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Thread: "Must Have" Kayak Accesories

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    "Must Have" Kayak Accesories

    Now that I've been out a few times I'm wondering about stuff I should have as a recreational "kayaker". Done some Googling and there is quite an array of stuff out there, a lot of which I honestly am not even sure what it is for. Based on my early hours I'm pretty sure I'm going to want a padded seat cushion of some sort, a waterproof stuff sack or bag, and an inexpensive bilge pump seems like it could be of use if I do river stiff with some chop. Curious from experienced travelers about the stuff I need that I don't even realize I need yet and what brands are considered reputable. Have never heard of most of them other than NRS, which I understand to be a high quality but expensive company.

    Any thoughts on must-have items, reputable brands and other general good-to-know stuff would be appreciated. TIA.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Member briarpatch's Avatar
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    I usually pack a bilge pump, sponge, and paddle float in a mesh bag on the back deck within reach when sitting in the cockpit. A large sponge works well to remove the last inch or two of water from the cockpit that the pump will not remove. The paddle float can be a hard foam or manual inflating float that fits over the paddle blade and greatly aids in getting back into the kayak it you tip over and you are not close to shore.

    I also typically have a length of rope that floats to tie the kayak off with when stopping on shore or pull those expedition members that should be abandon.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briarpatch View Post
    I usually pack a bilge pump, sponge, and paddle float in a mesh bag on the back deck within reach when sitting in the cockpit. A large sponge works well to remove the last inch or two of water from the cockpit that the pump will not remove. The paddle float can be a hard foam or manual inflating float that fits over the paddle blade and greatly aids in getting back into the kayak it you tip over and you are not close to shore.

    I also typically have a length of rope that floats to tie the kayak off with when stopping on shore or pull those expedition members that should be abandon.
    Thanks. I'll look into these items.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Small cockpit or large? If small, you could go with a spray skirt. I should look into paddle floats. As for something else, their are paddling guides, AMC has a couple and there is one for the Green Valley covering both the Shetucket and Quinebaug systems.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    Small cockpit or large? If small, you could go with a spray skirt. I should look into paddle floats. As for something else, their are paddling guides, AMC has a couple and there is one for the Green Valley covering both the Shetucket and Quinebaug systems.
    It's a recreational kayak so it has a generous cockpit. I wouldn't mind having something to put on it to keep all the dripping off me from the paddles and random splashes when its choppy but I'll probably just wear my rain pants.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Before you solo in remote areas, the most important piece of equipment is training. If you have a skirt you need to learn and practice wet exits. Then once you have exited you need a way to get back in the boat. A paddle float is worthless unless you have learned and practiced a wet reentry into the boat. I carry and was trained to use a rope loop for my wet reentries so a rope loop is stuffed in the pocket of my paddle float. Even when you have made the wet entry, you rapidly will be in the water again without a bilge pump as a kayak full of water is quite unstable. The only way you will learn is practice. Start out on sunny day and then try it with wind and swells.

    On large lakes with wind, hanging onto the boat is better than nothing but it can take hours to drift to shore. Folks think they can swim the boat to shore but in a stiff wind, the boat acts as sail and its hard to fight it. Even if you are capable of hanging on initially unless you are wearing a wet suit, the cold water temps and wind will quickly render you unable to hang on. Unfortunately wet suits are hot on sunny day so most folks rationalize that they do not need them.

    Get a good quality PFD with enough adjustment to make it wearable and to keep it on when you need it. Buy an ACR whistle and secure it to the PFD so its always available. The distinctive sound of an ACR whistle carries quite distance and lot less taxing then yelling.

    A good roll up dry bag is definitely recommended. A good one can be used for supplemental flotation.


    A general observation is if your stated goal is solo paddling and camping on remote lakes with little development a recreational kayak is a poor choice. Many of the Maine hydro lakes are relatively shallow and as a result of the glaciers they tend to be oriented W/NW to S/SE. The prevailing winds tend to be from the W/NW to the S/SE and the combination of the two is the potential for white caps and significant swells. Many a past paddle started out with water as smooth as glass in the AM turning into white caps and swells in the afternoon (inevitably with an upwind paddle to the landing) . Rec boats are designed with relatively flat wide bottoms, this gives them good primary stability so that beginner can get in and out of them easily and they are not tippy on flat water. Unfortunately these design attributes lead to problems when the water is not flat but rather tilted from swells. Sea kayaks tend to have marginal primary stability but have better secondary stability so that a skilled paddler can lean into the swells. Rec boats also tend to float on top of the swells while sea kayaks cut through them (the trade off is skirt is not optional with a sea kayak in swells as the waves can roll over the boat. Riding on top of waves is not good as the boat is exposed to the wind and the dive down into the trough can be potential dumping event. Years ago when I was building boats I talked to folks who were actively paddling the larger lakes just north or me and they all recommended go for a sea kayak. My Guillemot and its brother the expedition version
    https://www.clcboats.com/modules/cat...-sea-kayak-kit both were the way to go with the potential conditions I did encounter on occasion in the afternoon. There used to be a local paddling club and the owner of the local kayak business knew that folks with rec boats frequently traded up at least once or maybe twice to sea kayak hulls once they learned the hard way of the limitations of rec boats.

