What Are You Required To Have On A Kayak? (Checklist)

So, you purchased a kayak. Congratulations! This investment will bring years of joy and adventure to you and your family.

However, one cannot simply buy a kayak and head out on the water. While kayaking is a safe sport enjoyed by all, you should always be prepared for the worst, particularly when it comes to water sports done away from civilization.

At worst, easily rectified situations can become catastrophic problems when you don’t have the right gear. At best, you could potentially ruin your vacation and turn your family off from kayaking forever.

So, it is important that you have all the items on your kayaking checklist purchased and in place before venturing out.

What Safety Gear Do You Need On A Kayak?

For a short, recreational, kayaking trip you must have a kayak, one paddle per paddler plus a spare, one PFD per person, a bilge pump, a spray skirt, a dry bag for personal items, a headlamp and extra batteries, a signaling whistle, and visual signaling such as flares.

However, these items are not all that you should bring on your kayaking trip. Rather, these are the bare necessities.

If you want to ensure that you have the best kayaking trip possible by bringing all the necessary gear, keep reading.

We will go over what you need, what is required by the US Coast Guard, and some extras that are good to have for certain situations.

National Safe Boating Week 2020: Paddle Boats

Who likes to kayak? ????????‍♀️With an increase in the popularity of recreational paddle sports, there has also been an increase in accidents. So today’s Safe Boating Campaign video focuses on safe practices while paddling! The Coast Guard requires the following for paddlers going out past the jetty tips: -PFD on board (and strongly recommended that it be worn at all times) -sound-producing device Do you have any cool pics out on the water, safely enjoying your paddle craft? Head over to the U.S. Coast Guard Heartland Safe Boating group and show us!

Posted by U.S. Coast Guard Heartland on Thursday, May 21, 2020

What Is Required by The US Coast Guard for Kayaking?

Some of the gear we mentioned above is actually a requirement when in waters controlled by the US Coast Guard.

The list of necessary items for non-motorized kayaks is as follows:

  • A personal flotation device in good condition for each paddler
  • A sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn
  • An electric torch of some kind
  • Visual distress signals and ones acceptable for night use when out between sunset and sunrise

While this list seems easy enough to follow, it is important that there are some nuances with each rule as well. For instance, the PFD must not only be in good condition and US Coast Guard approved, but it must also be the appropriate size for the wearer. This means that hand-me-down lifejackets don’t always work. You need to make sure that children have a lifejacket that is properly fitted for them.

For visual distress signals, an orange flag works fine for the day. However, if you plan on any night paddling, you will need something like flares in order to cover the night requirement.

What Are You Required To Have On A Kayak? (Checklist), What Is Required by The US Coast Guard for Kayaking?

Kayaking Checklist

Now that we discussed what you need to have on your kayak by law, let’s look at a comprehensive list of all the things you will need for your kayaking adventure.

Don’t worry, we will explain why the most expensive or less common items are needed, as well.

For the perfect kayaking trip, you will need:

  • Kayak
  • 1 paddle per person plus a spare
  • 1 PFD per person
  • Bilge pump
  • Sprayskirt
  • Dry bag
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Signaling Whistle
  • Orange Flag
  • Emergency Flares or Strobes (when going out at night)
  • Paddle float
  • Paddling knife (attached to each PFD)
  • Towline (in dry bag or waterproof case)
  • Compass
  • Watch
  • Extra dry bags
  • Paddle Leash
  • Large Sponge
  • Float Bags
  • GPS (pre-loaded with correct maps)
  • Two-way-radios

That’s a lot of equipment! But don’t worry, most of this equipment is very small. If you pack it all properly, you will barely notice it’s even taking up space.

When a situation calls for any of these items, you’ll be very happy you went ahead and invested in having the best gear for your kayak.

What Are You Required To Have On A Kayak? (Checklist), What Is Required by The US Coast Guard for Kayaking?

Clothing to Wear While Kayaking

While we have equipment well-covered, a trip can also be ruined easily if you don’t have the proper attire on depending on the duration of your voyage.

An important consideration to make when purchasing clothes for your kayaking trip is that you should base your clothing on the temperature of the water, not the temperature of the air.

Even if it is starting to warm up in the spring, the water may be frigid. You don’t want to risk hypothermia if you take a dunk, so it’s safer to wear warm layers than to not.

