Check lists for winter day paddling?

-- Last Updated: Jan-22-09 3:21 PM EST --

As the weather gets cold, I tend to carry more and more gear with me. About 20lb or more of it last time I weighted myself with and without it!

That includes both warmth and safety items. As the number of things I carry grows with the falling temps, I keep finding that I tend to forget this and that almost every time I go out. What do you do to make sure you come out with everything you need?

What I do is try to first keep everything together in one closet in a couple of crates and then transfer all the things to the car and then to the kayak when I get to the water. That usually ensures I take everything I may need with me, even if I decide I won't take it on the water on any particular day.

But sometimes I take items out of the closet, say for an indoor pool session, then forget to put them back in after drying them and ... off I go to the waters next time without them.

I made a list of the things I should carry but as you guess I don't read it -;).

I find it useful to, before I go out of the house, to mentally go thru the process of dressing-up and think about what I would do and if I have all the gear I need. The key is to actually check and make sure I took each item I think of rather than just think of it - I am surprised how often I think I have something with me where in fact I don't (even key things like the main paddle!), so actually checking it is there with me before I go is important.

So spill it out. What do you plan to take and how do you make sure you actually have it with you when you get to the water?

Here's what I take lately if I'm alone even on short winter paddles in protected water. MUCH less if I'm in a group.

Only a few of these items stay in the car, most float with me. Some items like flash-light or the thermus are optional on the boat and I usually keep them in the car if I only go during the day for a short paddle in areas where help is potentially within minutes.

- dry top
- dry pants
- under layer for legs
- second under layer for legs
- up to three layers for the body under the dry top
- hood
- wool hat (over the hood)
- gloves
- spare gloves
- socks (one or two layers)
- spare socks
- water shoes
- wool neck band (under the dry top)
- wool or synthetic neck/chin band (over the top)
- inflatable paddle float (in cockpit)
- small foam paddlle float (on rear deck)
- thermus with hot tea
- spray skirt
- paddle
- second paddle
- nose plugs
- ear plugs
- whistle
- sun screen
- dry hand skin cream (for before or after paddling)
- sunglasses
- bandaid
- liquid bandaid
- towel (for when I get out)
- after paddle clothes and shoes
- dry bag (with gps or wallet if I take these with me at all)
- dry box (with phone)
- safety knife
- full water bottle(s)
- whistle
- flashlight (sun-charged)
- spare flashlight (wind-up charged)
- food bars or drinks
- short (6-12 feet) tow rope with cambuckles rigged at my bow with the end accessible infront of my cockpit
- map pouch with map if I'm going some place new
- removable deck compass (very seldom as I usually go day paddling in inland areas)
- bilge pump (behind the seat)
- bilge sponge (in the car or the hatch)
- yakpads seat pad
- over PFD light wind/rain jacket (usually in the cockpit behind the seat, "just in case")
- multi-tool or a portable toolset

I'm sure I'm forgetting something...

Yup! One…

– Last Updated: Jan-22-09 1:40 PM EST –

Turlet paper...


signalling devices
I didn’t see anything other than a whistle for signalling.

Especially when solo, I put a big emphasis on signaling equipment. I make sure I’ve got everything I need for any emergencies, but then I back that up with adequate signaling devices. To me the most important is a waterproof VHF. Then backups like Flares, Mirror, Strobe, etc.

A whistle is only good for about a mile range, and then only if the target is in a silent area (ie, not on a power boat).

I also carry a space blanket/bag in all seasons - of course I’m further north.

Christ, I’m glad I’m in coastal Texas.
That’s a lot of gear.

Yup - lots…
I carry almost everything with me if I go alone on a several hour paddle over more than 10 miles with long crossings or one-way stretches over “uninhabited” territory. That’s because in these cases I have to be able to rescue myself and get back to paddling in relative comfort.

If I on the other hand the paddling does not involve a long crossing or unknown water I usually do not take almost any of the navigation or back-up gear (save for the spare paddle) but I still most if not all the safety gear if I am alone (including the VHF, especially in cold weather).

I often go out alone in less than ideal conditions and there is a real chance I may not roll back-up occasionally if I capsize (has not happenned yet, but it very well may) - so I have to carry the paddle float even though I can generally roll and if the roll fails I can typically still use the foam float on the fly to get a help with the roll without the need to wet exit. But if I have to wet exit, I need to have the pump handy.

Can’t wait for summer though - on short paddles then I only take the PFD (or not), light skirt (or not), inflatable float, whistle/flashlight, paddle, dry box/bag, shorts, shirt, hat, glasses, water, err… I guess the list is still long -:wink: but much shorter than now and it weights almost nothing!

