Kayaking Checklist: What to bring kayaking

Whether you’re planning a fast trip on calm waters near the shore or your planning to be paddling for a long time to reach a distant location, creating a kayaking trip checklist is necessary to ensure that you don’t miss anything important along the route.

What you choose to include on your list is determined by the conditions of your journey. If kayaking is a new activity for you, there are a few pieces of equipment that you’ll want to make a point of including on your list of necessities.

Also, consider bringing along some products that aren’t strictly necessary for your adventure but that you could find helpful to have on hand to make the trip more enjoyable. If you’re wondering what kind of kayaking equipment to bring, here is your guide.

Man in kayaking gear

Rescue gear

It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are; there’s always a potential to run into adverse conditions that may force you or another kayaker to seek assistance. Prepare and practice using the following kayaking rescue equipment before you go kayaking:

1) Leashes

Leashes are elastic ropes that may get tied to your loose items to guarantee that they remain close by if your kayak capsizes or if they are accidentally dumped overboard while paddling. Paddle leashes, for example, are often used because they prevent your paddle from slipping away if you drop it or lose grip when your kayak turns over. If you lose your paddle, you will be stuck or unable to continue your trip; paddle leashes are helpful.

2) Bilge pumps

After re-entering your kayak, you may use this pump to drain any accumulated water. Since it is pretty inexpensive and does not need much work, it is the most commonly used hand pump. It’s also equipped with a foam collar, ensuring that it won’t sink if you drop it overboard. 

3) Rope bag

This backpack contains a length of rope tucked loosely within it in case you need to save another kayaker. The bag will get thrown to a kayaker who needs assistance while you are holding one end of the rope in your hands. Rope bags help haul another kayaker or assist someone in pulling themselves to shore. The bag keeps the string contained and structured, keeping it out of the way and untangled. An extra rope bag should be included in your kayaking equipment if you plan to paddle without the company of others or an instructor. It would help if you did not compromise on the quality of the rope bag you buy. One of the best rope bags you can get is found here.

4) Paddle float

In the event of a capsize, a paddle float will provide you with the best opportunity of getting back into your kayak on your own. When attached to the blade of your paddle, this paddle float keeps your kayak stable enough that you can get back into it. You may choose between a foam paddle float and an inflatable paddle float. Compared to an inflated paddle float, which takes longer to put up but has higher buoyancy and may be the preferred choice for larger kayakers, a foam paddle float is easier to assemble and may need less time in the water. Riverstone paddle floats are made of durable material, and you can purchase them here

Safety gadgets

Every kayaker’s safety should be their number one concern, and ensuring that you have all of the necessary safety must-have kayak gear on hand will place you at a reduced chance of being injured or killed while on your trip. Here are some of the safety equipment you will need on your Kayaking adventures:

1) Spraydeck

This waterproof skirt wraps around the cockpit of your kayak. It shields your body and the interior of your boat from the elements while you are paddling. A nylon spraydeck may be preferable when sea kayaking since it is readily vented and provides more space. A neoprene spray deck is recommended for surf and whitewater kayaking because it can resist breaking waves and keep water out when the kayak is rolling in the water. When wearing the spray deck, double-check that the grab loop is not tucked into the kayak’s interior. 

2) Helmet

When kayaking, you should always wear a helmet, just like you would when participating in any other activity. A helmet can protect you from being struck in the head. You will be protected from the kayak’s propeller if you capsize while wearing your Helmet. A helmet is especially crucial for whitewater kayaking adventures since the water is rougher than in other kayaking situations. 

3) First aid kit

A first-aid kit is one of the essential items that every kayaker should have while on a kayaking expedition. When you’re not kayaking, keep your gear in a clearly labeled waterproof bag that you can easily access when on the water. 

4) Knives

Although you may be perplexed as to why a kayaker would require a knife throughout their journey, you may be amazed at how useful a knife can be in kayaking safety. It would help to acquire a kayaking knife since a regular kitchen knife will not suffice. Plastic sheaths are included with blades designed particularly for kayakers to prevent you from inadvertently hurting yourself or another kayaker while paddling. This type of knife is often carried on your buoyancy aid, where it will be conveniently available in an emergency.

5) Flotation bags

If you want to keep the amount of water accumulated in your kayak to a bare minimum and keep your kayak from sinking if you capsize, you should consider using a flotation bag. By adding stability to the sides of your kayak, flotation bags can also reduce the likelihood of your kayak capsizing. Whitewater kayaks, which are already designed to trap air in the stern and bow, are more commonly utilized than sea kayaks. However, they’re still helpful, especially if you’re still learning to paddle in your kayak and want to improve your speed.