The clothing you should be looking for dependent upon the climate where you will be kayaking is:

  • Convertible pants or shorts
  • Swimwear
  • Rashguard or another long-sleeved shirt
  • Neoprene Footwear
  • Sun-shielding hat
  • Captain retainer leash
  • Bandana, Buff, or Gaiter
  • Paddling Gloves
  • Fleece Jacket or Vest
  • Spray jacket, rain jacket, and pants
  • Drysuit or Wetsuit
  • Long Underwear
  • Wool Socks
  • Pogies
  • Wool Cap

There are many different options for all of the above to suit your individual taste and style, as well as to adapt to your intended client.

Your local outdoor adventure store will be able to assist you in finding everything you need, or at least pushing you in the right direction.

Personal Items to Bring

It is important to also have a checklist for all your personal items, as you do not want to forget something as simple as a toothbrush for long voyages.

There’s no reason to be unclean and uncomfortable just because you forgot to make a list ahead of time.

We suggest bringing these personal items:
  • Sunglasses
  • Water-Resistant SPF 30+ Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm with SPF
  • Insect repellent
  • First Aid Kit
  • Plenty of Fresh Water
  • Matches, lighter, fire starter in a waterproof container
  • Tent or other Shelter
  • High-energy Food
  • Emergency food and water
  • Cellphone in a dry bag
  • Credit Card
  • A little cash
  • Boating and fishing permits and licenses if you need them where you are going
  • Trip itinerary, and one left with a friend on dry land

What You Need for a Longer Kayaking Trip

If you are planning on going touring for multiple days, there are definitely some essentials not yet mentioned that you will need to add to your list.

You will want to make sure you are prepared for whatever life throws at you, as well as multiple methods of documenting the amazing things that you will see on your trip.

The things you should add are:
  • Toilet Paper
  • Hand Sanitizer and Soap
  • Menstrual Products
  • Water Treatment
  • Powdered Electrolytes
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Guidebook
  • Notebook and Pencil
  • Fishing Gear

In Case of Repairs

Finally, it is also good to pack things that can help you repair a busted canoe, paddle, or other necessity.

A good repair kit to put together will contain the following items:

  • Multitool
  • Sealant (preferably one that works in water)
  • Static Deck Line
  • Bungee Cords
  • Replacement Rudder Parts
  • Copper Bailing Wire
  • Duct Tape

The Ultimate Kayaking Pack

Now that you have seen the many different things that you may need to bring with you while Kayaking, we have put together our top picks for many of the items on these lists to get you started. This list will allow you to quickly create a go-bag for ultimate kayaking adventures.

What Are You Required To Have On A Kayak? (Checklist), What Is Required by The US Coast Guard for Kayaking?
  • The Allpa 35L Del Dia Travel Pack is water-resistant, colorful, and made of recyclable materials. This is the perfect bag to stash your kayaking kit.
  • The NRS Basic Touring Safety Kit kills four birds with one stone. This kit has a bilge pump, safety whistle, boat sponge, and paddle float all in one.
  • The HEETA Waterproof Pouch doubles up as a fanny pack when you’re on the go. They also allow you to see your phone screen and even operate your smartphone while it stays nice and dry in the bag.
  • The Hurkins Orbit Waterproof Headlamp won’t feel heavy on the front of your head, as it is a halo shape. It is waterproof and doesn’t take up much space. It also illuminates a wide-angle, giving you tons of visibility. Also, it looks pretty cool.
  • This Yak Attack Orange Safety Flag is a kayaking standard. It can even be illuminated at night for extra glow-in-the-dark safety.
  • A Marine Safety Kit will ensure you’re not cited for out-of-date flares, as this electronic flare won’t go bad. It also includes a multi-tool, first-aid-kit, and another whistle.
  • The NRS Neko River Knife is a standard river knife that isn’t too long to be put in the pockets of most technical vests.
  • A Harmony Float Bag will make turning your kayak back over in the case of a capsize much easier by displacing hundreds of pounds of water for you.
  • The Day Tripper Set from Sun Bum will have the sunscreen and SPF lip balm you need to keep from getting burnt in the sun. It even has some aloe in case you forgot to double-up.
  • This Long-Sleeved Rash Guard from Billabong comes in a variety of colors and offers UPF 50+ sun protection.
  • This Convertible Cap from Coolibar offers extra neck protection when you need it, and an extra-long bill to keep your face out of the sun. It also offers UPF 50+ sun protection, so the top of your head is safe from sun damage, too.
  • Nuun Electrolyte Tablets are easy to use and give you the hydration you need during a hard day of paddling. Even better – the waterproof tubes can be reused for other kayaking needs.

What Are You Required To Have On A Kayak? (Checklist)