What else do you take every time you kayak?

OK, got my kayak, my paddle, my pfd with a whistle, and water - no radio. I’ll be with my wife, and between the two of us we’ll have one phone too (we’ll be on lakes and slow rivers, and I’m not talking about camping).

What else do you ALWAYS take out in your kayak with you?


As I live where it’s usually quite warm, a wide brim hat and water. Then there’s the little bail out pack with a small first aid kit, bug spray, gloves, cord, etc. Just in case.

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My whale herder


In addition to the required whistle attached to my PFD, I keep an expired driver’s license in one pocket. In the other pocket is an Ocean Signal PLB and a small wedge of a cut-up compact disc is tethered to a pocket for a signaling device.

At a symposium I attended we were handed small white cards and told to write the name and phone number of our contact person. The cards were collected, laminated and returned. Wasn’t very confidence inspiring at the time, to have to write your contact info in case of death or injury before the first classes went out but in retrospect it’s a good idea. It’s stashed next to my driver’s license.

Water and a couple protein bars are always carried.

When I’m not paddling at home, the following are always carried:

Spare paddle.

Two small dry bags which contain extra sunglasses, a pair of reading glasses, first aid kit, Leatherman multi-tool, emergency blanket, gloves, a roll of Gorilla tape, paracord, waterproof flashlight, bug net, bug spray, a few sheets of paper towels and a small pack of hand wipes.

iPhone in a waterproof bag.

Each of my boats carries the USCG “if found” label with my name, phone numbers, etc.

First aid kit came in handy once when a cut on my hand reopened as I was paddling. Same for the Leatherman when my skeg was stuck because a small pebble was in the housing (that was before I drilled a hole in the skeg and attached a line).


(Almost) Always in the kayak - Contact tow, Spare paddle & paddle float. Car keys are clipped to the cockpit cover & stuffed in the back hatch. PFD has a knife, whistle, compass, & neoprene beanie. I’ll usually have water but I’ll sometimes skip it for an hour (or so) lap around Lake Lansing. Other stuff depends on venue, weather, and group.

In a canoe I’ll normally have a throw bag & a collection of carbiners along with a thwart bag with hygiene materials, first aid kit, Multi tool, & some cord. Other stuff again depends on venue, weather, & group. I’ve taken to pulling the contact tow off of the kayak to take along when the group skills are a bit iffy.

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After reading rival51’s comment, remembered my paddle float, sponge and bilge pump.

Have been off the water too long. :slightly_frowning_face:

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I always have a contact tow line strung between the lines on my foredeck and a pump and a paddle float on the rear.

In the cockpit I have a small dry bag with my wallet and car keys. I take a VHF radio on my PFD and my iPhone is in a Lifeproof case. I use a Garmin vivosport GPS band to track my paddle.

That and a big bottle of water and I’m good to go.

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Spare paddle, emergency shelter of some kind (can be anything from a fancy one that fits three to a basic reflective sack depending on the paddle), basic ID with ICE info (In Case Of), tow belt because it means I have a rope, VHF and/or cell phone depending on the location.

Some stuff just lives in the day hatch or on the boat so I never take it out. Basic first aid kit, also have a contact tow which just lives on the deck, a couple of Bush emergency hatch covers, spare pair of gloves, basic neo hood or cap. The wrist leash lives on my paddle shaft so that is also always with me.

Stuff that never comes off the PFD so is always there includes a compass, whistle, C-light, cheapo reading glasses, nose plug.

A lot of this boils down to putting it into or on the boat or the PFD and leaving it there.

Of course sunglasses and a hat, but those go back and forth and I have been known to forget one. Paddle float and pump which I have also been known to forget because they move around. Water bladder on my PFD, which I am usually good about remembering to get out of the freezer. Cag, the Kokatat Paklight one.

When I arrive in Maine I pack a dry bag with a change of warm layers and stuff it into the boat. If I switch boats I sometimes forget to move it, but for that time it is never out of a boat unless I had occasion to use the clothes.

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Like others I take a bunch of stuff. My kayaks are stored in the garage where I also keep a laminated list of those items, which I read every time so I don’t forget anything.


Coming from a cycling and running background… I wear a RoadID dogtag on a necklace, and a second on a LiveStrong silicon wristband. If I ever get separated from my wallet, helmet, PFD, kayak, bike, etc., all the other forms of ID are gone…hopefully one of those tags will still be with me. I also wear them 24x7, which is easier than remembering to put them on before kayaking, biking, running, etc.


Usually afterwards…Ibuprofen.


Paddle float, compass, a small dry bag with magnesium strip fire starter, toilet paper etc. A knife or two, If I’m going for more than an hour or so I usually like to throw a camp chair and sometimes the tent and overnight essentials if I’m going far (just in case).
Oh and beer. You never know when an emergency calling for a beer may occur


That’s a whole another thread, I think…

I need a kayak bumper sticker - “If found, please look for body”

Like this? Yes, you do!



For my surfski - Wetsuit, Neoprene shoes, PFD, Booney Hat, Sunglasses, Blaze orange long sleeve shirt, flashlight, mirror, whistle, leg leash, paddle leash, phone in dry pouch, emergency steering kit (bungee and loop to compensate for 1 broken rudder cable, tape wedge to wedge rudder straight if both cables break)

The emergency steering kit and phone in dry bag in dry pouch is the only stuff that isnt physically attached to me at all times, but is with me in the boat always.


Mirror… Now there’s something I should add to my little emergency supply dry bag!

Oh yeah Pump & sponge - thanks @Rookie

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Looks as tho I’m the only one that includes a small good pair of swim goggles for in case the need arises to search along the bottom for important lost articles such as someones glasses. or Keys or camera… or etc etc etc…without a pair , the search is close to hopeless and needs to be done immediately.


I have a saying, there’s only 5 things you gotta have (I paddle easy ww, fast moving rivers). They are a lifejacket, helmet, paddle, sprayskirt, and boat- everything else is extra. That bein’ said, on my pfd is a whistle and in my pfd pocket I have a spare drain plug, a spare bulkhead nut, and a granola bar or two. I always carry a bit of water. I Rarely carry my keys (stash on the vehicle) or carry on me an id (leave in the vehicle). I usually wear a baseball style cap under the helmet. If the stream is totally class I then there is no need for the helmet.

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Keys and wallet in a dry bag in rear compartment (I use to keep wallet in truck until my truck was broken into one evening before I got back to the ramp). Ibuprofen and antacid in REI waterproof pill bottles in deck bag and rub-on anti-bug juice in PFD pocket (rarely use it but have been to a couple of ramps around sunset where the no-see-ums were making life miserable), light attached to rear shoulder lash tab of PFD and a head lamp to make my presence known after dark, pump and paddle float, a couple of safety orange visual distress signals in PFD pockets to wave around as needed, nose plugs for rolling and ear plugs in winter (also for rolling). Thermos of hot coffee (warm by the time I get to it) and water.

Lately, I’ve started taking a camp chair https://www.rei.com/product/159192/eno-lounger-dl-chair - kind of a guilty pleasure but it’s very comfy and I enjoy sitting in it on the beach as I slow sip my afternoon coffee and watch the world go by. To my surprise, it fits pretty easily in both my oval rear hatch and my circular forward hatch.

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