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What To Take On A Kayak Day Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Dotti Ackerman



Embarking on a kayak day trip is an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Whether you’re paddling along a serene river, exploring a picturesque lake, or navigating the captivating coastline, a kayak adventure allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. However, to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing, it’s crucial to pack the necessary gear and equipment.


In this article, we will guide you through the essentials you need to take on your kayak day trip. From safety gear and navigation tools to personal essentials and emergency equipment, we’ll cover everything you need to make your journey a success.


Keep in mind that the specific items you choose to bring on your kayaking excursion may vary depending on factors such as location, weather conditions, and your personal preferences. However, the following list will serve as a helpful starting point to ensure that you have the essential gear for a memorable day on the water.


So, let’s dive in and discover the must-have items for your kayak day trip!


Safety Gear

When it comes to any outdoor adventure, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some essential safety gear items to consider bringing on your kayak day trip:

  1. Personal Flotation Device (PFD): A properly fitted PFD is a must-have item, regardless of your swimming ability. Choose a PFD specifically designed for kayaking, as it allows for freedom of movement and has multiple adjustment points.
  2. Helmet: If you plan on tackling more challenging rapids or engaging in whitewater kayaking, wearing a helmet is essential to protect your head from potential impacts.
  3. Whistle: A whistle is a compact and effective tool for signaling for help in case of an emergency. It is especially useful in situations where visibility may be limited.
  4. Throw Bag: A throw bag is a buoyant bag with a rope inside. It can be used to rescue others or as a means of self-rescue if you become separated from your kayak.
  5. Bilge Pump: A bilge pump helps remove water from your kayak in the event of capsizing or heavy splashing.
  6. Tow Line: A tow line is necessary if you plan on kayaking in a group. It allows you to tow or be towed by another kayak in case someone needs assistance or if it’s necessary to move more efficiently as a team.
  7. Float Bags: Float bags are inflatable bags that fit inside the bow and stern of your kayak. They help displace water and provide added buoyancy in case of a capsize.

Ensure that all safety gear is in good condition before your trip, and familiarize yourself with how to use each item. Remember, prevention is key, but having the right safety gear can make all the difference in an emergency situation.


Navigation Tools

Navigation is an important aspect of any kayak trip. To ensure you stay on course and explore safely, consider bringing the following navigation tools:

  1. Map and Compass: Carry a waterproof map and a reliable compass to help you navigate your way through unfamiliar waterways. Familiarize yourself with the map and use the compass to determine your direction.
  2. GPS Device: A GPS device can be a valuable tool, especially if you’re kayaking in remote areas or planning long expeditions. It provides real-time location information and can help you track your progress and find waypoints.
  3. Tide and Current Charts: If you’re kayaking along coastal areas, it’s essential to have access to tide and current charts. These charts will help you plan your trip around favorable tides and avoid strong currents.
  4. Waterproof Phone Case: Your smartphone can serve as a backup navigation tool, especially if it has GPS capabilities. Invest in a waterproof phone case to protect your device from water damage.
  5. Marine Radio: A marine radio is helpful for communicating with other boaters, obtaining weather updates, and calling for assistance if needed. Make sure to familiarize yourself with radio etiquette and the channels used in your area.

Before your trip, take the time to study the waterways you will be navigating and plan your route accordingly. Familiarize yourself with the features of your navigation tools, ensuring they are in good working condition. Remember, being equipped with the right navigation tools will enhance your overall experience and help you avoid getting lost.


Communication Devices

Staying connected and being able to communicate while on your kayak day trip is crucial. In case of emergencies or the need for assistance, it’s important to have reliable communication devices. Consider bringing the following communication tools:

  1. Cell Phone: Bring your fully charged cell phone in a waterproof case or dry bag. It can serve as a primary means of communication in case of an emergency or to stay in touch with others.
  2. Two-Way Radio: Two-way radios are a great option for communicating with your paddling companions if you’re kayaking in a group. They allow for clear and reliable communication over short distances.
  3. Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): PLBs are small, waterproof devices that can send out distress signals in emergency situations. They transmit your GPS coordinates to search and rescue authorities, greatly increasing your chances of being located quickly.
  4. Flare or Signal Mirror: In case you find yourself in a dire situation and need to attract attention, flares or a signal mirror can be useful for signaling for help.

Before your trip, ensure that all communication devices are fully charged and in proper working condition. It’s also a good idea to inform someone on land about your trip details, including your planned route and estimated return time, so they can take action if you don’t check-in as scheduled.


Remember that communication devices are only effective if they are accessible and functional. Keep them within reach and protected from water damage. Regularly check their battery life and signal strength during your trip to ensure they are ready to be used in case of an emergency.


