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Kayak Equipment: What Kayak Gear Beginners really need

The right preparation is the be-all and end-all in kayaking. Before starting a tour, it is important to equip yourself appropriately. Kayakers who live near water need different accessories than those who live far away from the water. The right equipment makes the difference between a bad and a great experience.

It’s easy for experienced kayakers to choose the right equipment for the job, the water, the water temperature and the air temperature. Beginners, on the other hand, lack the necessary experience.

This guide is explicitly aimed at people who have never been on the road with a kayak before. More precisely, we answer the questions which kayak accessories are really important for beginners and where you can save money.

Let’s not beat about the bush any longer. Here are 9 things we don’t want to miss on our next kayak trip.

1. The Vessel

Sure, you can’t do anything without the kayak.

However, kayaking is not just kayaking. In fact, there are a number of different types of kayaks, each of which is designed for a specific application. Meanwhile there are kayaks for fishing, kayaks for the seas, sit-in kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, tandem kayaks, etc.

Simple all-round kayaks are the best choice for beginners. The slightly wider models offer a lot of tilt stability and are (as the name says) applicable in many situations.

With developments in production methods, we see inflatable kayaks becoming more robust and stable for years. When inflated, they are almost indistinguishable from fixed kayaks. Once disdained as “better air mattresses”, sports equipment today offers rock-hard covers that can withstand even small collisions.

We are not surprised that the so-called inflatables make up the majority of all kayaks sold. For beginners, an inflatable kayak is usually just the right choice.

Another question is whether sit-on-top kayaks or sit-in kayaks are better. At this point we recommend using Sit-on-Top kayaks. With this type of kayak you sit on the boat instead of sit-in kayaks up to the waist in the kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks offer more freedom of movement and if the kayak should capsize, there is no panic because you don’t have to get out of the kayak first.

2. The Paddle

The most obvious difference between a kayak and a canoe is the paddle. A kayak paddle has two paddle blades, while a canoe paddle has only one paddle blade on one side.

The typical length of a kayak paddle is between 200 cm and 260 cm. The ideal paddle length depends on the size of the paddler. Big people need long paddles. If you are smaller, you should use a shorter paddle.

Plastic paddles are the best choice for beginners. Compared to more expensive materials, plastic is quite heavy, but enough to start with.

3. Life Vest

When it comes to safety, the most important thing that every kayaker has to realize is that a life jacket is a must. It doesn’t matter if you go swimming weekly or have the gold badge, a lifejacket can save lives in an emergency situation.

Kayaking is a safe sport, but there are always accidents. Collisions with rocks can have bad consequences. A lifejacket also keeps the weight of unconscious people above water.

A lifejacket that is suitable for kayaking must offer sufficient freedom of movement in the arm and shoulder area so as not to restrict paddling. There are different kayak life jackets for the different areas of use. Vests for whitewater kayaking, for example, are extra padded and equipped with protectors.

4. Kayak Helmet

A suitable helmet is essential if you are planning white water rafting. The danger is not only to injure yourself at stones or the environment. Your own paddle and the kayak itself are sources of danger.

On lakes you don’t often see kayak paddlers wearing helmets. However, we strongly advise you to wear a kayak helmet. This is especially true for beginners and advanced kayakers, who should not expose themselves to unnecessary danger.

When choosing a helmet you should make sure that the helmet fits comfortably and that the kayak helmet completely covers the forehead and the back of the head.

5. Wetsuit and Dry Suits

The right kayak clothing plays an important role. Depending on the weather either a wetsuit or a dry suit is recommended. If the water temperature is cold, you should choose a wetsuit. Under the skin of a wetsuit, a thin layer of water accumulates, warmed by body heat, creating a kind of warm shield that keeps the body warm.

In return, a dry suit keeps off all water. Dry suits are more expensive than wetsuits.

In warm weather, swimming shorts, T-shirts and life jackets are sufficient. Don’t forget the sunscreen either.

6. Proper Footwear

Flip flops are not the right shoes for kayaking. Appropriate shoes come with a firm sole and offer good grip even in the wet. Furthermore, the shoes should dry quickly or ideally hold off water completely.

Neoprene shoes or water sports shoes meet these criteria. Both types do not weigh much and are comfortable. These shoes also protect your feet from sharp-edged stones and dry quickly.

7. A Dry Bag

You can use a dry bag to protect equipment, dry clothes or other essential things (smartphone, purse, important papers, car keys etc.) from the water. These plastic bags are completely waterproof and can either be stowed inside the kayak or tied to any eyelet on the deck of the kayak.

8. Tow Line

The standard equipment of a kayaker also includes a tow rope. In an emergency, use a snap hook to attach the rope to your kayak and then throw it to another kayaker. He will attach the rope to his boat to tow your kayak.

This simple rope can truly be a lifesaver. For this reason you should practice throwing out the rope.

9. Spray Skirt

For experienced kayakers who venture into white water, a splash guard is indispensable. The splash guard prevents that (much) water gets into the cockpit. Too much water in the boat is not only annoying, but also has a negative effect on the manoeuvrability of the boat.


In this list we have primarily dealt with kayak accessories for beginners. In fact, there are a number of useful gadgets: from the Smartwatch for tracking your fitness values, a compass, a GPS, kayak sails, electric motors for kayaks, a waterproof MP3 player to paddle holders and a signal whistle.

But it doesn’t have to be too many accessories. Nowadays, many of these functions are covered by a smartphone. Packed in a waterproof phone case, you can easily take it with you on your next tour.

All the equipment taken by the side. The main thing is that you have fun and are safe. In addition to the basics presented here, further accessories only make sense if you really need them, or if they are for your safety.

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