“Essential” is kind of an interesting word because, to me at least, it is not so much the definition of the word but the context of the word that most defines it. I’m not a “girly” girl, so the make-up I would put on my daily ‘essential’ list consists of lipstick and face cream. To an ‘essentials plus’ list I might add mascara. On the other hand, I know there are women who wouldn’t wear that little make-up to bed.
When it comes to outdoor activities, I follow the same pattern. I don’t cheap out when it comes to running shoes, but I don’t have a high-end fitness tracker and my clothes don’t always match. I don’t find that either those of choices negatively affect my running.
In many respects, my kayaking essentials fall into the same categories. They are what the dictionary defines as requisite, critical, compulsory, absolutely necessary and crucial pieces of gear. At the very minimum, you need a:
– personal flotation device
Although I have said it before, I will say it again. Don’t go out on the water without a life jacket! It probably comes as no surprise that men – particularly young men – in small, open boats drown more frequently than any other segment of the population. And LOTS of those men could swim. But cold water, inattentiveness and lack of experience can make boating and swimming hazardous. So do yourself, your friends and your family members a favor and wear a life jacket.
The second category of kayaking equipment is what I see as safety-oriented items:
– signaling whistle or small mirror
– water shoes
– repair kit
– bilge pump, small bailing bucket or large sponge
– paddling knife
– waterproof watch
The third category are items that make kayaking more comfortable and easier:
– anchor (folding systems are the best)
– paddle leash
– floating, waterproof bag
– beach trolley
– seat cushion
– paddle float
– spray skirt
The final category is what I consider to be ‘nice-to-haves’:
– umbrella or sunshade
– sling mount for storage
– deck tie-downs
– paddle drip rings
When it comes to purchasing my kayaking essentials, I consider the cost of the gear, the durability and the ease of use. I tend to spend more money on items I see as safety essentials and less money on the ‘fun’ items. Yes – it’s great to have the slickest umbrella on the lake – but when it comes right down to it, I want a personal flotation device (pfd) that is guaranteed to keep my head above water if I roll accidentally.
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What do you consider “essential” for kayaking? Post a comment. We appreciate your feedback and always look forward to hearing from you!