Kayaking can be a fun outdoor water sport activity, especially in pleasant weather. However, it can be frustrating to enjoy kayaking when the sun is directly overhead – particularly if you’re wearing a full wetsuit. You’ll feel agonizing pain on your skin when trying to handle the heat from the sun, taking away all the excitement. The last thing you need is to look for sunburn remedies to cool off the skin.
A better alternative to improve your skin health and kayaking experience during summer is to invest in a kayak canopy. Kayak canopies provide shade and protect your cockpit’s hardware against UV rays. Overly exposing your kayak to UV rays can cause damage and deterioration.
This review will share the list of best kayak canopies on the market this year and how it can boost your kayaking escapade this summer.
Top 7 Best Kayak Canopies Reviewed
- MSC Canopy Bimini With Storage – Best Overall
- Lixada Canopy For Single Person – Best for Budget
- Inflatable Bimini/Canopy - Hardware included – Editor’s Choice
- New Vortex By Vortex Direct Canopy
- Adventure Kayak Canopy For Tandem Kayak
- BRIS Portable And Inflatable Kayak Canopy
- WindPaddle Gold Kayak Canopy And Sun Shade
#1. MSC Canopy Bimini With Storage – Best Overall
- Material: 600D polyester canvas with marine-grade PU coated aluminum frame
- Size available : (5 sizes available) 6 Inches ( L) x 46 inches ( H) x 54 inches to 60 inches (W) / 6 inches ( L) x 46 inches (H) x 61 inches to 66 inches (W) & 6 inches( L) x 46 inches (H) x 67 inches to 72 inches (W) / 6 inches( L)x 46 inches (H )x 73 inches to 78 inches (W) / 6 inches (L) x 46 inches (H) x 79 inches to 84 inches (W) / 6 inches (L) x 46 inches (H) x 85 inches to 90 inches (W).
- Weight: 16 to 19 pounds
- Other accessories included: Mounting hardware, instruction manual, and fitting box
- Colors available: Burgundy, Forest Green, White, Navy Blue, and Pacific Blue
The MSC 3 kayak canopy from MSC is explicitly designed for small kayaks and boats. It provides excellent protection against sun, rain, and wind. The top is made from premium 600 Denier polyester canvas with a marine-grade double coated PU for sturdiness and durability. It’s easy to load and zip for keeping and does not require extra space for storage.
The canopy features an anti-rust aluminum tube for the frame, and it comes with mounting hardware and elastic straps to easily mount it to your kayak or canoe. You can adjust the canopy roof to your preferences.
Though it’s great that the MSC includes manual instruction with the canopy, the instructions need improvement as it is quite hard to understand for a non-mechanical paddler.
|Includes hardware parts||The assembly instructions are difficult to understand|
|Exceptional value||Not suitable for an inflatable kayak|
|Good quality||The canvas fades fast|
#2. Lixada Canopy For Single Person – Best for Budget
- Material: Oxford Cloth and Aviation Aluminum Rod
- Coverage size available : 4 x 2 ft
- Weight: 1.1 to 1.8 pounds
- Colors available : 12 colors – Grey/ Dark Blue/ Camouflage 1,2, 3,4 and 5/ Red/ Black/ Light Blue/ Dark Blue and Orange
The Lixada Kayak canopy is created for a single paddler. It’s made from a quality Oxford cloth with aviation-grade aluminum rods for its frame. The fabric is constructed with ripstop technology that can provide you better protection against UV rays and sunlight. The canopy can be folded up and kept in a storage bag for easy carrying and transportation.
You can choose from 12 different colors, from cool camouflage to blue and orange. We prefer the blue color as it has lesser heat absorption and lets you stay cool even under direct sunlight.
