Best Kayaking Accessories & Gear

Kayaking is a fantastic hobby or experience in general for those who live almost entirely outdoors or even fledglings who have yet to get their oars in the water. No matter where you are on the spectrum of proficiency, having the right gear and equipment will make your journey all the more exciting and, to some extent, more enjoyable.

However, one might wonder what the best kayaking accessories and gear are. Although we will not be listing everything mentioned below up here, we will still be diving into each category:


  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • Drinking water
  • Waterproof emergency kit
  • Emergency whistles
  • Compasses
  • Life jackets
  • Hats
  • Paddle leashes
  • Floating bags
  • Kayak gloves


This article recommends certain products and discusses what you will need in more detail. These things are essential before kayaking, especially when doing recreational activities alone. Afterward, we will discuss some frequently asked questions. So, without further ado, let us continue down below. 


What Are the Best Kayaking Accessories & Gear?


The best kayaking gear and accessories start with essential items. These things include clothing that will not have you soaking wet for the entirety of the day, a reliable way to stay hydrated and some basic first-aid supplies should you run into trouble or someone gets hurt.

It would be wise to carry some extra navigational supplies as well. Even the most experienced kayakers can get turned around or lost entirely in the middle of their adventure, so finding your way back home could prove to be incredibly difficult without some basic necessities, like a compass or map, for example. However, we’ll dive into everything you’ll need in greater detail below.

1. Weather-Appropriate Kayaking Clothes


As noted above, wearing the right gear will make everything more enjoyable. To that end, you’ll need to take note of a few different factors. The first of them is the general temperature of the area you intend on kayaking in.


Warm Weather


In a mild climate, you won’t need to layer nearly as much as in a colder one. For example, you can get away with choosing a swimsuit as your first layer (think underwear), a rashguard to keep yourself from staying wet and preventing rash, board shorts or something similar that will keep you well adjusted, or anything that will dry quickly enough to keep you from getting pruned.

In your final layer of concern, you think about your mid-layer of clothing. Now, if it’s hot enough, you won’t even need to consider things like a wetsuit, as conditions don’t make it mandatory. Still, if things are chilly or you expect to get colder while out and about, packing an additional warm layer could make all the difference between enjoying yourself or generally suffering.

Lastly, you’ll want to ensure your head and hands are thoroughly cared for. A hat wide enough to keep the sun from striking you constantly is a must. To that same end, a nice pair of paddling gloves will prevent you from getting painful bruises, sores, or even blisters. You would be wise to shop around for a bit and find a pair of gloves that not only fit your hands but also your needs.


Cold Weather


When kayaking in colder weather, the first and most important choice is to wear a wetsuit as your first layer. This is done primarily to help keep you warm if your vessel capsizes, leaving you in harsh, cold waters and prone to dangerous things like cold shock or hypothermia.

There are tiers to cold weather protection, and a wetsuit is essentially the bare minimum. If the water is colder than roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you would be advised to take a dry suit instead. Doubling down on this by wearing the appropriate insulating underwear will keep you warm in the chilliest of waters. This does not mean you are entirely immune to it, however. If your face gets wet, you will still have to deal with some residual issues from the experience itself.

2. Drinking Water


As you might expect, having clean drinking water is a must while doing any outdoor or physically demanding activity. Ideally, you want to procure it before you set off on your adventure and store it on the part of your kayak or a person that will not hinder your mobility or cause unnecessary fatigue for you for more extended treks.

Failure to bring water can have any number of safety risks. It is imperative to remember that soft drinks, energy drinks, and other fluids might “wet your whistle,” but they will not provide you with the hydration you need. They can make things significantly more dangerous should you begin to get light-headed and travel alone.

3. Waterproof Emergency Kit


In a worst-case scenario, you may need to wrap a wound, stitch yourself up, or handle rough abrasions. To that end, an emergency kit is a must. Still, you’ll also need it to endure being submerged, should you capsize or hit an unexpected obstacle that causes it to submerge into whatever water you are in.

You’ll also want your emergency kit to have some level of visibility enhancement. Think high-vis layering, and it should also be able to float, ensuring that it doesn’t simply sink to the depths should it fall into the water.

The last bit of clarity might seem unnecessary when you think about a “waterproof” kit, but you’d be surprised how many people get one that can be submerged in water but cannot be safely retrieved due to poor design.

