So, you’re thinking about getting into kayaking, but you aren’t sure where to start. Choosing a kayak is only the beginning. Different people want different experiences from kayaking; however, if you are just jumping in, it’s safe to assume you are only looking for the basics. Some people have more extensive needs and others may just be looking for those cool kayak gadgets that bring their experience to the next level.
If you want to start kayaking and just need to know some details about the essential equipment, read on. Then, take a peek at some of the cool kayak gadgets that are actually useful.
You have been looking forward to this all week, so you gather your gear and and your kayak and head out on the water. The key to taking one of these trips is to keep it simple and not over pack. Otherwise, a relaxing activity becomes work.
The truth is, if it’s a huge ordeal to get out and go each time, then you’ll dread doing it and that’s completely counterproductive.
The following is a simple list of necessities all kayakers need. All of these items can be purchased anywhere kayaks are sold.
You might think all paddles are created equally, and you can just grab one and go. Wrong! If there is any part of this process you should spend some time pondering, it’s choosing a paddle.
Your height and your boat’s width determines the length of your kayak paddle.
The following is a chart to help you get the perfect paddle length for comfort and efficiency.
|Your Height||Boat Under 23″ Wide||23″-28″ Wide Boat||28″-32″ Wide Boat||Boat Over 32″ Wide|
|under 5′||210 cm||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm|
|5′ – 5’6″||215 cm||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm|
|5’6″ – 6′||220 cm||220 cm||230 cm||250 cm|
|over 6′||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm||250 cm|
The length of your paddle is not the only factor to consider. However, if you are a beginning kayaker and want a relaxing ride, choosing a lower-priced low angle paddle made of plastic will suffice.
As you get more experienced, you might want to consider other paddle materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber blades for top performance.
2. Life Jacket
Having a quality life jacket should be a priority for all water activities.
You want a well-fitting, comfortable vest that doesn’t hinder your movement. Here are a few things to look for when choosing one.
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Ample adjustable straps to cinch for a good fit and comfort
- Plenty of storage pockets
- Reflective stripes or patches
- Lightweight material, possibly some mesh for hot weather
- A D-ring to securely clip essentials with a carabiner.
3. Dry Bag
No one expects to end up in the water, but it happens. Even the most experienced kayakers protect their gear in dry bags because you never know what can happen.
Bags come in all sizes and are not very expensive. Just be conscious of the size. If you are not camping and will only have items like dry clothes, keys, a phone, and a wallet, don’t get a huge bag because it will take up too much room.
The following is a list of features for a quality dry bag.
- Tear, rip, and puncture-proof material such as rip-stop tarpaulin
- Guaranteed waterproof
I’ve used this one from Grassman with no complaints, and can recommend it.
4. Paddle Holders
Having paddle holders on your kayak is recommended for a few different reasons. First of all, there will be times when you want to put your paddle down and float. The worst thing that could happen is losing your paddle because it is not secured to your kayak.
Being able to fasten your paddle to the kayak is also handy when transporting it to and from the water. Kayaks are awkward for one person to transport, and you’ll often think you don’t have enough hands to carry everything. Knowing your paddle is securely clipped to the kayak is one less thing to carry and one less thing to worry about.
Make sure you get the right kind of paddle holders for your kayak. Some paddle holders require a track and say they are “track mount ready.” However, not all kayaks have a track. In this case, you need to purchase clip paddle holders that attach directly to your kayak. These holders usually require that you drill into the sides of the kayak, and they will come with all of the hardware needed to attach them.
Cool Kayak Gadgets You’ll Love
For a simple trip out on the water, the above items should suffice. However, most people like to make sure they have a few added cool kayak gadgets for comfort and fun.
The next list highlights a few of the most popular extras kayakers love – three items I recommend most kayakers consider purchasing and having on hand for their paddling adventures.
1. Paddle leashes (set of 3) by Camping and Kayaking
When you tip your kayak over, you don’t want your gear to float away. Paddle leashes are incredibly versatile and can be used for much more than just attaching to your paddle so it won’t float away. The following is a list satisfied customers made regarding the multiple uses of these Made in the USA leashes from Camping and Kayaking.
- Attach to fishing rods and other gear
- Hook multiple kayaks together in the water — especially useful for kayaking with children
- Tie a kayak to a dock
- Tow a large dry bag
- Tow a fish basket
People are singing the praises of these particular leashes for a multitude of reasons:
- A set of 3 is only about $15
- They include a carabiner
- Do not over-stretch and lose elasticity
- Sturdy construction
- They can be hooked together to make longer leashes.
2. Yakattack MultiMount Cupholder
The Yakattack MultiMount cup holder is cool because it securely holds water bottles, 12 oz. cans, tumblers, and about any size “to-go” cup.
This particular style requires a mounting track, but your track does not have to be made by Yakattack. It will also easily attach to Gear Trac, Mighty Mount, and most other kayak track systems.
Whatever specific cupholder you choose for your kayak, it’s an upgrade I recommend for just about everyone, and I’ve had a great experience using this particular model.
3. ZipVac Portable Food Storage System
This device is a portable, handheld, and rechargeable food storage vacuum machine. It comes with reusable bags in a variety of shapes and sizes.
This inexpensive tool can be used for packing food and making sure it will stay dry. But that’s not all. You can safely seal just about anything you need to keep dry in these bags: keys, wallet, your cell phone, camera, matches, and much more.
It’s a fantastic, often-overlooked tool that will help protect your valuable food and electronics when out on the water.
Other Things You Might Want For Your Excursion
Of course, the amount of items you need to pack is determined by many factors. People who fish have a lot more gear than ones who just paddle and float. People who kayak at night or overnight also have an abundance of needs.
The following is a shortlist of additional items you might consider always keeping close at hand regardless of your trip details.
- A quality waterproof flashlight that floats and flashes
- A first aid kit
- Bug spray
- A pocket knife (I always bring my Leatherman, and recommend a good multi-tool like this if you can afford it)
- A towel
- Float straps for glasses or sunglasses
- Proper foot wear: water shoes (warm weather) or waterproof boots (cold weather)
Go Paddle Your Upgraded Kayak!
Kayaking can be a fun activity for the whole family, or it can be a relaxing solo excursion.
Regardless of the details, having the right gear is essential to the success of your trip. If you are just getting started, only the necessary equipment should do.
And once you get your feet wet (so to speak) you might want to consider longer trips and getting more cool kayak gadgets to upgrade your yak even further.