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Kayaking gear – what to look out for!

Do want to feel like a warm wiggly whale, while kayaking, or a shivering shaven sea gull? The choice is yours! This short blog post includes a video in which I explain what gear I use, along with the most important features. It also includes a list of the equipment and general information that you may find useful in regards to gear.  

 Wetsuits vs Dry suits

Don’t get me wrong, its nice to be comfortable and warm while kayaking; it will enhance your over-all experience and you will lose less energy by staying warm. I started out kayaking using a long-john wetsuit, 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 generally 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 wet suit I would recommend at least getting a splash jacket or dry top to keep the wind off.
  • Dry suits on the other hand will keep you dry, but don’t have that same insulation effect like the wetsuit. Basically, you wont get that same snug warm feeling like you’re a blubbery artic walrus. This isn’t such a problem as you can wear thermal clothes under the suit. Dry suits are harder to swim in and even more so if you forget to let all the air out – you will float around like a big telly tubby. 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 and waterproof material.
To cut a long story short, I recommend beginners to start with a wetsuit and a dry top for their first season. 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; and you will now have the experience to know what you want and be able to appreciate the difference. Also, it’s always good to have a spare wetsuit and dry top with you if its too hot for a dry suit, or maybe you want to do some diving while out on your kayaking adventures! *Do not wear cotton! As the say, “cotton is rotten!”. Once wet, it will suck the heat away from your body like a vampire octopus. Wool, or other thermal clothing, tends to do the opposite – trapping the heat and it keeping close to your body.

Information on throw bags (Rescue Rope)

I use a 20m, 8ml thick, light polypropylene throw bag. It’s not as strong as other rope materials, but in my opinion, and from personal experience – it’s the best boat bag. When kayaking, the main use for your bag is throw-bagging someone. It really helps if the rope floats well and is easy to hold on to! Thin ropes are really hard to hold (especially with cold hands) and it can be a pretty painful experience. I know that “HF” has really good throw bags; they provide a really good mix 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” (not so stretchy and stronger). So yea, different ropes work best in different scenarios.

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 pot, and some masking tape. For now, I will leave a link on how to do it yourself; but when I break one of mine this season, I will write and post (including video and photos) on how to replace them.

Kayaking Gear list (in the video)

  • One piece – Palm Equipment
  • Warm Socks (not cotton) – Woollen, thermal or neoprene are good!
  • Drysuit – Artistic Sports Wear
  • Shoes – Astral
  • Sprayskirt – Snapdragon EXP Amourtex
  • Life jacket – Astral green
  • Hot hat – Hiko sport
  • Helmet – Sweet Wanderer
  • Gloves – Artistic Sports Wear
  • Towline – Hiko Sport
  • Watch – Casio (waterproof)
  • Whistle – Fox 40
  • Throwbag – Artistic Sports Wear
  • Semi-dry/short sleeve paddle top – Artistic Sports Wear
  • Neoprene Top – Artistic Sports Wear
  • Neoprene – Artistic Sports Wear
Additional gear I use:
  • Prussic rope – Buy at any climbing store
  • Gear Bag – NRS
  • Drybags – Hiko
  • Water Shed camera bag
  • Throwbag – Artistic Sports Wear
  • Karabiners
  • River Knife
  • Aqua seal and gaskets – I will write a post on how to replace a gasket next time one of mine breaks.
  • Nose plug and ear plugs – smileys nose clip and macks ear seals
Note: Follow this link to a post where I explain what to pack for a trip.  


Don’t buy the most expensive stuff straight away. You might not want to continue and you won’t have the necessary skills to use all its features. Its like if you were an absolute beginner photographer and bought a top of range camera. I mean come on, you can only shoot in auto and won´t be able to use the other 1000 epic features. Basically 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