Kayaking is a fun outdoor recreational activity for all ages and fitness levels. But as with other watersports, it has its own risks and challenges, too. Instead of worrying endlessly or backing out of your exciting agenda, plan your excursion carefully based on your abilities and preferences. Create a float plan and gather the tools needed to ensure safety and comfort.
The Best Kayak Safety Equipment
Preparation is key! Here are a few pieces of equipment you don’t want to leave behind on your next kayaking tour.
1. Personal Flotation Device
Even expert swimmers need personal flotation devices (PFDs). There are several kinds of PFDs, with wearable life jackets and throwable cushions as the most commonly used ones. Choose the best type based on your weight, clothing, and water conditions.
2. Dry Bag
A dry bag is made of waterproof material, featuring many closure types for water damage protection. Look into the pros and cons of every style before choosing an appropriately sized bag with well-stitched seams and a watertight seal.
It’s not equipment, we know! But you need it regardless. Stay hydrated throughout your paddling trip with the help of an insulated water bottle. A short trip usually requires around two liters of water, but you should drink more in case you feel tired and thirsty. Try to drink around five ounces of water every 20 minutes. Yes, even if you’re kayaking in the winter.
Trail mixes, roasted chickpeas, and dried fruits are just some of the healthiest snacks you can bring with you on your kayaking adventures. As much as possible, bring nutrient-dense and high-protein food items that are easy to store and don't require refrigeration.
5. Your Phone
Fully charge its battery before leaving. Then, keep it safe and dry in a waterproof case inside your dry bag, or hang it around your neck using a lanyard.
You can use your phone to call for help, but it’s useless in remote locations with no service, which brings us to...
6. VHF Radio
Get a VHF radio with a compact design, long-lasting battery life, a clear LCD screen, and a USB charger. A two-way radio is an indispensable tool, even if you have good phone coverage. It can be used to call for rescue and communicate with other nearby boats.
7. Extra Clothes
Plan your clothes based on how cold the water is. Pack some extra layers. Whatever season you choose to kayak, go for quick-drying, breathable clothes made from synthetic material to stay comfortable throughout your tour.
8. First Aid Kit
Bring a well-stocked first aid kit filled with medicine, bandages, scissors, instant cold packs, disinfectant, rubber gloves, and other essentials. Accidents can happen anytime, so take this with you even if you’re not going very far.
9. GPS Device and Compass
Using your smartphone while navigating around for hours results in quick battery depletion. Instead, use an electronic GPS device or a traditional compass to make sure you won't get lost in the wilderness.
10. Bilge Pump
Use a bilge pump to draw out the water that accumulates at the bottom of the kayak after a sudden splash. You can choose between manual or electric pumps, but it’s best to start with an affordable, lightweight, manual one that’s easy to store inside most types of kayaks.
11. Spray Skirt
A spray skirt is a waterproof cover that attaches to the kayak's cockpit to keep water out while paddling. This emergency tool will help you stay dry and comfortable during sudden rainfall or waves and ensure your vessel's stability.
12. Spare Paddle
Always carry a spare paddle on deck. You never know when you'll lose or damage yours or need to loan one to a paddling partner. Store it properly on the deck with a paddle sleeve to prevent scratches.
13. Kayaking Helmet
A helmet protects your head from rocks and other solid objects you might get in close contact with around the water. Its effectiveness, however, relies heavily on the fit and coverage. Make sure that yours fit snugly, not too loose or tight.
14. A Towing System
A towing system is a rescue gear usually used to tow someone who cannot paddle because of an injury. It’s crucial to get a tow line that covers a long distance and that you can easily grasp with cold hands or gloves on.
15. Kayak Knife
A kayak knife is a multipurpose tool that allows outdoor enthusiasts to perform several tasks, from cutting ropes to cleaning fish. Fixed-blade knives are more durable than folding knives, making them the top choice for strenuous survival tasks.
16. Rope Throw Bag
A rope throw bag is tossed across the waters to rescue a swimmer. First, you throw the line to the person you want to save. Then they grab onto it, so they can be pulled to safety. The ropes are typically brightly colored and designed to float for complete visibility in the water.
17. Sound-Producing Signaling Device
Clip a whistle to your life jacket for easier access. You can also bring an air horn that produces a powerful sound that can be heard for miles. Both distress-signaling tools can help you get someone’s attention, especially if you’re kayaking at night when visibility is low.
18. Flares and Other Visual Distress Tools
Signal flares easily attract the attention of passing vessels across long distances. Since they are flammable, store them in a cool, dry storage bag that is easy to grab should you need to use visual distress signals.
19. Kayak Lights
Besides using headlights to improve visibility, mount a navigation light on a pole to avoid a collision at night. Moreover, carry strobe lights and a flashlight that you can use as handheld distress signals.
20. Kayak Anchor System
A reliable anchor system can be helpful while waiting for rescue or when you find yourself drifting quickly because of the waves. The thing is, carrying an anchor kit can make the kayak heavier and harder to control. Just store it around the center of the kayak to maintain balance.
Be Well Prepared Before Hitting the Waters
Having the best safety gear can make a world of difference in your kayaking experience. You can spend a marvelous time with nature, knowing that you're safe and familiar with emergency action plans.
While you can take care of all the details yourself, it’s nicer to let someone else do the heavy lifting for you. That’s where we come in! Book a guided kayak tour with Evolution Expeditions, and we’ll take care of all the essentials.