    Sad to say of late my paddling is slim to none so the twins are condemned to the garage but my guess is they will get some more use when I retire next year.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-06-2021 at 08:24 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    A canoe.



    When I was a young adult, I thought that because I was a strong swimmer and experienced paddler, I did not need to wear a PFD on quiet water. In the intervening years I've read of enough drownings so that I no longer hold that view. As my dad puts it, "It's hard to plan an accident." Always wear a PFD.

    A DIY bailer is effective in a canoe, but with kayaks I picture a bilge pump being more effective, as you and others have suggested. I concur about bringing a large sponge. They can be found at your local mom & pop hardware store.

    Sun protection: Often clothing is easier and less messy than sunscreen and they can also protect against the bugs. Sunglasses, preferably polarized; a bandana to tuck into your hat or visor provides protection for your neck and ears, or you can get a hat with an attached ear/neck covering; a long-sleeve, quick-drying shirt and pants complete almost complete the outfit, but don't forget your ankles and feet.

    Bug protection: See the sun protection above and bring a headnet along, too; DEET, of course, at least for backup; some swear by the Bugshirt for where the bugs are particularly vicious; and once at camp, a smudge.

    NSR sandal socks, especially if your feet run cold. They work well with my Chacos and also serve as sun and bug protection.

    My hands run cold, and 3/4 sailing gloves help somewhat. I've used OR PL400 gloves and Dachstein wool mitts even when the air and/or water temps were cooler, but I'm going to try the NRS Hyrdroskin gloves this summer.

    An Aquapac phone case, because my phone is my camera.

    25'-50' polypro line, optionally with a carabiner, attached to the bow and/or the stern. It can be used as a rescue throw line, lining your boat, or tying it up instead of beaching your boat when you take a short break.

    A map and compass.

    A lightweight baselayer top, wind or rain jacket, and if cooler, a fleece top and/or a wool hat, all stored in either an underseat bag—if in a canoe—or a small/medium dry bag.

    Binoculars and a bird guide, if needed.
    Last edited by TEO; 05-06-2021 at 01:23 PM.

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    Member briarpatch's Avatar
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    Nice points to add to the discussion peakbagger and TEO. I second the recommendation to practice wet exit and entry. Not that difficult of a skill to learn. But not something you want to try in the middle of the lake on your first attempt. On thing to determine if you kayak does not have water tight holds on both the bow and stern and only has foam buoyance blocks on both or one end then the cockpit rim may not be above the water surface after you get back into your kayak. The buoyance blocks will keep the kayak afloat but may not displacement enough water from your wet exit and entry to be able to bail out the cockpit. You can add air bags that fit in the ends of the kayak that can add the buoyance needed. The bags also reduce the amount of water the you may need to be pump out using your bilge pump once you are back in the cockpit.

    You do need to consider and dress for the water temperature not the air temperature. I might suggest it is similar to winter travel in the mountains above tree line and below tree line. That exposure above the trees can get you in trouble quickly. The low water temperature in the spring and even early summer on the larger bodies of water have the same effect. Immersion in 40 to 50 degree water without a wet or dry suit you have around 5 minutes or less of hand and finger dexterity.

  9. #9
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briarpatch View Post
    Immersion in 40 to 50 degree water without a wet or dry suit you have around 5 minutes or less of hand and finger dexterity.
    Right, if first you don't drown within seconds from cold-shock-induced inhalation of water.

    http://coldwatersafety.org/ColdShock.html
    Last edited by TEO; 05-06-2021 at 03:31 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Excellent info peakbagger, TEO and briarpatch. Thanks! Based on my research and everyone's recommendations here it looks like a consensus is building for what I need to buy. And obviously I need to get some practice. I'm literally only 3 trips in to kayak ownership. Getting back into the kayak is what I've thought about most and look forward to practicing when it gets a bit warmer.

