mesh pocket on the deck for storing items that can get wet. And the grab handle includes a clip that can attach to your PFD while walking.

Perception truefit spray skirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Nylon and neoprene materials
  • Recreational kayaking
  • Under $120

What we like:

  • Removable suspenders
  • Breathable design
  • Large zipped mesh pocket

What we don't like:

  • Not fully waterproof

Wilderness Systems TrueFit Spray Skirt

Good spray skirt for ventilated kayaking

The Wilderness Systems TrueFit Spray Skirt provides an excellent fit for sitting inside kayaks that is designed to keep the paddler dry. Sticky edging grips the cockpit rim tightly and adds extra durability. The implosion bar prevents water from pooling on top of the skirt. 

A water-resistant tunnel zipper allows hot air to vent out when unzipped and keeps you dry when zipped closed. All seams are double-stitched and seam-taped for premium durability and waterproof performance. Large zippered mesh pocket on deck for storing items that can get wet.

Wilderness systems truefit spray skirt

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Nylon material 
  • Recreational kayaking
  • Under $110

What we like:

  • Easy to install and use
  • Water-resistant zippers
  • Good ventilation

What we don't like:

  • Not fully waterproof

Wrap-Up: Best Kayak Spray Skirts

Whether you are after recreational or whitewater spray skirts, you need to make sure it is the right fit for you and your kayak. Always check the manufacturer’s size chart against both you and your boat. 

Kayak skirts are a useful addition to your kayaking kit. Once you get used to the feel of paddling with one, you won’t want to go without again!

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you kayak without a spray skirt?

Kayaking without a spray skirt is common and often recommended for newcomers. A spray skirt can be considered restrictive for anyone that is still learning how to kayak. If you are not using a spray skirt, it is best to stick to calm conditions where water will not be entering the kayak.


👍 Why do you need a kayak skirt?

Kayak skirts are needed when paddling on challenging rivers or rough oceans. If your kayaking adventure takes you through a lot of white water, then you will probably want to consider using a spray skirt to cover the entire cockpit and keep moisture out.


🏝️ How tight should a spray skirt be?

Spray skirts for kayaking need to be a tight fit around the torso of the kayaker. This will ensure it is watertight and will not be too restrictive in stroke movement. At first, they will be difficult to put on and take off until you get used to using kayak spray skirts.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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