There are heaps of things to love about paddling. You can just cruise around and take in the scenery or go hard and work on that six-pack, or maybe even a bit of both. No matter what your interests or level of fitness, there is nothing better than a day on the water. However, it is important to remember that all activities pose risks and it is smart to take steps to control them. Here is some safety gear worth having.
FOOD AND WATER: This seems like a no-brainer, but it is easy to forget. It’s a good idea to take twice the amount of water you think is required. In emergency situations, it is possible to survive on just water for a surprisingly long time.
SUNSCREEN AND INSECT REPELLANT: For obvious reasons.
FIRST AID KIT: Again for obvious reasons. At the very least, include personal medications and make sure you are equipped to deal with cuts, sprains, and headaches.
MAP AND COMPASS: So you don’t get lost, or so you can find yourself if you do get lost. Of course, some navigation skills are helpful too.
PEALESS WHISTLE: A whistle can be very handy if you need to signal for help or need to attract the attention of someone bearing down on you. The fact that it doesn’t have a pea means it works even when wet.
TOW LINE OR THROW BAG: Initially, it seems this would just be for the benefit of other paddlers but if you have one, they might be happy to have one too. Also, if you do get into trouble then your tow line may make it possible for someone without one to take you to safety.
HAND PUMP OR BAILER: Not the variety used to pump up bicycle tyres. It is possible to get pumps that help you remove water from your boat. If you don’t want to go to that expense, then a small ice cream container or the top half of a two litre cordial bottle can be an effective bailer. Sit-on-top kayaks have self drainage holes, so the need for a pump or bailer isn’t as great, but it is still possible to get water inside the hull. Pumps and bailers are not required for SOTs or SUPs.
LEASH: Paddle leashes are used by kayakers to attach their paddles to their boats to ensure that they won’t float away if dropped. Leg ropes are used by stand up paddlers so they don’t get separated from their boards.
TOOL KIT: This should include any screwdrivers and allen keys that might be required to make running repairs. A roll of silver electrical tape is useful too. This amazing product can fix almost anything, including any leaks that might spring up along the way.
PADDLE FLOAT SYSTEM: This is a self rescue aid used by kayakers. It involves attaching one end of your paddle to your boat and the other to an inflatable floating bag. This creates an outrigger which helps stabilise the boat while you climb back on board.
WHITE LIGHTS: White lights visible from 360 degrees must be attached to the boat when paddling at night.