I am at the start of kayaking

I have been shopping around in kayak departments not knowing what I am looking for besides a kayak. As for the sales people they become too helpful. I am not sure what they list is needed at this point.

can anyone help me with advice on buying the correct items for a beginner?


The basic equipment you’ll need…
besides the kayak are, of course, a paddle and PFD. You’ll also want a rack to put your kayak on your vehicle and a cockpit cover. Something to hang your kayak on for storage would be helpful too.

welcome to the world of paddling.

An excellent way to send salespeople away is to know what you are shopping for. The best way to do this is to take a paddling class, be it some sort of ACA Basic Coastal, or BCU 1/2 star. Besides teaching you basics, rescue skills, it will give you some time on the water and might influence what sort of kayak you will be leaning towards. Good instructor should be much better qualified to answer any of “gear centric” questions.

If you happen be undecided after that - try to find kayak liveries/kayak outfitters in your area - again, more seat time, more exposure to different boats.


– Last Updated: Jan-28-08 6:43 PM EST –

Hi suzann...can we assume you already have a kayak ? what brand /model? As DJ said, good quality PFD rated for your size/weight, a decent paddle, most are aluminum shafts ,, the best but more expensive ones are fiberglass or carbon and they ar very light, if u can afford them. **get a paddle shaft that fits your hands**, they come in diff sizes. A sponge to sop up water. and a hand operated bilge pump/ a paddle float, in case ya capsize. i favor the hard foam floats over the inflatable ones.if u capsize ..you got enuf to do w/o blowing up a float. A paddle lanyard is handy, keeps paddle from floating away or sinking in case it goes overboard. those r the very basic things , then, depending on conditions ya get into, waterproof clothing, hats , paddling gloves, spray skirts, drip aprons, cockpit covers for traveling /storage, either j-bars or saddles for transportation depending on your vehicle/luggage racks the more specific about the equipment you think you may need , the better someone may be able to offer valid advice. good luck

If you are referring to sales people
At a big box store, like Dick’s or even REI, be skeptical. Before taking any advice from them, ask them about how long they have been kayaking, and a few other questions. Most of the folks that work at those places know little to nothing about any of the sports they are pushing products for.

If you are referring to sales people at an independent outdoors store, where kayaks and paddling equipment represent a substantial chunk of what they sell, you are more likely to get some useful advice. Read all the articles under “Guidelines” on the left, and educate yourself that way.

Regarding Salespeople it depends
At my local outdoor specialty store it is half archery and half paddling. Depends on if the paddler or archer is in that day. The archer can’t spell paddle. On the other hand, there are a couple of big paddlers at the big box sports store. Need to ask about experience either way.

The requirements really
depend on the type of kayaking you want to do. Do you want to piddle around a local lake, do long trips, run whitewater rapids?

There’s little in common between running class IV rapids and touring. Fishing from a kayak is another area that is popular and you might pick a different boat for that too.

What is it you want to get into?


can give you is for you to go over to the left hand margin of this web page and click on “GUIDELINES”.

Once there, progressively click on the “Getting Started” topics, reading each before moving on the the next, and then move over to the “Kayaking” section. Click and read each of those sections next.

You’ll find a nice, logical, sequential, and understandable approach to helping you, first, come to know just what it is YOU want to do, and then, what paddlecraft might be best for you to start in.

And then AFTER that, you might want to come back here with some possibly more directed questions about specific kinds of boats, paddles, PFDs, and more.

Don’t forget, that for prospective paddlers, “paddling” REALLY means not just a boat, but a paddle, a PFD, some other safety gear, and for MOST people, it involves boat racks and transportation issues as well, most if not all of which really do need to be answered before you can -or should -get out on the water.

So read the GUIDELINES, ask some more questions when you’re done, and THEN get the boat & gear and get out there and


-Frank in Miami

"Items for a beginner"
Second Frank’s advice on using pnet site to figure out gear. There is also a good resource here, look especially under safety gear and at their discussion of boat features. http://www.atlantickayaktours.com/pages/expertcenter/main-expert-center.shtml

But most importantly - there isn’t a different set of gear for beginners than for more advanced paddlers. Paddling safety lies in the paddler’s skill and preparation in terms of dressing for immersion, being able to perform a self-rescue and generally stay on track where they want to go in conditions. So please look at the discussion of skills like self-rescue and figure out where and how you can learn these things along with worrying about the gear.

