Kayak Accessories

Ok, so I now own a pungo, carlisle paddle, malone sea wing carrier with stinger, 2 fishing rod holders and a few dry bags.

What else do I ‘need’? and why? (now that I am broke) a PFD tops on my list of course, but there are so many accessories - which are must haves and which are simply nice?

I’m assuming a paddle keeper bracket thing and paddle leash would be pretty handy. Are those float bags a MUST, or just a good idea? How about the paddle float for self rescue? what else?

Thoughts? Thanks!

Float bags
These are a must - no point in being able to do a paddle-float rescue if the boat is pointing vertically towards the bottom, which is what can happen without flotation at both ends. You also need something to bail water out of the boat - a pump may be spiffy but part of a clorox type plastic bottle secured to something in the boat by a string would also work.

You want something like an plastic Otter box or a dry bag to secure and protect cell phone, radio, anything you’d use to call for help that can’t get wet.

Finally, you need clothing for yourself should you get caught in the rain. A decent rain jacket, maybe a change of clothes, also in a dry bag.

Our Gotta-Haves
Floatation - well, we don’t actually carry it, because our VKs have bulkheads fore and aft - but any craft’s ability to support itself and remain manageable when swamped is a non-negotiable for us. Try taking the Pungo into four feet of water or a swimming pool, stand alongside it and swamp it; handling a boat full of water is far more difficult than it might appear to be.

PFD - get a good one that fits well and is really comfortable - it’s the first line of defense for survival in the water…

Paddle float - the ability to stabilize the kayak while re-entering is vital, especially if paddling alone. Having one, BTW, isn’t enough - our club does a yearly safety clinic, and we’ve found that re-entering, even with a float or another kayak to assist, ain’t necessarily easy…

A good pump or bailer - water sloshing around in a kayak can do very interesting things to stability - the ability to move a lot of water PDQ is another essential. A large juice jug with the bottom hacked out is a darn sight better than nothing…

Finally, we carry a drybag each with a complete - and we mean complete - change of warm dry clothing and some very basic survival/first aid gear. While your SC location should mean warmer waters than ours, beware of being exposed to wind in wet clothes. I had a very sticky go-round with hypothermia years ago, when we dumped a Snipe in warm pond water on a hot but windy early fall day. Was fine in the water, but once ashore, the wind chilled me incredibly quickly; we were very lucky to make it to a cabin, and even luckier that a nurse recognized the signs of hypothermia and knew what to do. We now carry our ‘bailout’ bags every time we’re out in a kayak or canoe…

Flotation bags

– Last Updated: May-04-09 5:30 PM EST –

I'm new to the water as well, and have a question regarding flotation bags. I have a 12' Dagger Blackwater, by the way. Are these placed in the cockpit area or they attached to the exterior (which I can't imagine due to not seeing any pictures of that manner). If not the cockpit area, how/where do I get them to the bow stern. Are there certain sizes or is it a one size fits all?

There is probably an obvious answer, but I thought some experienced paddlers might have advice.

How about
a first aid kit?

flotation bags
Bags go inside the boat, not out. You put floatation bags in the portion of the boat that you do not occupy.

If you have a watertight stern bulkhead behind the cockpit, with a watertight hatch cover, you don’t need flotation bags in back as the whole compartment will act as a flotation tank (as long as the hatch stays on).

In a relatively short kayak of 12 feet, you won’t have a huge area in the front, but you will have space in front of your footpegs that can be filled with a single bag, or with split bags, if you have a central foam pillar. You just stuff the bag(s) up in the front and they have relatively long filler tubes that you can use to inflate them. You don’t need a whole lot there, just enough to keep the nose afloat so that it doesn’t sink, as Celia described, although a plastic boat is much less likely to do this than a composite.

You may be able to rig a small anchor point through the cockpit up inside the hull toward the nose to tie the bags in. If not, just take them out when you travel so they can’t blow out of the boat.

Perfect- thanks for the thorough response!! I know exactly what to look for now and how to apply it.

Something else came to mind- do many of you use a paddle leash?

Must have’s
Kayak,paddle,Paddle float,pump,Whistle on PFD,signal flare,H2O,and dont forget camera and cell phone(turned off)in case of emergency.