4. Emergency Whistles


Similarly, the emergency kit will help you recover from particularly nasty events, and the emergency whistles will help you attract help when you are too tired to yell or wave your arms.

These whistles are quite loud in most cases, and some have functions that emit an intense light for increased visibility and the chance of getting aid. Don’t go on your kayaking adventure without one.

5. Compass


As we briefly discussed above, the ability to navigate the wilderness isn’t a skill everyone is innately born with. Even if you are relatively in tune with nature, it’s in your best interest to carry a compass with you to get a general idea of how to get back to civilization or, at the very least, a commonly used road to secure help when you need it most.

When used in tandem with a map (assuming you’ve placed it in a waterproof container or bag), it will prove invaluable and make your return home all the easier. Packing one or two trail-mix bars in said storage container helps you out if you are genuinely stranded and manage to go through more food than you were expecting to get back.

6. Life Jackets


Life jackets or PDFs (personal flotation devices) are probably the most important piece of gear you’ll need to bring with you, aside from your kayak or water. If you get submerged in water and cannot raise your kayak upright again, swimming to shore or relying on someone to get to you will be your only two options for getting back home safely.

In such an event, life jackets will keep you afloat when you don’t have the energy to continue water-wading or give you much-needed time to rest in between extended bursts of effort attempting to get to shore.


NRS Vapor Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)


The NRS Vapor will keep you afloat without sinking your wallet into the murky depths. It features several different color designs and a custom AirMesh that allows fantastic ventilation while on the go. This jacket will see you through just about any adventure you plan on undertaking. The coat comes in several sizes and is certified by the Coast Guard.


Stohlquist Fit Unisex Adult Life Jacket PFD


Stolhquist Fit is just the PFD for you if you want to spend even less than expected on one. It offers four fantastic color choices, but if the aesthetics aren’t really your style, then the incredible mobility and freedom of movement offered by this custom design will be right up your alley. Like the NRS Vapor, this PFD is also Coast Guard-approved.

7. Hats


While wearing a hat while kayaking might seem like a pointless endeavor or simply more of a fashion choice rather than something vital, hats give you protection from the sun and a way of keeping water from running down your back or hindering your vision. As such, they are quite valuable.


Kokatat Hydrus Seawester Hat


Whether you are attempting to keep the sun off your head or unwanted moisture from running down your neck, the Kokatat Hydrus will get the job done for you. It features a waterproof design and an adjustable chin strap. 

The protection this hat offers isn’t going anywhere, and you can trust the hat will remain with you as well. As far as raw functionality goes, the hat also features a non-glare brim and a floating foam bill, guaranteeing it won’t sink if it does happen to get submerged.


Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero


Outdoor Research knows how to make fantastic headwear with a sleep Sombrero that will keep you from getting soaked in the rain. If the wind picks up, this hat will see you through the worst of it, and in style, it will protect you from both the sun and downpours. Best of all, the foam brim prevents it from sinking should it come off your noggin.

8. Kayak Paddles


It is impossible to make progress in the water (well, maybe not impossible, but incredibly difficult) without paddles. They allow you to both navigate and propel yourself through the water and are an integral part of your kayaking experience. It would be wise to invest in a paddle that fits your needs and budget soundly.


Aquabound Stingray Kayak Paddle


You won’t be going far in a kayak without a water-worthy paddle, and the aquabound stingray will make sure you can go the distance and more. The paddle itself is made of carbon fiber, giving you extreme durability but also maintaining a fairly low weight. This keeps things nice and smooth when transporting it but does not destroy your muscles while in use.


Wilderness Systems Apex Fiberglass Paddle


While this oar isn’t precisely the most beginner-friendly (primarily due to price), if you decide to go with the Wilderness Systems Apex, you will be investing in an incredibly durable and well-designed oar. 

As the name might lead you to believe, this paddle features a fiberglass design. Its robust design allows each stroke to feel like slicing through the air, and it is one of the lightest options in the market.

9. Paddle Leash


In the same way, a paddle is a pivotal part of the kayaking experience. Keeping that paddle from drifting away should it slip from your grasp is just as important. To that end, investing in a paddle leash will keep you from taking a plunge in the water to retrieve your oar or beginning a comedic sketch about getting your oar and losing your kayak.


