Very new questions.

We are relatively new to kayaking. This will be our second summer. We’ve been sail boaters for 25 years. We kayak locally on rivers and lakes, no blue water passages, no camping, just out from short jaunts to up to three hour river drifts. Loon 120 kayaks and we always wear our kayak PDFs with attached whistle. We carry a sponge, short line, water and snacks.

Question 1: in your opinion, what are other essential gear(s) that we must hav, and why?

Question 2: what gear do you keep under the bungies on the bow or stern, if any?

1)Sunscreen, water.
2) Extra paddle

2a)I carry a walking stick because I need it getting out of the boat.

For day trips:

– Last Updated: Mar-28-16 4:41 PM EST –

To answer your questions:

1. (a) Flotation bag for the bow. (b) Dual chamber inflatable paddle float. (c) Bilge pump.

Why? Your kayaks have only one sealed bulkhead (in the stern). Capsize and the boat will float vertically denying re-entry. A float bag secured in the bow will give you a chance to get back in using the paddle float (once you learn how), and the bilge pump will allow you to pump out the cockpit.

Things can go wrong even on the flattest of water, so it's good to have a Plan B and even a Plan C.

2. Gear on my boat: Bilge pump and paddle float are secured under the bungees behind the cockpit. My Garmin Forerunner is attached to the front of the cockpit and my spare paddle is carried under the bungees on the bow. Hydration pack is either in my stern hatch or behind my seat, accessed by a tube and magnetic clip to my PFD.

Gear inside my boat: dry bag with a change of clothing stashed in the bow hatch.

Everything else I carry is on me in a Kokatat Tactic Pack attached to the back of my PFD. That includes a cell phone in a waterproof bag, extra pair of sunglasses, sunscreen, signaling device (hunk cut from an H&R Block tax CD), and a couple of high protein bars. Car keys are in a waterproof bag in one PFD pocket; expired driver's license in the other pocket.

Edited to add one more thing: my boats carry a vessel ID sticker:

For a couple hour easy trip I carry
Bilge pump or bailing device. If it floods you can swim it to shore and beach it but if it’s full of water you are not going to drag it up on the beach. Preferably stowed securely but accessible below deck. Under the rear bungee as a last resort.

I have a water resistant ID holder about 3/8" thick with my DL, insurance card, one credit card and a little bit of green money. On a break away lanyard around my neck under the shirt.

One car key on a floating key ring somewhere on my person.

I carry a round bag with a drawstring top between my knees or behind the seat. Has sunscreen, bug spray, over the head bug net, water proof band aids in a waterproof case for blisters stings, Sawyer snake bite kit. Small knife. Chem light. Paddling gloves unless I’m wearing them There’s an insulated pocket on the bottom for snacks and an extra water bottle. Bandanna of 1000 uses. Hand sanitizer (wash before eating, first aid uses)

Other things I may or not have, Hot Hands body warmer, Ice Bag like on the sidelines at a football game, they can be a piece of heaven in July/August, bigger first aid kit. Bigger knife. Flashlights, bic lighter and fire starter if there is even a possibility I could maybe somehow everything went wrong spending the night on a sandbar. Spare paddle or emergency collapsible single blade paddle. Dry clothes. Rain poncho

Depending on which kayak and how much extra there is I try not to have anything under the bungees. Maybe a jacket I want quick acess to or my water bottle in front. Bilge pump… Crap in the bungees interferes with re-entry/rescue or can become entangled if boat is swept into overhanging branches along the bank.

If you paddled last summer and didn’t need it, it is not essential. Boat, paddle, pfd that’s it!

There are lots of items noted above that may be desirable and enhance your comfort and safety depending on who you are, skills, type of water, paddling partners, weather, etc.

Rookie nailed it!
In your case, with your boats, I’d definitely want a flotation bag in the bow.

Personally, I like to keep my rear deck clear as if I do tip over, that’s where I’m scrambling back on! I keep a paddle float, a pump and a spare paddle under the front bungees.

I keep an assortment of stuff in a roll top dry bag in my cockpit. The usual stuff, plus a small pair of waterproof binoculars and a small roll of toilet paper and a few ziplock bags…well, you never know!

Portage cart under bungee on the stern

Walking stick
Good idea on the walking stick. I don’t need one, but it’s nice to use when taking a walk in the woods. I never thought of having a walking stick. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a nice branch to make a walking stick to keep next time I’m out in the woods.

Expired license
More brilliance! I never thought of my expired license to carry. I cycle and I always grab my driver’s license and a $20, clip them together, and carry in my bag on the bike. It’s a pain remembering to grab it back out of the bag when I’m done. My license expires next month so I’ll have a fresh expired license to put in a bag and just toss it with the $20 from my bike bag to my boat bag back and forth and not have to pull the current out of my wallet.

Read the expired license tip here.
I think Celia mentioned it in a thread last year.

The “Deep Trouble” books have a few stories about the importance of float bags.

Many thanks
Again, been boating more than 50 years, but pretty new to kayaking. We had two Loon 100s this winter in Florida. I brought down a bunch of stuff from our Sailboat but never used any of it (handheld VHF, navigation stuff) and hence my questions.

Never thought about bow flotation bags. Are they “one size fits all” or do I look for something specific for the Loon 120 and Loon 126?

I watched the excellent YouTube presentation on using a paddle float to get back into the kayak - gotta try that this summer.

And, I am not sure if I should ask “which bailing pump?” (I am afraid it might be like asking a cruising sailor, which anchor is best - lol)

Again, many thanks.


NRS, Harmony Gear
It’s more like, a few sizes fit most!

Take a look at

One of their standard flotation bags will most probably fit your kayaks but you’ll need to measure.

NRS also has a decent bilge pump…

Harmony Gear has one too…

float bags
Since the flotation bags expand to fill in and fit whatever space they are stuffed into, exact size doesn’t matter. The purpose is to fill in the empty space to displace water from being able to fill it. Get short wide ones for your boats. And be sure to tether them somehow to the boat – otherwise they may wiggle out and float away if you get swamped or capsize. They can also can sucked out and blow away if you have them in the boats on the roof rack during transport if not secured.

Also make sure you release the valves on them when you car top or leave the boats on shore on hot days. I had one split a seam when the air in it expanded on a hot day. I was able to patch it later but I learned my lesson.

I never go out without a bilge pump. They are cheap insurance and make it so easy to empty water that collects in the boat when you are paddling without a skirt on calm warm days, not to mention emptying serious flooding after a semi or full capsize. They also make great water cannons if you are paddling with kids!

A recent addition to my everyday kayak kit has been a SplashFlash, a tiny and very bright LED waterproof flashlight that has a setting that flashes the universal Morse Code SOS signal. I keep it clipped inside my PFD pocket.

Another Paddle
It’s not really a spare. One paddle with significantly more surface area than the other. Think upwind and downwind. High gear and low gear.