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Packing For Paddling

What To Bring For A Day On The Water

Kayak, SUP, raft, or float tube—regardless of your vessel, a day on the water is hard to beat. We’ll leave the boat and paddle to you, but we’ve compiled a list of essentials that are easy to forget but make all the difference in your day.

Water Gets Everywhere

Dry bags are essential, from a small one for your phone to a bigger one for your puffy jacket and lunch. Don’t forget water-friendly shoes, whether you plan to get your feet wet or you’re trying to keep your socks dry. If it’s a staying dry kind of adventure, a dry top or jacket will prevent splashes from soaking your spirits. Whether you leave it on shore or pack it in your dry bag, a packable towel is also invaluable.

The Basics, Upgraded

You know you’ll need a life jacket anytime you’re on the water, and if your vessel is inflatable, a pump is an obvious must, but these essentials are not all created equal. A higher quality, better-fitting PFD will reduce chafing and keep you more comfortable while you paddle. And improving your pump situation will get you on the water faster and with less of a pre-paddle workout. You could even get a powered pump that plugs into your car’s 12v port and eliminate pumping altogether.

Gearhead Tip: Cam straps tend to be thought of as raft gear, but they have innumerable uses for any adventure, from connecting boats for a floating party to cinching down gear in the bed of your truck.

Every Adventure Equipment

Some equipment you bring for on-land adventures becomes extra important when you’re paddling. Navigation can be challenging when you’re on water that yields little in terms of waypoints—always bring a compass, and consider a GPS. Your first aid kit, multitool, and other safety essentials should always join you on the boat, too. Depending on the adventure, a helmet, knife, and throw bag are imperative. Hydration and nutrition are also important, so pack your water bladder and more snacks than you think you’ll need.

Sun Protection

When you’re on the water, the sun is coming at you from two directions. Protect yourself with apparel and accessories that have UPF ratings to make sure you’re covered (and don’t forget the sunscreen). A sun hat and shirt can go a long way, and a neck gaiter isn’t a bad idea. Don’t forget your eyes—sunglasses with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage will protect your vision; make sure they’re polarized to block the reflection of the sun coming off the water. Bonus points for floating Chums to keep them close.

Just For Fun

As long as you’re considerate, a portable speaker can add some fun vibes to your day on the water. Other floating favorites include books (in the dry bag), fishing gear, and, depending on space, a cooler for refreshments.