Reader Request: Our Favorite Kayaking Gear

I sure can tell kayaking season has arrived. Lately, I have gotten a few emails asking what some of our favorite kayaking gear items are or what I would recommend. So I thought I would write about what we use and what we have found works for us during our paddling trips.

Keep in mind, we paddle mostly rivers with some whitewater involved. We have paddled lakes, although very seldom and when we do we use our recreational kayaks.

Let me also remind you that not everything listed you will find to your liking as much as we have. We have paddled now for years and have changed up our gear from time to time to adjust to our comfort while on the river.

Kayaks: We all own Jackson Kayaks. Our son has a Karma and both my husband and I own Villains. As for our reasoning to why we choose the type we did, well, honestly, we all have different likes and dislikes. I will give you my opinion and my opinion only. Safety and comfort were the big sellers for me. I LOVE the happy seat and the size of my kayak. I feel that if needed I can wet exit without any doubt, which was huge for me. (I had a little accident when we first started paddling in another kayak and will NEVER forget the feeling of being trapped underwater in a boat)

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PFD’s: We have gone through a few until finally finding our happy PFD’s. When you spend 4-6 hours in this safety device you really want to be comfortable. For us we all agreed that the Astral brand is for us. My husband and son have the same style and I wear the female version. Yes, believe it or not they make a female version that allows room for the “girls” to be comfortable also. Many of the other PFD companies have this feature also, so again, to each there own comfort. My advice to you is try them on, sit on the floor, and move your arms as you would while paddling. If you have rub zones anywhere hang it back up and try another PFD.

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Dry Bag: We have a few dry bags but the one that we like the most is from Sea Line (5L). This is the bag we take and load it up with a snack for up to 6 people, bug spray, travel size sunscreen, and my camera for every trip. It has always kept our items dry and is clear which means when we do need to open it we don’t need to rummage through everything to find what we are searching for which is very nice. It has held up for years and is still in great shape.

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Helmets: We all wear the same brand but a little different style. They are made by ProTec and were purchased through NRS. As you can see, my husbands is pretty beat up and has served it’s purpose a few times already. They are as comfortable as a helmet can be in my opinion as I am not a big fan of any helmet.

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Shoes: This is the item that we have replaced most often in the years we have been paddling. However, not due to damage, mainly due to style, and once forgetting them at the rivers edge…arggggg!  All our shoes were also purchased from NRS and for personal comfort reasons.

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Water bottles: Without a doubt I would suggest Nalgene bottles. Hook a carabiner to them and clip them behind your seat and you will have nothing to worry about. Ours have been thrown across rocks, down waterfalls, and on pavement and have never cracked yet.

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Safety Knife: My husband is the one that carries our safety knife on his PFD. Again, there are so many to choose from but we felt this knife would serve all our needs in any event where we would need to use one. Thankfully, we have never had to cut PFD straps or ropes from anyone or anything. The only thing it has cut so far is food wrappers at lunch time on the side of the river. Let’s hope it stays this way.

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Paddles: This is way to personal an item to suggest. There are so many variables to paddles that it is too hard to suggest a certain paddle to you. We all own different paddles and each of us dislikes the others for one reason or another.

That pretty much sums up what we use while on our rivers. We do carry a throw rope which can be purchased anywhere kayak supplies are sold and spray skirts are basically which ever company carries the proper size for the kayak you own. We have been very happy with the company called NRS and their customer service is beyond wonderful. I would highly suggest checking them out.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation to any of these companies and I receive no compensation to mention or recommend them and their products to all of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Canoecopia 2014

We were up early Saturday to make the three hour drive to our favorite convention, Canoecopia. It is held in Madison, WI and runs for three days every year. If you enjoy kayaking, canoeing and camping this is the hottest ticket of the weekend.

We always try and arrive early enough to shop the parking lot…fellow yakkers will place there kayaks atop there vehicles or on trailers with for sale signs and phone numbers attached. You can find some great buys if you know what you are looking for. (Although, we are not looking to buy another kayak, you never know when a good deal will be had)

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Upon arrival, you enter the convention center and there are many free booths of local guides, groups and camp grounds offering freebies. You browse, chat and pick up maps of possible lakes and rivers to be paddled.

Then it’s the big opening. I head straight for the Bargain Baga area. I am quite frugal as my husband calls me, so anywhere I can save a buck I will.

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Then it’s time to make the rows and rows of paddles, kayaks, canoes, shoes, outfitters, camping supplies, roof racks, clothing and on and on….

We were specifically looking for three things this year. A roof rack for our new car, a spray skirt for a friend’s kayak, and some new decals to personalize our car with. I know, decals, big spender I am? (They are free) Well, like I said, I am frugal. We hit the jackpot this year getting everything on our list and then some.

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After finally deciding on the rack system we wanted, it was time to browse. We checked out the newest Jackson fishing kayaks. My husband would be very happy to own one of these. Sorry honey, there is just no more room:(

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We walked past an array of paddles. Some more practical and some I would be scared to use because they are so beautiful.

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Next, it was time to check out the newest in whitewater kayaks. I like checking out the new colors that they come out with every year.

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You can even get your kids on the water in kayaks made specifically for children. Even at a very reasonable price for many days of happy paddling.

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Then we stopped in a booth that had some homemade kayaks that should never be used on the water in my opinion. So much work is involved that I would be devastated if I scratched any of these on a rock or even with the beach sand. Take a look at the detail…

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Aren’t they gorgeous?

Next, it was off to check out the newest in stand up paddle boards. Even though I love mine, it is still nice to take a look.

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And last but not least, you always have your crazy new inventions. This kayak comes apart in three sections that are held together with a rubber ratchet strapping system. In my family, we prefer our kayaks in one piece. Any kayak that purposely breaks apart into sections is fundamentally WRONG in our eyes. Legos and boats should never breed!

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There are also countless speakers that you can attend at certain times throughout the day also. We do not usually attend these so I can not tell you good or bad about this part of the convention. I can tell you that the rooms are packed, so if you plan to attend make sure you get there early and get a seat.

It was a very fun and exciting day for us. We wait all year for this convention and it never disappoints us. The temperature may still be cold outside but it felt a little closer to summer while we were inside chatting with people that love to do what we do. We left with a trunk full of gear, some great memories of Canoecopia 2014 and a smile on our face.

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Happy Paddling Everyone