Kayaking Kit

What do I need? Before you rush out to buy we would always recommend you ask for advice, there is plenty of experience in the club of kit what works and what to avoid.

The club has a selection of BA’s and Helmets that are very good as well as basic Spraydecks, some wetsuits and Cags.

Here is a rough order of purchase considerations. The aim of a good set of kit is to stay warm and dryish so you are comfortable.

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are required, you will not be allowed to run a river without them.

1. Thermals
Don’t wear cotton. It soaked up the water and gets cold quickly.
Any thermal will do, cheap ones that you get from Aldi or Go-outdoors. The ones you have for walking, skiing running will do. Best are Marino wool but expensive. You generally get what you pay for but layering them up works well.

2. Wetsuit
Sleeveless long john wetsuits are the best as they give you more movement and don’t chafe under the arms. If you’ve got a wetsuit use that.

3. Footwear*
You need something on your feet to protect them and give you grip moving around on the river bank. There is a range of options:

  • Old pair of trainers
  • Wetsuit boots/shoes
  • River boots/shoes

River boots are the best as they give the best grip. Neoprene socks are a good investment to go with any of the above.

4. Cag (Cagole) top
You need something waterproof to stave off the wind and water and help you keep warm.
There are many types of varying cost. They fall into two categories:

  • Dry Cag – these have rubber seals in the neck and arms and are designed to keep the water out and you dry. There success varies depending on the fit, you and the make.
  • Semi-dry Cag – these generally have a neoprene or skin glide seal in the neck and are more comfortable but are designed to minimise the water that gets in.

5. Spray Deck
The club has nylon ones that do the job. But neoprene are the best.

Take care with the fit you need to size on your waist (small, medium or large) and then boat cockpit size (keyhole, large deck)

Take care buying second hand as they are subject to a lot of wear and tear. You can fix most with some black witch neoprene glue.

6. Boyancy Aid – BA*
An essential piece of kit. These are different to a life jacket. They help you float but require you to actively assist by swimming or sculling on your back. They are filled with foam of some sort. This gets old and less boyant. Take care that the BA is right for your weight and is still sufficiently boyant. Beware old ones, if in doubt ask and we can float test it.

If you buy yourself a BA it will probably have a harness attached. Remove this until you know how to use it. If it is stitched in then get someone to check its properly fitted.

The club has good BA’s so there’s no rush.

7. Helmet*
Look after your head, you’ve only got one. Try before you buy. The helmet needs to fit properly and be comfortable. It is important that it does not push up to expose the forehead or the back of the neck.

If you buy second hand make sure it’s not had any significant impacts. Again no rush we have plenty of good ones.

Check for the CE EN 1385 Standard mark on any helmet. 

8. Earplugs
Surfers ear is a problem experienced by kayakers due to exposure of the ear to cold water. The problem is progressive and dependent on the amount of exposure to cold water. All kayakers should consider the use of ear plugs, particularly those play boating on the river or on white water.

9. Nose clips
If you don’t like water going up your nose when upside down you may wish to invest in nose plugs. You should also consider the practicality of using these on the river, it may be better to just get used to breathing properly through your nose when upside down?

10. Dry bag
You need a dry bag for some spare thermals and anything you wish to keep dry. They are not perfect and you get what you pay for. I recommend watershed expensive but very dry and lasts forever. Price can be dramatically reduced by shopping around.

11. Food and drink
A flask for a hot drink. A water bottle to keep you hydrated. Some energy providing snacks are essential for a good day out on the river.

12. Safety kit
First aid kit – personal first aid kit to patch you up. Some plasters, paracetamol, ibruprophen, sterile wipes, cloth to dry hands.

13. Intermediate safety / river lead kit
Intermediate paddlers should carry safety kit to support their group

  • Watch
  • Throwline – looked after and properly packed.
  • Knife
  • Open ended sling
  • 1 to 2 HMS Carabina’s
  • Safety whistle
  • First Aid kit for group
  • Shelter
  • Emergency hot drink and snack
  • Spare thermals for group; fleece, gloves, hat
  • Mobile phone