You and your buddies have had a full day of kayaking in the clearest water you have ever seen. Dolphins, manatees and tropical fish were everywhere. During the hottest part of the afternoon you had a water fight – just to cool off. Now you’re off-loading your gear to set up camp and – Son of a Nutcracker! – you forgot to stuff your sleeping bag in a dry bag and it’s soaked! That’s not the end of the world – but neglecting to bring along kayaking safety gear could be.
Here is a list of ESSENTIAL KAYAKING EQUIPMENT you need to take on your next trip. Keep in mind that the longer the trip, the more extensive your gear list. Coldwater kayaking requires more gear than warm water tripping. And pack for the temperature of the water rather than the temperature of the air. In the Grand Canyon, air temperatures can hit 105ºF in June but the water remains a frosty 48ºF – 52ºF.
LIFE JACKETS. Yes – they can be bulky – but if you think wearing a life jacket is irritating, imagine how your friends would feel attending your funeral. Statistics indicate 99% of the people who drown in the Great Lakes weren’t wearing life jackets. Check out this BoatUS Foundation to learn about personal flotation device requirements in your state.
For afternoons of RECREATIONAL KAYAKING, take the following kayaking gear:
• one paddle per person
• bucket, bilge pump or large sponge
• waterproof watch
• first aid kit
• signaling device (whistle, flare, or mirror)
Keep in mind that in cottage country and wilderness areas, cell phone reception may be limited. If you are taking a phone, carry it in a buoyant, waterproof case.
TO PROTECT YOURSELF while kayaking, make sure to include:
• a sun hat
• polarized sunglasses with buoyant band
• waterproof sunscreen
• water shoes
• drinking water in a small cooler
• paddling gloves (optional)
• lip balm with sunscreen
• swimsuit OR shorts and t-shirt
• insect repellent
To ensure kayaking safety, also pack the following gear for overnight or EXTENDED TRIPS:
• two itineraries (one for yourself and one to leave with a friend on land)
• maps and charts in a waterproof bag
• boat knife
• a dry bag
• waterproof, buoyant compass
• flashlight or headlamp plus extra batteries
• tent or other means of shelter
• lightweight sleeping bag
• credit card and some cash
• matches/fire starter in a waterproof container
• food (more than you think you need)
• water filter
• cooking equipment
• clean-up gear
• warm clothes for the night
• ‘wag bag’ (toilet in a bag)
• permits (if necessary)
Check out the National Park Service’s website for advice about how and when to apply for permits.
This TripSavvy site will provide you with basic information about State Park fees and boat launch permits.
Be safe and paddle again!