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The Essential Kayaking Gear

PFD - LIFE JACKETS Some equipment you can’t do without, like a kayak, paddle and a life jacket. While some items may not be necessary for every trip, they can play a large part in keeping you safe and comfortable. A personal flotation device, PFD , helps you stay afloat when you capsize.

Kayaks: Purchasing a kayak will be your biggest expenditure if you decide to own instead of rent. The different kayak model designs are specific to what the kayak will be used for. Wide kayaks are more suitable for novice kayakers, anglers and photographers because they provide more stability. The wider the kayak, the more stable, but the slower and harder it is to paddle. The narrower the kayak, the less stable it is, but the more speed it has. Narrower width and longer length kayaks are a good choice if you want to paddle long distances. Shorter kayaks are easier to turn and maneuver and are less cumbersome to transport than longer kayaks.

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Inflatable Kayaks are popular for people who don't have space to store their kayak, or who cannot lift the kayak on top of their car. Inflatable kayaks can be deflated and inflated quickly, usually with the help of a foot or an electric pump. They have one problem though, they can pop if over inflated or punctured.

PADDLES are defined by four primary characteristics - blade shape, shaft shape, length and material

Blade shape: Most novice paddlers begin with flat paddles because they are easy to use. However, they don't move as much water as other paddle blades and can put a lot of strain on your shoulder and back muscles. A wide blade with a larger surface face can provide greater acceleration, but will also create more resistance and drag in the water. It takes more effort to use a large-bladed paddle than a smaller one. A long, narrow blade will take more strokes to move through the same amount of water, but the paddler will be less tired.

ROOF RACKS You will need a way to carry your kayak. Some smaller kayaks can fit in the back of a pickup truck, but most kayaks will require a roof rack for your vehicle.
One of the easier ways to transport your kayak is to purchase a roof rack. This normally involves a set of bars that attach to the car via rain gutters or clips on the door. They come with a wide variety of attachments from kayak saddles to stackers.

If you intend to carry more than one kayak in the future you should choose a roof rack that stands your kayak up on the side. The racks can be used without the attachments; however, the racks should be padded. Place the kayak upside down (cockpit side down) on top of the rack. Ropes can then be strapped across the boat and tied to the bars.

Tie Down Straps  I highly recommend to tie a strap from the bow and stern of all the kayak to the front and back bumper. If your bumpers do not have a gap to pass a rope around, look underneath your vehicle .for a loop of metal on which to tie the strap. Three points of tie down is a minimum (two across the car and one to the front bumper), a fourth (the rear bumper) is better. You can insert adjustable straps into the self bailing holes, to tie the kayak to your vehicle. This can help prevent the kayak from sliding back and forth or from slipping off your vehicle. I use the Yakima roof rack without and saddles or stackers. They have a lock so no one can steal your racks off of your vehicle.

For Comfort and Safety 

Dry Bags: A dry bag is a storage container made out of waterproof fabric, designed to keep your gear and dry food dry for a day or multi-day kayak trip. Dry bags come in a variety of colors, (or clear), and come in several types of material. Clear dry bags allow you to see the contents inside of the bag, without having to unpack the entire bag. The most durable bags are made from vinyl. Waterproof nylon is less durable than vinyl, but is lighter and more flexible. Dry bags come in different sizes. The best sizes for kayaking range from 8 liters to 15 liters. Anything larger is difficult to fit into a hat.

Bear Spray Smart paddlers always protect themselves in bear country with bear spray. Always carry bear spray when ever you hike, paddle or camp in bear country, Bear Deterrent spray is designed to drive away bears in the event of an attack. AND you want to purchase the biggest canister you can find, and a belt holster to carry it. Check the expiration date before you purchase it.


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