Kayaking is a terrific way to spend time together in the great outdoors while having a blast as a family.  However, being on the water means facing potential dangers.  To keep everyone safe and ensure a good time, we have compiled a kayak packing list of essentials.

Even though kayaking is a low-intensity sport that young kids will love, how well you do depends on how well you prepare.  You will need certain items for a comfortable and enjoyable trip and to keep your kids active and moving.

So, if you are planning a kayaking trip with children, here is our essential kayak packing list to bring. Get kayaking advice to enhance your experience.

1. Ideal Kayak And Paddles

An essential part of any kayaking adventure is the kayak and paddle.  So, invest in a quality kayak and paddles for your youngsters.

If you want to take kids younger than eight out on the water, a tandem kayak is your best bet.  That’s because it adapts to your children’s changing needs as they learn and develop.  They can progress to single-child kayaks once they’ve mastered the basics of paddling and safety.

When your kids go kayaking on their own, they gain self-assurance and paddling prowess.  As a result of their reduced restrictiveness, sit-on-top kayaks are also ideal for use by children. In addition to being more secure and less likely to sink, they are also simpler for children to enter and exit.

The shorter and lighter paddles designed for children should be brought along.

best kayak and paddle for kids

2. Kayaking With Weather-Appropriate Clothing

If you’re taking your kids kayaking, make sure weather-appropriate clothing is on your kayak packing list.  Layers of moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester are essential in the winter.  

Clothing made from Merino wool is another viable option due to its ability to insulate even when wet.  Funnily enough, avoid wearing linen and cotton out on the water.  They take forever to dry, absorb water and are uncomfortably chilly when wet.

Wearing light, airy clothes is a must on warmer days.  To shield children from the sun’s potentially damaging rays, dress them in long-sleeved, UPF-rated clothing on sunny days.

Bring open-toed sandals when it’s warm out and wet suit shoes when it’s cold.  It’s a good idea to bring along a pair of waterproof boots.  A launch spot for the kayak may feature sharp rocks, coral or anything else that could cause injury.

Other essential items on a kayak packing list are a windbreaker and waterproof jacket.  We suggest a change of clothes in case yours get soaked.

3. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

When kayaking with kids, make sure everyone has their own personal flotation devices.  Even if your kids are kayaking in a relatively calm area, they should wear their PFDs at all times.  Make sure they know how to swim and float while wearing the life jacket.

kayak packing list must include lifevests

A safe place for kids to practice floating while wearing a life jacket would be in a swimming pool or other body of calm water.  If you want to set a good example for kids, you should wear your PFD at all times.

Having a life jacket for your child that is both age-appropriate and weight-appropriate is of utmost importance.

Think about getting one with an adjustable strap so they can use it for a longer period of time.

A personal flotation device (PFD) that has a head strap, a grab handle, and a leg strap is also good for kids..

4. Food And Water On A Kayak Packing List

Adventure is best when it involves a bit of healthy risk.  To ensure you and your kids have an enjoyable time on your kayaking trip, include some high-energy snacks in your kayak packing list.

Healthy foods ensure they’ll eat well as well as stay energized.  Consider easily packable foods like granola bars, nuts, and fresh fruits. 

Always carry clean drinking water with you on sunny days to keep hydrated. Use lightweight water bottles to minimize weight in the kayak. To this end we suggest plastic instead of glass, which can easily break and create unnecessary hazards. 

5. First Aid Kit

When kayaking, it’s a good idea to bring along a first aid kit, just in case.  Bug bites, scrapes and minor cuts are all possibilities with kids, and you’ll need to be prepared to treat them.  Be sure to pack antiseptic wipes, waterproof bandages, and cream for stings from plants and insects.

What else to pack depends on the duration and location of the trip.  Be sure to know of any health conditions that may require specific medications.

6. Kayaking Tow Lines 

As a safety precaution, it’s best to be prepared with two lines.  Keep one in the boat and have another on shore.

You can use this to tie your boat to the shore if you need to take a break from paddling.

Having a tow line onboard can be helpful when there is more than 1 kayak.  Ensure that you stay together by having the 2 crafts joined by a tow line.  This can be very helpful when there are young children involved.  

Also consider a lifesaving float so that if someone falls into the water, they can grab a line and be pulled to safety.

kayak packing list must include tow lines

7. Sun Protection On A Kayak Packing List

Bring sunscreen along with UPF-rated clothing and hats for extra protection from the sun.

Sun exposure, especially among children, can cause nausea, headaches and irritability if out in the sun for too long.  You should make sure children always have good quality, waterproof sunscreen when they go kayaking.

It is also important to re-apply sunscreen every 4 hours.

8. Dry Bags

Bring a dry bag for your valuables, such as cell phones, money and watches.  Many kayaks have dry storage compartments, but these can take on water if you capsize.

Dry bags also come in handy when packing spare clothing for those who get wet.

9. Waterproof Camera

Don’t let the opportunity to make kayaking memories with your kids pass you by without recording them.  Take pictures, but make sure your camera is waterproof.

Getting the kids involved in the photography will also be a big hit with them.

10. Other Kayak Packing List Suggestions

Even though these didn’t make our list, there are a few other useful items to include on a kayak packing list.

  • Flashlights are helpful in kayaking in low-light or foggy conditions
  • Signaling whistles to be used in the event of an emergency
  • A pair of binoculars for bird watching
  • You will need kayak fishing equipment and a barometer if you plan on going fishing
kayak fishing with kids

Key Takeaways

If you’re going to go kayaking with children, there are some essential items you need to take with you.  Our kayak packing list will ensure that the whole family stays safe and has a great time on the water.  Put in the time and effort to properly plan and pack for the trip. 

You can’t go wrong with the items we’ve recommended on our kayak packing list.