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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.