A Beginner's Guide to Basic
Kayaking Equipment

Are you excited about getting into the sport of kayaking? Fortunately there isn't a whole lot of equipment required but you will need to start out with a few basics. The basic equipment necessary would not only include the kayak and paddle, but also a proper-fitting life jacket (PFD) and helmet, and a spray skirt.

When you're ready to start shopping, it's important to know that one does NOT fit all! The size and shape is based on the user's height, weight, and the type of water it will be used in. Most dealers usually stock demo models or have demonstration kayaks available for actual test boating. This allows consumers to try before they buy.

Traditional river kayaks offer a quick ride and stability, and most beginners start out with one of these. Later on, as you gain more experience, you may want to purchase the type that is used for surfing and doing tricks. These are known as play boats, and the ones made for rocky rivers are called creek boats.

Used kayaks can cost you considerably less than if you were to buy a brand new one. Good used ones can often be found in the classifieds, online auctions and similar venues.

Finding the right paddle involves giving the length, weight, material and blade shape much consideration, along with the user's height, torso size and paddling style. Tall people, those with long torsos and paddlers who like a slow ride will require longer paddles. Shorter people or those with short torsos and paddlers who like to paddle fast and get the job done will benefit from shorter paddles.

Paddle materials include wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber and aluminum shafts with plastic blades. The aluminum shaft paddles are a good choice for beginners.

Many people are already into other water sports and own a life jacket (also known as personal flotation device). These can be purchased at many discount stores, sporting goods stores and boating equipment stores, in addition to online stores and auctions.

Life jackets, also known as personal flotation devices (PFD,) are required by law. Choose a PFD rated especially for the type of kayaking involved. Type III PFD's tend to be the most comfortable for paddling.

The helmet you choose should be good quality and fit well. Like other sporting gear, helmets have evolved and now are as much about fashion as function. Users can shop for functional, protective head gear or for functional and fashionable helmets in a wide variety of designs, colors and styles.

Spray skirts are used to seal the cockpit during kayaking and keep water out of the inside of the kayak and keep the kayaker dry. Different types of kayaking require different skirt styles. Whitewater spray skirts are usually made of neoprene. Touring and recreational spray skirts are often made of nylon. Sea kayaking skirt styles may include both neoprene and nylon.

All spray skirts feature a grab loop. This loop allows the boater to break the seal quickly if necessary. Skirt designs include cords for boat attachment, pockets, and adjustable suspenders and waistbands. Since the spray skirt fits around the wearer's waist, waist circumference is the general standard of sizing. Kayak cockpit size may also apply.

Optional gear includes a dry bag, a dry top and a spray jacket. The small dry bag is good for protecting and storing snacks and other small items. A dry top is a waterproof jacket good for cold water paddling. Spray jackets are waterproof and available in long or short sleeve styles.

Kayaking gives boaters an opportunity to explore waterways for fun and for relaxation. Their size and light weight make maneuvering them easy for individuals. It doesn't require a lot of equipment and it doesn't have to be expensive. Most beginners can quickly master the basics but it is a sport that will continue to be an enjoyable learning experience for many years.


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For more related articles please read these pages

Kayaking in Alaska
Extreme Kayaking
Hawaiin Kayaking
Ocean Kayaking

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