Best Kayaking Gear for Beginners

Making plans ahead of time for your boating expeditions will help to ensure your safety while also providing you with an enjoyable experience. Kayaking is a great way to combine physical fitness with a sense of adventure in the great outdoors. If you want to try out the game with a kayaking company, they will likely provide you with a bundle containing most of the gears we are about to mention.

Almost all of the kayak accessories on the market are good to have, but it’s not required to have every one of them to enjoy your trip. If you’re starting out kayaking, you don’t have to worry about investing in expensive gear until you’ve saved up enough money.

As a beginner, you should own key kayaking gear to learn faster and be at the peak of your game. Following are some of the most important kayaking gears for beginners, along with information on where to get them (if they aren’t already in your possession).

Kayak: First Things First

Of course, without the kayaks, there will be no Kayaking. For a start, most people would be better off with a simple kayak that is short and simple. Make sure that the kayak’s cockpit you choose is big enough for easier entry and exit from the kayak.

Many kayaks exist in the market today, like recreational kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. A recreational kayak is a good place to start for newcomers. They are usually small, under 4.5m in length, and have spacious cockpits, unlike kayaks without cockpits designed for sit-on-top use.

You should check out a recent article I wrote on why I recommend Sit-In Kayaks over other types of kayak.

Recreational Kayaks are great for beginners. The BKC TK122U is a good recreational kayak that can contain 2 to 3 persons. It’s great for fishing too. But the price is a little on the high side. The 10ft Pelican Maxim 100x recreational kayak is a great option for individuals with budgets below 400 dollars. It’s perfect for one-person kayaking. We recommend you test the kayak before purchasing it or test a similar kayak before purchasing the first.


Among kayak paddles, European and Greenland models are the most commonly used. Match the length of your paddle to the dimensions of your kayak, both in terms of height and width. Choose a paddle shaft that is appropriate for your wrists and a build that is appropriate for your sort of paddling. If you are taller than average, you should use a longer kayak paddle. We recommend you have a spare paddle in case you lose or damage one.

Buy a paddle that is both light and comfortable for your body type. To keep the paddle’s weight “acceptable,” some paddles are made with plastic blades and composite shafts. When you’re using your kayak for recreational purposes, you’ll need a paddle at least 210 to 215 cm long.

I’ve recently written a guide on How To Choose The Best Kayaking Paddle. I’d highly recommend that you give it a read if you’re looking for a good paddle as a beginner.

The OceanBroad Kayak Paddle is a durable and affordable paddle suitable for beginners. It’s priced below $30, made of metallic alloy, and measures 218cm long; That’s a perfect length for most kayakers.

Kayaking Life Vest or PFDs

Kayaking jackets are unique. Whether or not a life jacket should be worn when kayaking is an important decision that every kayaker should take seriously.

Your Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or life jacket is required for a safe kayaking trip. The traditional, low-cost orange life vest will do the trick but is inconvenient to wear while paddling. An inflatable PFD is a suitable substitute.

It’s critical to wear something that’s both comfortable and doesn’t impede your range of motion. Many good kayak jackets feature tapered shoulders, allowing for a wider range of motion.

Some Life jackets or PFDs contain extra compartments and pockets where you can throw in food, a camera, or other accessories you may wish to carry along when going paddling.

The Astral Sturgeon Life Jacket PFD is a medium-sized Jacket that ranks in Amazon’s Choice for PFDs. It is durable and weighs only 1.63lbs, perfect for recreational purposes. It costs about 140 dollars. Those with a limited budget might go for the manual version of inflatable life vests like the SafeMax top safety life jacket with a whistle.

Spray Skirts

Spray skirts are designed to generate a warm atmosphere inside a kayak when the air and water are chilly. In turbulent seas, a spray skirt will help steady your boat. A spray skirt keeps you warm if, for any reason, you fall overboard while paddling. It’s there to make you more comfortable.

It’s a must-have kayaking gear for beginners when paddling across the ocean. The skirt shuts the cockpit entrance, preventing water from entering the vessel. For ocean voyagers, I recommend investing in a neoprene skirt. A nylon skirt will do if you want to paddle in flat water. It’s more pleasant to use nylon skirts in mild circumstances than in choppy water.

Spray skirts are comprised of three parts: a tunnel, a deck, and a rand. To easily remove the skirt after paddling, you’ll have to learn the removal technique.