C’mon - use leaves and wash it up -:wink:

Forgot about the VHF
Other signaling you mention is also good to have but I do not have it, hence not on my list for now.

I usually do not stick around in places where a strobe might be needed unless I’m in a group and then usually we have a few between us.

The flash lights I carry are fairly strong to see if directed at oncoming traffic from a good distance.

But a power boat or ship hearing a kayaker in high winds (upwind) is very questionable with any “manual” equipment and I do not carry a compressed air horn… Again, I try to stay out of such situations, but if I were to be in one I would most likely consider having something other than a whistle with me -:wink:

Duct Tape
and anti-inflamatories!

I sure hope you have simply …
… forgotten to add this to your list and “DO” carry it with you in all weather and all paddling situations … “your choice of “FIRE” maker” !!!

A quick fire can be a very important safty item in a bad situation , and can also be just a great way to warm up fast for simple comfort .

Fire potential , never leave home without it … there are multiple “starters” that are simple and compact you can carry with you … wasn’t too long ago that Tamia ( article writer ,In The Same Boat) , talked about a great one … simple cotton balls saturated with pertroleum jelly (vasiline) made up and kept in a zip lock bag .

if you don’t carry a way to make a quick fire happen , I think you should get up to snuff about it and add it to your “essential” list … the basic ingredients fit in the palm of your hand , stone and starters (matches,lighter etc. for backup too).

I’m not sure what you mean about staying away from areas where strobes might be needed.

Stobes (as I understand it) are emergency signalling devices. If a strobe is flashing, it’s the equivalent of sending a mayday or shooting off a red flare. It’s not just used to show your position to other boats.

I keep one on the back of my PFD all the time, just so I don’t have to worry about it.

Also, if you end up out past dark by accident, the CG requires that you have a visual emergency signalling device, and a white strobe fills that qualification.

organizing things
You asked how you remember things. Store things in a manner that you pull out duffels that are already packed and go.

Example - I keep a mesh bag with all the stuff that is going to get packed in my kayak every trip and inside the mesh bag are multiple dry bags/boxes that are small and are labeled or color coded -

  • one for first aid
  • one for boat repair

    -one for complete change of fleece and a wind pant
  • one with Storm Cag, fleece hat, fleece mits

    -things that are loose are OK to get wet and go in the day hatch or cockpit - fog horn, chart case, pfd…

    Everything in that bag goes on every trip.

    Then I keep a waterproof duffel ready to go and inside that are mesh bags to organize things - bag of different hats, bag of socks/gloves, bag of fleece tops/bottoms. This bag is what I choose from at the launch depending on conditions.

    As for pool stuff - that doesn’t need to be with the other stuff - just bag the goggles, nose plugs, old pfd, old neo, water shoes together.

    The only thing you need to do when you come back is wash/rinse/ dry immediately and then next day pack up again. Need to come up with your system and just stick to it.


3 others
for consideration. Chemical warming pack, firestarter and space blanket.

I also keep a small canister stove
… and a small Jetboil canister, plus about 4 other ways to make fire.

It takes up very little space.

Definitely a space blanket
I carry 2 of those, plus a 55 gallon contractor’s trash bag. Firestarter are good, but I also carry one of those folding stoves that burn the fuel tabs and a metal canteen cup. I also carry instant spiced cider mix because it has no caffiene.

A group of my friends and I actually did get caught out one winter’s night. Link to the storey is

What I meant was that
I typically do not paddle after dark alone and in areas where I would be more than a 10 minute swim from “civilization”. Camping out or open water after dark - sure, need one. I just don’t go there, yet, hence, not in my list. But your comment is well accepted and one should have it i ntheir arsenal if they get into situations they may need it.

Ah’ always carry de…
Swedish Bikini Team jus’ in case…


people don’t use strobes …
… on the water to signal questionable power vessal traffic , as if to say “I’m here , don’t run into me” , do they ??

I would think that if you activate a strobe on the water , you should expect for traffic to bear down on you … it’s a call for help , right .

A strobe is a recognized distress signal. When you turn one on you are calling on others to offer all available assistance.

I don’t paddle at night in cold weather myself, but having plans/gear for being accidentally benighted is part of my kit. Especially since it starts getting dark at about 4 on a cloudy evening this time of year.

Spare semi-dry suit, dry 2 pc or wetsuit
If wetsuit also a drytop. I have enough stuff that I can go with spare dry rather than having to duct tape up dry wear.

It might be easier and faster to
list the items that you don’t take along.

jim :wink: