Want to know what to bring kayaking?
We’ll cover the must-have items that will keep you safe, comfortable, and fully prepared for an unforgettable experience on the water.
From the right equipment to handy accessories to knowing exactly what to wear, let’s make sure you have everything you need.
We’ll break it down into two major categories: same day trip and overnight.
Let’s get into it!
Same Day Trip
What To Bring Kayaking – Basic Gear & Equipment
Let’s get the obvious out of the way shall we?
You’re gonna need a kayak, but don’t just grab the first thing that will float.
There are basic types of kayaks, each tailored to different paddling preferences and environments.
* Recreational Kayaks: Versatile, entry-level kayaks suited for casual paddling and leisurely activities.
* Touring/Sea Kayaks: Touring or sea kayaks are best for extended trips and open water paddling, such as coastal exploration, sea kayaking, and multi-day expeditions.
* Whitewater Kayaks: Whitewater kayaks are typically used by experienced paddlers who can handle navigating rivers with rapids and turbulent water.
* Sit-on-Top Kayaks: Sit-on-top kayaks have an open cockpit design where the paddler sits on top of the kayak instead of being enclosed inside a cockpit.
* Fishing Kayaks: Built for anglers and come with features such as rod holders, storage compartments, and mounting options for fish finders and accessories.
* Inflatable Kayaks: Kayaks that can be inflated and deflated for easy transportation and storage.
* Tandem Kayaks: Built to accommodate two or more paddlers. They can be sit-on-top or sit-inside kayaks and offer the opportunity for shared paddling experiences.
A high-quality paddle can make all the difference in terms of comfort and efficiency during your journey.
Choose one that’s appropriate for both your height and paddling style.
3. PFD/Life Jacket
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, wearing a PFD (personal flotation device) is a responsible choice that can save your life in unexpected circumstances.
4. Spray Skirt/Cockpit Cover
A spray skirt is an essential accessory for kayaking, particularly in situations where you encounter rough waters or adverse weather conditions.
Its primary purpose is to create a watertight seal between your body and the kayak’s cockpit, keeping water out and helping to maintain your balance and stability.
5. Dry bag/Waterproof bag
A dry bag is designed to keep your belongings dry and protected from water, whether it’s from splashes, rain, or accidental capsizing.
This is especially crucial for items such as spare clothes, electronics, food, and camping gear that you want to keep dry and functional throughout your trip.
6. Paddle leash
7. Bilge pump
In emergency situations, such as if your kayak becomes flooded or you need to assist another kayaker in distress, a bilge pump becomes even more critical.
It enables you to quickly remove water from the kayak, providing a safer environment and potentially preventing a more dire situation.
8. Sponge or towel
9. Throw rope or towline
10. Extra paddle
11. Kayak cart or dolly
Allows you to easily transport your kayak from your vehicle to the water or vice versa without the need of a second person.
12. Anchor and anchor system
13. Safety flag
14. Bailer or sponge
What To Bring Kayaking – Clothing Gear And Attire
15. Helmet ( For Whitewater Kayaking)
16. Paddling gloves
Paddling gloves provide protection for your hands against blisters, calluses, and abrasions that can result from prolonged friction and repetitive motions while paddling.
They act as a barrier between your hands and the paddle, reducing the risk of developing painful sores or skin irritation.
17. Paddle jacket or waterproof shell
Paddle jackets often include features tailored to kayaking and paddle sports.
These may include extended or adjustable cuffs to cover the wrists, high collars for neck protection, and neoprene or adjustable waistbands to prevent water from entering at the waist.
18. Wetsuit or Drysuit
Ultimately, your decision on a wetsuit or drysuit should be based on the specific conditions you will encounter, your comfort level, and personal preferences.
If you anticipate extended periods in cold water or extreme conditions, a drysuit may be more appropriate.
However, for milder temperatures or situations where you expect to get soaking wet, a wetsuit can provide adequate insulation and flexibility.
19. Quick-drying base layer
20. Rash guard or moisture-wicking shirt
Kayaking can be a physically demanding activity that leads to perspiration.
Moisture-wicking shirts pull moisture away from your body and to the outer surface of the fabric, where it can evaporate more easily.
21. Paddling shorts or quick-drying pants
22. Neoprene booties or water shoes
23. Sun hat or cap
24. Sunglasses with UV protection
25. Buff or neck gaiter
One of the primary benefits of wearing a neck gaiter while kayaking is sun protection.
The gaiter covers your neck and can be pulled up to cover your face, providing a barrier against harmful UV rays.
26. Swimwear or bathing suit
27. Extra clothes
28. Insulating layer
When kayaking in colder conditions, the insulating layer acts as a barrier against the cold air and water, preventing excessive heat loss from your body.
This helps keep you comfortable and prevents hypothermia or extreme discomfort due to the cold.
What To Bring Kayaking – Tools And Safety
29. Safety whistle
30. Navigation tools (compass or GPS)
31. Marine VHF radio
A marine VHF radio is a vital communication tool for kayakers, offering emergency communication capabilities, weather updates, navigational assistance, and improved coordination with other boaters.
