Recommended Equipment for Kayaking

Recommended Equipment for Kayaking

Equipment recommended for kayaking

If you are thinking about kayaking, we recommend that you have the following:


PFD (personal flotation device)

Knee pads

Rescue whistle or signal flares

Safety knife

Cell phone or waterproof cell phone case with a life jacket strap to secure it to your body in case of emergency. If you don’t have a waterproof case for your phone, consider using a plastic bag or disposable Ziploc bag.


Waterproof sunscreen and lip balm

Insect repellent

First aid kit (you may add extra items to this such as disinfecting wipes, bandages, gauze pads, and tape)

Knife or multi-tool for cutting rope or lines if you need to rescue yourself or another person. If possible, look for a knife with a seat strap that will secure it to your kayak.

Extra water and food

Hat for the sun or cold

Rain gear

Flotation device(s) When using a tandem kayak. Tandem kayaks can have two flotation devices if you are using one as a kayak seat.

More information about this recommended equipment for kayaking:

A PFD (personal flotation device)

This is a device used for personal flotation and is required by law in many states. It must be within your reach at all times and sturdy enough to hold you up in the water. A PFD will keep you afloat if you are unable to swim for any reason, or to keep you from sinking if you get knocked unconscious. Any kayaking-rated jacket will serve as a PFD.

Get a PFD with straps that will fit around your waist and chest. The device needs to fit snugly and be attached securely to work as it should. Enough flotation is necessary to keep your head out of the water in case of an emergency. Consider a PFD that is a bright color so that boaters can easily spot you.

Life Jacket PFD

This type of PFD is specifically designed to make it easier for you to move around in your kayak. They are also often equipped with pockets, flotation foam, and straps.

Life Vest

There are multiple styles of life vests that all serve the same purpose – allowing you to stay on the surface of the water even if you’re unconscious or cannot swim. Life vests come in a choice of styles, and your selection of one depends on your personal preference. You should always make sure the life vest fits properly, has no rips or holes, and is the appropriate size for an adult or a child.

Inflatable Life Vests:

This is similar to the float coat. The difference is that it uses an inflatable bladder instead of flotation foam. This type of vest should have a strap or waist belt to keep it secure, and it is meant to fit snugly without being too tight or too loose.

Arm/Leg Flotation

These are inflatable tubes that slip over your arms and legs to keep you afloat. They are extremely light-weight and may not be reliable in all situations.

Float Coat

This is a full-body floatation suit covering you from head to toe and makes you more buoyant than a PFD. The vest includes a way to support your head and is an excellent choice for children. This life jacket style must be appropriately fit, and the sizing is usually based on height rather than weight. Float coat men, and float coat women.


A Buoyant Jacket

This is a full floatation suit that helps keep you afloat if something happens and, in some cases, allows you to perform assisted rescues of other people who fall into the water. A jacket is more convenient than a belt because it takes up less room and is out of the way. This type of jacket should have no vents or openings, making it suitable for cold water and warm/hot weather.


It is recommended that you get knee pads or kneepads for the kayak. If you are slipping and sliding while trying to paddle, it will be easier to do so if you have knee pads. These can also protect your knees if you fall out of the kayak and need to kneel on something solid.

Safety Knife

You will need a safety knife with duct tape (duct tape is great for all kinds of repairs) and a repair kit. We recommend that you get one with a seat strap to fall out of your kayak if you capsize and lose control of your kayak while paddling.

Spray Skirts

These are made out of nylon or plastic and go around the cockpit opening to keep water out while you’re paddling. They also serve as a great way to train younger children to kayak. Make sure to test that the skirt fits and is secure before taking it out on the water.

A Kayak

This is the main piece of equipment for kayaking. You must have a kayak that is a good fit for you as well as one that is the appropriate size for the body of water you’ll be paddling in. The kayak must be easy to control, maneuver and for you to get in and out. Make sure to test the kayak out in shallow water before taking it out on deeper water.


Used for propelling your kayak or canoe through the water with sweeping strokes. Paddles are designed according to their length as well as their grip size and shape. It is recommended that you use two paddles because it allows you more options when one paddle gets tangled beneath your boat.

When you are looking for a paddle, we recommend that you get one with adjustable length. This way, you can have your paddle longer when you are not as strong in your paddling arms and shorter when you want to reach the water more efficiently.

Consider getting a paddle with an adjustable blade angle. The blade on the adjustable blade will allow you to change the blade’s angle to be flatter for low angle paddling or be more upright for high angle paddling.

A Paddle Float

This is a tool to bring you back to shore safely if your kayak capsizes. It’s also an excellent way for you and your children to practice rolling back upright if they accidentally capsize.

Paddle Leashes

These are used to keep track of your paddle if you fall over and can also be used with a paddle float to do an assisted rescue on others. The leash attaches the paddle to the kayak.

Paddle Winder

This is used for short transportation or for those who do not like the bulk of a paddle float and leash. It is a wire loop that you attach to your paddle. You can hang your paddle on the side of your kayak when it’s not in use.


Sunscreen and lip balm are essential for your safety when paddling. You will be in the sun for a long time, so make sure you have protection on your skin. Also, lip balm can prevent chapping.

You will probably be spending time early in the day paddling. We recommend that you use waterproof sunscreen and insect repellent since these are necessary to protect your body.

When you are on the water, mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus, which may cause serious illness or death in some cases. See what other items you need that are recommended equipment for kayaking.

Waterproof Bag

Although you should always carry your phone with you, a waterproof case or bag is recommended. The bag will protect the phone from water damage, and it’s also tough and sturdy so that it can take a beating while you are kayaking.


Rescues whistle or signal flare is an excellent item to have in case of emergency. It is much more useful than calling for help or even waving your arms because these attract attention from boaters, people on land, or other kayakers who might be able to help. You may also want to have a signal flare.


When the temperature of the water is below 71 degrees Fahrenheit a wetsuit will keep you warm. They are designed to be stretchy and keep water from seeping in while still allowing you to move easily.

You can also add some necessary supplies such as food, water or sports drinks, flashlights in case you need to move around at night for whatever reason.

Wrap up

If you are new to the sport of kayaking, this list of the Recommended Equipment for Kayaking will help you gather up the essentials. Kayaking is one of the most serene and enjoyable ways to enjoy the outdoors on a hot day. Kayaking also offers some of the most challenging conditions you can find on water, particularly if you want to paddle across open water like a river or lake.

Dress the part. It’s all about creating a personal comfort zone, so choose clothing that allows you freedom of movement while paddling but that also protects you from the elements. Learning how to layer light and mid-weight clothing is important so you will be comfortable but protected from the sun, wind, and rain. Study recommended equipment for kayaking to be sure you have everything you need.