9 Must-Have Kayak Essentials and Kayaking Accessories


Research found 22.9 million Americans, or 7.6% of the population, participated in at least one paddling activity in 2018.

It’s clear we love to kayak whether it’s zipping along Lake Tahoe or down the Colorado River.

You’re desperate to start your kayaking adventure but you’re unsure what to bring. Sound familiar? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are the nine must-have kayak essentials and accessories.

  1. Kayak 

If you’re tired of tandem kayaks or kayak rentals, buy your own. Consider whether you’re paddling on small bodies of water or larger ones exposed to the elements. Plus, decide whether you need a fast, responsive kayak or a stable one.

This will help you decide whether to get a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-inside model. The former is stable and self-bailing so water drains through small holes in the kayak.

Sit-on tops are fantastic for cautious paddlers, warmer environments, and those who don’t mind getting wet. Sit-inside kayaks, however, are best in cooler water who want a fast-moving kayak. But if you capsize, recovery is harder because the water floods in.

  1. Paddles, Helmet and Life Jacket 

When browsing kayak paddles, know they come in four materials: plastic, fiberglass, carbon glass, and foam core. Blade shapes come in freestyle and river running. Freestyle are best as they’re responsive and easy to maneuver, a major plus for beginners.

To avoid sore palms, invest in paddling gloves especially when you’re going on a long kayaking trip. Gloves are important in kayaking because of the heavy force and resistance of the paddle in the water. If you can’t find kayak-specific gloves, any water sports gloves will do.

And no kayak accessories list is complete without mentioning helmets. You want something that is comfortable, durable, and won’t move around on your head.

Regardless of your swimming or kayaking abilities, you must wear a life jacket when you’re on the water. Find one that has large armholes and adjustable straps so you’re comfortable.

When you first wear the jacket, loosen the straps except for the lower strap beneath the rib cage. This must be tight so it prevents the jacket from riding up as you kayak.

You should also tighten the shoulder straps so it doesn’t jiggle around. Get someone to pull up the shoulder straps, and if it lifts up, tighten the lower strap more or find another size.

  1. Bow and Stern Tie-Downs

Kayak trailers aren’t practical so get a bow and stern tie-down to safely transport your kayak on the road. This method of transportation ensures you’ve tightened the straps holding your kayak so it won’t move against the wind.

When you reach the lake, whip out your kayak shoulder strap so it’s easy to bring the kayak to the water’s edge. Large kayaks weigh over 60 pounds and require two people whereas a strap lets you carry the weight without harming your back.

  1. Dry Suits

As the name suggests, dry suits keep you dry when you’re kayaking. They’re made from waterproof materials and come with neck and wrist gaskets to prevent water from seeping in.

Dry suits are crucial especially during winter because if you’re exposed to cold water for an extended period, you could suffer from hypothermia.

Most dry suits are designed to fit loosely so you have freedom while paddling. If you’re interested in buying your next suit, these are the best kayaking drysuits available.

  1. Cooler

If you’re spending the day kayaking, you’ll need to pack lunch. Find a small cooler that slips into the storage area of your kayak, often it’ll be the stern tank well.

This means you’ll have the perfect refreshment after a long day on the lake.

  1. Dry Bag

Dry bags are a fantastic way to store clothes and keep them dry.

You’ll likely wrap up in the morning when it’s cold and remove clothing during the day when the temperature rises. Dry bags come in an array of sizes so find one that properly fits your needs.

  1. Waterproof Phone Case

You need your phone to snap photos of the breathtaking scenery or contact someone if an emergency arises.

Invest in a waterproof phone case that seals your phone and floats when the case hits the water. Some models have a special seal so your camera can take high-quality photos without leaving the case.

You should also get a watertight container for your keys and wallet so they’re safe. Many containers clip to your kayak with a carabiner so you don’t lose them if you capsize.

  1. Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses are more effective than regular ones as they don’t have a glare. This is useful when you’re on the water in the sun as the reflections can cause eye-strain.

You must also get water-resistant sunscreen as regular sunscreen wears off when you enter or exit the kayak.

  1. Adequate Shoes

Foot protection is essential when you’re dealing with wet surfaces. Entering or exiting your kayak is difficult when you’re barefoot especially if there’s fishing tackle, muscles, or clamshells laying around.

Find shoes that are grippy and protect your entire foot so you don’t have to worry.

Bring These Along On Your Next Kayak Trip 

Now you know what to bring on a kayak trip.

You must have a high-quality kayak, paddles, and helmet so you’re safe. Invest in protective shoes, polarized glasses, and water-resistant sunscreen to guarantee a comfortable kayak trip.

Plus, don’t forget a cooler so you and your buddies can refuel after a long day kayaking. Have fun!

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