Kent County Recreation: Paddling
This is a list of the gear recommended for all paddling trips.
- kayak floatation - your boat must have bulkheads or floatation bags.
Without floatation, a kayak can sink like a rock.
flotation device (PFD) - class III or better, must be worn
skirt - keep your cockpit from flooding
float - to assist in self rescue
suit - to increase survival time in cold water (required Oct-May only)
- to signal other members of your group (one blast to get attention/gather
up, two for potential danger, three for true emergency)
- kayaking is physically demanding, and you will need plenty of water
Recommended Safety Gear
signaling devices - flares, signal mirror, signal smoke, signal dye,
lines - it is easy to lose hold of your boat without them
paddle - for when you or another member of your group loses or breaks
system - to assist a disabled paddler in getting to shore
aids - map, chart, compass, GPS, etc. - take responsibility for knowing
where you are
electronics - cell phone, VHF radio, CB radio, two way radio - to summon
help or for intergroup communication
reflector - only if you plan to spend significant time in shipping lanes
(especially in the Bay)
sunblock, sunglasses - we don't want to fry in the sun
and snacks - most trips have at least one stop to refuel and rest
bag - useful for warming hypothermic fellow paddlers
Items & Toys
- should be water-resistant, waterproof, or kept in a waterproof case.
A Zip Lock bag does not work.
gear - beware of sharp hooks & think about what you'll do if you
clothes at the take out - you might as well be comfortable afterwards
has their own ideas of what is comfortable. Here are some general guidelines.
Dress for the water and not just the air: you may be going for a swim.
In colder months, wetsuits or drysuits become essential. DO NOT WEAR COTTON.
This cannot be repeated enough. Cotton holds water and leads to rapid
cooling. It's great for the tropics though. Wear synthetic fabrics or
wool. Some specific items:
suit - these keep water from getting in and are very warm. Don't wear
one unless conditions warrant since they are so warm. A Gore-Tex suit
should allow perspiration to escape but they are more expensive. A farmer
john wetsuit with a dry top is another option.
suit - these allow water in and the thin layer of water keeps you warm.
Since the water isn't moving once it's in the suit, it can act as an
insulating layer. They come in several styles and weights (thicknesses).
A heavy suit will probably be uncomfortably warm. A full suit with sleeves
will restrict your paddling motion and wear you out. A farmer john is
probably your best bet. You can decide on long or short legs. In cold
conditions you'll want long legs.
jacket - these jackets are not waterproof but are good for shedding
splashes and breaking the wind in moderate conditions. If you blow out
the gaskets on your dry top, at least it becomes a paddling jacket.
wear - Sandals or a watersport shoe are probably the way to go in the
summer. In cold weather, most folks go with a wet suit bootie. Tall
rubber boots can work, but you risk filling them in the surf. Whatever
you wear should have a good thick sole for walking over sharp rocks
and debris. If you are on an extended trip, be sure to take off the
booties every day and dry out your feet, otherwise you can develop trench
foot and permanent neurological damage to the feet.
wear - hand protection is generally needed only in the cold months.
Pogies enclose both your hand and paddle so you directly grip the paddle.
If the collar of the pogie is neoprene, or you've waxed your paddle
shaft (insert your own humor here), the pogie may not slide well and
restrict your ability to do extended paddle strokes or rolls. You can
always pull your hand out of the pogie though. The other alternative
is gloves. You lose some of the tactile feel of the paddle, but your
hands are always warm and movement is not otherwise restricted. Neoprene
gloves should have a natural curve to the fingers so you don't have
to work to maintain a grip on the paddle.
fleece or some other synthetic quick-drying fleece - great stuff in