The producers of spray skirts have prepared comprehensive size guides for your convenience. However, you must be aware of your kayak’s brand and model name to choose one that fits. Otherwise, you may have to measure your cockpit manually. If you can’t find the version that best fits your model, consider going for a custom-made skirt instead.

The seals sneak zippered kayak spray skirt is perfect for moderate kayaking. It’s made of neoprene and nylon materials and costs below 110 dollars. For extreme kayaking, you may wish to choose Costlier models like the Seals Sea Sprite Spray Skirt, made of fabric with adjustable Neoprene.

Kayaking Helmet

The best kayak helmets provide complete protection for your head while on the water. They allow you to enjoy the excitement without compromising safety.

They are made of strong materials that can withstand being hit by rocks and other hard things. The chances are that your paddle might accidentally hit your head while paddling; paddling helmets will help prevent that from happening.

You might not be able to survive a hit to the head if you don’t have the right kayaking helmet. Apart from PFDs and life jackets, quality paddling helmets increase your chances of survival while paddling across the sea.

Some kayaking helmets are full-face helmets like the WRSI Moment Full-Face Kayak Helmet. It’s made of strong materials that fully protect your head and cover your ears and face. The WRSI Moment full-face helmet is durable and costs around 189 dollars. Vihir Adult Water Sports Helmet with Ears is a cheaper alternative, durable and perfect for water sports. This version provides an ear cover that prevents rapid splash into the ear. It’s also perfect for other sports like cycling and snowboarding.

Dry Bag

When kayaking, you’ll want to carry a dry bag to keep your belongings safe and dry. There are many different sizes of dry bags to choose from, so be sure to get the right one for you and your boat. This kayaking gear for beginners will help keep your spare clothes and other belongings dry. Phones, watches, and other electronics may be stored within the bag.

When purchasing a dry bag for kayaking, check for ones with reflective strips. Reflectors let other paddlers see them more clearly in low-light settings. You should also be aware of the bag’s weight and carrying capacity. Most dry bag makers tell how many liters and cubic inches their product can hold on their product pages.

If your kayak has a designated storage area, you may be able to get away with a larger bag. Once your paddle has been laid down, you may only have room for a 10-liter bag of belongings.

If you’re looking for a quality dry bag for your trips then you should check out my guide on The Best Drybags For Kayaking. There I review and compare a list of the best drybags on the market.

We recommend best-sellers like the Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag ($32) with an IPX8 certified waterproof phone case. It comes in various sizes, with an adjustable shoulder strap. Other cheaper alternatives include the MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag ($14) and HEETA waterproof dry bag for women ($11).

Wet shoes, Sandals, or Boots

Kayakers use special wet shoes made for slick terrain. These are often composed of neoprene materials and have rubber soles that provide good traction. Avoid wearing flip-flops since they will not provide adequate traction when walking on a slick surface. It’s not very expensive to buy wet shoes, so we think you should get some for your trip.

Water shoes have soles that can handle wet or slick terrain. They are perfect for sports like paddling, fishing, or swimming. They are made of quick-drying fabric, so your feet should be comfy long after escaping the water.

Water footwear is generally classified into sandals, boots, and hiking shoes. The water sandals are great for paddling in hot places; you can also use them on the beach or pool. They provide varying degrees of durability and foot protection depending on the material used. Most water footwears provide you with various styles and levels of foot protection to choose from.

The TECS Men’s Kayaking Snorkeling and Swimming Shoe is a durable and comfortable quick-dry wet shoe, with prices ranging from $39 to $65. It’s a custom-fit boot that’s adjustable and features a rubber sole. We also have another cheaper and more durable alternative like the YALOX water shoes that cost around $9.

Water Bottles

Healthy people need water to stay active and move around. That is true whether they are kayaking on a lake, hiking through the woods, or just getting ready to work. The most practical approach to make sure you have enough water with you is to carry a water bottle about with you.

You can attach the bottles to your kayak or your Personal Floatation Device. It is preferable to use a flexible water container rather than a rigid one for a kayak since this allows the container to rest flat rather than rolling about.

You may use a plastic or stainless steel bottle. Plastic bottles are cheaper, but Sportsmen typically choose stainless steel bottles over plastic bottles because stainless steel is lighter, more durable, and simpler to clean. It’s generally a healthier alternative because plastics tend to react with certain foods, drinks, and chemicals. Stainless steel water bottles are pricier but are worth every penny.

