Q. My family has a great sit-on-top kayak and I love paddling it around the lake in the summer but my parents make me wear a lifejacket and my back gets totally sweaty and gross. Please help me!
— Sweaty Seth, Loudon, Tenn.
A. Don’t worry Seth, this is a common problem among kayakers in hot climates. I call it the ‘sweaty back syndrome.’ Obviously you’ll always wear a lifejacket. So, first off, the bad news: You’re going to get sweaty on a hot day while wearing your lifejacket. Sorry, you just are.
But the good news is there are a few things you can do about it. One, try wearing a light-colored moisture-wicking performance tee (like Nike’s Dri-Fit, Under Armour or Capilene by Patagonia) that’ll move the sweat away from your skin. Of course a simple wet cotton teeshirt works really well too. When you get hot, hop in the water for a quick dip. Once you’re wet, the water evaporating off your teeshirt will help keep you cool.
There are also a couple new lifejackets on the market with mesh panels on the back that help keep you cool. One good one is the NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD ($70; www.nrsweb.com). Probably the coolest one (sorry to be so punny) I’ve seen is the Astral V-Eight ($109; www.astralbuoyancy.com) which has a mesh back plus air channels for improved ventilation that effectively reduce the skin-on-lifejacket contact by up to 70 percent.
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