Begin Kayaking With These 7 Must-Have Kayak Gear Essentials

News & Tips: Begin Kayaking With These 7 Must-Have Kayak Gear Essentials...

Key Paddling Gear You'll Need to Go Kayaking

Of course you need a kayak and a paddle. Your first few outings should probably be in a rented kayak. Perhaps you'll even decide to take lessons - formal or informal - from an experienced paddler. These first explorations will allow you to determine what you like and don't like and what type of kayak suits your needs the best. From there, you'll be prepared to do the research and shopping to set you up with the best rig for your needs ... or if you'll just continue renting, at least for awhile.

There's a lot to decide. Will your kayaking be on flat water like small lakes and marshes, or do you plan to focus on learning to ride whitewater in flowing rivers? Maybe you'll have the opportunity to do some ocean kayaking or the coastal waters of the Great Lakes? Or will you focus on fishing once you've mastered the basics of paddling a kayak? All of these will come into play as you make the selection of "the right" kayak ... and paddle(s) ... for you.

1 arrow pointTip: What kayak is right for you? Answer these five questions.

However, whether you rent or own a kayak, no matter where you'll use it, and whatever your level of experience, there are a few items you'll want to consider for your standard rig as you venture out onto the water. To borrow from an old television commercial, these are the kayaking items you won't want to leave home without.

Waterproof Phone Case or Bag

Even if your phone doesn't go overboard - which it eventually will - a waterproof container keeps it safe even if it ends up sloshing around in the water at the bottom of the kayak. While a zip top sandwich bag MIGHT work, the investment you have in your phone and the data that's on it is worthy of real protection.

dry bag phone case
DryCASE Phone Case - About $39.99

DryCASE Phone Case is a flexible, crystal clear waterproof case that allows complete use of your phone or camera while keeping it dry and clean. Includes a headphone/mic jack, a durable lanyard, and clip. There's also a buoyant neoprene armband and vacuum pump. It's waterproof to 100 feet of depth and has been tested underwater overnight.

Use a Dry Bag for Kayaking

Just as your phone needs protection from the elements, so does the rest of your gear. You'll need a place for the usual outdoors kit - things like sunscreen, spare layers of clothing, rain gear, snacks, and more. As you use a dry bag for kayaking, you'll likely find many other uses for it beyond the paddle sports.

dry bag boundary CAB
Cabela's Boundary Waters Roll-Top Dry Bags - $19.99 - $59.99

Performance of the Cabela's Boundary Waters Roll-Top Dry bag is so impressive, 50 Campfires awarded it their prestigious "Gear of the Year" award. Available in various sizes from small to magnum, the 500-denier shell and 100-percent PVC construction keeps gear dry and lasts nearly forever. 50 Campfires uses a magnum size on every field trip to pack gear for the airlines and, then, for all their paddling expeditions.

Bungee Cords Are Useful on Every Paddling Trip

History will probably show that one of the greatest-ever inventions for the outdoors enthusiast is the lowly bungee cord. That's especially true for paddlers. They are useful in innumerable ways. How else you going to strap a cooler or a Bluetooth speaker to the deck? Several bungees - in a variety of lengths and sizes - are guaranteed to find use on every paddling trip.

bungee cord nite ize-KnotBone
Nite Ize KnotBone Adjustable Bungee Cords  - $4.99 - $8.99

The humble bungee has some updated designs that make them even more useful. The Nite Ize KnotBone Adjustable Bungee is one such model. It features innovative carabiner ends that allow you to adjust and lock the cord length precisely for each individual job. They also allow you to lock the clips to your attachment points where they will stay until you decide to remove them. They are available in sizes the adjust from 28 inches to 6 feet, and 48 inches to 10 feet.

Chamois or Sponge for When the Inside of Your Kayak is Wet

It doesn't matter how good your technique or how experienced you are. You're going to ship some water. You and the inside of your kayak are going to get wet. In moments of rest when you're relaxing your arms on the sides, it's nice if the deck is actually dry. Keep a chamois cloth or sponge handy and do a little mop up when things start to get soaked. Best money you ever spend.

dry cloth detailer choice
Detailer's Choice Ultra Dry Drying Cloth - $4.99

A good drying cloth absorbs lots of water and holds it until you wring it out, then it's instantly ready to go again. That's how the soft and pliable Detailer's Choice Ultra Dry Drying Cloth works. Made of a space-age synthetic, it's the perfect alternative to an expensive leather chamois drying cloth.

Play Your Favorite Tunes on the Water With a Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

This item isn't a must have that's going to make or break your trip. In fact, to some paddlers anything that breaks the silence of the pursuit is a detriment. On the other hand, there are those who love to take their favorite tunes with them when rolling down the river. To each his own, as long as speakers are used responsibly and at a reasonable volume that won't ruin the setting for anyone else.

kayak bluetooth speaker accessory
ECOXGEAR EcoSlate Waterproof Bluetooth® Speaker - $149.99

A quality waterproof Bluetooth speaker doesn't have to break the bank. The ECOXGEAR EcoSlate found at Cabela's is the perfect example. With two 10-watt speakers and dual passive subwoofers, integrated flashlight, and easy-to use speaker and phone controls it will deliver up two 12 hours of music to the background score perfect to your trip. Most importantly, it's shock resistant, submersible, and buoyant. Bumpers on all four corners allow for playing the EcoSlate in any orientation.

Cartop Kayak Carrier is a Way to Transport Kayaks to Water

Whether you rent kayaks from an outfitter or you own your own, you'll eventually need to transport them to the water. It might be just down the road a few miles or potentially across the country. The right way to carry kayaks on your car is with secure, quality rooftop racks.

kayak rack malone
Malone J-Downloader Auto Kayak Carrier - $169.99

Built for strength and convenience for carrying even large kayaks, the Malone J-Downloader Auto Kayak Carrier features an adjustable J-cradle and a built-in "boarding ramp" that makes loading and unloading easier. The universal-fit mounting blocks and T-knob bolts fit nearly all factory cross rails, regardless of shape for simple, tool-free installation. The cradle arms fold down flat for clearance when not in use.

Wear A Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket

ascend life vest
Ascend Paddling Fishing Life Jacket - $99.99

We've saved the most important accessory item for last - because it's not really an accessory. It's a true must-have, don't go out on the water without one item. A life vest. The type of life vest you choose needs to be comfortable - because it won't work if you don't wear it - and suited to your size and ability in the water. Just make sure it's Coast Guard approved like the Ascend Paddling Fishing Life Jacket. It's the law. While a life vest doesn't have to be expensive, it is an investment in your safety, and it can last you for many years of enjoyable paddling.

For maximum comfort and safety we now have self-inflating life vests like the Bass Pro Shops 24 Auto/Manual Inflatable Life Vest. It will auto-inflate when submerged or can be inflated before you hit the water with a manual backup handle. It's lightweight and low profile. Once you spend a little time in this kind of vest you'll barely know it's there ... until you need it! And when you need it, you'll really need it.

1 arrow pointTip: Click here to take the "Everything You Wanted To Know About Kayaks and Fishing Quiz."