A spraydeck is an accessory that can be used to keep water from entering a kayak or canoe. These covers are typically made out of a flexible material, such as rubber or treated fabric, and have openings where a person can sit. In order to provide a watertight seal for the person, the spraydeck often extends upwards along their chest and contains some type of fastening device. Spraydecks can be useful in both marine or riverine environments if rough water conditions are present, and can also help keep rain out in case of inclement weather. The most important concern when using a spraydeck is that it must be easily removed if the vessel capsizes.
The purpose of a spraydeck is to keep the operator of a canoe or kayak safe and comfortable. If too much water enters the vessel, it could potentially capsize. There are also comfort issues involved, since it is usually unpleasant to sit in a puddle of water when paddling or rowing. Any conditions that do not include calm waters can call for the use of spraydecks, including kayaking in rough seas or whitewater canoeing. Inclement weather conditions can also necessitate the use of spraydecks, even in the presence of otherwise calm waters.
Spraydecks can be made from a variety of different materials, each of which may be best suited to certain conditions. A spraydeck made entirely of neoprene typically provides a tight seal against water and also tends to hold in warmth. This makes neoprene a good material to use in rough conditions and cold weather, though these spraydecks can quickly become uncomfortable on a warm day. Nylon is another material used for making spraydecks, and it typically breathes better and is more comfortable when in warm weather. Some spraydecks have a nylon torso covering with a base of neoprene and others have a reverse configuration, so it is typically possible to find one for any condition.
Though spraydecks are designed to keep people safe while kayaking and canoeing, an improperly fitted unit can be dangerous. When using a spraydeck, it is imperative that it is easy to remove in an emergency situation. If the unit cannot be removed quickly and is sealed tight to the kayak or canoe, a person could possibly be held underwater and drowned in excessively rough conditions. This can make it a good idea to test out any new spraydeck by attempting to remove it quickly before setting out on a trip. If it does not come off easily, it may not be safe to wear.