What Equipment Do I Need to Start Kayaking?

Kayakers Show Off Their Gear
Kayakers Show Off Their Gear. George E. Sayour

Question: What Equipment Do I Need to Start Kayaking?

Getting into any sport can be an expensive affair. That is exactly why many beginners want to know what equipment they must have to get started. Below you will find an explanation of the essential gear that a kayaker must have as well as other non-essential equipment you may want to consider purchasing.

Essential Kayaking Equipment

  • Kayak: Whitewater kayaks are completely different from Sea or Touring kayaks. The type of kayak you choose depends completely on what type of paddling you wish to do and what level of paddler you are.
  • Paddle: Each type of kayaking uses a different type of paddle. The store where you buy your equipment can help you figure out which paddle goes with the kayak you decide to buy.
  • PFD: PFD stands for Personal Flotation Device and is essentially a life jacket or life preserver for kayakers.
  • Spray Skirt: Spray skirts help keep the water out of the kayak. They are necessary for Whitewater and Sea Kayaking. Recreational kayaking can do without them. You must be sure that the skirt fits both you and the kayak.
  • Helmet: Helmets are a requirement for Whitewater Kayaking. They are not a requirement for Sea Kayaking. I always recommend using a helmet while Surf Kayaking.

Non-essential Kayaking Equipment

  • Dry Top, Drysuit, Wetsuit, Paddle Jacket: This is totally a matter of preference and water temperature. Some people always use a dry top. Others paddle without any of these items all summer long.
  • Booties: Make sure they are comfortable and that you fit into the kayak while wearing them.
  • Gloves: This is also a matter of preference as some people hate to paddle with gloves. In addition to keeping your hands warm, gloves also protect your knuckles from scrapes and gashes.
  • Rope Bag: It could help you save the life of a friend. I strongly recommend all paddlers to carry a rope bag.
  • Knife: This is one of those items you will probably never use. In the event you get tangled in a rope or stuck under a raft, you'll be glad that you had one.
  • Float Bags: These bags that fit in the stern of the kayak will keep it from sinking should you get separated from your boat.
  • Dry Bag: This will keep your snacks and camera dry. Just make sure it is attached inside of the boat.