There’s a lot to love about paddling. You can cruise around and take in the scenery or go hard and work on that six-pack. Whatever your interests or level of fitness, there is nothing better than a day on the water. However, 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 repellent
For obvious reasons.
First aid kit
Again for obvious reasons. At the very least, include personal medications and make sure you can manage cuts, sprains, and headaches.
Hand pump or bailer
It is possible to buy electric or hand-operated pumps to help remove water from your kayak or canoe. 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 or milk bottle with the lid on can be an effective bailer. A sponge similar to the one you use to wash the car can also be helpful. Sit-on-top kayaks have self drainage holes so the need for a pump or bailer isn’t as great, but water can still get inside the hull.
Paddle leashes are used by kayakers to attach their paddles to their boats so they don’t lose their paddles. Leg leashes are used by stand up paddlers to attach their boards to themselves so they don’t lose their boards.
Mobile phone, satellite phone, and two-way radio
To call for help in emergency situations.
Map, compass, and GPS
So you don’t get lost or so you can find yourself if you do get lost.
A whistle can be very handy if you need to signal for help or attract the attention of someone bearing down on you. The fact that it doesn’t have a pea means it works even when wet.
White lights visible from 360 degrees must be attached to the boat when paddling at night.
This is a brightly coloured flag on a pole that makes it a lot easier for other people to see you in the daytime, particularly in bumpy water.
Towline or throw bag
This might seem quite altruistic, but if every paddler has one then we are all a little bit safer and that makes the world a better place. Also, if you get into trouble, your tow line may make it possible for someone without one to take you to safety.
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 that helps stabilise the boat while you climb back on board.
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 leaks that might spring up along the way.