While plenty of kayak anglers hit the water in nothing more than an old pair of shorts, that’s not the smartest choice you can make.
Protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation shouldn’t be an afterthought. Instead, it should be foremost on your mind.
As increasing numbers of fishermen struggle with the impacts of season after season of sun damage, full-coverage clothing options are finally getting the attention they deserve, even in full summer.
And for cold weather, warm, weatherproof pants are essential.
If you’re looking for kayak fishing pants but aren’t sure where to turn, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find reviews of the best kayak fishing pants as well as a complete buying guide to quickly get you up to speed:
Warm Weather and Three Season Kayak Pants
- Columbia Men’s PFG Blood and Guts III Convertible Pants - Best Three-Season Kayak Fishing Pants
- Columbia Men's Terminal Tackle
- HUK Men's Reserve Quick-Drying Performance Fishing Pants
Cool Weather Kayak Pants
- Grundens Men’s Neptune Commercial Fishing Bib Pants - Best Cool Weather Kayak Fishing Pants
- Berghaus Men's Deluge Waterproof Overpants
Table of Contents (clickable)
Best Kayak Fishing Pants Reviewed
Warm Weather and Three Season Kayak Fishing Pants
Columbia Men’s PFG Blood and Guts III Convertible Pants - Best Three-Season Kayak Fishing Pants
Columbia’s PFG line of fishing clothing is no-nonsense tough, providing durable, stain-resistant options for warm weather.
Their PFG Blood and Guts III Convertible pants allow you to switch to shorts should you like, though obviously, that compromises their excellent sun protection.
Constructed from 100% nylon, these pants are ultra-light, keeping you cool and dry no matter how hot it gets. In this respect, I’d say they are superior to the otherwise excellent Terminal Tackle pants we reviewed above, as the looser fit and lighter fabric really do make a difference.
The downside to that light fabric is that it provides slightly less UV protection, offering UPF 30 rather than the UPF 50 of the Terminal Tackle alternative. That should still provide all-day protection from sunburn, however.
The pockets on these pants aren’t huge, so don’t expect to store a ton of gear in them. That said, your wallet, keys, knife, and phone will be no trouble, and you can count on them to be well-executed, secure, and quick draining.
The zipper and other hardware are top quality, as is the stitching. Durability is excellent.
Columbia’s Blood and Guts III are as good as it gets for stain resistance and easy washing. Whether you throw these in your washer or launder them by hand at a fishing camp, they’ll come clean easily and dry overnight without fail.
As with all warm-weather pants, an underlayer will allow three-season use in warmer climates.
These pants run true to size.
- Easy to wash
- Very light
- Very good sun protection
- Pockets are small
Columbia’s clothing is a favorite of anglers everywhere, and here at US Angler, our go-to brand for fishing shirts.
Kayak fishing pants need to be comfortable, offer plenty of sun protection, and be easy to wash, and Columbia’s Terminal Tackle pants really fit the bill.
Constructed from a polyester/elastane blend, they’re just stretchy enough to give in the right way. They wick moisture really well, too, helping to keep you dry even when the mercury is soaring.
Columbia coats the fabric of these pants with a UV blocker that provides UPF 50 protection, ensuring you won’t get a sunburn through them, no matter how long you stay out in the sun.
Don’t confuse this number with SPF - it’s a different measurement altogether.
Sun-exposure experts explain that UPF 50 protection “will reduce your skin's UV radiation exposure by 50 times (98% UV block) in areas where the skin is protected by the fabric.” That’s all-day protection no matter where you fish, making these an excellent choice for summer wear on your ‘yak.
These pants have also been treated with a proprietary stain repellant, and it’s remarkably easy to wash out nasty fish slime and blood. Machine washable, these pants dry quickly, so having them ready for the next day is no sweat at all.
The mesh pockets on the Terminal Tackle are less capacious than on the Blood and Guts III, so anything more than the bare essentials will get crowded. When you combine this with a slimmer, stretchier fit, I’d say the pockets are more for decoration than real use.
