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Kayaking is a prevalent water sport for people of all ages. It is a user-friendly and remarkably safe activity if you have the necessary safety gear for kayaking. However, as with any other recreational activity, there is always a chance of an injury or even death, which means having a kayak safety kit is essential.

So, before you head off on your paddle, it is crucial to think and prepare yourself for the hazards and risks involved with kayaking. Fortunately, following just a few simple kayak safety rules and considering safety gear for kayaking makes it surprisingly easy to avoid dangerous situations.

kayak safety kit

paddlers kayaking with kayak safety kit

Moreover, kayakers equipped with kayak safety equipment face less danger if they capsize than those who paddle without it.

Here is our list of the essential ocean kayak accessories every kayaker should have.

 

Safety Gear for Kayaking

kayak safety kit

people enjoy their ride with a kayak safety kit

1. Did you remember to pack your life jacket? Don’t forget your kayak safety kit!

kayak safety kit

a pair of life jackets which is essential safety gear for kayaking

Life jackets or personal floating devices are a must-have safety gear for kayaking for any paddler. These unique jackets offer protection against water impact. Unfortunately, some kayakers think they don’t need a life jacket because they aren’t paddling out into the deep ocean or racing down rapids.

But remember that accidents, mishaps, and capsizing can happen even when you are floating in the mildest conditions. You may get knocked unconscious or caught in a current without a life jacket.

Entering the water while wearing your life jacket can mean the difference between life and death. So, it is important to never go into the water without it.

But not just any life jacket.

Make sure your life jacket is a good quality one. You wouldn’t want to trust your life at the beach to an unqualified lifeguard. Likewise, make sure your life jacket is a good quality one like this one for Women and Children by Airhead or this one for men by Stohlquist.

Benefits of Life Jacket

  • Wearing a life jacket can have a significant difference, preventing up to 90% of boating-related accidents.
  • They help reduce the initial impact when you fall in the water to prevent hypothermia.
  • Many people lose their lives while kayaking every year, and most are not wearing a life jacket.
  • Having your life jacket on can have a ripple effect.
  • Life jackets come equipped with flotation devices that allow you to float if you accidentally fall into the water. This way, you won’t drown if you are unable to swim.
  • Wearing a life jacket could make you feel more comfortable if you spend long hours in the water. They are made of a comfortable, soft, and flexible material, making them easy to put on and take off, which is why it stays on our list for our kayak safety kit.

2. Throwable Flotation Device: the ultimate in kayak safety equipment.

kayak safety kit

a couple of flotation devices hanging, which is an essential kayak safety equipment

In addition to a PFD, your kayak safety equipment should also include a type IV PFD. The throw-able flotation devices (TFDs) allow a person to float in water without being able to swim. It consists of a buoyancy chamber connected to a harness system that allows the wearer to throw the device into the water and then step off the side of the boat, leaving the TFD behind.

However, unlike a PFD, you don’t have to wear TFDs. It would help if you threw them to someone who has gone overboard and cannot swim. As a kayaker, you should have at least one TFD on your kayak that is longer than 16 feet. Additionally, TFDs are inexpensive and last for a very long time.

What type is best? Here you have choices!

Some prefer the traditional ring type like this one by Taylor Products. even put it around himself with his arms above it, to balance. Many opt for the rectangular or square pad version like this one by Bradley. With either, but especially the pad version, these life savers double as a seat cushion until they are needed.

Benefits of TFDs

  • TFDs have a universal size, which means all ages and sizes can use them.
  • A vast range of TFDs like ring buoys features attachment points that you can use to secure a rope for added safety.
  • One of the most significant benefits of a TFD is that they are throwable. It means you can use them in various situations.
  • Since they are throw-able, you can use TFDs to mark a location for search and rescue purposes.

 

3. What do you call it when you’re kayaking with two lines? Tow Lines Kayaking, of course!

safety gear for kayaking

a person using a tow line which is a part of kayak safety equipment

Towing lines are ropes that you attach to your kayak or canoe and use to pull it along. Nylon or polypropylene are used in making tow lines. These ropes allow you to tow kayaks without damaging them. Tow lines come in different lengths depending on how much drift you want to avoid.