Personal Essentials

When preparing for a kayak day trip, there are certain personal items that you should always have with you. These essentials will not only contribute to your comfort but also ensure you’re prepared for any situation. Here are some personal items to pack:

  1. Sun Protection: Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial while spending hours on the water. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing to shield yourself from harmful rays.
  2. Waterproof Clothing: Dressing appropriately for kayaking is essential. Pack a waterproof or quick-drying jacket and pants to protect yourself from wind, rain, and splashes. Additionally, bring a change of clothes in case you get wet during your adventure.
  3. Water Shoes or Sandals: Invest in water shoes or sandals that offer good traction and can get wet. Avoid wearing cotton socks, as they stay wet and can lead to discomfort during your trip.
  4. Hat and Insect Repellent: Bring a hat to shield yourself from the sun and pesky insects. Apply insect repellent before setting out to prevent bug bites.
  5. Personal Identification: Carry your identification card, health insurance information, and emergency contact details in a waterproof pouch or case.
  6. Cash and Wallet: While it’s important to minimize taking valuables on your kayak trip, it’s a good idea to bring some cash and your wallet in a waterproof bag in case of unexpected expenses.
  7. Snacks and Hydration: Pack lightweight, non-perishable snacks like energy bars or trail mix to keep your energy levels up. Carry enough water or a hydration system to stay hydrated throughout your adventure.

Remember, personal essentials may vary based on the duration and location of your kayak day trip. It is always better to be prepared for different weather conditions and to pack accordingly.


Food and Water

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for any outdoor activity, including kayaking. Packing enough food and water will ensure that you have the energy and sustenance needed for your day trip. Here are some tips for packing food and water:



  • Bring an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout your kayak adventure. The amount of water you’ll need depends on factors such as the weather, intensity of activity, and duration of your trip.
  • Consider using a hydration bladder or water bottle that is easily accessible while kayaking.
  • You can also bring a water filter or purification tablets to treat water from natural sources if needed.


  • Pack lightweight, non-perishable snacks and meals that are easy to eat and provide sustained energy. Options like energy bars, trail mix, jerky, and dried fruits are convenient choices.
  • Include foods that are high in protein and carbohydrates to fuel your body during physical exertion.
  • Consider the duration of your trip and plan for enough food to keep you satisfied throughout the day.
  • Avoid bringing perishable food items that require refrigeration unless you have a suitable cooler or insulated bag to keep them fresh.
  • Remember to pack any necessary utensils or containers for consuming your meals.

Staying properly nourished and hydrated will help you maintain your energy levels and enhance your overall experience on the water. It’s important to pack enough food and water but also be mindful of minimizing waste by properly disposing of any wrappers or containers.


First Aid Kit

Accidents and injuries can happen while on a kayak day trip, so it’s important to have a well-stocked first aid kit to handle minor medical issues. While the contents of a first aid kit may vary based on individual needs, here are some essential items to consider including:

  • Adhesive Bandages (various sizes): These are useful for treating small cuts, blisters, or abrasions that may occur during your trip.
  • Antiseptic Wipes: Wipes or solutions for cleaning wounds to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Gauze Pads and Non-Stick Dressings: These are helpful for larger cuts or wounds that require more extensive care.
  • Medical Tape: Use medical tape to secure dressings or as an additional layer of protection for blisters or hot spots.
  • Tweezers: Tweezers can be useful for removing splinters or other foreign objects.
  • Scissors: Carry small, sharp scissors for cutting tape, clothing, or other materials if needed.
  • Pain Relief Medication: Include over-the-counter pain relief medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve minor aches and pains.
  • Antihistamines: These can help with allergic reactions or insect bites.
  • Moleskin: Moleskin is useful for preventing and treating blisters caused by friction.
  • First Aid Manual: A compact first aid manual can provide guidance in handling more serious injuries or emergencies.

Remember, it’s important to have basic knowledge of first aid procedures and how to use the items in your kit. Consider taking a first aid certification course to familiarize yourself with proper techniques before your trip.


Inspect your first aid kit before each trip to ensure that it is well-stocked and in good condition. This will help you be prepared for any minor injuries or medical situations that may arise during your kayak day trip.