6) Water

Some people combine kayaking and camping. Whether you are going kayaking for a day or planning camping, you need to carry freshwater. You must have a sufficient amount of water to avoid dehydration. The idea is to drink water as soon as you notice that you are thirsty. If you’re bringing water with you, you’ll need at least a gallon for each day of your journey, per person, so plan accordingly. You can store water bottles in your kayak or carry a hydration kit in your backpack. Flexible containers are recommended. Regardless of what you choose, make sure to pack lots of it.

Other accessories to carry when kayaking

It would help if you had a kayak. But how can you know which style of kayak is best for you? Most novices will be able to get by with a basic, short recreational kayak. Get a kayak with a spacious cockpit since this will make getting in and out easier. When paddling in turbulent waters, these kayaks are likely to offer back support and a foot pedal that can aid you in guiding the boat more effectively. Once you know what type of kayak you want, then you can also purchase:

1) Wet shoes

If you’re going kayaking, you’ll want to wear shoes that can get wet. Wet shoes are constructed with rubber bottoms that provide excellent traction and will assist you in walking in slick conditions. Because flip-flops are less supportive and provide little grip, it may be advisable to avoid wearing them altogether. When other types of footwear, such as sneakers, can be used while kayaking, they can rapidly become soggy, heavy, and unpleasant if they become wet or muddy. On the other hand, Wet shoes are pretty inexpensive and worth considering, especially for extended kayak outings. You can visit Amazon and get wet shoes for $17 and $50.

2) Dry top or wet suit

The weather conditions will most likely determine the attire you choose. You could consider wearing a T-shirt and shorts on hot, sunny days, especially if you’ll be paddling across flat water.

It may be necessary to wear a wetsuit or a dry suit on a very brisk day. A wetsuit is a tight-fitting garment used in cold water to keep your body temperature stable. They’re most often associated with scuba diving, but they might be helpful if you decide to take a dip while kayaking. When you wear a dry suit, you may wear your regular clothing underneath it since it is waterproof. These are often more expensive than wetsuits, but ultimately the decision comes down to personal preference.

For a guide on what to wear whilst kayaking, check out my guide by clicking here.

You may also consider donning kayaking gloves to protect your hands from the elements. Many kayakers prefer to use a dry top to defend themselves from the elements. Keep in mind that you will almost certainly get wet and that, although the air may feel warm, the water may be extremely chilly. If you fall into the water, it’s essential to be prepared with clothing appropriate for the temperature of the water before diving in.

3) Paddle

You can’t go kayaking unless you have a paddle with you. When buying one, be sure you don’t get confused between kayak paddles and canoe paddles. Typically, kayak paddles are built with blades on both ends and range in length from 82 inches to approximately 102 inches. The length of your paddle will increase in proportion to your height. A spare paddle should be brought along for any long-distance kayaking expeditions if your primary paddle breaks or is misplaced while on the water.

For some expert advice on choosing a paddle for kayaking, click here.

4) Buoyancy aid

It is comparable to a life jacket; however, it enables you to move your arms and neck more freely than a life jacket. It is perfect for kayaking because you’ll be moving your arms a lot while paddling about. A buoyancy aid is recommended even for potent swimmers since water may be unexpected and hazardous. It is advisable to keep your buoyancy aid on while you are on the water. To confirm that your buoyancy aid is functioning correctly, you’ll want to put it on while still on shore before getting into your kayak for the first time. Wearing a buoyancy aid can assist you in putting your mind at ease, allowing you to enjoy your adventure even more than you would have been able to have you not worn one.

Concluding thoughts

Kayaking can be a pleasant experience as you gently paddle out to the middle of your favorite lake and take in the soothing quiet of the surrounding environment.

Kayaking can also be an exhilarating experience as you put your abilities to the test on a raging river with whitewater rapids.

Even though all hobbies provide very different expectations of enjoyment, both types of kayaking pose a risk to one’s safety. Like boating, surfing, and any other watersport, kayaking can put a kayaker’s health and safety in danger, especially if the kayaker fails to take reasonable safety procedures while on the water. Even though these hazards exist, you may still have a terrific time with your kayak if you follow these simple guidelines. Having a safe and enjoyable day on the water is possible if you create and adhere to a safety checklist.

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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