Anyone who tried kayaking has immensely enjoyed the activity. The rush of riding a kayak through a river or a sea is unforgettable. It is safer to learn kayaking in a group with an instructor showing you how to appropriately handle a kayak. Additionally, beginners don’t need to worry about kayaking gear as it is usually provided by the kayaking company. 

If you have enjoyed kayaking and want to take this hobby to the next level, you need to learn more about what to bring with you on a kayaking trip and ensure safety. There is some essential gear we listed below that you must have to enjoy your next kayaking trip and make sure that you and others are safe.


While a kayak might be an obvious thing to have, there are several types of kayaks that you should be aware of. Most beginners opt for sit-on-top kayaks as they are affordable, more balanced, and easier to climb back onto if they fell in the water. They are mostly used for fishing but they are heavier and slower than other types of kayaks. 

The sit-inside kayaks, also known as touring kayaks, are longer, thinner in width, and made out of lighter materials. They are not suitable for beginners as sit-inside kayaks are more challenging to handle and harder to get in and out of. Other types of kayaks include inflatable, nesting, folding, and tandem kayaks which can accommodate 2 people.


Typically, you need paddles to steer and paddle while kayaking. Kayak paddles have a blade on both ends which is different from canoe paddles. They range from 210cm to 260cm long so if you are tall, you should get a long paddle. Beginners usually get plastic paddles as they are lightweight and easier to control; they won’t hurt your muscles too. If you are going on a long kayaking trip, make sure to pack an extra paddle in case the first one breaks.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

A life jacket is an essential part of your kayaking gear, as it adds a level of protection to your life, especially for beginners. You may fall off the kayak if you are still exploring your new kayak or kayaking on an unfamiliar body of water. PFDs nowadays are more comfortable than before, as they leave enough room for arms movement. Invest in your PFD as you want a life jacket that will fit you perfectly, let you paddle freely, and won’t have any upward migration.


Kayak beginners and experts wear helmets while kayaking all the time. It is essential to wear a helmet to protect your head from getting bashed by your own or others’ paddles. If you are kayaking in a rough body of water, the helmet will protect your head if you capsized. If you’re having a nice stroll with your kayak, you might need a regular hat, preferably a wide-brimmed hat with breathable fabric to protect your head and neck from the sun.

Vehicle Rack

As long as you are storing your kayak near a body of water, you don’t need a vehicle rack. However, if you have to transport your kayak from your home to go for a trip, then you need a rack that is easy to install and you can mount the kayak on it easily. If your vehicle has crossbars, it will make finding a kayak rack for trucks easier as the rack may need crossbars to be installed upon. There are different rack types depending on your budget and the vehicle type, whether it is a truck or a car.

Spray Skirt

Water will inevitably get into the cockpit while you are paddling and depending on how the kayak is built, edging it may drop the rim under the water surface. Though many beginners don’t buy a spray kit when they first start kayaking, they tend to get one after a while. It is a skirt that you wear covering the cockpit when you sit in which prevents water from getting inside your kayak. However, make sure not to tuck the grab loop inside the cockpit, and make it visible on the outside so you can reach it easily if you capsized.


When you pick clothes for your kayaking adventure, you should keep into consideration the water temperature rather than the air temperature. You will be sprayed with water whether by your paddles or the tide. Unfortunately, there is no one solution for clothing options. As a rule of thumb, if you will paddle in tide races, limited landings, or other high immersion trips, you should wear waterproof clothes that will keep you warm. 

If your kayaking trip is nice and easy, then you could wear less so you won’t get hot especially on sunny days. If you opt for swimwear, make sure that it doesn’t restrict your arm movements and fits you well, especially that you will be wearing a PFD on it.

Dry Bag

You should keep all the items you bring with you on your adventure dry. A dry bag is perfect to hold all your items while not letting water seep inside. Dry bags come in various shapes and sizes, so pick the one that will fit in your kayak and is totally waterproof.

Wet Shoes

Kayaking needs wet shoes, that goes without saying. These shoes are usually made from neoprene with grippy soles that will enable you to walk on slippery surfaces safely. They also protect your feet from pointy stones. Wet shoes are usually affordable and you can find them in any store near a body of water.

This essential gear guide will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable kayaking trip. It is important that you get the gear that will keep you safe, warm, and dry as you will be splashed with water during the trip. If you are a beginner, make sure to have sufficient training before tackling kayaking by yourself. Finally, check the weather forecast before going on a kayaking adventure to prepare accordingly.

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I've been writing since 2008 about a wide range of topics. I also love making furniture in my spare time, and birdwatching with my wife near our home in southern England.

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