Updated: Apr 26, 2022
Welcome! You are all signed up and are wondering, what do I need to start paddling? Here’s everything you need to know.
A Paddling PFD/ life jacket/vest
You must wear a PFD at all times in the kayak. You can wear a normal boating PFD but your paddling experience will be so much more enjoyable and safer in a PFD designed for paddling. The arm openings are large to facilitate movement and they are shorter so you can sit in the kayak without the PFD hitting your thighs.
Here are some examples:
A good fit is imperative so make sure you try on the PFD before you buy. You can try to order online but we do not recommend it. The jacket should fit snugly enough that it will stay put (i.e. not ride up to your chin) when you pull up on the shoulder straps - but still allow you to breathe freely. Most good vests have a number of tightening points so you can customize your fit. Women can opt for a vest said to be designed for women, but personal sizing and fit are most important - it should feel comfortable for those long paddles you are planning!
A good vest is a worthwhile investment. It will last for years, keep you safe, and enhance your paddling experience.
Our Safety Kits have whistles but it’s always good to have your own attached to your PFD. A Fox 40 type whistle works well.
Slip on paddling shoes
A pair of designated paddling shoes are a really good idea. You actually use your feet in a kayak and bare feet get sore and possibly blistered. Any kind of quick dry shoe that stays on when you are in the water is fine. Simple water shoes are economical and work well; water sandals you may already own work well too.
Here are some examples:
Walk down to the water and change into your paddling shoes. It’s always nice to have a dry pair of shoes to walk back up the hill in!
Clothing, Hat, Sunglasses, Sunscreen and Water
Choose brightly coloured wick away clothing to increase your visibility and comfort on the water. Most athletic gear is made of wick away fabric which will be more comfortable if gets wet. Fleece and wool are good in cold weather. Cotton should be avoided as it stays wet and can make you cold on the water.
We highly recommend wearing a hat when paddling. We are exposed to a lot of light out there and it makes good sense. A quick dry hat is best but any hat that offers sun protection will work. A chin strap is very handy on windy days. A white hat also makes you more visible on the water.
Do not wear expensive sunglasses! The chances of losing them in the water are very great!
Sunscreen is always a good idea.
Water is critical to staying hydrated - a water bottle with a quick release style cap is ideal.
Dry bags and cases
If you want to take your phone, keys, credit card, or cash with you, you will want a dry bag and /or a case. These come in various shapes and sizes and not all are guaranteed waterproof. Read the labels carefully.
For toting extra clothes or a snack, a dry bag works very well. Here are examples. You can get them at any outdoor sports store.
Towel and Change of Clothes
The things you never want to use, but are so happy you have when you need them. Keep them in a bag or backpack and leave it on shore in the Paddling container if you like. Note that the container is lockable and you can leave items there rather than risk taking them on the water if not needed during your paddle.