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Essential Kayaking Gear

Whenever you go paddling there's a certain amount of equipment that you have to think about before you go on the water. The kayak, obviously, and to propel your kayak, a paddle. And that can be one of a whole range of different designs. I'll talk about paddle design later. You will need to wear a PFD, personal flotation device. This is designed to keep you afloat if you end up in the water. PFDs are designed to be attached in a certain way. Every PFD has a different fastening system, so get familiar with PFDs in a store. Try them on and get one that you are comfortable wearing all the time. When you've fitted it, it should be snug enough to your body that if you jumped into the water, it's not going to rise up around you. So try it on. When you get your PFD, adjust it with the fastenings on the shoulders, and the fastenings at the side, until it is a snug fit. And then try it out in the water. Float around. Try lifting your arms above your head and make sure that it doesn't float up around you.

This is something that you should be wearing all of the time. So you may want to consider a PFD that has a pocket or, like this one down here, a variety of pockets that you can carry items in. So that whenever you go on the water you may have a backup compass in your pocket if you haven't got one on the boat. You might want to carry a little bit of emergency food that you can snack on without having to stop paddling, if you're keeping up with the rest of your group.

The cockpit of the kayak is an opening just waiting for water to fill it. So we can seal it off with a spray skirt. The spray skirt fits around your waist and it also fits with elastic around the cockpit coaming. There should be a release cord somewhere along that perimeter of the spray skirt. And you use that for taking the spray skirt off by lifting the elastic out from the coaming and peeling it off around the outside, so that you can come off into the water or get it off when you get to the shore.

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