Moreover, you can attach a tow line to the front or back of your kayak. So, tie the tow line off at both ends to keep your kayak drifting away from the other kayaks. If the tow line is not tied off properly, the boat could float away, causing damage to the boat or injury to the people.

Additionally, depending on your kayak type, there are many types of tow lines that you can choose. Most common include bowline, bowline-inverted, bowline-overhand, and bowline-underhand.

Your safety gear for kayaking should include tow bags to tow kayaks if someone gets tired while paddling. Furthermore, you can throw tow lines at someone who capsizes or needs rescuing from the water. Hopefully, you won’t be using them very often, but they are small, and attaching them to the hull or throwing them in the back of the canoe is a wise idea.

Benefits of Tow Lines

  • Tow lines allow for more excellent stability than single-line canoes. It makes paddling more accessible and more comfortable.
  • They give the canoe additional buoyancy.
  • These ropes offer better balance while you are paddling on the water.
  • They protect from different elements.
  • It allows for more storage space in the hull.

 

4. Dry bags are essential for kayaking. But what exactly are they?

safety gear for kayaking

a kayak with a dry bag on it which is one of the necessary safety gear for kayaking

Your kayak safety kit is incomplete without dry bags. These bags are waterproof containers you can use to store gear while paddling. They are usually made from polyester or nylon and come in different sizes. You can use them to store your belongings.

While they aren’t for your safety, dry bags are great for storing your clothes, sleeping gear, and other valuables. After a day on the water, you will want to ensure your extra clothes and phone are clean and dry.

Moreover, dry bags are thick enough, and sealing them prevents the water and air from getting in. These bags are less bulky but can keep all your valuables moisture-free throughout your paddle. You can get small dry bags to store your keys and cell phone or large dry bags for lunch, extra clothes, etc.

Furthermore, dry bags can fit comfortably in kayak hatches or behind the cockpit, keeping them out of the way when you are on the water.

Dry Bags can come in this roll-top style or the backpack style. Earth Pak makes some very sturdy, waterproof options.

Benefits of Dry Bags

  • Dry bags can hold many things, including clothes, food, cellphones, etc.
  • They are great for storing your belongings that must not get wet, like medications, electronics, snacks, towels, and more.
  • Dry bags are excellent kayak safety equipment that helps prevent essential items from degrading in the sun.
  • They feature various attachment systems, helping you keep your stuff secure yet reachable while kayaking.

 

5. Be safe out there, kayakers! Float bags can help keep you afloat if you happen to capsize.

You might think float and dry bags are the same, which isn’t true. For sit-on-top kayaks, these bags will do you no good. However, if you own a whitewater kayak, sea kayak, or something similar, these are the must-have safety gear for kayaking.

These bags, like these from Harmony Store,  are essentially triangular bags that you can inflate or deflate with the help of a tube attached to the side. You can then insert inflated bags into the space behind the seat. They are great for filling the room with air, making it easier to keep your kayak afloat when capsized.

Benefits of Float Bags

  • Including float bags in your kayak safety kit is a wise decision. They provide essential buoyancy by displacing water that would otherwise fill the kayak during a hull breach or bulkhead failure.
  • They are incredibly lightweight.
  • Float bags also help keep the water out of hatches, allowing conventional rescues to perform.
  • If your partner’s kayak develops a significant leak, you can transfer float bags to displace water.

 

6. Bailer? More like bailing out. But seriously, kayaking is fantastic.

bailer

kayak hand bilge pump with floating foam collar isolated on white

A bailer or bilge pump is an essential safety gear for kayaking. It is a small portable pump that you can stow in your kayak. A bailer helps remove air from the boat’s hull, using it to drain water from the bottom of a tank. A bailer also helps prevent the build-up of excess moisture that can cause mold and mildew.