That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, especially if you’ve got plenty of tackle storage already. Realistically, though, anything much beyond a phone and a slim knife is going to push the front pockets to their maximum.
For cooler weather, an appropriate underlayer will provide plenty of warmth, but I wouldn’t want to be using these pants in winter for kayak fishing.
One word of caution: these pants are slimmer through the seat and thigh than the waist sizing suggests. And although the fabric is stretchy, anglers with fuller legs may want to order a size larger than they normally wear.
- Easy to wash
- Very light
- Stylish and stretchy
- Excellent sun protection
- Pockets are almost useless
HUK Men's Reserve Quick-Drying Performance Fishing Pants - Best Three-Season Kayak Fishing Pants
HUK’s fishing clothing is super popular, and they make some of the best full-coverage shirts for sun protection on the market. Their Reserve Quick-Drying Performance pants are just as good, look great, and provide a bit more warmth than those offered by Columbia.
For fall and spring in warmer climates, these HUKs would be my choice.
Constructed from a polyester/spandex blend, these kayak fishing pants look pretty much like ordinary chinos. And fr anglers on a fishing trip during which social events or nicer restaurants are a given, these pants are an excellent option.
While light enough to provide all-day comfort, they’re probably the warmest of the three options on our list. With an appropriate underlayer, they’ll serve you well in the fall and spring in climates that don’t get snow and ice, though they might be a tad warm in those same locations in the summer.
HUK treats these pants with a proprietary stain-resistant chemical, and the results are competitive with Columbia. They dry quickly, too, despite being a heavier material than the Blood and Guts III.
Sun protection is excellent, and the Reserve Quick-Drying Performance Pants deliver +30 UPF, plenty of protection for sun up to sundown.
HUK has thought through the details, too, adding an antimicrobial agent to the fabric. This will inhibit the growth of bacteria, keeping these pants from smelling stale.
Expect storage equivalent to dress pants, meaning that you’ll want other options for things like pliers or a lipper. That said, these are another great option for anglers who’ll be socializing during or after a fishing trip and want to look smart while doing so.
True to size, these HUK pants are hard-wearing, belying their dress silhouette.
- Easy to wash
- Excellent sun protection
- Pockets are almost useless
Cool Weather Kayak Fishing Pants
Grundens Men’s Neptune Commercial Fishing Bib Pants - Best Cool Weather Kayak Fishing Pants
Grundens. That’s pretty much all we need to say.
The choice of men and women who make their living on the water, Grunden offers uncompromising quality. Their Neptune bibs are perhaps the ultimate choice for kayak anglers in cold weather, offering warmth, wind protection, and waterproofness.
Made from a medium-weight polyurethane, they block wind and water like a pro linebacker. Rest assured that you’ll be well-protected from Mother Nature if you wear an appropriate underlayer.
It’s that simple.
There are heavier, more insulating models available from Grundens, but that’s probably overkill for kayak anglers.
Adjustable suspenders and stretchy polyurethane add up to all-day comfort, something you’d expect from workwear designed around the needs of crabbers, lobstermen, and deckhands.
You’ll also find ¼ leg zippers for easy on and off over footwear and adjustable ankles to stop wind and water from getting in under your pants.
Tough doesn’t even begin to describe these bibs, and if all you do in them is fish from your kayak, they’ll last the rest of your life.
Blood and slime wash off these pants with nothing more than a hose and soap.
For my money, this is as good as it gets for cold-weather kayak fishing.
- Easy to clean
- Professional grade
For cooler weather, summer options just don’t cut it, even when you add a proper underlayer. Instead, you’ll want pants that can cut the wind, shed water like a duck’s back, and provide an extra layer of warmth.
Berghaus’s Deluge Overpants are a great choice for kayak fishing in cooler weather. Designed to be worn as an outer layer, they allow you to adjust your base and mid layer to match the temperatures without adding bulk.
Zippered legs and thigh vents help release excess heat and sweat vapor, while the DWR coating stops rain, spray, and paddle drips cold.
These overpants are easy to wear, featuring an elasticized waist and true-to-size fit.
