Guide to Essential Kayaking Gear

Kayaking is an expensive hobby and buying a first set of kayak gear can be both exciting and overwhelming.

Essential Kayaking Gear

How do you know if you are buying all the necessary things to keep yourself safe and to have a fun time? How do you make sure you do not waste your money on nonessentials that could make your new water sport an expensive prospect? Beginners may need some helpful tips to know exactly what they need to purchase in order to get started.

Here is a complete list of the essential kayaking gear needed to get started in this fabulous sport. We also talk about some of the nonessentials that can make your experience better. If you have the budget for them, we recommend buying them now to augment your paddling experience.

Essential Kayak Equipment

1 – Helmet

If you intend to only paddle on calm water without many obstructions, helmets are not necessarily needed. However, anyone who wants to get into whitewater kayaking should have a proper helmet. These are also necessary for kayaking in the surf as well.

2 – Kayak

There are multiple types of kayaks on the market: sea, touring and whitewater. Most people do not start their kayaking adventure braving the rapids, but if that is your ultimate goal, starting out in the right type of kayak makes sense. Determine what your current and future paddling plans are and buy the right kayak for those needs.

3 – Paddle

Just like there are different types of kayaks, there are different types of paddles to go with them. Use the style of paddle that matches the kayak you wish to buy.

4 – Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

These are essentially lifejackets and are absolutely necessary anytime you go on the water. Make sure to purchase one that fits you properly and meets all the regulations for water safety.

5 – Sprayskirt

This piece of equipment covers the hole where you sit in the kayak and keeps the water from going inside. These are also essential for anyone who kayaks on rough or turbulent water but can be skipped for casual, recreational paddling on calm water. These come in different sizes and need to fit both the kayak and your body.

Non-Essential Kayaking Equipment

1 – Dry Bag

A waterproof bag that can be securely attached to the inside of the kayak is very convenient for storing your camera, wallet, cell phone, dry clothes and snacks.

2 – Float Bag

These inflatable devices are stalled in the ends of a closed kayak to keep it buoyant in case of an accident. If you fall out and are swept away from the boat, it could fill with water and quickly sink to the bottom without float bags.

3 – Gloves

People who like paddling with gloves appreciate the extra hand warmth, protection from cuts and scrapes and better grip on the paddle.

4 – Knife

Chances are you will never get into a situation where a knife is essential to use during a kayaking trip. However, if you somehow get tangled in a rope, you will appreciate a sharp blade.

5 – Protective Clothing

This consists of a dry top, wetsuit, paddle jacket and a drysuit. Some people do not use any of these things ever when piloting their kayak. Others use all of them regularly. Whether you need any particular one depends on what type of kayaking you do and in what weather conditions and the water temperatures you go out in. Wetsuit style booties are another possible option to protect your feet and keep them warm.

6 – Rescue Throw Bag

This safety device is also called a rope bag and can save somebody who has tipped over or fallen out of their kayak.