Choosing Kayaking Gear – A Basic Breakdown

Kayaking can be a fun and rewarding hobby, however choosing the right gear for you can make the difference between a good time on the water and an unused boat hanging in your garage.

First of all, you should decide which kind of kayaking you would like to do. Different types of kayaks and kayak gear are designed to fit different niches. The Whitewater kayak, for instance, be completely useless for paddling long distances on a lake or ocean.

Whitewater, or river kayaking is, as the name implies, any kayaking in which he paddled down a river and maneuver through obstacles. Kayaks designed for this type of kayaking are generally short, wide, and easy to maneuver. Since a river kayak is propelled in part by the river itself, it is not designed to track well on open water.

Sea kayaks, on the other hand, are generally long and narrow. They are very easy to paddle, and glad efficiently through the water. These kayaks are also equipped with a rudder to aid in steering and to compensate for crosswinds. Sea kayaks, or touring kayaks, or perfect for going long distances on open water. Most Sea kayaks have the capacity to carry extra cargo such as camping gear.

While no single kayak is perfect for every application, some are more versatile than others. There are a number of good general-purpose kayaks on the market today. The Old Town “Loon” series is a good example of this. General-purpose kayaks have a long contoured hull to cut through the water efficiently, but they are still wide and stable enough for use on mild rivers or even fishing. General-purpose kayaks are also great for beginners since they are more stable than other river kayaks or sea kayaks.

Safety Gear

Once you’ve chosen your kayak, you’ll need to choose the right accessories. For any kayak, you will need a life vest. Special life vests are made specifically for kayaks. These life vests are less restrictive than standard life vests in order to allow for ease of paddling. The helmet is also essential for whitewater kayaking. As you can imagine, it is important to protect your head in the event that your kayak rolls over in the river.

Choosing Your Paddle

You’ll also need to choose the right paddle for the type of kayaking that you’ll be doing. A kayak paddle with large, flat, squared blades is perfect for river kayaking. The square blades create a lot of resistance in the water, allowing you to steer easily and avoid obstacles in the river. Flat, square blades however, are inefficient for paddling a touring kayak through open water. The ideal paddle for a touring kayak is a longer paddle with oval shaped blades. The blades should also have a slight curvature or cupping shape to them. This allows you to get the maximum thrust for the least amount of energy. Modern kayak paddles can be made of wood, composites, or plastic. Be sure you choose a paddle floats. Plastic paddles are usually cheaper and less durable than literal composite paddles.

Spray Skirts

Another kayak accessory which you may want to invest in is a spray skirt. A spray skirt will keep water out of your boat even if a wave washes over the boat. Spray skirts attach to the rim around the cockpit of the boat, and they zip up around the chest of the kayaker. If you manage to flip your boat over, a spray skirt will also prevent water from rushing into your kayak. This will allow you time to flip yourself upright.


A rudder can be an extremely valuable asset for paddling on open water. They are simple to install and can be found online for reasonable prices. When paddling on open water, the kayaker gets into a rhythm with his paddle similar to the pedaling motion of the bicycle. Breaking this rhythm to correct the boat’s course wastes a substantial amount of energy over time. A rudder allows you to steer with your feet in teacher hands free for paddling. Rudders however, are almost useless on Whitewater kayaks.

Roof Racks

Finally you will need a way to carry your kayak. Some smaller kayaks can fit in the back of a pickup truck, but most kayaks will require a roof rack for your vehicle. If you intend to carry more than one kayak in the future you should choose a roof rack that stands your kayak up on the side.

Kayaking can be a relaxing hobby or an exciting sport, and it can allow you to go places that are inaccessible to anyone else.