Planning an aqua microadventure takes a bit of extra effort, but it’s worth it. Whether it’s your first time in a boat or you’re a champion rower, here’s our essential kit for your next kayaking trip. Warning: shopping for dry bags is oddly addictive.
1. Your Vessel
We could dedicate a whole post to buying a kayak (watch this space!). But, the likelihood is that, if you’re just starting out, you won’t be ready to cough up for your own kayak – yet. You can rent kayaks for self-guided kayaking trips in places like Kangaroo valley or join a volunteer group like Willow Warriors and go on an aqua expedition that gives back to the planet.
If you do decide to invest, inflatable kayaks have become popular with paddlers who don’t have space at home to store a hard-shell version.
2. Dry Bags
Press out air, twist and clip. It can take a little practice to become a pro at shutting a dry bag (hint: if it looks like a balloon you need to go back to the beginning). It’s much easier to balance the weight of a boat with multiple, small dry bags, instead of the 35-litre versions. It also means you can divide your supplies – clothes, cooking gear, food, first aid kit etc.
Short on space? Opt for compression dry bags and feel the satisfaction of seeing your gear squash down to nothing.
3. A Hammock
A tent can take up a lot of space so consider downsizing your accommodation. The best thing about a hammock system, which includes a fly net and rain tarp, is that you can pitch it on an uneven river bank and don’t need to search for a flat surface. If you find sleeping in a hammock all night gives you backache, it helps to put a ¾-length mat in the bottom to give it more structure.
The popular kayak route from Tallowa Dam has trees in the middle of the river where you can hang hammocks from for Instagram-worthy photos.
4. Paddling Gloves
Don’t be a martyr and paddle barehanded, unless you want to spend the journey home clinging to the paddle with your fingertips. A good set of paddling gloves will let you go harder for longer. Sea to Summit’s also have SPF protection, so you’ll avoid blistered palms and burnt knuckles. You can wear cycling gloves instead but, if you’re a splasher, they won’t be as water resistant.
Waterproof footwear makes it easier getting your craft in and out of the water but isn’t vital.
5. In Case of Emergency
A waterproof first aid kit is a must for a kayaking trip. Make sure it contains bandages and dressings for blisters, plus iodine swabs because water and wounds can end in oozing. It might sound obvious, but secure your first aid kit to your kayak so that, if you do capsize, you don’t lose it. A lot of survival tools come with flints which mean you can still light a fire, even if your matches get soaked.
In an ideal world you’d also carry a spot tracker for safety because, hopefully, there’s no phone reception where you’re going.
6. A Rashie
You might have fantasies of kayaking down rushing rapids with your pecs out, but sun, spray and wind chill can be an uncomfortable combination. Your choice of protective attire comes down to personal preference – a rashie or a wetsuit vest will work but make sure they won’t chafe around the armpits when paddling. As for life jackets, can we convince you to wear one by showing you this cool, khaki coloured version?