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Kayaking gear – what to look out for!

Do you want to feel like a warm and wiggly whale while kayaking, or a shivering shaven seagull? – The choice is yours! 

This blog post includes:

– A video explaining what gear I use along with essential features.

– A list of equipment and it uses



 

Wetsuits 

It’s nice to be comfortable and warm while kayaking; it will enhance your overall experience, and you will lose less energy. I started out kayaking using a long-john wetsuit, a polypropylene thermal top, and a splash jacket. At that time I was studying and didn’t have the money to buy expensive gear, like a dry suit.

Wetsuits are usually cheaper and easier to swim in. Wetsuits work best once they are wet because they trap a warm layer of water in-between your skin and the neoprene. Although this isn’t always very comfortable, it does keep you warm. Wetsuits can get pretty stuffy and uncomfortable, especially if it’s hot, or you wear them for long periods of time. If you wear a wetsuit, I would recommend at least getting a splash jacket or dry top to keep the wind off.

 

Drysuits 

Drysuits, on the other hand, will keep you dry, but don’t have that same insulation effect like the wetsuit. Basically, you won’t get that same snug warm feeling like you’re a blubbery artic walrus. This isn’t such a problem as you can wear thermal underwear under the suit. Dry suits are harder to swim in and even more so if you forget to let all the air out. This does not mean it’s impossible to swim – not at all actually – it just requires a bit of practice. Dry suits are great for keeping the wind off as they are made of wind resistant material.

Decisions, decisions 

I recommend beginners to start with a wetsuit and a dry top for their first season (unless you live North of Trondheim). Save money on gear and instead, spend it on going on as many trips as you can! Then, once you know if kayaking is for you, you can invest in some better equipment. You will now have the experience to make more informed decisions about what you want/need. 

Tip: Do not wear cotton! As they say, “cotton is rotten!”. Once wet, it will suck the heat away from your body like a vampire octopus. Thermal clothing tends to do the opposite; trapping the heat and it keeping close to your body.

 

Information on throw bags (Rescue Ropes)

I use a 20 meter, 8mm thick, polypropylene throw rope. Polypropylene is not as sturdy as other rope materials, but in my opinion – and from personal experience – it’s the best boat bag. The reason behind this is that it’s easy to hold on to and floats well.  Thin ropes are super hard to hold (especially with cold hands), and it can be a pretty painful experience. Heavier lines can sink below the surface of the water making them harder to see. I know that HF has good throw bags; they provide a perfect balance between strength, weight and thickness. If you’re going to abseil or pull a boat off a rock, then ideally you want a “static rope” (opposite of dynamic). So yea, different ropes work best in different scenarios. My advice is to take an NPF Sikkerhetskurs or the WRT-whitewater rescue course to learn more.


Fixing your own gear

I recommend learning how to fix your own latex gaskets! Its super easy and will save you a lot of time and money. All you need is some aqua seal (a.k.a magical gunk), a pot, and some masking tape. 

Gear list 

– One piece under-garment 

– Warm Socks (Thermal material) 

– Drysuit 

– Astral designs shoes 

– Snapdragon sprayskirt

– Astral Green lifejacket 

– Hot hat 

– Sweet wanderer Helmet 

– Gloves 

– Towline 

– Waterproof Casio watch 

– Fox40 whistle 

– Semi-dry/short sleeve paddle top 

– Neoprene Top 

– Neoprene shorts/pants 

– Prussic rope (can buy at any climbing store)

– NRS Gear Bag (this thing has lasted me ages)

– Drybags 

– Watershed camera bag

– HF Throw-bag 

– Karabiners

– River Knife

– Aqua seal and gaskets 

– Nose plug and earplugs – Smileys nose clip and Macks ear plugs

Note: Follow this link to a post where I explain what to pack for a trip.

 

Conclusion

Don’t buy the most expensive/advanced stuff straight away. You might not want to continue kayaking, and you most probably won’t have the necessary skills to use all the advanced features. It’s like if you were an absolute beginner photographer and bought a top of range camera. You only know how to shoot in automatic, so won´t be able to use the other 100 functions. I suppose what I’m saying is that you don’t want all your super expensive gear to end up on Finn in a few months – well at least some people would be happy! 

 


Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, contact me at  tomas@madgoats.no

– Tomas Hansson

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