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Kayaking 101

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Paddling Gear

The Gear Bag 

Securing items to your craft avoids the “paddlers garage sale” syndrome, which sends group members scrambling to recover your stuff as it spreads downstream. Bring drinking water, snacks, and an extra layer. Store these items, along with your sunscreen, bug repellent, and first-aid kit, in a waterproof dry bag. If you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses you’ll need a strap for attaching them to your head. A large car-washing sponge is good for eliminating puddles. 

For safety, you may want to carry rescue gear (rescue sling, throw rope, tow system) specific to your craft and setting. String a plastic whistle onto your PFD for attracting attention. Pack a spare paddle. Electronic communication and navigation devices- GPS, cellular phones, VHF radios- are becoming more common, especially in offshore and wilderness settings. Wherever you paddle, know local laws and Coast Guard regulations pertaining to signaling devices and nighttime visibility. 

Additional Gear 

Spray Skirt
Wearing a spray skirt keeps water out of your kayak, but be sure you know how to attach it and practice detaching it quickly. Made of coated nylon or neoprene, spray skirts have specific sizes for both kayakers and their boats. 

Pump 
A hand pump helps get water out of recreational and touring kayaks. 

Paddle Leash 
By attaching your paddle to your touring boat, you can keep better track of it when you drop it, or when you stop to take photos or pass out cookies. 

Paddle Float 
An inflatable or foam device that assists in solo re-entry into a touring kayak from deep water. 

Helmet 
For those venturing into whitewater or into surf. 

Many of these accessories are available through our accessories site, Harmony Gear

Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina. 

For comprehensive guides on paddling, please visit the ACA website.