It enhances safety, preparedness, and peace of mind while enjoying your kayaking adventures.
BoatingMag.com has a great guide on choosing a good radio.
32. First aid kit
33. Repair kit (including duct tape and kayak patching material)
Kayaking equipment, such as paddles, spray skirts, or inflatable kayaks, can be subject to wear and tear or unexpected damage.
Having a repair kit allows you to perform quick fixes and maintenance on the spot, preventing minor issues from escalating into major problems.
34. Map or guidebook
35. Deck compass
36. Knife or multi-tool
37. Flares or signaling device
38. Personal locator beacon (PLB) or EPIRB
This one is up to you, but a PLB allows you to send a distress signal in emergency situations, even in remote areas where there is no cellular coverage.
If you plan on kayaking in well-populated and easily accessible areas with good cellular coverage, then it’s not as big a deal.
39. Marine chart or navigational maps
What To Bring Kayaking – Personal Items
40. Identification and emergency contact information
41. Cell phone or communication device
42. Cash or credit cards
43. Personal medications
45. Insect repellent
46. Personal hygiene items
48. Snacks and water
Make no mistake about it, kayaking is a physical activity. If it’s warm when you hit the water, you will sweat…plenty. Be sure to stay hydrated.
49. Hat or cap
50. Personal entertainment
While kayaking provides its own form of entertainment through the immersive experience of nature and water, here are a few suggestions for additional enjoyment on your kayaking trips:
* Music: If you enjoy listening to music, consider bringing a portable waterproof speaker or waterproof headphones to enjoy your favorite tunes while paddling.
Make sure to keep the volume at a reasonable level to remain aware of your surroundings and respect the tranquility of the natural environment.
* Audiobooks or Podcasts: Engage your mind during longer kayaking trips by listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
Choose topics that interest you, such as adventure stories, nature documentaries, or educational podcasts. Ensure your listening device is protected from water and securely stored to prevent damage.
* Photography or Videography: Capture the scenic beauty and memorable moments of your kayaking adventure by bringing a waterproof camera or using a waterproof case for your smartphone.
Just be sure to prioritize safety and avoid getting too distracted while operating your kayak.
* Nature Observation: Instead of relying solely on external forms of entertainment, immerse yourself in the experience of nature itself.
Take the opportunity to observe wildlife, appreciate the changing landscapes, and connect with the natural surroundings. Bring a field guide or binoculars to enhance your wildlife spotting experience.
* Group Activities: If you’re kayaking with a group, consider interactive activities that can be enjoyed together. Engage in conversations, play word games, or share stories and experiences. It can be a great way to build camaraderie and create lasting memories.
51. Camera or waterproof camera case
53. Waterproof watch
For those of you more interested in a multi-day kayaking trip, here’s a quick list of essentials:
54. Touring Kayak (Sea Kayaks)
We recommend a touring kayak for long trips. These bad boys are built for long-distance kayaking. They excel in providing efficiency, stability, and storage capacity, making them an excellent choice for extended trips on the water.
55. Tent or hammock (with rainfly and stakes)
56. Sleeping bag
57. Sleeping pad or inflatable mattress
58. Camping stove and fuel
59. Cookware and utensils
60. Food (dehydrated meals, snacks, and cooking ingredients)
61. Water filter or purification tablets
62. Headlamp or flashlight (with extra batteries)
63. Camping chair or portable seat
64. Extra set of clothing (including warm layers, rain gear, and dry clothes for sleeping)
65. Personal toiletries and toilet paper
66. Campsite navigation tools (map, compass, or GPS)
67. Firestarter or waterproof matches
What Should You Bring While Kayaking?
When kayaking, it’s essential to bring appropriate clothing, footwear, safety gear, kayak equipment, and food & water. It’s also important to consider the weather conditions and pack extra layers if needed. Don’t forget personal items such as sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and a dry bag for your belongings.
How Do You Prepare for a Kayak Trip?
To prepare for a kayak trip, research the location and route beforehand. Ensure that your kayak is in good condition with all necessary equipment like paddles and life jackets. Familiarize yourself with local regulations or permits required. Pack essentials like clothing suited to the weather conditions along with food & water supplies.
Do You Need Special Clothes for Kayaking?
You don’t necessarily need special clothes, but wear quick-drying materials like synthetic fabrics or merino wool instead of cotton, which retains moisture when wet. Dressing in layers helps adapt to changing temperatures during your trip. A waterproof jacket may be useful depending on weather conditions.
What to Pack for a 3-Day Kayak Trip?
Pack suitable clothing (including extra layers), footwear (water shoes or sandals), safety gear (life jacket/helmet), camping gear (tent/sleeping bag/stove/cookware), navigation tools (maps/compass/GPS), first aid kit (recommended options), repair kit/tools, ample food/water, and personal items (sunscreen/sunglasses/hat).
So there you have our kayaking checklist. We trust that our guide was helpful to beginner kayakers as well as seasoned vets.
You will enjoy your kayaking trip so much more when you have the proper equipment and attire.
As you’re kayaking the beautiful waters of your choice, don’t take for granted your safety and comfort.