The Essential Kayaking Gear Checklist for Beginners


Ready for your first kayaking trip? Kayaking is indeed a fun way to explore the great outdoors and improve your fitness. Not only that, but you can also paddle your heart out in any body of open water! However, before you go kayaking, it is best to be fully prepared.

Make your whole kayaking experience as fuss-free as possible by making sure you have all the basic kayaking gear you need.

Personal flotation devices

There are two types of personal flotation devices: life vests and life jackets. Even if you are the best swimmer out there, it is still highly important to keep a personal flotation device with you. In some areas, it is even strictly required by the law. For safety reasons, it is strongly recommended to wear your personal flotation device or keep it at least within arm’s reach. When choosing a personal flotation device, make sure you select the one that is comfortable and fits you just right.

Appropriate clothing and accessories

In kayaking, the number one rule is to dress according to the water temperature, not the air temperature. Wear only clothing that feels comfortable and lets you move freely. Avoid wearing clothes that are made of cotton. Wearing sun protective clothing and accessories is also very important.

Below are the different types of clothing and accessories you need for your kayaking trip:

  • A wetsuit -this is recommended for colder weather.

  • Proper footwear  – this can be either water sandals, water booties, or water shoes

  • A hat, preferably a wide-brimmed one

  • A helmet, which is ideal for kayaking trips in rocky areas

  • Quick-absorbent clothing, a rash guard top, shorts, and other swimwear

  • Paddling gloves – these are ideal for long-distance paddling to avoid blisters


The type of paddle that you need to use depends on your preference, the type of kayak you will be using, and your height. If you are taller or will sit in a wider kayak, use a longer paddle. Shorter paddles are recommended for those who will sit in a narrower one. Paddles are also made using different types of materials, such as aluminum, carbon, and fiberglass. If you are just starting, just go for a basic paddle that suits your needs.

Type of kayak

One of the most basic things to consider when planning to go kayaking is the type of kayak you need. Are you going kayaking as an extreme sport, a pastime hobby, or a recreational activity? You should keep in mind that finding the right watercraft for your kayaking activity depends on the type of adventure you seek. Outdoor sports enthusiasts point out that you have to consider the size, comfort, material, and features before choosing the type of kayak you will use.

Check out these types of kayaks below:

  • Touring kayaks:  Recommended for long-distance trips

  • Sit-on-top kayaks:  Best for beginners, as they are wider and more stable

  • Recreational kayaks:  These are shorter and perfect for calmer activities

  • Inflatable kayaks: They are also ideal for beginners, as they are easy to transport and use

Bilge pumps

Bilge pumps are used for pumping out water that gets into the cockpit of your kayak. There are two kinds of bilge pump that you can use. One is a manual pump and the other is an automatic one. A manual bilge pump is recommended for those who want to course through calmer waters. For rough waters, an automatic bilge pump is recommended, so you do not have to paddle and pump at the same time.

Spray skirts

Just like the bilge pump, a spray skirt is used to keep water from entering your kayak. It also keeps you warm and comfortable during colder weather. If the weather is warm and the water is calm, a spray skirt is optional. When choosing a spray skirt, you have to know the cockpit size of your kayak and your waist size.

There are three types of spray skirts that you can choose from:

  • A basic bungee skirt, which is easy to put on a boat and perfect for beginners.

  • An advanced bungee skirt: This one is a dry and long-lasting spray skirt that is ideal for intermediate paddlers.

  • A rand-style skirt, which is resistant to explosions and recommended for expert paddlers.

Just like any water sport, kayaking requires you to be equipped with the right knowledge and gear. This gear is needed for your convenience and safety. Remember, a kayaking trip without these essentials would not be a fun and memorable activity. Make sure to tick off all the gear needed from your kayaking checklist, and you will surely be ready for a great adventure!

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