If there was ever a paddling discipline in which to pick your gear battles, it’s whitewater. You can get a little bogged down with everything you need to pack. Don’t get lost in the paddle pogies and nose plugs. Make sure you fit snugly in your kayak with enough padding for your feet, thighs and hips. Then prioritize your needs with the essential items for running the river. Think about buying and borrowing these items first. Later on, you can swap your wool socks and tennis shoes for a slick pair of booties.
1. Balancing value and performance is the trick when choosing your first whitewater kayak paddle.
2.Wearing a helmet on any river is a no-brainer. Even though kayaking helmets are designed to take multiple impacts before breaking, don’t settle for a hand-me-down. A new, fully protective helmet won’t break the bank, and will ensure that you don’t break your noggin.
3.You need a neoprene sprayskirt that fits tightly over the cockpit rim to seal water out.
4.Once you’re ready to start running rapids, have some simple pieces of easily accessible rescue equipment. Tying a whistle to a PFD zipper or strap is about as easy as it gets. A one-handed river knife, with its sheath secured to the outside of your PFD on a plastic lash tab (which most have) is preferable to a pocketed folding knife in an emergency situation.
5. The last piece would be a throwbag. As you advance to more difficult rapids, an accessible bag of rope worn around the waist is preferable, but a basic throwbag remains essential for any kayaker or rafter.
The article was originally published on Canoe & Kayak
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