    One thing that hasn't come up yet (or I missed) is how to secure all these goodies in a kayak if you do flip it. Do you tether it to the frame or seat? Your ankle like a surf board leash? Let it float out and hope you'll find it? Seems like obvious hazards with all of these options. Not sure what "standard operating procedure" is. Curious for any feedback on that topic.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

  11. #11
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Before you solo in remote areas, the most important piece of equipment is training.

    A general observation is if your stated goal is solo paddling and camping on remote lakes with little development a recreational kayak is a poor choice.
    I am aware of the limitations of my boat type and some of my interests. Last year I went back and forth at length about all the various types of kayaks, the pros and cons of each, the fact that I'll be doing a lot of my trips with my wife, etc. As ambitious as I imagined my trips being, I think at the end of the day we'll be doing a lot of pretty casual stuff. So we ultimately decided on the OldTown Vapor 10's. We'd used them on several occasions as rentals up at South Branch and I found they were very suitable for most of the types of paddling we actually do. Given its limitations as a "touring" boat I felt it cut the wind and waves reasonably well. Last year one of the days we went out was surprisingly windy for the size of the pond (12"+ inch white caps) and while it took some effort we really didn't get blown off course at all. Given the resale market for this stuff right now we figured if after a year or two of experience we find ourselves limited with these we can upgrade versus sitting on some seriously expensive touring kayaks that don't meet our needs. Or maybe you can message me and tell me under which Welcome mat at your house the keys to the garage and the twins is...

    Realistically we'll likely being doing camping overnights where we'd row some short distance out to an on-water site w/o car access, set up shop, and do some short day paddles out of that camp based on weather, the type of water body, etc. I'm not talking Lake Winnipesauke type stuff (which now that I've done a little research I realize some of the lakes I looked at in Maine are probably not realistic. They are much larger than I realized). I spent many, many days and nights on the water of Conway Lake years ago and definitely remember the finicky nature of winds during the course of the day. Larger ponds with coves and inlets, maybe feeder rivers that can be traveled up some distance, etc. will be our initial "target trips".
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    Right, if first you don't drown within seconds from cold-shock-induced inhalation of water.
    I remember a Memorial Day Weekend years ago on Conway Lake where we were all out in 90 degree weather broiling on the deck of boat so we decided to go for a swim. I still remember the shock of hitting the water and literally going numb for 5-10 seconds and just flailing my arm wildly for the rope the anchor was tied to until I adjusted enough to restore body functions and float normally. At which point my brother, who had jumped in about 10 seconds ahead of me yelled "Holy S%%%. It's ####ing cold!" Truly stunning how quickly the temperature of the water cooled from that top 12-18 inches down to several feet.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    One thing that hasn't come up yet (or I missed) is how to secure all these goodies in a kayak if you do flip it. Do you tether it to the frame or seat?
    Most of the loose stuff, such as extra layers, bird book, map and compass, wallet, etc., stay in the dry bag until you need it. Assuming the dry bag is of the roll-top type, clip it around a part of the seat or some strap on the inside, or—as a canoeist, not a kayaker, I'd guess—just jam it under the deck. The sponge can just hang out or jam it somewhere within reach. The Aquapac phone case has a cord to secure to your pfd or a key loop, then just tuck it in a pocket. The bow/stern lines can be secured in place using a bungee.

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    I have a small dry bag that fits behind my seat. I have bungies on the front and rear deck of my boat. I bungie my bilge pump and paddle float behind me on the deck.

    My expedition boat has foam bulkheads and front and rear hatch. The other boat has hatches but no bulkheads. I install inflatable floats in the bow and stern when I use it.

    BTW make sure you have adjustable foot pegs or foot rests. Kayak paddling should mostly be using the core muscles of your body instead of your arms and shoulders and you really cant get good technique unless you have foot pedals to brace against. Many folks use their shoulders and arms only and its a recipe for shoulder issues and getting worn out way to quick.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post

    BTW make sure you have adjustable foot pegs or foot rests. Kayak paddling should mostly be using the core muscles of your body instead of your arms and shoulders and you really cant get good technique unless you have foot pedals to brace against. Many folks use their shoulders and arms only and its a recipe for shoulder issues and getting worn out way to quick.
    Indeed. We learned this nugget during the rental process. The first year we rented the kayaks did not have and it is indeed awkward. Last year when we rented the kayaks had the pedals on the track set up and it made a huge difference which we both made mental note of. I'm hoping the fact that I did not really get sore at all from my first few trips out means I have a reasonably correct paddling form. I was expecting it to kick my ass because I really don't do any activity that is upper body oriented and I'm quite the marshmallow above the waist. :P
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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