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The gear you should bring paddling and the gear you should leave behind.

Written By: Pamela Hennessy

It’s an age-old conundrum. How much is too much? That can apply to things like seasoning, cologne, volume and just about anything in between. But, for the purpose of kayaking, it’s important to find your own sweet spot.

Burdening your kayak down with a large amount of gear and accessories isn’t always a great idea. After all, your goal is to connect with nature in a carefree and entertaining way, and simpler is often better. With that said, there are essential pieces of equipment that every paddler should consider part of their regular payload. Whether for safety or for comfort, you’ll soon find your own perfect mix of pieces that you find fundamental and others that are best left on shore.

The Big One
Your personal floatation device (PFD) is the single most important piece of gear for each and every kayak outing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a strong swimmer, or how small a body of water is; you should always be outfitted in your PFD when paddling. It will also improve your overall confidence level.


Photo Credit: Adam Wells

Take your time choosing a PFD that fits the bill. You want to maintain a good range of motion but also know that your PFD is adequate for the type of paddling you’ll be doing. 

You might want to check our own PFD offering here. Oru Kayak’s PFD is an affordable, Type III life jacket from NRS.

Keeping it Dry
Dry bags are indispensable accessories for kayaking and other water outings. If you intend to bring along your mobile device, a camera or any other valuable, a good, reliable dry bag is a useful piece of gear. Dry bags are available in a range of sizes and are super affordable, so there’s virtually no reason to be caught without one.

Spray skirts are also a brilliant addition for closed-cockpit kayaks. When paddling in choppier conditions, a well-fitted spray skirt works wonders to keep you dry and comfortable. If the water is cold, a spray skirt can also help you maintain warmth.

Oru Kayak offers an adjustable nylon spray skirt for moderate waters here, and our heavy-duty neoprene spray skirt for the bigger waves here. Both are custom-designed to fit Oru Kayak closed cockpits snugly.

If you’re taking on even cooler conditions, a drysuit over your clothing makes an excellent layer of insulation against chilly waters and a basic, foldable rain poncho is always a good idea.

Whatever Floats Your Boat
Kayak float bags are a smart addition to your payload, especially if you plan to take on more vigorous bodies of water. Designed to keep your kayak situated higher in the water, float bags help minimize water entering and weighing down your kayak. They can also aid in keeping your kayak upright, making it more buoyant and - ultimately - safer.



A properly selected float bag fits neatly into the hull of your kayak, away from feet and out of the way. You can check out Oru’s high-quality float bags here.

First Aid
A first aid kit is a helpful item for any nature outing. Yours should always include disinfectant, bandages, aspirin, sterile gloves and tweezers. Depending on your location, you may wish to include cream for skin rashes and antihistamine tablets. 

Some off-the-shelf first aid kits also include eye wash and eye patches. But, even the very basics are good to have aboard to ensure every journey is comfortable and safe.

If you’re heading out in warmer weather, a good sunscreen is important to have packed as well.

Outfitting for Kids
If you’re heading out with the little ones, you already know you’ll be bringing a few more items. Naturally, having plenty of drinking water or juices will be important. Kids may also need high-protein snacks when active, so it’s good to have plenty on hand.


Photo Credit: Microadventure Family

All children need to be properly fitted with their own personal floatation devices. And, it’s smart to give a final check for fit before heading out. 

The Bits and Pieces
If you’re planning a cookout, fishing excursion or a camping journey, you will no doubt have quite a bit more to bring along. Stowing your gear requires little in the way of skill. But, it’s necessary to pack so that your range of motion isn’t hindered in any way. As they say, less is more. 

Before venturing out, take a look at what you plan to bring and ask yourself if everything will be needed. Your first priorities are always safety and comfort.

An overabundance of electronics and other non-essential items will only serve to slow your flow. So, check twice and pack once for the best experience.

In the following video, Oru Kayak’s expert, Jeff, runs down the best kayak gear to bring on your next paddling trip. He also shares some tips on the right accessories, shoes and apparel.

Header Photo Credit: Madison Dahl