12 Must Have Safety Gear for Kayaking

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Kayaking is a great sport for anyone who loves water, the great outdoors, and low impact workouts. It can be thrilling and it can be relaxing. You can see areas that most boaters will never be able to imagine and there is an adventure around every river bend. It can also be a sport that brings some danger so it is important to have the right kayak safety gear with you.

Even if you are not riding the rapids in a canoe or kayak, there is still a chance for misfortune. That is why there are things you can take on board that will help you to stay safe. These things can help you get out of a bind and possibly save your kayaking journey from potential disaster.

Below is a list of some of the most common, most valuable, and must have safety gear for kayaking.

Personal Flotation Device

A PFD is a safety vest that can keep you afloat in the event of capsizing. Even an excellent swimmer can struggle when their boat suddenly flips them upside down in the water. This vest can keep you upright in the water until help can arrive or to help you stay afloat while preparing to climb back onto your kayak or canoe.

The biggest thing for you to consider when purchasing a PFD is whether it fits you comfortably or not. They should fit snugly, but allow you to move freely. They should be thin enough to ensure that you are not too hot when wearing it, but thick enough to ensure you are not struggling to stay above water while dealing with a capsized boat. Please see our best PFD’s here.

Proper Shoes

Most kayaking shoes are made of neoprene. They are designed to be slip-resistant so that you do not fall when trying to step on or off your kayak.

Even if you choose to avoid paddle shoes, you should wear sandals or other types of water shoes. They should not have laces or straps that may become tangled in the foot rests of your kayak. If in cold water or times when you are kayaking in the winter, you should wear wool or fleece socks to keep your feet warmer.

The Right Gloves

During cold weather, neoprene gloves and hoods are recommended to keep you warmer. The gloves also protect the hands from blisters during the warmer months.

Most kayaking gloves will leave the finger tips exposed so that you can keep a good hold on your paddle, but it will leave the back of your hands covered so that sunburns are not possible. There may also be extra padding on the palm area.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit should include all of the basics. You should carry along a few Band-Aids and antibacterial ointment, sunscreen, lip protection, fresh water, snack bars that are high in protein or energy bars, a fire starter, allergy medications, bug spray, medication that you may take on a regular basis, and other things that you feel are necessary.

The last thing you want to have to deal with is a capsized kayak or a hole in your inflatable boat and no way to survive. You should also carry your cell phone or a walkie-talkie radio so that you can contact someone to come and help you out of a bind.

Helmets

When riding white waters, you could easily be tossed overboard without much warning. Considering the simple fact that you are surrounded by rocks and shallow water, this could be very dangerous.

That is why you should wear a kayaking helmet to protect your head in the event of an accident. The helmet should be comfortable on your head, but offer good protection. Check out our best kayak helmets here.

Sponsons

These are flotation devices that attach to the outside of a kayak or a canoe. They are used to help hold the boat upright. You should put one on each side of the kayak in approximately the same area on each side to help you avoid capsizing.

It is useful on all kayaks or canoes, but especially those that are going to potentially be in rougher waters.

Paddle Floats and Extra Paddle

One big concern for many kayakers is the simple fact that they do capsize at some point. Once you are in the water, it is going to be very hard to get back on board without help. For anyone who chooses to venture out solo, this is an even larger concern.

 

Paddle floats can help. You simply inflate the float and put it over the blade of one paddle. Secure the other end to the kayak and you can use it to climb back into the kayak or canoe.

Also having an extra kayak paddle is essential if you are kayaking alone. You never know when your paddle may break and you do not want to be up a creek without a paddle.

Bilge Pump

If you end up capsized and you have to climb back into the kayak or canoe, you will bring water along with you. This is unavoidable. That is why having a bilge pump is a great idea.

It ensures that no matter how much water may get into your boat; you can get it out before it causes a potential problem for you. This is also great to have when you are in rougher waters and need to get water out that may have come in over the sides.

Radio

A radio is less important if you are going out for only a few hours. However, for someone who ventures out in their kayak for days at a time, it can become very valuable.

A radio can be used for more than just music. With it, you can get weather updates and other important information that will let you know whether it is safe to stay out on the water or if you should set up camp along the shore and wait out the next day.

Signaling Devices

These devices are great when you need to call for help by signaling to others within your group or a boat that may be passing by. You can use flares, a mirror, hand signals, and other things to let people know where you are located.

The signaling device that you choose should be easy to use. Many people think whistles are the best signaling devices because the noise will carry over longer distances and it can be heard rather than seen.

 

Compass

A compass is always good to have on hand, especially if you are kayaking in the ocean where tides and currents can take your kayak out away from the shore in very little time. It can show you the right direction to travel so that you can find your way back to land. Otherwise, you could end up going in the wrong direction and kayaking around in the ocean going nowhere, except further out into open water.

We really like the compasses that have a wrist band. It looks like a watch and will be harder to lose if you do capsize.

Tow Lines

A tow line is not useful to you necessarily, but they can be a great accessory for your kayak or your canoe. They attach to your boat and can be used to help out a fellow kayaker if they end up hurt or unable to paddle their kayak back to safety. Some tow lines also have an airbag attached to one end to give you the option to help someone who has a capsized kayak or canoe.

Kayak Safety Gear Conclusion

All of these devices are recommended especially if you plan to take long or over night trips. They could come in handy and maybe even see your life.

You can add other things that you feel will keep you safe out on the water as you see fit, but according to most kayakers, these are the basic necessities for a successful day of kayaking. Before the next time you go out ask yourself “Do I have everything that I need?”