5 Must-Have Items to Bring on a Kayak

What to bring on a kayak

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One of the wonderful things about travel is the number of times we’ve gotten out to kayak. Kayaking allows us to explore an area from a different perspective. We could go boating, but in a Kayak your pace is slower, and you can maneuver into tighter areas and rivers that a boat cannot. Of course, sometimes that may mean you’d have to port your kayak over sandbars, but that’s often not a big deal. If you’re heading out to explore the waters, I recommend at least these 5 items to bring on a Kayak.

This post contains affiliate links and I received free Knockaround Sunglasses for this post.

The following list also assumes that you are kayaking with your family for a short day trip. This list is not conclusive and certainly doesn’t cover camping trips with kayaks. And of course, I’m listing what to bring on a kayak, not necessarily what to wear.

image of Knockaround polarized sunglasses and water, one of the things to bring on a kayak.

Polarized Sunglasses

If you are on the water, you need polarized sunglasses.

Let me say it again. You NEED polarized sunglasses.

Polarized lenses reduce glare, and on the water, you’re getting double the glare. Polarized sunglasses also reduce eye strain, reflections, and improves contrast and clarity.

That is why I was thrilled when I found Knockaround Sunglasses. Knockaround has a full line of beautiful polarized sunglasses at a seriously affordable price. Starting at $20, you’ll find every frame and lens color imaginable.

Want to know what’s even better? Right now, Knockaround Sunglasses offers free shipping. And if you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll let you know when they go on sale.

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    Even if you don’t need polarized, go check them out. They have blue light blockers and a wide range of styles. You can even design your own in their custom shop.

    Lifevest & Whistle

    By law, one of the things you have to bring on a kayak, is a lifevest, also known as a personal floatation device. Yes, even though you’re kayaking, a lifevest is required. Depending on the state determines if you need to wear it, what age needs to wear it, or if you just need to have it on board. Some states, such as Florida, also require a whistle. I attach mine right to my vest so I don’t lose or forget it.

    Drinking Water

    You’re on the water, you need to be drinking water. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated in the burning sunshine and bring enough water with you. Most kayaks come with a spot to place your water bottle. Mine has two. Use them!

    Related: The Only Travel Water Bottle I use.


    If you’re out for over an hour, bring extra sunscreen and stop to reapply from time to time. Sunscreen typically lasts 1-2 hours. When you’re on the water, you’re getting rays from above, and the reflection off the water. Make sure you’re protected.

    boy standing in water next to kayak.


    If you think you might be hungry while kayaking, bring some snacks. Go for light, healthy snacks, to fortify you through your journey. I don’t know about you, but I never want to eat something heavy when it’s hot out or I’ve been working the paddle.

    Dry Bag & Towel

    A dry bag is just that, a bag that stays dry. If you’re bringing a lot of snacks, you’ll want a dry bag to put it in. You will get wet on a kayak!

    Dry bags are specially created to keep the items dry inside. It’s usually a coated nylon with buckles that fold the bag to keep the item out.

    Also, you need a sand-free towel like the ones from Tesalate. You are on the water, you will get wet. The smaller workout towels from Tesalate are perfect to dry off when you take a break. Plus, if you want to pull up to the bank and sit down on the sand, you can use that towel, shake it off, and be on your way! I do love the size of these workout towels.

    Even if you’re not bringing a dry bag, make sure you have a waterproof phone case.

    man in kayak on river

    For a serious checklist of what to bring on a kayak, check out REI’s list here. It’s comprehensive and assuming you’re paddling longer distances. But it’s a good jumping-off point from this list.

    If you’ve never been kayaking before, be sure to check out the advice on how to kayak for beginners here.

    Related: Kayaking in Ft. Desoto, FL

    What to bring on a kayak pinterest pin

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