Dry Bags and Waterproof Containers

When kayaking, it’s important to protect your belongings from water damage. Dry bags and waterproof containers are essential for keeping your gear dry and secure. Here’s what you need to know:


Dry Bags:

  • Size and Capacity: Choose dry bags in various sizes to accommodate different items. Consider the storage capacity you’ll need for your valuables, clothing, and food.
  • Multiple Layers: Look for dry bags with multiple layers for added protection against water leakage.
  • Roll-Top Closure: Opt for dry bags that feature a roll-top closure system. This ensures a watertight seal and keeps your belongings dry even if the bag is submerged or splashed with water.
  • Colors: Select dry bags in vibrant colors to make them easier to spot in case they fall overboard or get separated from your kayak.
  • Floatation: Some dry bags come with built-in floatation capabilities, providing an extra layer of security in case they end up in the water.

Waterproof Containers:

  • Smaller Items: Use smaller waterproof containers or pouches to store items like your phone, wallet, keys, and other essentials that you need to access frequently.
  • Electronic Protection: Consider waterproof cases or pouches specifically designed for electronics to keep your devices safe and functional.
  • Organization: To keep your gear organized and easily accessible, use clear or labeled waterproof containers.

When using dry bags and waterproof containers, ensure that they are properly closed and sealed to prevent any water from entering. Additionally, it’s a good idea to double-bag your sensitive and valuable items for added protection.


Remember, even though your gear is stored in dry bags or waterproof containers, it’s still important to take precautions and avoid unnecessary submersion or exposure to water. Properly securing your belongings ensures that they stay dry and undamaged during your kayak day trip.


Paddle Accessories

Having the right paddle accessories can greatly enhance your kayaking experience and make your day trip more enjoyable. From improving performance to adding convenience, here are some paddle accessories to consider:

  1. Paddle Leash: A paddle leash is a must-have accessory that keeps your paddle securely attached to your kayak. It prevents it from floating away if you accidentally drop it or experience a capsize.
  2. Spray Skirt: If you’re kayaking in rough waters or encountering splashes, a spray skirt is essential. It helps keep water from entering the cockpit, keeping you dry and more comfortable.
  3. Paddle Float: A paddle float is a valuable safety tool that helps you re-enter your kayak from the water if you capsize. It attaches to one end of your paddle, providing extra buoyancy to stabilize your kayak while you climb back in.
  4. Paddle Grips: Paddle grips or paddle mitts are accessories that provide a cushioned and comfortable grip on the paddle shaft. They can help reduce strain and fatigue on your hands and improve your paddling efficiency.
  5. Paddle Holder: A paddle holder allows you to secure your paddle on the side of your kayak when you need both hands-free. It’s a convenient accessory, especially when taking breaks, fishing, or taking photographs.
  6. Deck Bag: A deck bag is a waterproof storage bag that attaches to the deck of your kayak. It provides easy access to essential items such as snacks, sunscreen, a camera, and other personal belongings.

These paddle accessories can greatly enhance your kayaking experience, providing convenience, comfort, and safety. It’s essential to choose accessories that are compatible with your kayak and suited for your specific needs and preferences. Properly installing and securing the accessories ensures that they function effectively and don’t interfere with your paddling technique.


Remember to test and familiarize yourself with the operation of these accessories before your day trip to ensure they are functioning correctly and to familiarize yourself with their usage.


Repair Kit

Having a repair kit on your kayak day trip is essential for addressing an unforeseen equipment malfunction or damage. Packing a repair kit can help you handle minor repairs on the go and ensure you can continue your adventure without interruption. Here are some items to include in your repair kit:

  1. Duct Tape: Duct tape is a versatile tool for temporary repairs. It can be used to patch small holes or tears in your kayak or gear.
  2. Patch Kit: A patch kit specifically designed for kayaks can be used to fix larger tears or punctures in the hull. Make sure the patches are compatible with the material of your kayak.
  3. Epoxy or Adhesive: A strong adhesive, such as epoxy or marine-grade glue, is useful for repairing cracks or broken parts of your kayak.
  4. Zip Ties: Pack a few zip ties in different sizes. They can be used for temporary fixes and securing loose parts.
  5. Spare Parts: Consider bringing spare parts that are prone to wear or commonly break, such as extra bungee cords, deck lines, or hatch covers.
  6. Kayak Sponge or Bilge Pump: A sponge or bilge pump is useful for removing excess water from your kayak if it takes on water.
  7. Multi-Tool: A multi-tool or a set of basic tools can come in handy for various repair tasks or adjustments.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with your repair kit and how to use the items it contains. This way, you’ll be prepared to handle any minor repairs that may arise during your kayak day trip.


Remember, a repair kit is not a substitute for proper maintenance and care of your kayak. Regularly inspect your kayak and equipment for any signs of wear or damage, and address any issues before they escalate.


