Kayaking "Required" Equipment

Hi, All,

I’m new here and just posted asking for advice on buying a SOT kayak for paddling in Sarasota Bay (Florida).

I’d also like to ask for your advice with what kinds of other equipment I MUST have and some equipment I might WANT to have in order to make the most of my kayak adventures.

I plan to paddle Sarasota Bay both for sightseeing (leisurely paddling) and for photography (getting to good photo sites quickly, then having a stable enough boat to take photos). I have a Nikon camera with a medium-sized lens and will want to have a means of storing the camera safely but be able to get to it quickly and easily so I won’t miss the million dollar shots.

Any advice from all the experts out there will be most welcome!


What you Have to have
1. A paddle, best you can afford, it makes a difference

2. PFD in the boat. If your under 16 and/ or in some states at certain times of year you have to wear it. Most people here will say you SHOULD ALWAYS wear it, but that ain’,t the law

3. A whistle. I recommend a pealess whistle. Mostly because I like saying pealess whistle.

That’s it. All the rest is optional. If you go out after dark you may or may not be required to have some type of light, rules vary state to state.

If Florida, water bottle(s)
and sunglasses and hat.

A way to attach said things to either yourself, or the boat, ie, if you’re wearing sunglasses you don’t want to lose, a keeper strap, and some sort of bottle holder, such as you stick it under a stretchy bungee or in a hatch or clip it to to something. I have been known to thread the sunglasses keeper strap thru the back of the baseball cap on breezy days, if I’m not using a helmet with a sun brim. That way if it blows off it doesn’t get too far.

Camera will need a “dry bag” which is a waterproof bag you stash things in and fold the top over to buckle it closed. Comes in many different sizes from wallet sized to backpack sized.

Don’t know your insect situation, but may also want to carry whatever you use to repel them in a separate bag for freshen -ups.

Sunblock, lip block, and/or sun shirt.

Assuming you have some sort of cell phone- that will need its own waterproof case, and don’t assume the simple “waterproof” covers they sell you at the cell phone store won’t fail at the most awkward time. Can put it in a ziplock bag in the dry bag if you have to. Oh, and if you drop it, the thing sinks, unless you have it in a floating case, or attach a piece of pool noodle to it, so you really want to be careful with a cell phone, as they tend to get more and more complex and expensive $$.


– Last Updated: Jun-11-15 8:29 PM EST –

FOSTER NIGEL http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guide-to-sea-kayaking-in-southern-florida-nigel-foster/1110842888?ean=9780762703364

Admiral Perry https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/prod63601.html ( or cheaper if the unit runs Blue Charts

With prescription sunglasses or Yorktowne Optical http://www.campmor.com/Product___14695




also need long sleeve polyester crews, try white/Danskin tights !/water sandals ($-see Campmor-Teva is OK)

Have you visited Flamingo ? search here in Padnet for Florida trip eg Flamingo to Long Key Boomerang. See also Flex Maslan

Paddle Float
I’d add a paddle float - very handy for getting back into/onto the boat when/if you need to.

Boat horn, not whistle
I used to have a whistle. I now have a compressed-air boat horn after a near miss with a motor boat.

But that’s not “required” is it?
Your pretty vocal about how you would right the laws if you were in charge but let’s not confuse the OP with silly fluff.

I didn’t express any opinions on the should haves.Feel free to give all the opinion you like but don’t pretend you have any basis to correct me.

Whistle is what you had to have.

comfortable PFD
Get a PFD that is comfortable enough that you don’t mind wearing it all the time. I highly recommend the Astral V-8. Low profile back so it won’t interfere with your seat and very light and well ventilated. Even on the hottest days I don’t even notice I have it on. First off, wearing a PFD, even if your state regs don’t require it, is a painless safety measure. Second, it’s easier to just wear it than have it taking up storage space on your boat.

If you plan to ever head out a ways from the coast into open water, it’s a good idea to have a backup paddle stashed in the boat. Can just be a cheapie.

Basic gear

Spray skirt

spare paddle

paddle float




Sounds like you might have a DSLR camera. If so I would get a plastic box with rubber seal like a Pelican case of correct size. Drybags ARE NOT waterproof unless its one of those from NRS that have a water proof zip. Grocery Zip lock bags are not even close to be water proof. There are some plastic water proof bags loksak but the zip is untrustworthy, I have had some pop open on me plus tricky to get them sealed in first place.

Since its a Sit On Top kayak not sure if paddle float is needed as I thought you just climb back up on that type of kayak. Spare paddle would be good idea if alone.

OP’s on a SOT
No need for a pump or spray skirt.

jack L

Important kayak gear

– Last Updated: Jun-12-15 12:38 PM EST –

1. A good quality PFD that fits you; a few pockets, loops in/on it can give you places to keep small items handy

2. A good quality paddle that is the right size

3. A leash to tie the paddle to the boat, so you won't lose it if you drop it or capsize

4. Water shoes with soles to keep your feet from being cut when getting in/out of the boat (rocks, shells, glass, etc)

5. A good dry bag to keep wallet, keys, etc

6. Forgot - if you are blind as a bat like me, then Croakies or some equivalent to keep your glasses on your head you if capsize.

That's about it for priority stuff in my mind... you might want a whistle tied to your PFD, waterproof nautical chart for your paddling area or small waterproof GPS chartplotter, fishing rod holders, etc

Pelican box for the camera gear

– Last Updated: Jun-12-15 12:40 PM EST –

Bungie or straps to secure it to your boat.
Water bottles, including one you can quickly use to rinse salt water from hands before handling the camera.
Quickdry cloth for wiping wet hands.
Food in waterproof container.
SOT cart for hauling to the beach with.
Extra clothing in a dry bag.
PFD and whistle.
Knowledge of weather and any tidal flows.
Lots of common sense!

AND...maybe a kayak anchor to make it easier to photograph or watch wildlife.

zippered drybag in your lap
the guy with the most published kayak shots I know, carries his camera in his lap in a drybag. A zip top drybag not a rolltop.


oops, good catch
What about the paddle float? With a SOT, don’t you just climb back on, no fuss, no muss, no need for a paddle float?


That looks good!
I have an Aquapac that I stuff my DSLR with grip and tele zoom into, but mine doesn’t look as sturdy as that Sagebrush.

I might have to order one.

You might want to consider:
a folding knife.

I don’t leave home with out one and it has come in handy many times.

A lot of paddlers keep one in a pocket of their PFD, but I keep mine in the same small dry bas as I keep my car keys, my wallet, and a tube of putty epoxy that can be used under water, (just in case !)

Jack L