When it comes to kayaking, you don’t need much by way of equipment. However, there are a few things that can make your time on the water in your kayak significantly more enjoyable.
1 – Choose A Proper Fitting PFD or Life Jacket
So, the main differences between personal flotation devices (PFDs) and life jackets are that PFDs are not designed to turn you over and keep your head out of the water if you are unconscious. Life jackets are. PFD’s are also less buoyant than life jackets. If you are planning on being in rough open waters or may be at higher risk of collision with other boats, you should choose a life jacket.
A life jacket is also the best choice for a non- or weak-swimmer or a child. In case they end up in the water, it gives them the best chance of survival.
Many PFDs are designed specifically for paddlers and feature tapered shoulders for more freedom of movement. Some form of buoyancy is a must-have for your time on the water, and having one that fits properly is not only more comfortable, but it’s safer as well. Your life jacket should fit snugly, but not so tight that you can’t breathe. When you sit down, the PFD should remain in place and not bunch up. You can find PFDs and life jackets with added conveniences like pockets for storage, as well as a built-in whistle for emergencies.
Learn more about choosing the perfect life jackets here.
2 – Select A Comfortable Kayak Seat
A good seat may be the most important comfort-enhancing piece of equipment you choose. It’s easy to overlook until you’ve been out on the water for a couple of hours and your back is starting to ache and you realize you have another couple of hours to paddle back to your put-in point. You can replace a removable factory seat with a more comfortable aftermarket one. And if your kayak seat is built-in, you may find that a good cushion provides better back support and more comfort than the hard molded plastic. If you had to choose only one non-essential item that will enhance your overall enjoyment of kayaking, this is where I’d recommend investing. Top features to look for: comfort, adjustability, quick-drying.
Leader Accessories Delux Kayak Seat
The Leader Accessories Deluxe Kayak Seat features molded foam, marine-grade snaps, and adjustable webbing. With 2 straps in front and 2 straps in back, the seat has a wide range of adjustability and fits most kayaks.
Yakpads Cushioned Seat Pad
Yakpads Cushioned Seat Pads add comfort to any kayak but are an especially great option for kayaks that have built-in, non-removable, hard molded plastic seats. With long-lasting elastomer gel pads and lumbar support, Yakpads are designed for maximum comfort. And as an added benefit, the gel-filled seat pads insulate against cold or hot kayaks seats.
Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus Seat Back
The Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus offers generous back support and extra seat padding for a softer ride. It has adjustable side straps to fine-tune position and optimize comfort.
3 – Apply Sunscreen Frequently
Common sense? Yes. But it can’t be overstated. Apply sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection as often as directed by the packaging. A great day on the water might be overshadowed by a blistering sunburn. Sunburns also increase your chances of skin cancer.
4 – Bring More Water Than You Think You Will Need
Fill multiple re-usable water bottles. Bring more water than you think you will need. Being out on the water in direct sunlight dehydrates you faster, making it even more important to replenish fluids. A good guideline is to drink water every fifteen minutes while kayaking. We love the Yeti Ramblers 18oz because they take abuse and keep our beverages hot or cold all day. And if you plan on venturing out a little further, bring a water filter. Our water filter of choice is the LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle.
5 – Wear Kayak Gloves
Moisture on your paddle’s handle can cause blisters on your hands. Protect your hands with kayaker’s gloves. They will keep your hands dry and protected, as well as provide extra grip.
Sea To Summit Eclipse
Sea To Summit Eclipse fingerless kayaking gloves are made of a Spandex shell, supple synthetic leather palm, and durable 2mm neoprene cuffs. A contoured, double layer palm and thumb area increases durability. The thin, stretchy upper fabric provides UPF50 sun protection and comfort. These are best for warm-weather use.
The Fishing Tree Fingerless Gloves
The Fishing Tree Fingerless Gloves are perfect for kayaking. Palms of faux leather add an additional layer of robustness and comfort, prevent blisters and calluses. Quick-drying breathable Spandex upper provides UPF50+ sun protection. Best for warm-weather use.
Neo Sport Premium 5-Finger Neoprene Wetsuit Gloves
Ideal for cold weather, Neo Sport Premium Gloves are constructed from soft and flexible premium neoprene in 3mm or 5mm. The gloves allow you to move freely and protect you from abrasion and the cold. The high-grip textured palm provides a secure grip. Just like your wetsuit, these gloves are designed to keep your hands warm, not dry.
6 – Stash You Stuff in a Dry Bag
When kayaking, even the most careful kayaker will get wet. It is impossible to keep water from coming in the boat. To keep items such as your phone, car keys, and other valuables dry, place them in a waterproof bag secured to your kayak. Dry bags are available at most sporting goods stores. We like Earth Pak.
7 – Tie Down Your Dry Bag and Other Items
If you kayak a lot, you will experience that capsizing is sometimes unavoidable. Take a turn too hard. The river current picks up. Either way, kayakers of all skill levels occasionally flip their boats. To keep your gear from floating down the river without you, be sure to secure your stuff to the kayak by connecting it with a carabiner, tying it with a rope, or stashing it in your kayak’s dry storage compartment.
8 – Dress For The Weather
Adjust your clothing according to anticipated air and water temperatures. Being wet and cold is not only uncomfortable, but it can also possibly lead to hypothermia. Wear layers of quick-drying synthetics. Avoid cotton, which will chill you. Learn more about What To Wear Kayaking.
If it’s hot out, bring your swimsuit. And don’t forget your hat and sunglasses. Both offer great protection from the sun.
9 – Bring A Change Of Shoes And Clothes For Later
Even if you don’t capsize your kayak, most of the time, kayaking involves getting wet. From wet entries and paddles splashing to an unexpected rain shower, a change of clothes and dry footwear will help ensure that you aren’t miserable once you get off the water. If you do get wet (or soaked!), you’ll appreciate having something dry to change into.
10 – Listen to The Sounds Of Nature
Bring your camera and binoculars. Kayaking can take you into some unexpected places. Seeing the world from the water provides an entirely different perspective than from land. You may wish to blast music on your phone as you paddle, but don’t miss the chance to take a few minutes and enjoy your surrounding’s natural wonders. Depending on where you are kayaking, you may hear the river rushing, crickets buzzing, migratory birds that are passing overhead, fish jumping out of the water creating a splash, or wind rustling through leaves on trees. All of this will surely add to your kayaking experience. Soak it all up.
Bonus Kayak Day Trip Tip
Bring yummy snacks or a picnic. You may find that perfect spot to anchor, drift, or pull up onshore. Re-fuel your body or indulge in a guilty pleasure. This tip is guaranteed to make your day even more enjoyable.
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