Emergency Equipment

While we hope that you never encounter an emergency situation during your kayak day trip, it’s crucial to be prepared for the unexpected. Having the right emergency equipment can make a significant difference in ensuring your safety and the safety of others. Here are some essential emergency items to include:

  1. Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): A PLB is a vital emergency device that sends out distress signals with your location information to search and rescue authorities. It should be registered and properly activated in case of an emergency.
  2. Signal Mirror: A signal mirror can be used to reflect sunlight and attract attention if you’re in need of rescue or assistance. Practice using it beforehand to ensure you know how to effectively signal for help.
  3. Emergency Whistle: An emergency whistle is a compact and effective tool for signaling for help. It can carry over long distances and is especially useful in situations where visibility may be limited.
  4. Emergency Blanket: An emergency blanket, also known as a space blanket, provides warmth and insulation in case you need to spend an extended period exposed to the elements.
  5. Extra Paddle: It’s always wise to bring an extra paddle in case your primary paddle becomes lost or damaged during your trip.
  6. Knife: A sturdy, multi-purpose knife can be invaluable in various emergency situations, such as cutting rope or freeing yourself from entanglement.
  7. Waterproof LED Headlamp: An LED headlamp ensures you have a reliable and hands-free light source in low-light conditions or during nighttime emergencies.
  8. Flares: Flares are an essential signaling device that can quickly grab attention and alert nearby boats or search and rescue teams in case of an emergency.
  9. Emergency Contact Information: Carry a waterproof card or document with emergency contact numbers, including local authorities and your emergency contacts.

It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the proper usage of these emergency items before your trip. Ensure that all equipment is accessible and properly secured, so you can quickly and easily access them if needed.


Remember, preparedness and quick action can make a significant difference in emergency situations. Stay calm, assess the situation, and use your emergency equipment responsibly to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.


Optional Items

In addition to the essential gear and equipment mentioned earlier, there are some optional items that you may consider packing for your kayak day trip. These items can add comfort, convenience, and further enhance your experience on the water. Here are a few optional items to consider:

  1. Kayak Seat Cushion: A seat cushion can provide extra comfort and support during long hours of paddling.
  2. Kayak Fishing Gear: If you enjoy fishing, bring along your fishing gear, such as fishing rods, tackle boxes, and bait. Just be sure to check local regulations and obtain the necessary fishing licenses.
  3. Camera or GoPro: Capture the stunning scenery and memorable moments of your kayak day trip by bringing a waterproof camera or a GoPro. Secure them with floating straps to prevent accidental loss in case they fall overboard.
  4. Binoculars: Binoculars can come in handy for observing wildlife, identifying landmarks, or enjoying scenic views from a distance.
  5. Portable Camping Stove: If you plan on taking a break for a picnic or camping along your route, a portable camping stove allows you to cook hot meals or beverages.
  6. Dry Clothes and Towel: Pack a set of dry clothes and a towel in case you get wet or need to change after your kayak adventure.
  7. Fishing or Camping Accessories: Depending on your interests, additional items such as fishing nets, camping hammocks, or camping chairs can enhance your experience.
  8. GPS Watch: A GPS watch can provide real-time tracking of your route, speed, and distance covered, allowing you to monitor your progress more easily.

Remember, while these items can enhance your kayak day trip, it’s crucial to balance them with the necessary gear and maintain a safe and manageable amount of weight on your kayak. Consider the specific activities you plan on engaging in and the needs and preferences of your group when deciding which optional items to include.


Ultimately, the goal is to enjoy your time on the water while ensuring safety and comfort throughout your kayak day trip.



Embarking on a kayak day trip is an exciting adventure that allows you to experience the beauty of nature from a unique perspective. However, it’s important to be prepared and pack the necessary gear and equipment to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing.


In this article, we’ve covered the essential items to take on your kayak day trip, including safety gear, navigation tools, communication devices, personal essentials, food and water, first aid kits, dry bags and waterproof containers, paddle accessories, repair kits, emergency equipment, and optional items.


Remember that the specific items you choose to bring may vary based on factors such as location, weather conditions, and personal preferences. It’s important to strike a balance between preparedness and avoiding excessive weight that can hinder your paddling performance.


Prioritize safety by wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and having a properly equipped first aid kit. Familiarize yourself with navigation tools and communication devices to stay on course and remain connected. Pack personal essentials, food, and water to stay comfortable and nourished throughout your trip. Utilize dry bags and waterproof containers to protect your belongings from water damage.


Additionally, consider paddle accessories that enhance your paddling experience and bring along optional items that align with your interests, such as fishing or camping gear.


By taking the time to prepare thoroughly and pack the right gear, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy a remarkable kayak day trip, creating unforgettable memories amidst the serenity of the water. Always prioritize safety, respect the environment, and have a fantastic time exploring the wonders of the outdoors!