Not warm in and of themselves, they nevertheless provide a shell layer that will repel wind and water. If you’re looking for a lightweight outer layer for cooler weather, you’ve found a great option.
What We Look for in Kayak Fishing Pants
While kayak angling isn’t particularly tough on pants, long-term exposure to sun and stains can really beat up clothing.
We look for durable fabrics that hold up over time, and for us, the biggest problem is staining. Blood is the most common culprit, but I’ve also gotten my pants muddy when using my paddle as a push pole.
And, of course, fish slime is abundant and stinky!
Look for pants that are easy to wash and quick to dry.
This is especially important on multi-day fishing trips, where your access to full laundry facilities may be less than ideal.
Having pants that you can get clean in the sink or shower, and hang dry overnight, is essential.
When the sun is blazing, light fabrics are at their best, and you want a loose fit that lets air circulate as much as possible.
Light colors are also a good idea, as dark pants will heat up quickly.
For cool, windy weather, an insulating base layer is essential, even in most climates that allow kayak fishing year-round. Now, tropical locations like the Florida Keys might be an exception, but even south Texas gets chilly in winter, and you’ll want to dress properly to reflect that.
Add any danger of getting wet to the mix, and you’ll want to consider one of the cold weather options on our list.
As more and more anglers are discovering, sun protection is serious business.
Full coverage is the smart choice for intense sun.
Kayak fishermen are at exceptional risk for skin cancer due to high levels of UV exposure, and as Joseph Simonds over at SaltStrong can tell you, prevention is a lot easier than a cure.
“The sun damage it’s accumulative, adds up on you, once I knew I had a problem, it was too late.”
Sunscreen is great, but proper clothing is even better. That’s why the experts at skincancer.org recommend sun-protective clothing as the simplest way to stay safe.
Unlike SPF-rated sunscreens that multiply your natural resistance to UV light, UPF-rated clothing offers a physical barrier to cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. As The Skin Cancer Foundation explains, “UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabric and reach your skin. Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is based on the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden; if you burn after 20 minutes, if used correctly, an SPF 15 sunscreen may protect your skin 15 times longer.”
That makes UPF-rated clothing superior at protecting you from the harmful effects of the sun; it’s like a shield that prevents UV radiation from reaching your skin’s cells.
And as the risks of sun exposure are becoming better understood by anglers, more and more of them are choosing full coverage, even in the summer.
That’s a smart choice that we stand behind.
Wind and water protection
In cool or cold weather, splashes, paddle drips, and rain can be merely uncomfortable to downright dangerous.
Cold weather demands careful protection.
Hypothermia is a real threat if you get soaked by a sudden squall, and gusting winds can really chill you to the bone.
The first layer of protection from the cold for kayak anglers is an appropriate base layer like Grunden’s. Their pants and shirt are designed to fit under your fishing attire, and they’ll help keep you warm.
Worn under lightweight fishing pants, that base layer will really help in the fall, spring, and winter, but you’ll need to do your part with weather- and season-matching outerwear.
Both of the options we review will work well in cool weather, but the Grunden’s bibs are the best option when there’s a real chill in the air and you need to stay dry and warm.
Whether you’re chasing bass on Falcon Lake or salmon off the coast of California, good kayaking pants are essential. In the summer, they should keep you cool while protecting you from the cell-destroying UV that causes skin cancer. And in colder weather, good pants will keep you warm and dry.
When the heat’s on, we recommend Columbia’s PFG Blood and Guts III Convertible Pants. Lightweight and breezy, they’ll protect you from the worst the sun can dish out while still keeping you cool and comfortable. They’re also easy to get clean when you get them dirty and dry in a snap.
With an excellent base layer, these pants will keep you comfortable in most warm climates all the way through winter.
But where temperatures get low, you'll want to think about something more protective, and we reach for Grundens Neptune Commercial Fishing Bib Pants. In combination with an appropriate base layer, they’ll keep you warm and dry, enabling you to hit the water even when the weather isn’t cooperating.
We hope this article has helped you narrow down your choice of kayak fishing pants, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.
Please leave a comment below.