Kayak Safety Equipment & Gear
Spending time on the water requires a conversation about kayak safety equipment and gear. The most obvious piece of safety equipment is your lifejacket, or PFD. But what else do you need when you’re paddling? Depending on the type of kayaking and where you’re going will necessitate your choice of additional safety gear. Here we will cover some of the often overlooked safety equipment that can make the difference between having a great day on the river versus having a very bad one.
For any type of boating, after you have put on your lifejacket it’s always a good idea to add some kind of signaling device. A whistle, strobe light, or mirror will help you signal for assistance if you get into trouble. Another handy item to have with you for any water adventure would be a first-aid kit. Pick the kit that will keep you and your paddling buddies safe and ready to handle any medical emergency. If you are a recreational kayaker or ocean kayaker then you would also want a bilge pump and sponge just in case you need to get water out of your kayak without draining it. You might also want to have a way to reenter your sit-inside kayak in the event your boat capsizes or you miss your roll. A Rescue Stirrup or Rescue Step or even a paddle float will make reentry much easier. You can even purchase kayak safety kits that will include several of these items together in a deck bag that clips to the deck rigging on your recreational or touring kayak.
If you’re a whitewater kayaker or rafter, you might want to consider an unpin kit. If you wrap your kayak or raft around a rock halfway through your run you might need mechanical advantage to get it off and back to floating down river. And while we’re talking about rocks, consider elbow pads to protect you from rock rash as you get too close on those tight technical lines. Rafters, you will really need to get a set of flip lines. Flip lines make it easier to right your raft if you flip it on a rapid. And the final necessity for any whitewater boater would be a throw rope.
Be safe by being prepared. And make sure you practice with your safety gear so you know how to use the equipment when you need it. Better to have your safety gear with you and not need to use it than to not have it with you when you need it! Have fun and stay safe!