Every kayaker should have an essentials kit ready to go. Here’s a roundup of some equipment that no paddler should be without.
Life vest. Your personal flotation device should be highly visible, adjust to accommodate different clothing weights and allow free arm movement. It should also be comfortable enough to wear zipped anytime you’re on the water.
Spray skirt. A spray skirt seals you inside the kayak. One end fits around your waist, and the other end attaches to the cockpit coaming. Although not completely waterproof, a spray skirt keeps water out of the cockpit, protects your legs from the sun and keeps you warm in cold weather.
Bilge pump. A hand-operated bilge pump can help you remove water from your boat. Make sure it has a float collar so it won’t sink.
Paddle float and rescue sling. An inflatable bladder that slips over a paddle blade, a paddle float provides flotation and support when you re-enter your boat from the water. A rescue sling is a piece of floating line made into a loop with double fisherman’s knots. It’s useful for rigging a stirrup to give you a boost as you climb back into the cockpit.
Spare paddle and paddle leash.
Signaling devices. You’ll need a variety of sound and visual signals for day and night use. Your stash should include a waterproof flashlight, whistle, flares, strobes, smoke canisters, dye markers and signaling mirrors.
VHF radio and cell phone. A VHF radio lets you put out a distress call to the Coast Guard and nearby boaters. A cell phone is best for staying in touch with people on shore.
To learn more about essential kayaking accessories, take the Paddle Smart seminar. Find a seminar near you or call 888-367-8777 for more information.