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Kayaking advice?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Need some advice from you kayak enthusiasts out there.

The REI stores in my area have "learn to kayak" classes, and since learning to kayak is on my bucket list, I went to the website to see what it would take. There I ran into a bewildering array of clothing ranging from paddling gloves starting at $31 to board shorts (too skimpy for my taste) starting at $34 to "rash guards" (presumably to wear under a wetsuit?) starting at $37 to paddle jackets starting at $84 to wetsuits starting at $110 to drysuits ranging in the price range $800-1050.

Holy cow! That's a lot of money to commit to an activity I just want to try and am not sure I would stick with. Fortunately REI supplies the kayak, paddle, spray skirt, and dry bag, but what is REALLY needed to try kayaking?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Don't know if you've tried the class yet but hope you do! I volunteered several summers at the canoe/kayak dock at a local nature center. Enjoyed it very much. As others have mentioned, you can really start with what is already in your closet especially for short sessions (which is about all you can manage at first.) I wear water sandals and definitely a visor and sun screen!

    Enjoy and keep us posted.
    1860 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    Never been Celia, but that's one on my bucket list, too! Hope you blog about it when it's over!
    1860 days ago
    When I go I just wear shorts and a t-shirt. Workout pants are great if they are quick-dry. Shoes will just depend on where you are going. Thin, slip-on running shoes (or any kind of thin shoe) are great so long as they wont weigh you down once wet. Or flip-flops if it is warm enough. I also do not wear gloves, though I guess I would if it were cold, just because using the paddle for an hour or two likely wont give you calluses or anything.
    in short, just wear stuff you are comfortable in, wont weigh you down, and have a blast!
    1864 days ago
    It sounds like you've gotten some great advice! I've only been once and it was at my Mom's when she lived at Lake Anna. We didn't use anything special, but that's the only experience I have.
    1864 days ago
    We have 5 kayaks – DH & me and 3 extra for visitors (usually grandchildren).
    We’re really basic about it, but we’re on a lake – a BIG lake – 40 miles long with 500 miles of shoreline. Are you kayaking on a river with rapids? or in the ocean? That would be more challenging and perhaps warrant the extra equipment.

    We have “sit inside” kayaks so I really don’t get wet. My clothes are usually old running stuff over a bathing suit. I have a special life jacket just for kayaking and a cushion since my rear end doesn’t like the hard seat. I also wear old sneakers because of my difficult, flat feet. That’s it. Somehow I think you’re talking about a more adventurous environment than we have.

    1864 days ago
    The weather will dictate what you need to some extent, but I totally agree with 2WHEELEDSHARON that you absolutely do not need all the bells and whistles. You can always get your gear on later, if you decide this is something you really want to commit time to.

    If it's sunny and warm, I'd recommend some quick-dry shorts and a long-sleeve SPF shirt (I know they have 'em at REI b/c I found mine there - love 'em!). Now, if you're more into baring your bod to the sun, you can just wear a swim suit w/ your quick-dry shorts. As for shoes, keep it simple. No need to get wetsuit booties yet. Go with something that will stay on your feet should you end up in the drink, and something you won't mind having wet on your feet for a while. I love my Keen sandals, and I use them for much more than boating. I've been known to wear Chuck Taylor Converse when boating too. I also recommend a hat and sunglasses (with "Chums" or some other devise for keeping them on you - string and duct tape will do).

    For water sports, in general, cotton will kill ya. If you're cold, it makes you colder, and if it's continuously wet, it may irritate your skin or just feel soggy and uncomfortable. This goes especially for cotton undies. Don't do it! Swim suit is preferable.

    Now, cold weather boating is another beast altogether. If you're gonna go there, let me know and I'll give you a list of helpful items to keep you warm and happy.
    Have fun out there!!! emoticon
    1865 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/10/2013 4:06:53 PM
    You don't need all the bells and whistles. You don't even need to wear a bra, although I recommend wearing some kind of clothing under the life vest, which is all you need other than the kayak and paddle;) I don't even wear shoes, but if you're in a kayak that has a rudder, your feet do the steering with peddles. Any kind of casual shoes are fine, lightweight and easy to slip off is best, but they don't have to be kayak-specific. Gloves are fine if you're palms blister easily or if it's cold. My gloves are those little knit ones from the dollar store.
    You don't need a spray skirt unless it's pouring down rain or you're going out into rogue waves or white water. I do like to have a "dry bag"; mine is called a Ziploc. I put my wallet and camera in it and blow air into it so that in case it should fall out of the boat, it'll float.
    The more you venture into advanced kayaking, a wet suit or dry suit would be a good idea.
    What a picture of myself I've created - a shirt, knit gloves, life vest, and a blown up Ziploc! I do wear clothes. Just wanted to clarify that. I don't wear heavy clothes or jeans, just because I go out by myself, and if I happen to fall out I don't want jeans pulling me down, but I've been out a thousand times and never fell out.
    Doesn't REI do a fantastic job with their marketing!?
    Have fun:)
    1865 days ago
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