Kayaking: What to Take

Kayaking can be a wet and wild way to spend a day -- but if you've got the right gear, you'll be ready for anything the rapids throw at you. Be sure to tailor this list for each outing; you'll want to add or drop certain items according to the season, the weather, the location, and your own personal needs.

Just print out this list and check items off as you pack them. If you want a more customized list, you can copy and paste this article into a Word document on your own computer and add your individual essentials.

Essentials

  • Kayak
  • Paddles (always take a spare)
  • Spray skirt (a flap that closes around your waist to keep water out)
  • Bailer or bilge pump
  • Life jacket
  • Paddle float (a self-rescue aid)
  • Helmet
  • Drinking water (at least 20 ounces for every hour you'll spend in the boat, depending on how much you sweat)
  • Wilderness first-aid kit
  • Waterproof matches
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle (for emergencies)
  • Dry bags (waterproof gear bags that secure to the boat)
  • Sealable plastic bags (various sizes)
  • Towel
  • Heat-reflecting blanket
  • Repair kit (see below)

Repair Kit

  • Ding Stik repair putty
  • Replacement bolts for the seat, rudder, and foot pegs
  • Zipper-repair kit
  • Utility cord
  • Small bungee cords
  • Waterproofing wax
  • Seam sealant

Food

  • Energy bars
  • Raw veggies or fruit

Clothing

Remember to keep everything you're not wearing in dry bags:

  • Quick-drying swimsuit
  • Quick-drying pants
  • T-shirts
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sun and rain hat (with a wide brim)
  • Neoprene gloves
  • Pull-on water shoes or sports sandals
  • Pogies (paddling gloves)
  • Change of clothes

Extras

  • Tide tables and charts
  • Weather radio
  • Nose plugs or clips
  • Compass
  • Waterproof watch
  • Money (in a fanny pack or sealable plastic bag)

References

American Canoe Association. "Paddling 101: A Guide for a Beginning Paddler."

Outdoor Action, Princeton University. "Outdoor Action Guide to Planning a Safe River Trip."

Mayo Clinic. Water: how much should you drink every day? April 2010.

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