Gear Guide: Paddler-Friendly Rain Jackets

When paddling in the rain, it's important to choose the right jacket. 

When paddling in the rain, it's important to choose the right jacket. 

Florida has two seasons, wet and dry. We are currently in the heart of the dry season. I thought this would be the perfect time to discuss rain gear – before rain starts falling. Rain jackets are available in about as many variations as there are species in the ocean, but there are a couple of basic options to consider when shopping for the wet season.

The construction of a rain jacket affects its compatibility with your activity. This is a paddling column, so we will focus on staying dry while engaged in athletic pursuits on the water. Two and a half and three-layer laminate rain jackets are what we want. Why? In addition to being waterproof, these are also breathable. Non-breathable materials will result in a sauna inside your jacket, leaving you just as soaked as if you were not wearing rain gear.

Two and a half layer rain jackets are the most affordable and lightest rain jackets available for outdoor enthusiasts. Lightweight is a priority if you paddle in the subtropics. These rain jackets have a durable outer layer with an additional polyurethane layer attached, then an additional coating is applied. This last layer is the “half” part. The downfall? These jackets are not as breathable and not as waterproof as three-layer construction.

Three-layer jackets are the most expensive, but also the best. While the construction is a little heavier, and so perhaps not ideal for the middle of a Florida summer, it will keep you dry inside and out. There are three distinct layers of construction: an outer “toughest” layer, a breathable membrane, and a liner layer. 

Remember, when paddling you will get wet, but how you get wet is up to you. Consider your jacket construction, keep the rain off, and have fun!

Walter Cheatham is an experienced paddler and ACA-Certified Paddling Instructor. Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club founded by Sanibel Sea School to help the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more.