Getting Started in a Kayak

GET STARTED PADDLING

Sea kayaking can be as gear-intensive as any other sport, but every kayaker eventually acquires similar, basic gear, and you only need a few things to get you started.


Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are the most important piece of gear you will need. The one you buy should be the most comfortable you can find, allow freedom of movement, and be appropriate for sea kayaking (generally Type III class). One should consider the way the vest goes on, the number and placement of adjustment straps, pockets, the strength and UV resistance of the materials, the quality of the stitching, the size of the armholes, and the level of the neckline. Pealess whistles are a good idea and are required on PFDs.


What kind of paddling you will be doing will determine what kind of paddle is best. Paddle features to consider are length, blade shape, feathering and weight. A large symmetrical blade will move a lot of water, but will flutter and consume energy, whereas a long, narrow, asymmetrical blade will move less water, but is more comfortable over the long haul. Feathering refers to the degree that the blades may be offset from each other. There are 90 degree, 45 degree, and 60 degree featherings on modern paddles. Fiberglass paddles are the most popular; wood paddles are more expensive, more comfortable and better looking; carbon-graphite paddles are the lightest and most expensive. Paddle shafts are usually oval and have some kind of index where your hands go for a more comfortable fit. A paddle leash attaches your paddle to your boat so you won’t it.


Spray skirts are essential for keeping a closed-deck boat dry. It consists of a tube that wraps around your waist and extends to your sternum, and a large deck that should fit neatly over the cockpit coaming, making a seal tight enough to keep water out. They are typically made out of urethane-coated nylon or neoprene. The spray skirt should have a grab loop that is exposed when sealed. bulkheads, and limits the amount of water that can board a kayak. Large float bags in either end of the cockpit are a good second line of defense against a sinking boat. Paddle floats are helpful in boarding a boat after capsizing. Pumps are also useful tools in clearing out any water taken aboard.


Having positive flotation in both sides of the kayak is a crucial matter for keeping your boat afloat in case of flooding. A sea sock, is nearly essential for a kayak without


It is a good idea to carry some sort of signaling device in case of emergency, whether it be flares, smoke signals, dyes, mirrors, or a combination of these. Dry bags are useful tools to keep your cargo dry.


Try out any equipment you can before buying, including your boat. Having the right equipment can make your touring experience safer and more enjoyable for you.

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Buyer's Guide

Buyer's Guide