Paddling expert, Ken Whiting, gives us a quick overview of the top five pieces of gear he believes every paddler should own. This is true whether you kayak, canoe, packraft or stand-up paddleboard.
You’ll need a couple of these at the beginning of your paddling journey. Others can wait for you to collect over time as you expand your paddling world.
Let’s take a look at the essentials:
1. Paddling-Specific PFD (Life Jacket)
Of course any Coast Guard-approved life jacket will work for paddling. And if you need to stick to a low budget, the point is to wear a PFD for safety on the water.
But as soon as you can, invest in a PFD designed for paddlers. These are made so the bulk of the material stays out of the way of your arms and shoulders, giving you maximum freedom to move.
On some models, the back of the life jacket is cut away at the bottom so you’re able to sit in your seat more comfortably, especially in kayaks with high-back seats. Some are designed for kayak fishing, others for whitewater kayaking. Many have zip pockets and other handy features for convenience.
2. Anorak-Style Paddling Top
If all your paddling will be done on hot summer days in water that’s warm enough for swimming, this doesn’t need to be high on your list. But if you plan to spend time on the water in all weather and water conditions, a quality anorak-style paddling top is a must.
This pullover top has latex gaskets in the wrists to keep the water and cold out, and neoprene around the neck as well. It’s waterproof and windproof. It’ll keep you dry and warm in 95% of the conditions you’ll face.
For more on paddling tops read this article.
3. Paddling-Specific Water Shoes
There are styles that look more like normal shoes if you’d like them to double as shoes you can wear around town. They’re quite comfortable to walk in but are designed to let excess water out and dry quickly.
Other styles are made to be worn in or on your boat, specifically. They’re very flexible, have great grip on the soles and will keep your feet warmer than the shoe style.
4. Water Bottle with a Built-In Filter
It’s amazing how quickly you can go through water when you’re on the water. And on hot days in the beating sun when you’re working hard it’s easy to get lax on the amount of water you drink.
A water bottle that has a built-in filter is perfect for both day paddles and multi-day camping trips. There’s no need to carry water with you since you can dump what you don’t drink and re-fill anytime. Of course this assumes you’re paddling on fresh water, not the ocean!
5. Polarized Sunglasses
The sun on the water can be blinding. Rather than leaving your sunglasses at home because you’re afraid they’ll fall in, take measures to secure them. Not only will they protect your eyes from possible damage, it may save you a headache and is just more comfortable when you’re on the water.
Polarized sunglasses cut the glare from the water’s surface and help you see into the water much better than non-polarized.
If you don’t want to secure them with retention straps, buy cheap ones you only wear for paddling. That way if you lose them, you’re only out $20.
What paddle questions do you have? Our friendly Customer Service team is waiting to hear from you: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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