– Last Updated: May-05-09 3:20 PM EST –

leash's are fine...especially if you are in moving water and drop the paddle...it can be a lifesaver, on the down side..it can be cubersome and could entangle your wrist if you flip... never be in a hurry in a kayak...secure 1 thing at a time before moving to the next task..dry bags(hard case is better, won't puncture) are fine for wallet, car keys, remote starter,etc,but make sure you tie it off to something, preferably yourself should you part ways with the boat. a sponge is good for bailing and wiping sweat off. paddle hangers are ok, but you can stick the paddle under the front bungee and secure the back with another till u have more $$$. also a anchor might come in handy. also have heard of people using those swimpool "noodles" for flotation, cut'em to size, tape 'em or just fold them up,whatevr works and stuff them in the bow / stern.

Paddle leash use
I have a wrist to paddle leash wrapped around my Euro paddle almost all the time, in sea kayaking. I am odd that way and often wrap one around my GP as well when I switch, because I tend to paddle with gloves and that cedar can be quite slippery. But you’lll rarely if ever see anyone do that.

However, I find I use the darned thing quite rarely these days, mostly in rescues so I can drop my paddle. In normal paddling I almost never unwrap it, and thus far I think I have lost hold of my paddle just once in some surf. Never in WW, never again in surf. Though having an expensive paddle helps a lot with your ability to hang onto it.

I prefer wrist to paddle over boat to paddle, something about which you can find huge disagreement so that’s all I’ll say there. The one thing that most agree on is that those telephone cord boat to paddle leashes are annoyingly noisy.

I have never used on in WW nor have I seen any indication that are popular with the seasoned folks. Write your name and phone number on the blade in something indelible and trust to the honesty of other paddlers if you lose your grip.

Paddle leash…
I have a paddle leash that comes in two pieces that clip together. One side slides over the paddle, the other clips to the boat. This is very handy. I find the one piece leashes are a bit of a pain.

dry boxes
You can get inexpensive ones at Wal Mart. They come in 2 or 3 sizes. Smaller one will hold keys, cell, ID, money, and cell phone.They have a clip that you can put a carabiner on.

paddle leash
A paddle leash is just one more thing the stores reach in your wallet for when you are starting out with your first kayak and you are vulnerable to buying “all the things you need.”

There is a chance of tangling of the leash around your neck, body, arms or feet should you bail out. It’s a pain in the a** the rest of the time. Since you should be paddling with someone else, let them retrieve your paddle if you let go of it. Over time, learn to always hold on to your paddle. Carry a cheap spare paddle.

Put the money saved (and quite a bit more) into a good life jacket.-Kokatat Misfit Tour is a quality life jacket and was designed to fit women-I’m one of the many men who also find it comfortable. The float bags are a must if you do more than lilly dipping.

If you train your paddle well it will obey you without a leash.


You just need to get out and paddle
Obviously get the safety gear needed for the type of water you are doing, but with a Pungo, you probably aren’t doing anything too extreme starting out.

Boat, Jacket, and Paddle. For a lot of trips there’s really nothing else that is critical. Okay some water, but as far as gear goes, you can do a lot with pretty minimal gear, especially if you paddle with a group like your local canoe club. Most of the leaders will have all the extras that you might need.

Gear is a big focus here, but you don’t really need a lot of junk to go on a nice paddle around the local lake or down an easy river. Once you are comfortable with the safety gear you have, everything else is gravy and can wait.


More Accessories
Sounds like you have the basics (besides a PFD) Here are some additional accessories you might want

*Spray skirt (depending on type of boat)

*Cockpit cover (for storage)

*Deck lights (if paddling at dawn/dusk/dark)

*Spare paddle (every group should have one in case someone loses their paddle)

I’ve never used a paddle leash in 3+ years of paddling. My new safety kit came with one, so I’ll try it out, but I’m not crazy about the idea.

Safety gear/skirt
As mentioned, PFD, paddle float, whistle, and pump were the first accessories that I picked up. First aid kit adapted from my hiking gear. As for the leash, I use mine in certain situations where it will not become a nuisance. When solo, it’s nice to have. If you can get your paddle to follow commands if/after you lose it, your powers are beyond our ability to help. By the way, after a year of paddling, a good pair of river socks and a small dry pouch for keys/wallet/cellphone are a must. I would also say get a skirt even for your pungo. I don’t paddle my Pungo much, but when I do, I ditch the “dashboard” and use the skirt instead.