The Lixada canopy’s frame is made of aviation-grade aluminum. It is lightweight and built with poles that connect to a shock cord for easy installing. You can easily attach the poles and the rods to your kayak. It also includes a three-way flexible elastic cord, ensuring the poles stay in place when you’re paddling in rough water.
|Can cover up to 8 sq foot of space||Not sturdy enough to protect against wind|
|Available in 12 different colors||Not waterproof|
|Perfect sun protection|
|Easy to install|
#3. Inflatable Bimini/Canopy -Hardware included – Editor’s Choice
- Material: PU coated polyester canopy material
- Size available : 47 inches (H) x 83 inches (L) x 59 inches (Wide)
- Weight: Not available
- Other accessories included: No
- Colors available: White
The kayak canopy and bimini top from Sea Eagle are designed for small-sized inflatable kayaks and canoes between 65 and 75 inches wide. It is also suitable for small boats that can seat up to 4 persons – the length is 83 inches with 59 inches wide.
It is made from high-quality polyester with a PVC coating that prevents the canvas from getting wet or collecting water when it rains. The aluminum is lightweight and easily attached to the kayak without drilling; it is suitable for an inflatable kayak.
The canopy has adjustable straps to fasten and secure the clips or D-rings when attaching the poles.
|Can be used on inflatable kayaks and canoes||No storage bag|
|Lightweight tubing and connection hooks|
|Excellent sun protection|
- Material: 600 Denier Polyester and Nylon with Aluminum tube
- Size : 5ft (L)x 24 inches x(W) 39 inches (Tall)
- Other accessories included: Storage bag
- Weight: Not available
- Colors available: Gray
This kayak canopy from VortexDirect measures 5 inches in length and 24 inches in width. It’s a perfect choice for a small-sized kayak and canoe. The canvas is made of high-durable 600 denier polyester with nylon fittings, which can protect you against UV rays, rains, and winds. You don’t have to worry about durability and quality as the canopy uses aluminum tubing poles for support.
The installation and removal process is pretty straightforward, and you’ll be able to connect the poles and rod to your kayak effortlessly. For storage, the New Vortex kayak canopy can be folded compact, and it’s lightweight. When you’re not using it, you can keep it inside the storage bag that comes with the canopy.
|Fits bigger sized kayaks and canoes||It’s not suitable for inflatable kayaks|
|Easy to install and transport|
- Material: UPF 50+USA Tested canopy material
- Size available: 12ft to 13.5 ft for sit-on-kayak / 14 ft for tandem and canoes
- Weight: 4.5 pounds
- Other accessories included: Black storage bag
- Colors available: Orange, Marine Blue, Yellow, and Black
The Adventure kayak canopy comes in two different sizes for sit-on-tops, tandem kayaks, and canoes. It provides better shade for paddlers as the fabric is made of a UPF 50+ material that can absorb and reflect sunlight and UV rays. The fabric is designed specifically for outdoor use, so it’s sturdy and durable.
The adjustable rods and frames are made of anodized aluminum, which is lightweight and can be folded into a compact size for storage and transportation purposes. Installing it requires the rods to be mounted using stainless steel screws included with the canopy. Since it needs screws to mount the poles, this canopy is not suitable for inflatable kayaks.
|Provides excellent protection against sunlight and rain||Does not work with inflatable kayaks or canoes|
|Easy installation||The plastic construction gets easily broken|
- Material: Marine class polyester 600 Denier canopy coated Polyurethane with aluminum tube
- Size available : 55′ inches x 34 inches / Height 45 inches
- Weight: Not available
- Other accessories included: No accessories or storage bag included
- Colors available: Light gray
This portable and inflatable kayak canopy from BRIS is better used on inflatable kayaks, boats, and canoes. It is built with lightweight and sturdy bow aluminum poles that can withstand winds and raindrops. Moreover, the coating strengthens the durability and toughness of the canvas.
For the roof, the sunshade uses marine grade polyester with coated Polyurethane to ensure it doesn’t get wet when raining. It can also reflect sunlight and UV rays while keeping you comfortable and relaxed paddling underneath it.
|Durable material and sturdy poles||The canopy does not come with an instruction manual|
|Easy to install|
- Material: Polyester
- Size available: 8 sq ft coverage
- Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Other accessories included: No
- Colors available: Gold and blue
This WindPaddle canopy is made of polyester, which is water-resistant and keeps you from rain. Every purchase comes with mounting cleats to fasten and secure the poles to your kayak – using your kayak’s existing D-rings. The canopy is explicitly designed to withstand wind, and it can provide wind protection up to 10MPH.
Since the canvas is made of polyester, it can provide you adequate sunlight protection. The roof even has a transparent window that allows light into your cockpit. This feature is unique as not many canopies have it.
In any rough condition, the WindPaddle canopy is created to pull back against your kayak, so it won’t cause you to overturn.
|Satisfactory protection against the wind up to 10MPH||May require two people to position the poles|
|Lightweight and easy to transport|
|Provides excellent sun protection|
Top pick – MSC Kayak Canopy With Storage Bag
MSC Kayak has excellent quality and durability. The canopy comes with hardware for installing and a storage bag for keeping and transportation. Though the instruction manual needs improvement, once you understand the process to put it together and attach it to your kayak, you’ll know that this is a sturdy and reliable canopy to be used for a long time.
The canopy also comes in various cool shades like gray and white, which is an excellent choice of color in absorbing less heat; hence you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable paddling on a warmer day.
The MSC kayak canopy deserves our top pick choice as it provides good quality and value. For every unit purchased, you’ll get a spacious color-coordinated storage bag, instruction manual, hardware, and a fitting box.
Best of brands
MSC has manufactured and designed outdoor and water sports accessories for over ten years. The brand continuously invests in innovative ideas and products that improve the consumer’s lifestyle and satisfaction. With other good brands in the market, MSC wants to ensure its customers get the quality products they deserve with the money they’ve spent.
Sea Eagle Boats Inc
Sea Eagle Boats, Inc first operated in 1968 in Long Island, New York. The office is located just a shouting distance from Port Jefferson Harbour, where many of America’s luxurious sailing yachts were constructed. With tons of unique bays and secluded waterways in the area, Sea Eagles Boats seized an opportunity.
The bodies of water surrounding the Sea Eagle’s office is the main passion and interest of the brands. When they are not working, creating, and brainstorming on the next innovative products, they’ll be in the water. Testing out their products or paddling around just to kill the boredom.
The brand first sold its inflatable boats back in 1968, the same year it operated. The first two products were manufactured in France. One of the products was an inflatable kayak called Pyrawa and became a hit. The inflatable kayak was sold through L.L Bean, Sear and Roebuck, and other sports dealers.
Each year, Sea Eagle keeps making quality inflatable boats, kayaks, water sport accessories, and more. The brand is dedicated to designing and manufacturing the very best products for its consumers around the world.
Matthew Muzzio is a veteran with more than 11 years of active duty in the US Force. He completed his career in the US Force in 2007 and worked abroad, protecting US armies on a project that required him to work in the bomb detection department. When he finally retired, he spends every minute of it with his family. He started kayaking to relax and rejuvenate. His first kayak experience was a moment of truth where he burned his skin and realized how extended exposure to sunlight could harm the skin. He enjoyed the kayaking and paddling, but truthfully he can’t stand the heat. So he started looking for a kayak canopy for himself and his family.
He started experimenting with various designs and materials, and finally, on Memorial Day weekend in 2013, he showcased one of his creations, and people started asking where he got it from. The design received patented certifications in June 2014, and now he dreams of selling it internationally. Just like his motto, “Keep cool and paddle on,” today he still enjoys his kayaking trip with his wife and family.
Tips for Staying Hydrated, Cool, and Un-sunburned During Outdoor Activities
Every summer, most people love doing outdoor activities. But doing so could expose you to harsh elements like airborne pollutants and UV rays. If you enjoy outdoor sports, take the following precautions, so you’ll stay safe and have fun.
Don’t forget to pack enough water or sports drinks.
If you’re planning on staying outdoors longer, like kayaking, don’t forget to bring enough water so you’ll stay hydrated. Pack a sports drink as it helps replenish your electrolytes and carbs when you pump up the energy. Store your drinks in a cooler so it’ll stay chilled when you drink it.
Put on sunscreen
Many of us know the significance of wearing sunscreen in the summer to avoid skin damage and sunburn. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you leave home as some sunblock requires at least 30 minutes to absorb into the skin thoroughly. Bring a bottle with you to re-apply as some sunscreen does not last throughout the day, especially when you are sweating or exposed to water.
Watch your dehydration level
Slight dehydration elevates your heart rate while reducing its efficiency. And too much dehydration is dangerous. Before leaving home, you should drink at least 15 to 32 ounces of plain water to stabilize the pump. You should bring extra water with you and drink regularly during your activities, not just when you’re feeling thirsty.
Eat a wholesome meal before you leave home
Take a meal that is rich in complex carbohydrates the night before your hot-weather outdoor activities. The sugar in carbs will turn into glycogen, and it’ll help the body hold onto its water intake. Avoid snacking on junk foods or fast-foods before participating in any outdoor sports like kayaking, running, or cycling. It will make you feel bloated, and you’ll lose energy for performance.
Put on UV-resistant gear and accessories
Not only is it vital to put sunscreen on, the choice of clothes and gear is also essential when engaging in outdoor sports activities. Clothes and equipment made of polyester provide protection against UV-rays better than cotton. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting attire as it won’t limit your movement. You should pick light-colored clothes that reflect heat better than dark colors. And don’t forget your sunglasses. The US Optometric Association suggests wearing sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent of both UVB and UVA rays to protect your eyes from all angles.
For water sports like kayaking or canoeing, opt for a canopy, sunshade, or bimini. A shelter can provide you better protection against UV-rays, sunlight, and even rain.
Adapt yourself to the warmth and heat
When you are used to being indoors, it’s easy to forget how 75 to 90 degrees feels like. Your body needs a week at least to adjust to warm weather. Before you go all-out on sports, try lighter activities in the late noon and see how you feel after that. Don’t push yourself if you get tired or feel dizzy. Mind the headache, drink more water, and try to relax before trying again once you feel better.
Wear appropriate shoes
You can wear sandals when kayaking or boating along shorelines and riverbanks. But if you’re going kayaking on turbulent water, you need proper water shoes that have excellent protection and grip. If you’re going for a run or hike, avoid heavy-duty material sneakers as it can be discomforting when your feet begin to sweat. If you force yourself, you’ll likely have a blister, which will ruin the whole experience.
Don’t forget your medicine, supplements, and vitamins
Certain supplements or medicine can trigger specific reactions when you are exposed too long to the sun. You can become dizzy or experience hot flashes. Consult with your doctor before taking or skipping your supplements or medication before doing any outdoor activities. Some antidepressants and antibiotics can give skin reactions when exposed to sunlight and heat when you’re not wearing sunscreen.
Buying Guide for Kayak Canopies
Before investing in a kayak canopy, you need to weigh in a few factors like the size, material, and how compatible it is with your kayak. This may seem like an easy task to do, but many paddlers still get caught unawares when they purchase a canopy that doesn’t fit right with their kayak. It’s either too big or too small, or too heavy for the kayak. Hence, it’s vital to take points on what’s important before deciding on any particular canopy.
All kayak canopies are created differently and in their own unique ways. Many come in different specifications, and not all is built to suit your kayak. So you should always measure your kayak beforehand and learn its size, design, and style before buying. The size of the canopy you pick should cover the entire cockpit, and no space should be left uncovered.
For example, when you purchase a kayak canopy that does not cover the entire cockpit, the water that falls on your canopy roof will flow directly into your cockpit when it’s raining.
Most kayak canopies are made of lightweight materials like polyester, canvas, synthetic fibers, and nylon. These types of materials are usually highly-durable and waterproof. Canvas can provide better protection against UV rays, while polyesters are more heavy-duty. As polyester is a common material used in kayak canopies, it tends to get mildew and mold build-up when not adequately maintained. Another material to consider is Oxford cloth, which is water-resistant.
When it comes to frames, the materials often used in kayak canopies are fiberglass and rust-resistant aluminum; canopies made of these two are more sturdy and long-lasting. Fiberglass frame can be heavy; hence you need to ensure how much weight your kayak can handle.
