new paddler - what accessories needed?

Hello again

Thanks to all who responded to my last post - I was overwhelmed with the reponse! What a great bunch of people on this message board! My next question: once i decide which kayak (125 or 145 - I am going to Bend to try them on for size) what is a good paddle, pfd and spray skirt? Is there anything else I need to get? The women at the workshop I attended had all kinds of cool things but right now I just need the basics to get started with. Also, are there any paddlers in the John Day. OR area out there?

Get a GOOD paddle. It means alot to have a paddle that you are comfortable with. Also talk to your kayak shop and get a spray skirt that fits your boat. A pump and sponge are a nice idea also. After that you will enjoy paddling if you are dressed right. Once again talk to your kayak shop. The important thing is to go paddling. Vaughn Fulton

cold water protection
A wetsuit or drysuit depending on water temps. After that the equipment you may supplement with is specific to where you might be paddling.

Another great accessory is this forum. There is a wealth of advice and some great and very experienced folks to give it here; I’ve learned more than I can recall @ PNet.

Don’t forget a roof rack
for your vehicle. Yakimas or Thules are really nice, but you can make one for under $50 with materials from Lowe’s or Home Depot. That’ll get you to the water. Once on the water, all you need is a good paddle, PFD, and skirt.

new paddler - what accessories needed?
are there particular brands of paddles i should be looking for? what constitutes a “good” paddle? are there certain types of PFDs that are best for paddling?

life jackets abd paddles
Get a good life jacket. Have the store help you choose. You want it to be comfortable yet you dont want to float out of it. Dont get a cheap one from Walmart. You wont like it. Get a good paddle thats your size. Have a store clerk help you size one. I like wood paddles myself because they feel good in my hands and they arent too heavy. If you choose to get a wood paddle, look at Bending Branches paddles.

The one thing I always bring is a bilge sponge. Its great for cleaning off the kayak when you are done kayaking and for absorbing water that gets in your boat. If your seat gets uncomfortable you can use your dry sponge to sit on.

paddles are made mainly in alumnium, fiberglass and carbon. alumnium and fiberglass paddles weight about the same, i think fiberglass might be a couple of oz lighter (good ones weight in the high 30 oz), and the carbon is lightest by a big margin (low 30s to high 20s.) what you save in weight will cost you money. carbon paddles are much more expensive than the other 2. if money is no object, go carbon, if it is, there’s nothing wrong with the other 2. some popular brands of paddles are cannon, aquabound and bending branches. expect to pay around $80 - low $100 for a 38 oz alumnium or fiberglass paddle. don’t know about carbon cause they’re too expensive for me.

if you’re only starting out with day trips on slow moving rivers or keep close to the shores of inland lakes, then the only “essential” equipment, imo, are a paddle, lifevest, whistle (make sure it’s made of plastic, not metal, 'cause, u know, rust,) bilge pump and a paddle float (for self rescue.) the rest of the stuffs are nice to have, but not “essential.” besides, as you grow more adventurous, you can add the other pieces as the need arise.

if money is tight, look for a bilge pump at a boat store. they’re not the ubiquitous yellow ones with the red handle, but they work just fine. and don’t even think about shelling out $15 on a kayak sponge! save yourself $10 by getting a large sponge, the kind you wash your car with, at your local grocery/auto parts store. i personally like the paddle float that’s made of a block of foam instead of the ones you have to blow up. i think they cost about the same and you never have to worry about the blow up ones getting punctured.

a sprayskirt is one of those things that’s borderlines “necessary,” imo. i’ve only been getting seriously into kayaking in the last 1 1/2 year, but in that time, i’d estimate i’ve gone out over 50 times, and that’s with the local rivers/lakes freezing over in the winter, and i’ve yet used a spray skirt (i have one, but haven’t used it yet.) granted, i’ve only been on mainly slow moving to low class 2 rivers and very few lakes (i think they’re boring,) so i don’t need one as much as people who are near the ocean or cross large lakes.

Good, reasonably priced gear
Buy the best gear you can afford, but buy it on sale (when possible!). Here are some recommendations for good, well-priced gear:

NRS has great sales of last year’s equipment, and their own pfds are good. If you want to get an excellent pfd, they now have an Astral on sale for $86 at

For a less expensive but still excellent quality pfd, I’d suggest LL Bean’s comfort mesh, at $59. It borrows the shape of the kokotat msfit (a very popular woman’s pfd), and LL Bean gear is generally well made.

For paddles, my favorite reasonably priced brand is aquabound. Their carbon paddles are great, but their slightly less expensive ones are good too (not their recreational, but what they call “elite touring”. The eagle ray, at $150, is a good deal for a 32 ounce paddle. The expedition amt in carbon is even better, and someone is selling one (220 cm long) on ebay for $127, a great deal. You can buy better, lighter paddles for $350 or $450 (Onno makes great, well priced custom paddles for less than $350, but there’s a long wait) but for a paddle under $200, aquabound has excellent choices. Make sure you get one that weighs 32 oz or less–not a heavy recreational paddle.

A paddle float is also important, and cheap. Learning to use it is even more important! If you’ll be paddling in cold water, a farmer john wetsuit is good, and often goes on sale at NRS.

Have fun!

new paddler - what accessories needed?
Thanks for all the great advice and also the web site link! At least I have some information to get started with now. Appreciate the help!

Another nice "accessory"
Is one of those water cannons that you simply dip in, & pull back to fill. You can suck up that last bit of water that a bilge won’t, and then you can nail your friends from 50’ away! Forget sponges- this sucker is the way to go!