Kayak touring is an incredible adventure that lets you see so many sights and waterways that you couldn’t otherwise, propelled by your own strength. Before you venture on a kayaking day tour, you’ll want to double check our kayak gear list, where we’ll cover every item that you’ll need to go on a kayaking adventure.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’re obsessed with finding the best item of each piece of gear so that you can spend more time kayaking and less time combing the internet for the best pieces of gear. In this guide, we’ll cover everything that you’ll need to bring on a kayak tour, and show you the top models for each item.

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HOW TO USE THIS PACKING LIST

Next to each piece of kayaking gear that we feature, we’ll tell you a few essential facts that you’ll need to know about it. Here are the categories we’ll show and a quick explanation of what information you can expect to find.

PURPOSE: This tells you the basic use of the piece of gear and what it’s used for.

ESSENTIAL ITEM? Is the piece of gear essential to your trip, or is it simply an extra luxury? We’ll let you know. However, an item might be essential for one type of kayaking trip but unnecessary for another.

PRICE RANGE: How much you can expect to pay for this item.

LOOK FOR: Key traits and features that really make a great item stand out.

BEST MODELS: We’ll link to our in-depth guide for this particular piece of gear, where you can dive deeper into the details of how to choose the best one.

 

 

 

KAYAK BASICS

SEA KAYAK

 

 

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Navigate through choppy sea conditions with ease and speed

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes — for sea kayakers

PRICE RANGE: $400 – $3000

LOOK FOR: Sturdy build materials, small cockpit opening, the correct hull type for you

OUR PICK: Eddyline Equinox

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Sea Kayaks

 

 

 

TANDEM KAYAK

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Kayaking with multiple people in a single kayak

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes — for tandem kayakers

PRICE RANGE: $120 – $3000

LOOK FOR: Enough space to fit everyone, storage space, comfort

OUR PICK: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Tandem Kayaks

 

 

 

INFLATABLE KAYAK

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Amazon

PURPOSE: A kayak that inflates and can be deflated to be compact and travel anywhere

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $350 – $2500

LOOK FOR: Sturdy materials, compact deflating system, compatible collapsible paddle

OUR PICK: Hobie I9s

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Inflatable Kayaks

 

 

 

TOURING KAYAK

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: For long distance kayakers

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes — for touring kayakers

PRICE RANGE: $500 – $2500

LOOK FOR: A sturdy tracking system, sturdy materials, solid stability

OUR PICK: Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Touring Kayaks

 

 

 

SIT ON TOP KAYAK

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Basic kayaking for beginners and casual paddlers

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes — for the average kayaker

PRICE RANGE: $500 – $2500

LOOK FOR: Solid design and stability, comfort, storage space

OUR PICK: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Sit on Top Kayaks

 

 

 

PADDLE

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Propels the kayak through the water

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $500

LOOK FOR: A compatible paddle with your kayak, sturdy materials especially in saltwater, rigidity

OUR PICK: Werner Camano Hooked Straight Shaft

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak Paddles

 

 

 

KAYAK SEAT

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Provides comfort, core, and back support while kayaking

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $15 – $200

LOOK FOR: High or low back depending on your kayak, kayak compatibility, support

OUR PICK: Surf to Summit GTS Sport

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak Seats


 

 

SAFETY GEAR

PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Keeps kayakers afloat in case of emergency

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $50 – $300

LOOK FOR: US Coast Guard certification, correct size, comfort

OUR PICK: Kokatat OutFIT Tour

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak PFDs

 

 

 

WHISTLE

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Alerts others for help in case of an emergency

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $5 – $50

LOOK FOR: Rust-proof materials, a lanyard cord attachment for easy access

OUR PICK: Heimdall Safety Whistle

 

 

 

HELMET

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Protects your head in rapids or narrow waterways

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $50 – $250

LOOK FOR: A helmet specifically designed for kayakers, rust-proof materials, safety rating

OUR PICK: NRS WRSI Current Pro

 

best list for kayaking gear

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/mihtiander

 

 

 

 

CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR

HAT

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Provides sun protection for the face, neck, and shoulders

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $10 – $100

LOOK FOR: A full brim for maximum sun protection, comfort, and breath-ability

OUR PICK: Camo Coll Outdoor

 

 

 

KAYAK SHOES

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Protects the feet and provides warmth

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $130

LOOK FOR: Comfortable neoprene, shoe height, sturdy soles, proper fit

OUR PICK: NRS Freestyle

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayaking Shoes

 

 

 

DRY TOP

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps the kayaker dry and protected from the sun

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $30 – $150

LOOK FOR: Proper fit, tight cuffs to shield from spray, lightweight materials

OUR PICK: NRS Rio Top Paddle Jacket

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak Drysuits

 

 

 

GLOVES

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Protects the hands from blistering and keeps them warm in cold conditions

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $15 – $90

LOOK FOR: Comfortable fit, flexible fabrics, easy to adjust

OUR PICK: Warmers Barnacle Half Finger

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak Gloves


 

 

NAVIGATION TOOLS

GPS

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Helps navigate through diverging waterways

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $50 – $400

LOOK FOR: Personal locator beacon, easy to use features, waterproof or water resistant

OUR PICK: ACR Electronics ResQLink

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak GPS

 

 

 

COMPASS

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Helps paddlers navigate using basic coordinates and directions

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $10 – $100

LOOK FOR: Easy to read and use functions, waterproof and water resistant, compact

OUR PICK: Suunto M-3D Leader Compass

 

kayaking gear list to have

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/jacoblund

 

 

 

 

PERSONAL ITEMS

DRY BAG

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AmazonREI

PURPOSE: Keeps items like the GPS, phone, camera, and other things dry and secure

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $200

LOOK FOR: Enough storage space for your items, clasp to secure shut

OUR PICK: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Dry Bags for Kayaking

 

 

 

OTHERS

  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks

 

 

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KAYAK TRANSPORTATION

KAYAK CART

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Transports the kayak to and from the car to the water

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $40 – $300

LOOK FOR: Compatibility with your kayak, handle comfort, easy to store

OUR PICK: Malone Clipper Deluxe

BEST MODELS: Top 10 Kayak Carts

 

 

 

ROOF RACK

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Transports the kayak via car to and from destinations

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes – depending on your vehicle

PRICE RANGE: $30 – $250

LOOK FOR: Vehicle and kayak compatibility, quick on-and-off loading, easy to use

OUR PICK: TMS HD Kayak Carrier

LEARN MORE: How to Transport a Kayak

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