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Equipment is not as vital as GoodJudgement, Awareness, or Skills, but it's difficult to be a good or safe paddler without well-built equipment, maintained in good working order.

The standard equipment for kayaking is simple. The Kayak should be a model that is easily handled by the kayaker. There are risks in both kayaks that are too small, and those that are too large for the kayaker. Kayaks should be sturdily built so the seaworthiness of the boat is never in question. Used gear should be free from major damage, or don't consider buying it. Your life is not worth saving a few bucks. Your kayak and Paddle should be inspected yearly to insure that no major repairs are required (see Routine Maintenance). After major mishaps, gear should be inspected and repaired.

PFD's should be designed to allow the paddler freedom of movement while remaining securely fastened to the paddler's torso. A PFD that rides up when floating in the water is dangerous since the paddler's arms or head can be immobilized. PFD's should maintain their buoyancy, and must be stored indoors where they are protected from UV light. PFD's with ripped or torn covers, or damaged foam should be discarded.

Clothing such asWetsuits and drysuits are important gear for preventing the risks of immersion in cold water--namely hypothermia. They should be mended as needed to maintain their waterproofness.

VHF Radios are an important piece of safety gear for paddlers who frequent major maritime areas. They can be used for communicating within a group, summoning help, coordinating locations of shipping traffic, and checking the weather. They should be used in a waterproof bag, and stored in a dry place.

EmergencyEquipment and Rescue equipment like flare?s, strobes, emergency lights, smoke signals, whistles, and dye markers should be stored in a dry area, kept safely in an accessible drybag while paddling, and should be discarded when the expiration date is reached.

Paddlers venturing out on the large bodies of water should carry navigation equipment such as a compass and chart. GPSes are handy devices, but should act as complements to, and not replacements for your chart and compass.

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Last edited April 11, 2006 5:43 pm by Michael Daly (diff)