Once you have chosen which style of kayak best suits you and your needs, the next step is to find the proper life vest and paddle. Just like kayaks, there are many different styles of life vests offered on the market. Some are designed specifically for kayaking, with the lower back free from material, making it is more comfortable to sit while wearing it. There are also inflatable life vests that are not as bulky. However, you should always check your local laws and regulations in regards to life vests. To be sure you choose the correct size vest, you want to take into consideration if you plan on wearing multiple layers of clothing. Start with trying on the same size as your shirt. You want to be sure that you will have enough room if you do wear layers, but you don’t want it too loose to where you are able to pull the life vest upwards past your ears. If that happens, adjust the straps to fit snugly around your torso. If you still do not feel comfortable, try a size smaller or bigger size depending on how the first vest fit. When you find a vest that fits comfortably around your torso and cannot be pulled past your ears, you’ve found the correct size.
Finding a correctly sized paddle is just as important as an appropriate life vest. If you buy one that is too short, you will be moving your body a lot more which leads to faster fatigue. A short paddle can also cause you to scrape the side of your kayak with every stroke. A good rule of thumb is to go a size bigger in length. To find the correct length, stand up and hold the paddle vertically in front of you, with the blade touching the ground. Reach up and try to touch the tip of the paddle. If you have about 6-8 inches until you are able to touch the tip, that is generally a good fit for you.
Additional safety equipment and accessories are also important to have before you set out on your first kayaking voyage. A light that is visible 360 degrees around to use in low light situations, a whistle to use if help is needed, and a flag to remain visible to other occupants on the water are all essential safety products to purchase before you take your kayak out for the first time.
Always be sure to check the local laws and regulations in regards to kayaking before launching as they may differ from regulations for boats powered by a motor. Once you have made the investment in a kayak, vest, paddle and safety equipment, the adventures and hours of fun are limitless. Whether you are fishing or just paddling around, there will never be a dull moment while being out on the water. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy yakin’.