Moreover, the pump works at low pressure and high flow rate. It helps keep your kayak afloat. A bilge pump works similarly to a bailer but has a higher suction capacity. Using a bilge pump to remove large amounts of water from tanks is best.

Benefits of Bailer or Bilge Pump

  • A bilge pump is life-saving kayak safety equipment that helps keep your kayak afloat even if it has been capsized.
  • Kayak bilge pumps help remove a large amount of water and prevent your kayak from sinking.
  • Bailer pumps are generally inexpensive.
  • They are lightweight, easy to use, and require no installation.

 

7. Just in case you get a paper cut while kayaking, make sure to pack a first aid kit!

kayak safety equipment

a first aid kit

Your kayak safety kit is not complete without a first aid kit. It should include basic supplies for treating minor wounds and illnesses that can occur while out on the waters. This includes waterproof bandages, adhesive bandages, epinephrine injection, antiseptic ointments, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, sunscreen, insect repellent, sterile gloves, and other items that may come in handy.

In addition to a paddling-specific kit, you should also have your homemade equipment with suitable contents that you can use well. Store your paddling first aid kit in a waterproof bag that should be marked clearly and easily accessible.

Remember the water

Keep in mind that your emergency kit won’t help if it takes on water just when you need it. This premium kit by Surviveware delivers 200 pieces of needed supplies in a waterproof container. But don’t just use it in your kayak. It goes sampling and will weather the storms of rain and winds, too.

Supplies of a Paddling First Aid Kit

  • Antiseptics can help prevent infections and clean wounds. They are usually applied topically and may contain alcohol, iodine, or hydrogen peroxide. In addition, antiseptics creams are excellent for treating minor cuts and scrapes. They are also effective at preventing infection from spreading. It would be best to use antiseptic creams before applying any bandages or dressings.
  • Adhesive tapes are great for holding wounds together until they heal. They are also helpful for keeping bandages in place while the wound heals.
  • Bandages are great for stopping bleeding and keeping wounds together. They can be made out of cloth, plastic, or rubber.
  • Epinephrine injections treat various conditions, including asthma attacks, allergies, and other reactions that cause sudden swelling of the face and throat.

 

8. Behind knives, there is always a kayak.

river knife

river knives for kayak safety kit

Knives are essential for cutting lines or straps. A knife is must-have kayak safety equipment that can help in river rescues if one of your partners gets entrapped in debris by the force of the current. The best knives have stainless steel blades and are corrosion-resistant.

Consider getting a folding knife like this one by Victorinox for your kayak safety kit if you’re looking for a knife that will last through multiple uses. Folders are great because they don’t take up much space and are easy to carry around.

Benefits of Knives

  • They are lightweight, which means you can carry them around easily.
  • A river knife is helpful in river rescues.
  • A high-quality river knife ensures that you don’t get tangled in ropes when on the moving water.

 

9.    Whistling kayaks are so annoying. Like, can’t you paddle in silence?

kayak safety equipment whistle

whistle or paddling horns used for kayaking

If you have ever gone overboard while canoeing and lost your breath, you already know why it is essential to have a paddling whistle. If not, trust me, a paddling whistle might save your life one day. It can be a life-saving safety gear for kayaking.

Regardless of how experienced a kayaker you are, there’s always a chance you might run into trouble when on the water. A solid and resonant paddling whistle could mean the difference between life and death.

A whistle sounds when you can see other kayakers but cannot communicate with them. These whistles are inexpensive, easy to use, and effective day and night. Hence, a must-have in your kayak safety kit.

Everyone has their preferences in safety whistles. I find these by Michael Josh have a loud, shrill whistle that is hard to ignore.

Benefits of Paddling Whistles

  • They are perfect for communicating with other kayakers when they are within sight, but you cannot share with them.
  • These whistles are great for beginners because they allow them to practice their skills without worrying about getting injured.
  • They are small, easy to carry, and have multiple applications.

 

10. We all know that headlamps are necessary safety gear for kayaking.

headlamp

a person wearing a headlamp

Your kayak safety equipment should also include headlamps to ensure illuminating your path while on the water. You can use them to light your way through a river or lake’s dark, murky waters. There are many different types of headlamps that work best for different situations.