For the best experience, consider buying a kayaking water bottle with a capacity of at least 17 ounces. Some water bottles are vacuum insulated and can preserve drink temperature over longer periods.

The Asobu Dog kayaking water bottle is an excellent stainless steel water bottle that’s vacuum insulated. It’s durable and can preserve the temperature of any liquid poured inside for longer periods. The Healthy Human Water Bottle is another cheaper stainless steel alternative. Both are excellent for cycling and most water sports.

Hats and Sunscreen

Hats and sunscreens are essential kayaking gear for beginners if you’d stay long in the water. You’ll want to use a sunscreen with a wide UV protection spectrum; choose a wide-range sunscreen covering all of your skin. A quality sunscreen lotion could do the job. Carrying sunglasses and a hat to shield your face and head from the sun’s harmful rays is equally important.

When looking for the best kayak hat, think about the comfort and usability of the product. Sun hats and skull caps are some of the most prevalent styles of headgear worn by men and women when going paddling. Skull caps are perfect for kayak rolling and rescue practice.

If you want to swim or often capsize, choose a waterproof sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreens are usually preferred because most sunscreens lose their potency when exposed to water over long periods. Make sure you always have your sunscreen in your kayaking backpack so you may use it whenever you want. When you don’t have sunscreen applied on the parts of your body that need it, burning is likely to happen.

The Self Pro Balaclava Ski Max windproof hood protects your head and neck. It’s made of adjustable fabrics and will withstand UV radiation when kayaking. High winds are no match for the GearTOP UPF 50+. It’s also an excellent alternative if you want a pure hat with a drawstring and a 360-degree brim for more UV protection. The Sun Bum Original SPF 50 waterproof sunscreen lotion is perfect for full body water contact like swimming. It is hypoallergenic, provides excellent UVA/UVB protection, and costs around 15 dollars.

Bilge Pumps

This is a must-have kayaking gear for beginners. Boats and Kayaks are dewatered using bilge pumps. That is because you are likely to have excess water logging in your kayak after a capsize or rainfall. The bilge is the lowest section of the boat underwater and is contained within the hull. Bilge and kayak pumps are for emergencies. They are on board to help you get the excess water out of your kayak. There is no need to carry a pump with sit-on-top kayaks.

You can find both manual and automated bilge pumps in the market. The manual pumps are common because it removes water from the boat while you paddle. The automated version is battery-powered and uses electricity to remove the excess liquid. You’ll need to carry a compatible battery to power it because kayaks are not electrically powered.

Choosing a bilge pump with a small footprint may seem unimportant, but it’s well worth searching. The finest bilge pumps measure around 18 inches in length. The Bilge pump market is crowded, but you can own a good kayaking pump for $25.

The Better Boat Paddlers Bilge pump is a portable and durable manual pump that will do a perfect job. We recommend the MAXZONE Automatic Submersible Boat Bilge pump if you prefer an electric-powered pump. You’ll need a good 12V battery to power it.

Kayaking Safety Tips for Beginners

  • Always abide by the kayaking regulations in the region where you paddle.
  • You must keep track of the weather conditions, note the wind direction, and be prepared for any possible changes in the weather or the water temperature.
  • Keep your clothes and other things in a dry bag to keep them safe if the boat flips over. You should also make sure your bilge pump is ready.
  • Use sunscreens and hats to shield your body from UV radiation.
  • Don’t forget to have your PFD on board or wear a life jacket.
  • Avoid kayaking in surf zones or rivers.
  • Use Kayaking helmets to shield your head from getting hit accidentally by your paddle or other objects.
  • The kayak you use, your clothing style, and whether or not you paddle in the correct weather conditions will all influence your dry kayaking experience.

Last Words

Every kayaking beginner needs most of these items on our list. After a few outings, you may be comfortable paddling your kayak with just your paddle and personal flotation device (PFD). To master the game, you may wish to practice for a longer duration or try overnight kayaking in the ocean. We hope this guide was helpful and provided you with the best kayaking gear for beginners to make your kayaking trips worth remembering.

Vanessa Hopkins

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Long-time kayaker who's proud to be part of this community. I strive to provide our visitors with insightful guides with the aim to improve their kayaking experience. I've been working with SunshineKayaking for over 5 years, providing world-class services.

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