Any sport or outdoor hobby requires certain equipment in order to maintain safety while maximizing fun.
Water sports such as kayaking have extra safety concerns and staying comfortable is sometimes more difficult. This guide explains the proper kayaking accessories that you need to begin your paddling activities.
Kayaking encompasses many different types of experiences on the water from leisurely paddles around the still lake to plunging down waterfalls and through rapids on a roaring river. No matter what intensity you go for, some basic gear is common to all paddlers. Essentials include a kayak, a paddle and a personal flotation device or lifejacket. These are the minimum to get started and stay safe and will cost you somewhere around $450. If you do not want to spend that amount of money, you may be able to find a local organization that rents kayaks and gear so you can try it out first.
People who want to explore the kayaking world more fully and feel even more comfortable while paddling about will want additional equipment. Nonessential but still important gear includes a wetsuit, a paddle top and insulating layers of clothing. Anyone interested in whitewater, surf kayaking or fast-flowing rivers should also have a helmet. Beginners do not need to purchase all these extras before they go kayaking for the first time.
What are the basic kayaking accessories?
It is always recommended to get used to the paddling machine and techniques on calm water before you brave more adventuresome locales.
1 – Dry suits
Kayaking accessories that are relatively new include the paddle sport specific dry suits. Dry suits give a high degree of comfort and include latex seals in the area of the wrists and neck to keep the water out.
2 – Helmet
A kayaking helmet is a must-have piece of safety equipment if planning to paddle in the fast moving water, which ensures the head is protected against bumps and knocks. A kayak helmet must give a tight and secure fit and the chin strap should be in use at all times.
3 – Paddles
A kayak is the first piece of equipment you need to buy to start this outdoor sport with the paddle coming in a close second. A kayak paddle is unique in that it consists of a long rod with an angled blade at either end. They do come in both right and left-handed versions, so be sure to get the one most appropriate for you. Kayak paddles also come in different lengths and weights. Again, your height, size and strength should be taken into account. A good beginner’s paddle has blades made of sturdy plastic attached to an aluminum pole. Professional paddles are often made from carbon and fiberglass.
An alternative to wearing a full wetsuit is a combination of a paddle top and bottoms. This gives great warmth and comfort and usually includes extra padding in the region of the bottom and knees to prevent the material wearing through. Plus, to keep the splash out the ankle cuffs has latex of neoprene and the waist has neoprene.
5 – Paddle top
A paddle top is lightweight and gives perfect splash proof protection while paddling on the open waters. This is an outer piece of clothing and goes on top of a wetsuit or other thermal layers. Paddle tops come in a choice of styles and materials, but most are manufactured with a breathable and waterproof material and neoprene (or latex for extra efficiency) at the neck and cuffs. Plus, a hood can feature on paddle tops used when sea kayaking to give the extra protection.
6 – Personal flotation device
When many people think of a buoyancy aid, they imagine those bright orange, puffy vests that wrap around your neck and buckle in the front. These, which are commonly used on boats as life saving devices, make you float on your back with your face out of the water, but are very difficult to move around in. If you begin kayaking, you want a life jacket that allows you to float more easily when upright and moving. These come in many sizes and one should be specifically purchased to fit properly for each person.
7 – Wetsuit
Unless you are always kayaking in very warm weather and water conditions on calm lakes, a wetsuit is a very useful thing to have. The wetsuit helps insulate your body to maintain an appropriate temperature and also can protect you from scrapes and cuts from rocks or submerged debris. Wetsuit without arms allow for full range of motion when paddling the kayak. Full suits may be necessary for cooler water, open topped kayaks and ocean excursions.
8 – Thermal under layers
Whether you wear a wetsuit or not, you need to dress appropriately when kayaking to match the weather and the possibility of getting wet. A thermal under layer made of natural fibers should always be worn for maximum comfort. Choose wool or silk instead of cotton, as cotton does not wick moisture or dry quickly. A preferred choice is a fleece layer to give the desired comfort even on the chilliest trips.
9 – Spraydeck
Use a Spraydeck to help with keeping the kayak and paddler dry. Spray decks are used on the closed cockpit style of kayak and a must-have feature for using on any waters that progress past calm. It must fit the size of kayak to give a watertight seal. Touring spray decks often come in tough Cordura or nylon while the high-performance seals are manufactured in neoprene.