Man in a Kayak

Kayak Equipment

Kayak Equipment

You don't need to spend a lot of money to start kayaking, they can be hired relatively inexpensively or used for free if you join a club, who will usually provide the equipment -paddles, buoyancy aids and helmets. You don't need any specialist clothing, and often a pair of trousers and t-shirt is adequate for your first paddling experience.

As you gain confidence and progress, you may decide to invest in your own Kayak, equipment and clothing. Chandleries in marinas, online mail order companies and your Training Centre are all good places to buy kit, as are the British Marine Boat Shows in Southampton and London.  


Kayakers use a double ended paddle i.e. a blade at both ends. There are loads of different materials that paddles can be made from, and they'll suit all budgets, ranging from plastic to carbon fibre. It is important to ensure the paddle is the correct size for you. The type of paddle you use depends on the type of paddling you will be doing (a river / surf paddle is shorter and a touring paddle is longer), and the age and size of the user. See OTW recommends for companies who will be able to advise you on the paddle best suited to the type of paddling that you will be doing.

Junior kayak paddle 170 cm – 190cm

Adult kayak paddle 185cm – 220cm

Polyethylene paddle from £15

Aliminuim paddle from £18

Wooden paddle from £40

Fibreglass paddle from £120

Carbon Fibre paddle from £140

Buoyancy Aid

You should never get on the water without wearing a buoyancy aid. It will help keep you afloat if you fall into the water. A buoyancy aid fits like a vest and modern designs do not restrict movement when paddling. Ensure the buoyancy aid fits correctly and has adequate buoyancy for your size – check the CE certification mark which indicates that the buoyancy aid has been subjected to rigorous safety tests. 


Clothing will depend on the time of year you are paddling. In the summer, it is possible to paddle in shorts, t-shirt and a cap to protect you from sunburn. Light thin layers of synthetic clothing are best as they keep you warm, dry quickly and can be added or removed depending on the weather; jeans and cotton clothing is not suitable. In winter, you will need to wear a wetsuit, a waterproof jacket and a hat to help keep you warm and protect you from the elements.

Whenever you go paddling, you should make sure you're wearing shoes; they'll protect your feet and stop you getting cuts and bruises when getting in and out of the kayak. Make sure that you tuck your shoelaces away so they can't get caught on anything.


Most paddlers use a thin waterproof jacket. The cheaper models keep the wind off and have basic water repellence. Whereas the more expensive models are breathable, have waterproof seals at the collar, cuffs to keep you warm and at the waist to stop water draining into your boat.


Wetsuits are great for keeping you warm should you get wet. They work by trapping a layer of water between the suit and your body which becomes warm as your body heats it up. They are not windproof so it is best to wear a thin waterproof over the top.