Basic Kayaking Essentials for a Safe Passage

The kayaking essentials on board a planned paddling adventure can vary in relation to the type of trip.

Kayaking Essentials

Certain gear is must-have such as a PFD and paddle, while other supplies aren’t so important on calm waters. Similar to most recreational activities, the possible add-ons for a kayak are virtually limitless.

Kayak specific accessories can relate to:

  • Diving
  • Fishing
  • Navigating

Plus, for those planning to travel with a kayak on a vehicle, it is essential to have a proper hard-rack system in place.

1 – Bilge Pump

A kayak soon gets a build up of water from waves, splashing, or rainfall. At some point this needs to be removed from inside the kayak to avoid the potential of capsizing. Even a small amount of water splashing around inside the kayak can be quite annoying. Plus, the water makes the kayak feel heavy and is less stable to maneuver.

2 – Life-vest

A purpose-made kayaking life-vest is certain to differ from the more traditional design. A major difference relates to the higher placement of the back to avoid interfering with the kayak seat once in position. Plus, a tight and comfortable fit is essential to stop constant rubbing while paddling. A life-vest with multiple pockets is great for concealing a VHF radio, a camera, snacks, torch, map, etc. Plus, certain models include a tow-belt attachment or tabs for attaching a strobe light or knife.

3 – Map and compass

A map and compass is a low-tech but efficient method to help navigate the more confusing waterways. A compass can easily attach to the cockpit or mount to the life-vest.

4 – Paddle

A pair of high-quality kayaking paddles will make the outing easier and more comfortable. A preferred material is carbon-fiber. Plus, make sure to size the paddle for better grip and handling.

5 – Paddle float

A paddle float is a perfect solution to help get back in a capsized kayak. It is much-like an inflatable bag and designed to inflate around one of the paddles which can be used similar to an outrigger for balance and easier self rescue.

6 – Rescue sling

A rescue sling is another device to help get back into the capsized kayak. Rescue slings are designed to attach to the cockpit coaming and give something to step on. Use the rescue sling on its own or in combination with the paddle float.

7 – Sponge

A simple, low-cost solution to remove water accumulating in the cockpit is a large-size sponge. Plus, it is useful for removing water from a leaky hatch or bulkhead.

8 – Spray Skirt

A spray skirt is an effective device to stop water entering the paddling machine. It is worn about the waist and helps seal the opening of the cockpit. A spray skirt is certain to be a must-have piece of equipment on any waters that go beyond a quiet lake or river. A preferred material is neoprene for the rough waters, although nylon skirts are also available, but more practical for flat waters.

9 – Whistle

Whistles can provide plenty of practical functions. Use a whistle to attract attention in an emergency or communicate with other kayakers. Plus, in certain waters, it is a Coast Guard rule to have certain safety gear including a whistle in place.