Stretchable Kayak Paddle Leash


Wonitago knows that investing in a paddle is but a part of the overall experience and that keeping that paddle from becoming lost at sea (or wherever you are using it) is the other side of that experience. They offer a coiled rod leash tool lanyard to keep your paddles from escaping you or your kayak. Made of nylon and elastic rubber, the cord is incredibly durable and won’t rust like other designs.


Pelican Paddle Leash and Leash Fishing Rod


Pelican Paddle meets all your paddle leashing needs at a fraction of the price of some of its competitors. However, you can still trust in its nylon-based design’s raw durability and performance, keeping your paddles near you when you need them most.

10. Float Bags


Keeping your gear from getting wet, soaked, or damaged is incredibly important, especially for those without extreme amounts of disposable income. To that end, a float bag will keep your things safe and out of water’s reach, assuming you seal the bags properly anyway!


Pelican Marine IP68 Waterproof Dry Bag


There are very few instances when you’ll get to utilize something like a locker when going kayaking, and to that end, you’ll want to invest in a float bag. The best place to start would be with a Pelican Marine IP68, as it’s not only one of the more lightweight options available. Still, it’s also incredibly durable and 100% waterproof when sealed correctly, guaranteeing that your valuables remain valuable, even if they get submerged while you are out and about.


OMGear Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack


True to its name, OMGear has a fantastic, waterproof dry bag in an assortment of different styles. This bag will allow you to express yourself to the fullest without compromising any raw utility.

The bag itself is 100% waterproof and features a smartphone pouch that can allow you to use your phone with the ease of mind that it can’t become waterlogged even if you happen to drop it into the water (a must for those of us who are all thumbs).

11. Kayak Gloves


These little numbers might seem like a bit of a luxury, but make no mistake—nothing is worse than the weather, water, and constant rowing eating away at your hands, causing blisters, sores, or, in colder conditions, frostbite. Take some time and select a pair of gloves that will keep your hands from feeling like sandpaper, and you’ll be thankful in the long run.


KastKing La Sal Fishing Gloves UPF50+


KastKing’s finest finger protection is at your fingertips should you decide to go with them, and you couldn’t have made a wiser choice if you did. They come in ten different styles and two sizes and are made of a polyester/spandex blend that seamlessly integrates durability and utility into a glove that will fit all situations instead of hands precisely.

These exquisite gloves are also UPF 50 UV approved, granting you peace of mind that you will have some protection from the sun’s harmful rays, but you’ll also be able to prevent painful blisters should you need to row for extended amounts of time.


NRS Cove Gloves


NRS Cove brings all the best parts of a kayak glove into one package. You have warmth granted to you by the synthetic leather, which also doubles as a cushion whilst rowing, nylon/spandex materials that grant increased protection from the sun, and pairing snaps, which prevent them from falling off of you when you need to remove them. It’s an all-in-one package if there ever was one, and the price is manageable, to say the least.


What Is the Best Thing to Wear Kayaking?


Your PFD is the best thing to wear when kayaking and remains valuable regardless of the weather. It provides safety when you need it most and visibility to help you get found, and there isn’t a single scenario where it won’t be invaluable.


What Does Kayaking Do for Your Body?


Kayaking strengthens both your body and your mind in a number of ways. Due to the amount of raw cardio you do on extended journeys, your body gains the benefit of a stronger core, more arm muscle growth, and increased stamina. Your mind becomes sharpened to a razor’s edge when you are free from the distractions of daily life and phones and get to embrace nature and its limitless bounty.


Is Kayaking Safe for Beginners?


Kayaking is a relatively safe sport, assuming you aren’t going into dangerous waters or attempting to venture forward in weather that will be problematic. Regardless of experience, if you are doing everything you can to be safe, have your PFD, and a basic understanding of what to do, it is perfectly fine to begin kayaking right away, but bringing a buddy (or someone with more experience in general) can prove invaluable, as they might have insight into how you can do things more efficiently and the like.


Final Thoughts


While there are any number of accessories, clothing, and gear that can make your adventures more enjoyable or ultimately safer, the best things you can bring with you while kayaking are a sound state of mind, a proper PFD, and weather-resistant clothing. Those two choices alone make up for a vast majority of the problems you could face while kayaking and assuming you make those your priority, everything else can fall into place easily.

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