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Flatwater recreational kayaking checklist

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Flatwater paddling is fun, relaxing and can offer a respite from the rigors of everyday life.

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However, you should always remember that “Safety” is the first order of the day. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime when you less expect them, fatal accidents.

That is the single most important reason that Safety and Preparation should be uppermost in your thoughts before you enter a canoe or kayak not matter how calm, peaceful or benign a lake, river or stream may appear.

Make sure you have an experienced guide or instructor. Join a club or paddling association. Take a class.

The following is brief checklist. It is not an exhaustive list. We offer this list only to give you some ideas about how serious you should be before entering a watercraft.

Next Adventure provided this list


FLATWATER Recreational Kayaking Checklist

Kayak Needs

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Spray Skirt
  • Sponge
  • Dry Bags (1-2)
  • Deck Bag (optional)
  • Boat Cart

Outerwear (Depending on the season)

Top Layers

  • Long Underwear (lightweight)
  • Spray Top
  • T-Shirt (synthetic)
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Rain coat

Bottom Layers

  • Long Underwear (lightweight)
  • Nylon shorts
  • Fleece Pants
  • Rain Pants
  • Drypants (optional)


  • Neoprene Paddling Gloves or Pogies
  • Sun Gloves

Head Layers

  • Warm Hat (fleece and/or neoprene
  • Sun Hat


  • Wetsuit Booties or Paddling Shoes
  • Sandals
  • Socks (wool or neoprene)


On the Boat

  • Bilge Pump
  • Paddle Float
  • Navigation Charts

In the Boat

Water/Windproof matches/Lighter

Headlamp & Batteries

  • Pocket Knife
  • Tide Charts
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Signal Mirror & Flares
  • Repair Kit (tape, hull patch, nuts & bolts, pliers, wire, etc.)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water Purification

On You

  • PFD (life jacket)
  • Hydration Bladder or Bottle
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Watch
  • Signal Light


Sunglasses w/ strap

  • Sunscreen
  • Quick-Dry Towel
  • Moisturizing Lotion
  • Bandana
  • Lip Balm


  • Binoculars
  • Camera w/ Waterproof Case
  • Cell Phone w/ Waterproof Case
  • Day Pack
  • Crazy Creek
  • Guidebooks
  • Fishing Gear
  • Garbage/Zip-Lock Bags
  • Toilet Paper
  • Emergency Snacks


  • Water Bottle Microfilter
  • 303 UV PRotectant Spray
  • Paddle Wax
  • iPod Specifice Dry Case
  • Cell Phone Specifice Dry Case

Recommended Reading

  • Kayak Fishing: The Ultimate Guide, by Captain Scott Null & Joel McBride
  • Recreational Kayaking, by Ken Whiting

John G Hall
Charlotte Canoeing Examiner

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