Ready, Set, Kayak: Top 10 Gear Essentials for Beginner Paddlers

Ready, Set, Kayak: Top 10 Gear Essentials for Beginner Paddlers

By: Coast Outdoors Comments: 0

Kayaking is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors, connect with nature, and have fun with your friends. Whether you are new to kayaking or have been paddling for a while, it's essential to be prepared and have the right gear for a comfortable, enjoyable, and safe experience. That's why we've created this blog - to guide you through the essentials you need for your next kayaking adventure. Some of these items may seem simple or obvious, but they can make a significant difference in your overall experience. We're here to prepare you, so you're not caught off guard and can fully immerse yourself in the fun. After reading this blog, you'll have a better understanding of what you need. You might already have some of these at home.

1. Clothing: Neoprene, Merino wool, Synthetic (no cotton!)

Choosing the right clothing for your kayaking adventure is crucial. Cotton is not recommended as it absorbs water and takes longer to dry, leaving you feeling cold and uncomfortable. Instead, opt for synthetic, Merino wool, or neoprene wear. Synthetic fabrics are quick-drying, breathable, and provide insulation, while Merino wool offers warmth and moisture-wicking properties. Neoprene wear, on the other hand, is ideal for cold water as it traps body heat and keeps you warm. Whatever your preference and needs, make sure to choose clothing that is comfortable, fits well, and allows you to move freely, so you can focus on enjoying your time on the water.

Before you head out for your kayaking adventure, it's important to check the weather forecast for the duration of your paddling trip. This will help you determine what clothing to wear (or pack) to ensure your comfort and safety. Don't forget to protect the areas that tend to get cold easily, such as your hands and feet. Neoprene gloves or booties are a great addition to prevent heat loss. It is also a good idea to carry an extra layer, for instance, a paddling jacket, that you can wear on top in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Remember, you can always take off layers if you get too warm, but you can’t add layers if you didn’t bring them with you!

Vancouver is also known as Raincouver for a good reason, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking. The key is to be prepared with the right gear, including a waterproof jacket, and if you really don’t want to get wet, there are also waterproof pants and full drysuits. Don't let a rainy day stop you from this exciting and fun activity. In fact, there are some benefits to kayaking on a rainy day, such as less crowded waters and quieter campsites.


Vaikobi Paddlewear


2. Footwear

Having the right footwear can make a huge difference to your experience. Regular running shoes and socks may seem like a good option, but they won't provide the necessary protection, warmth, or grip that specifically designed paddling footwear can offer. These shoes are often made of neoprene or incorporate other insulation to keep your feet warm. Flipflops also may seem like a viable option, but they are not recommended as they can easily come off in case of an incident, leading to distraction and potential loss. A good pair of water shoes will stay secure and provide excellent protection from rocks and other sharp objects in the water. You can also pair water shoes with neoprene socks for added warmth, or waterproof socks to stay dry


NRS Freestyle Wetshoes

3. Paddling Gloves & Pogies

Paddling gloves are a versatile accessory that offers more than just warmth during winter kayaking trips. They also protect your hands from blisters and sunburn, as many gloves are made with UPF fabric. Plus, gloves provide a better grip on your paddle, making it easier to maintain control in rough waters. Paddling gloves are a worthwhile investment to enhance your comfort and safety while you are on the water.

Are you familiar with pogies? These hand covers are an excellent choice for kayaking on windy and chilly days. Pogies offer superior protection and they attach to your paddle and allow you to hold directly onto the shaft, ensuring full control.

Gloves & Pogies

Paddling Pogies

4. Headwear

It's easy to overlook a seemingly small item like a hat when packing for a kayaking trip, but it can make a big difference in keeping you comfortable and protected from the sun or rain. Make sure to pack a hat with UPF sun protection to shield your face and neck from harmful rays. Also, consider a hat with a secure strap to keep it in place during windy conditions. Opting for a bright color can also be a smart choice, as it makes you more visible on the water. Don't underestimate the importance of this small but mighty accessory!

Hats are not just meant for sunny days, they also come in handy during cooler weather. They can retain body heat and keep your head warm and dry in rainy conditions. You can choose from a variety of warmer hats that have insulating fabrics on the inside to help regulate your body temperature and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable kayaking experience.


Kokatat Sunwester Hat

5. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an essential item when kayaking as they not only protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays but also protect them from wind, spray, and sand that can cause irritation and dryness. Furthermore, sunglasses help prevent wrinkles and sun damage to the delicate skin around your eyes.

Pro Tip: Get some glass retainers to keep your sunglasses secure as they don't float and losing them can be a hassle. Remember, fish don't need them, but you do!


Bliz Eyewear

6. Phone Case

Taking your phone with you on any adventure is essential for capturing memories and as an emergency backup. However, without the right case, loss or water damage can be a significant risk to your device. Constant water splashing and the possibility of accidentally dropping your phone into the water can lead to irreparable damage. That's why investing in a waterproof phone case is crucial. With a good-quality phone case, you can enjoy kayaking without worrying about your phone's safety, and capture stunning photos while on the water.

Phone Cases

Fidlock Phone Case

7. Dry Bag

While hatches are designed as a storage space in kayaks, they often end up getting wet, and can't guarantee that your belongings will remain dry. That's where dry bags come in. There are various types of dry bags available, so it's important to choose one that fits your specific needs. One useful tip is to avoid putting everything in the same bag. For example, your phone and wallet could go in a waterproof phone case, while extra clothing can go in a larger dry bag. Clear dry bags can also be helpful, allowing you to quickly locate your belongings. Keep in mind that the thickness of the dry bag can impact how well your items stay dry, so consider investing in a thicker one for added protection.

Dry Bags

SealLine Dry Bags

8. PFD

If you've caught the kayaking bug after your first experience, investing in your own personal flotation device (PFD) is highly recommended. While most rentals offer PFDs, owning your own allows for a better fit and potential additional features such as pockets and hand warmers. Plus, you can choose a PFD in your preferred color. If kayaking is a passion you wish to pursue, consider investing in a PFD that you find comfortable and enjoyable to use.




9. Whistle

If you've got your own PFD you'll also want a whistle. Transport Canada requires you to carry a hailing device for emergency situations and a whistle is the quickest, easiest, and often best option. However, many people tend to forget to pack this essential item. It's crucial to understand that a whistle can potentially save your life in an emergency.


Fox 40 Classic Whistle Yellow

10. Changing Towel

We know you wish your kayaking adventure could last forever, but unfortunately, it has to come to an end at some point, and you'll need to change back into your regular clothes. That's where a changing towel comes in handy. Not only does it make the changing process faster, but it also keeps you warm and cozy while you come to terms with the end of your kayaking experience.

If you are kayaking in an area where changing rooms are often full or there are long lines, investing in a changing poncho could be a wise choice. With a poncho, you can easily change wherever you are without having to stress about finding a place to do so.

Changing Towels & Ponchos

Nomadix Poncho Towel

Kayaking is a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors and immerse yourself in nature. However, to ensure a safe and comfortable experience, it's crucial to be well-prepared with the right gear. You don't need to buy everything at once, take stock of what you already have and prioritize what you need. With proper preparation and the right equipment, your kayaking experience is sure to be enjoyable and memorable. Our goal is to help you have the best possible kayaking adventure.

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