Your Profile
Your profile said that you are in Texas. Maybe you could tell us your town and in turn get some good recommendations for dealers in your city. If you are in the D/FW area, I can gladly recommend an honest, excellent, down to earth dealer who will work to make you happy and not be adding this and that to just take your money.

White Rock Lake
I saw that’s your favorite paddling location, and that you are restoring a sailboat. I was on the SMU sailing team in college and have lots of fond memories of sailing 420s on that water body.

Fiberglass not too bad $$$
A lot of people get their start in paddling gear from REI, which seems to really like selling Harmony paddles. The Estuary TAP in Aluminum is about $60, but the Adventure TAP in glass is about $50 (plus, it has asymetrical blades compared to Estuary’s dihedral). I would recommend anyone getting a first paddle to go ahead and get glass.

One of the best things you can do is to get that PFD, get a good one you don’t mind wearing, one optimized for paddling, and dress for the water temp, not the air. You’ll find things about this here and on Atlantic Kayak Tours excellent informational site.

One of the next best things you can do is to get some instruction early on in the basic strokes, concentrating on the forward stroke. I went and tried to just “figure it out” for a couple years, gave myself some bad forearm pains using the paddle wrong (a paddle that did not fit me) and learned more in my first 2 hour instructional (which can come from a coach or club members) than I did in two years on my own. That significantly improved paddling for me, it was already something I loved to do in spite of my bumbling around, but it made it even better.

If possible, you may do well to take some guided tours and instruction prior to just going out and buying a kayak. If you can try several different ones, you may save yourself from buying something that looks good in the store but you outgrow very quickly.

Good luck!

Buy a good comfortable PFD first

This is my best shot. I’m trying to change my image.

and have fun. I add pun comments so if you want real advice…send me a private e-mail.

Paddlin’ on


Your choice of boat will depend on where you plan to paddle (big lakes? ocean? creeks?), what kind of water you want to paddle (ww? flatwater?), your price range (don’t forget to include the price of a car rack and all your gear), how much weight you can lift (can you lift the boat itself onto your car rack?), and surely other things I have forgotten. Answers to these questions will narrow your choices.

Check out the different boats at your local outfitters. Go to demo days. TRY TRY TRY before you buy if at all possible. Ask questions.

Compare prices, size of boat, weight, etc. Sit in the boats in the store if possible. Hold a paddle and see how it feels in your hands. Try on PFDs.

Google “kayaking” and then read up as much as you can. Try to get an idea of what you might want.

Find a local kayak and canoe group too. For example, there are lots of Yahoo paddling groups. Where are you located?

Good luck - we have all been there too. :slight_smile:

you must be breaking out in hives
…after typing that.

Have your fingers turned green yet?

Boat Storage
I did all the leg work when I first started. I read articles, took classes, paddled a bunch of boats, and finally decided on the one I wanted. I bought the boat and got a paddle, PDF, paddle float, bilge pump, spray skirt, and a rack for my truck to haul it.

Then I took the new boat back to my apartment and it didn’t fit. After a year and half of nearly breaking windows, furniture and my neck gettitng the thing in and out of my apartment, I ended up trading my 14.5 ft Dagger Savannah for a 9.5 ft Necky Sky.

I love my Necky but I sure do want a bigger boat. If I could afford it, I’d get a folding boat, but it’s not in the stars (or the pocketbook) just yet.

Anyway, make sure you have room. That could keep you from getting to attached to a boat you can’t store.

at our old apartment, the landlord agreed to let me hang my first kayak on the fence behind the apartments–couple big eye hooks and some straps. It was a pain, but it worked. One of my buddies stored his vertically against the apartment wall, strapped around the bow to the deck rails on the second story. Another friend used to just keep his strapped to his truck all the time. Not what I’d want to do with a poly kayak, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

georgia kayaker
that was a good one :slight_smile:

but images are hard to change!

i will always see you as that hardened navy seal

The second most important thing

– Last Updated: Feb-02-08 7:57 PM EST –

after the PFD is a bilge pump, and get the one with the large discharge.

Occasionalyy I'll be on a inland pond or stream where there is no law regarding a PFD, and if were to leave an item behind, I would take a bilge pump with me before the PFD.

If you are paddling off shore, and alone a paddle float is also a must, and self rescue excercises with it are also a must.