Many canopies are not designed to be used on inflatable kayaks due to its features and material. Most inflatable kayaks are made of polyethylene, PVC, textiles, and neoprene that can only support specific weight capacities. Some canopies are built with a fiberglass frame, which is heavy and is not compatible with inflatable kayaks.
Placing a heavy canopy on an inflatable kayak may cause instability and overload the kayak. When you overload a kayak, the kayak will possibly sink lower into the water and risk damaging and hurting both you and your kayak.
You also need to consider the canopy’s height from your seat. If it’s too short, it’ll limit your vertical movement, and if it’s too tall, it can’t protect you against rain and wind.
The main reason to have a canopy is to protect you and your cockpit from sunlight and UV rays. But you also need to consider other weather changes that require you to have a canopy, for example, rain, heavy wind, and snow. The canopy you pick should be able to withstand any types of weather.
If you often encounter heavy winds when kayaking, you should look for a sturdy top that shelters you; otherwise, it’s useless because it will act as a sail and push you more towards the sea. And that’s the last thing you want!
The color you pick for your canopy is not mainly for the aesthetic effect. It plays a crucial part in reflecting sunlight and heat absorption. Pick light colors like white and blue as it helps you feel cooler underneath it. While colors like red and orange are most susceptible to fading. Some brands use select chemicals and paints for the canopy to ensure its resistance to sunlight and minimize fading and discoloration.
Some canopies come with a waterproof storage bag where you can easily keep the canopy inside when you’re not using it. The canopy can be folded for easy storage and transportation. Remember to clean and dry the top before keeping it for storage as a wet and dirty canopy won’t last long, and the frame will be rusty.
Take note of how easy it is to install the canopy to your kayak. Ask questions like, “Can you install it yourself”? Or do you need help from others to install it for you? You also need to consider the tools that you need to use to install the canopy. Some canopy brands require you to drill a hole to place the poles in it.
However, many brands are designed for easy installation and removal with poles that can be mounted onto your kayak. Others require D-rings or hooks to attach it securely.
A canopy can be useful for accessories as it provides better sunlight and rain protection for both you and your kayak. It’ll prevent you from getting sunburned and getting all wet on a rainy day. If you like to spend hours on a kayak trip or love fishing, a kayak canopy is worth investing in. As we learn through this review, not all tops are built the same and compatible to use on your kayak. Always remember to measure the canopy’s dimensions, your kayak weight capacity, and how easy to install and remove it.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Is a kayak canopy necessary?
Prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can damage your skin, and in the long run, it also causes skin cells to die and possibly lead to skin cancer. The canopy will also protect you against rain and let you stay dry. If it takes you a few hours to do some lazy river kayaking, you need to protect yourself against unforeseen weather outcomes. And sometimes you’ll be underneath trees, and you don’t want the tree branches to fall and hurt you. A canopy helps to minimize the risk of that happening.
Will a kayak canopy affect my kayaking experience?
Generally, kayak canopies are made of lightweight fabrics and materials, so it won’t add much weight to your kayak and affect your paddling activity. As each canopy has its own features and construction, you might want to check whether it is compatible to use on your kayak and will it suit your kayak skill level.
What other advantages of using a kayak canopy?
Beside providing protection against sunlight and rains, the benefits of having a canopy is allowing you to stay on the water for a longer time. Unless you don’t mind the sunburn, it’s worth investing in a canopy or a bimini top. If you love kayaking on a swamp-like river like in New Orleans, you don’t have to worry about snakes or any creatures falling on your cockpit or, worse, dropping on you while paddling.
Can I wash my bimini top or canopy canvas in a washing machine?
Yes, you can wash the canvas in the washing machine but skip the spin cycle. To ensure your canopy lasts long, it would be preferable to clean it with your hands using water and mild soap gently. Always dry the canvas completely before keeping it for storage. You can also wipe the rods, poles, and clips with a cloth and dry it before keeping it to prevent rust.