Kayak Gear For the Beginner

Kayaking is an extremely fun recreational sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you’ve rented a kayak and already tried your first paddle or are just starting out, knowing what basic gear to have will make you more comfortable and prepared.

Basic Kayaking Gear

  • If you own a kayak you will of course need a paddle. If you are in a solo kayak you only need one double ended paddle. They come in many different sizes and materials but most beginners will start with the most inexpensive paddle which will work just fine. If you progress to the level of kayaking weekly then you may want to invest in a higher end paddle.
  • Next and very importantly you will need a PFD (personal flotation device), otherwise known as a lifejacket. It is mandatory to wear a lifejacket for any type of boating and kayaking is no different. Get a lifejacket that is comfortable for your shape and size and that does not rub or irritate your skin while paddling.
    If you are doing whitewater kayaking it is mandatory to wear a helmet. If you are kayaking in lakes or a calm ocean then a helmet is not necessary.
  • Having the proper clothes will make a big different in your comfort level. If it is really hot out and you are recreational kayaking then you may choose to kayak in your bathing suit (with your lifejacket). For cooler weather however a moisture wicking shirt as a base layer and then insulation on top as well as a waterproof jacket and pants will go a very long way in keeping you warm and dry.
  • In the summer when recreational kayaking any type of sport sandal or water shoe will work fine. If you are whitewater kayaking or kayaking in cooler weather then I would highly suggest investing in a good pair of water booties. Wet feet can equal cold feet and that is no fun.
    If you are sea kayaking you may need a sprayskirt for your kayak. A sprayskirt will keep the water out of your kayak and therefore keep you dry. If you are kayaking through waves and ocean surf, a sprayskirt will be a much needed accessory.

Additional Accessories that May be Needed

Besides the most important gear listed above, you may also want to have a dry bag aboard your kayak. A drybag will allow you to store your essentials like car keys, sunglasses, food, extra clothes, etc. It will keep them completely dry even if your kayak should overturn. A small drybag is extremely inexpensive and a very useful kayak accessory.

The last thing you may want to consider is a safety kit. Most kayak stores will offer some type of safety kit with first aid materials as well as possible rescue equipment. Although we all hope we will never have to use this, realistically it is smart to have one stored within the drybag and along for the ride. Whether you are brand new to kayaking or an experienced paddler, it is always important to be prepared for emergency situations.

For most recreational kayakers, there is very little necessary kayak gear that is needed. Starting off with these few essentials will provide for an enjoyable paddling experience and hopefully many years of paddling fun.