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Kayaking Essentials: The Gear You’ll Need To Start Kayaking

Ready to take up kayaking? We break down the essential kayaking gear you’ll need to get started.

So, what do you need to start kayaking?

The type of kit you’ll need will depend on where you plan to kayak (sea, canals, white-water etc).

But, let’s outline the basics that every kayaker needs to get out and start paddling.

Kayaking Kit List

1. Kayak

Price: $150-$1000 kayak guide

The big question…

How much does a kayak cost?

Well, that’s going depend on the type of kayaking you plan to participate in, whether you go high-end or low-end, and second-hand or brand new.

Our choice? We’d be looking at second hand kayaks for sale.

Brand new kayaks can vary from $400-$1000, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay that much.

There’s a huge array of kayaks for sale on eBay that are second hand, and offer savings of up to 50% in comparison to buying one brand new.

Remember, even kayaks designed for the same type of water are going to feel different. So, until you get out on the water, and try other kayaks, it’s going to be hard to figure out which kayak is going to suit your paddling style.

You’ll need to budget $250-300 for a quality used kayak.

If you feel you need to upgrade, it will have lost little value, so you’ll be able to re-sell it for the exact kayak you want.

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2. Paddles

Price: $30-$200 kayak paddle

Next, you need a good set of paddles.

Wait, paddles?

Yup, you only need one, but we’d always advise strapping on a spare.

You will lose a paddle at some stage, and when you do, it’s going to be hard to get anywhere without a spare.

There’s a range of cheap paddles for kayaks starting at $30, and they range upwards from there.

If you’re on a tight budget, make your main paddle a high quality one, and strap a low-end paddle on as a spare.

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3. Wetsuit

Price: $50-300 kayak wetsuit

Next, you’ll need to grab yourself a wetsuit. Most quality brands will offer a range of wetsuit thicknesses designed for different temperatures.

But, choosing a wetsuit doesn’t depend on the outside temperature.

Water temperature (especially in the sea), is rarely connected to the weather. So, you’ll need to check water temperatures before deciding on what wetsuit is going to be suitable for you.

In the 0°F range, you’ll want a 6/5/4 sealed wetsuit. Gloves, boots and a hood won’t go a miss here too.

Below that temperature, you’ll want a dry suit.

If you’re going to paddle in water around 45°F a 5/4/3 will be sufficient (again, with gloves, booties and a hood) and at 55°F a 4/3 will be good enough. I’d ditch the gloves and hood here.

Above 60°F you’ll only need a 3/2 and above anything beyond that a 2/3 will do the trick.

Although you’d get away without a wetsuit in any temperature above 70°F, I’d advise not doing that (especially if you’re planning on white-water kayaking) – rocks really hurt – wetsuits offer protection.

At the very least, go with a shorty 2/3. The same goes for booties, they are good foot protection, and I always where them.

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4. Rashguard

Price: $20-40 kayak rashguard

After a while, wetsuits can get irritating, this is particularly the case in salt water, as it dries out the skin.

If you want to keep comfortable throughout your day, I’d suggest buying a rash guard.

O’Neill do a cool range of wetsuit rash guards for men and women starting at $20.

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5. Helmet

Price: $30-100 kayak helmet

If you’re kayaking in water where there’s even the slightest chance of hitting your head during a roll, you’ll want a helmet. In fact, it’s advisable to wear one regardless.

I’ve surfed kayaks and seen others roll (without a helmet as it was deep water).

The problem is, when you roll in rough surf (or white water), there’s a good chance you’ll lose your paddle.

And, that paddle won’t stop surfing a wave just because you do – they hurt when they hit you on the back of the head!

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6. Life Jacket

Price: $30-80  kayak life jacket

You shouldn’t ever go kayaking without a buoyancy aid. Kayaks are incredibly easy to capsize.

And, there’s always a small possibility that you could hit your head. A life-jacket for kayaking is a safety precaution and a life line; it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Check out our buyer’s guide to the best life jackets for kayaking here.

7. – Gloves

Price: $20-50 kayak gloves

As we mentioned in the wetsuit section, you’ll need a set of gloves when paddling in temperatures below 55°F.

There’s a tonne of high-quality brands (such as Hyperflex, O’Neill and Xcel) offering gloves from $20.

If you plan to kayak regularly in cool conditions, they are going to be a necessity.

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8. Boots

Price: $20-50 kayak boots

Most people assume wetsuit boots are only used in freezing conditions. Whether I’m surfing or kayaking, I wear wetsuit boots.

They don’t just keep your feet nice and cosy, but they also protect them from rocks.

And, it also means if your miles away from your vehicle, when you land, you’ll still be able to walk around without cutting your feet to pieces.

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Next: Types Of Kayaking: Which Is Right For You?

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