You will find many options but we find that even the less expensive options like this pair from MIOISY functions quite well.

Some headlamps have a bright beam that illuminates the area around you, while others have a wide-angle beam that allows you to see further ahead. Make sure to keep your headlamp always on when paddling at night. If you turn off your headlamp, you won’t be able to see where you’re going. You’ll end up running into rocks, trees, and other obstacles.

This could cause serious injury if you hit something hard enough to break your paddle. So, make sure that headlamps are included in your kayak safety kit. Headlamps come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some headlamps are large and bulky, while others are small and compact. It would help if you chose a model that fits well on your head and doesn’t interfere with your vision.

Benefits of Headlamps

  • Headlamps are beneficial when paddling at night. A headlamp allows you to spot obstacles and hazards that may go unnoticed quickly.
  • You can also use a headlamp to assist others who are less experienced than you. If someone has fallen into the water, you can shine a light on their face to help guide them back to shore.
  • A headlamp is one of the best ocean kayak accessories for navigating at night. You do not need to worry about getting lost when using a headlamp.
  • If you cannot see anything, you can still follow the path you have set out on. With a headlamp, it is easier to keep track of time.

 

11. How could one resist such an enchanting combination? Signal flares and kayaking, of course!

safety gear for kayaking

kayak safety kit should include a signal flare

Signal flares are one of the most effective long-distance signaling devices that you should have in your kayak safety equipment. They are easy to use and carry around. While on the water, you can use them to attract attention across a wide area. Moreover, these long-distance signaling devices are equally effective both day and night.

Capsized paddlers in the water are stern for rescuers to see. Additionally, it will take rescuers considerable time to locate you in rough waters and with your shallow position. In the circumstances like these, firing off a flare will get those rescuers to you a little faster.

Benefits of Flares

  • Flares make it easier for paddlers to find each other and signal others of their location.
  • They are easy to use and do not require special training.
  • Flares are excellent long-distance signaling devices that you can use to attract attention and get instant help when on the water.

Other Safety Gear for Kayaking

12. Extra Paddles

paddles

paddles used for kayaking

While bringing extra paddles might seem excessive and cumbersome, they can be helpful if you are in rough waters. Although the material used to build paddles is tough, they can break, or you might lose your grip, letting your paddle rush down the river. Either way, it is good to have an extra paddle.

13. Proper footwear

Waterproof footwear is a necessity if you are going to be paddling in any water. If your feet get wet, they can become cold and clammy, leading to cramps and other issues. You want to ensure that your shoes have rubber or neoprene waterproofing. These types of materials allow the foot to breathe while keeping out moisture.

footwear for kayaking

footwear for kayaking

14. Radios

Radios are excellent kayak safety equipment for keeping yourself informed about the weather. Weather patterns can change unexpectedly and quickly when you are on the water. So, keeping yourself prepared according to the approaching conditions is critical.

You can find durable, compact, waterproof radio receivers designed explicitly to pick up around-the-clock updates. Moreover, other paddling radio types include EPIRBs and VHF transceivers.

radio

radio used for kayak safety equipment

 

Wrapping Up

Kayaking can be a fun and exhilarating experience, but it’s important to remember that even if you’re an experienced kayaker, the water can still be dangerous. We always recommend bringing a safety kit with you on your next kayaking trip. What should you include in your kayak safety kit? Check out our list of essential safety gear for kayaking and find out! We hope this article has helped convince you of just how important it is to bring along some critical pieces of safety equipment every time you hit the open water. So what are you waiting for? Get planning your next kayaking adventure, and make sure to pack your trusty safety kit!

Read More: 

Florida Kayak Safety: 10 Tips On How To Stay Safe

Best Rivers To Kayak In Florida For Traveling

Kayak vs Canoe Comparison – Which is Best?

Top 10 Kayaking Exercise Benefits For Your Health

Canoeing and kayaking – health benefits

safety gear for kayaking

 

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