The main things that you really need to remember are to protect yourself from the sun and the cold, and to always wear shoes. Here is some clobber you might like to consider.
LONG SLEEVED SHIRT: Not cotton. Polypropylene, Polartec fleece, or merino is good when it’s cold, and nylon, such as a rashy, is good when it’s hot. Short sleeved shirts aren’t the best, unless you are going for a sexy farmer tan.
PANTS: Simple boardshorts will do all year round for most paddling in Australia. If you feel the cold or want extra protection from the sun, long john thermals under your boardies are good. For those with a bit more cash, long neoprene (or similar material) pants are available from specialist paddling stores.
HAT: A cap is good but a wide brimmed hat is better. Some people even go for a legionnaires cap with rear sun flap for full protection. There’s often not much shade on the water so it is a good idea to BYO. A beanie never goes astray if it is cold.
SUNGLASSES: Three words… paddlers prefer polarised. Polarised sunnies cut out the glare off the water. This reduces strain on your eyes, and helps you see the fishies below. A floating sunglass retainer is a good idea too, just in case they fall overboard.
SHOES: These are particularly important when there are a lot of sharp objects like oyster shells around. Neoprene or nylon mesh uppers and soft flexible rubber soles that cup your heel are great. The flexibility in the sole makes it easy to use rudder pedals. Diving boots are a good option.
SOCKS: While socks and paddling don’t really seem to go together, some people swear that a pair of thermal socks adds a bit of luxury to a long day on the water. Waterproof socks are also available, for those who feel the cold.
GLOVES: There are UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) 50 gloves to shield you from the sun, waterproof gloves to ward off the cold, and gloves with durable palms to protect you from blisters.
WATERPROOF JACKET: The ideal jacket is made out of breathable material and has neoprene waist, cuffs, and neck that can be sealed to keep out the water, but a normal raincoat will do so long as it doesn’t have a hood. This will be an anchor if you unexpectedly go for a swim.
SPRAYDECK: These are only applicable to paddlers of cockpitted boats and are not essential. In fact, it is not a good idea to use one unless you are comfortable that you know how to release it in an emergency. The three choices are: full neoprene, full nylon, and neoprene deck with nylon waist. The last is the most popular. This is because the neoprene creates a good seal at boat level where the water is splashing around, and the nylon is more comfortable around the waist where you don’t need a seal, unless you plan on Eskimo rolling.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. So get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little.” – Billy Connolly