Kayak accessories and gear: the essentials you need for a great outing


April 4, 2022


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Kayak accessories and essentials

Kayaking is a nautical activity that requires you to have the basic equipment and the right accessories in order to have a safe and fun-filled experience. Bruno Clavette, kayaking expert at SAIL, lists all the essential items you should think of taking with you before setting off on your kayaking trip.

In this article, you will discover what gear and accessories you need for a kayaking outing, as well as some tips to ensure you are well prepared.

  1. What you need for a safe paddle
  2. What clothing to wear when kayaking
  3. The essential gear you need to carry your kayak

What you need for a safe paddle

Before setting off on the water, whether it’s for a few hours of recreational kayaking, or for a kayaking expedition lasting several days, make sure you take these six essentials with you (now a Transport Canada mandatory requirement):

  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) approved in Canada. Must be appropriately sized for every person on board.
  • Sound-signalling device, such as a whistle (pealess, so it still works when wet).
  • A buoyant heaving line (15 metres in length) so you can heave someone out of the water should they fall in.
    An emergency paddle in case yours falls into the water (consider getting a paddle float to avoid this).
  • A bailer or handpump to remove water that’s accumulated in the bottom of your kayak.
    A waterproof flashlight to send emergency light signals at night should you experience an issue.

If you are taking part in a guided excursion or renting a kayak from a store, these items should be provided for you. Make sure that’s indeed the case before you set off on the water.

It may also be worth adding the below to this list:

  • a big sponge: to remove any unwanted water that may have collected at the bottom of your kayak due to the waves, or from when you first got in.
  • a neoprene skirt (for sit-in kayaks): to protect your bottom half from the cold, the sun, the rain and the waves.
  • a folding anchor (for fishing kayaks) so you can either drift fish or moor near a specific area.
  • a dry bag or sleeve so you can safely store your personal effects (maps, phone, camera, snacks, etc.)
  • Scupper stoppers to plug the scupper holes and stop water from coming into your Sit-on-Top kayak.
    Pumps plugs
  • a paddle float so you can get back into your kayak more easily should you capsize. This is particularly recommended for those using a Sit-In kayak in open waters (far from the bank).
  • a first aid kit, sunscreen and a water bottle, three important items to carry with you at all times, whatever outdoors activity you enjoy doing.

What clothing to wear when kayaking

Once you’ve appropriately kitted out your kayak, it’s time to think about what to wear. The clothes you take with you will vary depending on your kayaking activity (whether it’s recreational, sea or river kayaking), the length of your outing (a few hours on calm waters, or several days on the river for example). In any case, here is a list of essentials:

  • A neoprene wetsuit to keep warm in case of bad weather. This is recommended for sea outings, or when kayaking on wavy water during cooler days.
  • A waterproof vest, with wrist closures and a waist cinch, to wear over your wetsuit or clothes to stay dry. This is recommended for sea outings, when kayaking on wavy water and for rainy or windy days.
  • A swimsuit to avoid paddling in wet underwear.
  • A sweater and pants, made of polyester or QuickDry fabric, with long sleeves to avoid getting sunburnt.
  • A brimmed hat or cap to protect yourself from the sun and its UV rays (even on cloudy days), as well as from the rain.
  • Neoprene water shoes to keep your feet warm even when wet.
  • Neoprene gloves to stop blisters from forming on long outings due to the paddle rubbing against your skin.
  • Sunglasses with a high UV protection. You may want to add a cord, so they don’t fall into the water.

The essential gear you need to carry your kayak

The last step before setting off on your kayaking outing: transporting your kayak to your launch point. To do this, you have a few options, but these will vary depending on your vehicle:

  • a kayak roof rack: in the shape of a J, very stable and secure, for up to two kayaks. These are made specifically for each car model.
  • a cargo trailer should you need to transport more than two kayaks. This will require a trailer hitch that fits your car.
  • straps and foam blocks: the cheapest and simplest way to transport your kayak, but not necessarily the safest. Only a good option if you’re travelling short distances.


Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll need to get your kayak to the water. Some kayaks are quite heavy and therefore difficult to carry. Fortunately, there are carts specifically designed to help. Made with two wheels and a support frame, all you need to do is attach one side of the kayak to the cart and pull it to your launching point. The wheels give you a break from the full weight of the kayak as well as a smoother ride over rocks and roots.

You are now perfectly equipped to launch into your next outing!

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