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Preparing for Kayak Season: Your Checklist

If the warming weather makes you anxious to launch your kayak, you are not alone. Getting back on the water after a winter’s break is welcome. So, to make a smooth transition to the kayak season, spend a little bit of time getting prepared. The time spent getting organized off the water means more time on the water.

Before Your Go Kayaking Checklist:

  • Pull out your kayak and check it for damage
  • Give it a good wash (which can be a good time to check for hull damage)
  • Make repairs or updates to your kayak
  • Check lines / rigging and make sure they are in tip-top shape
  • Ensure electronic equipment is in good working order. Are batteries charged?
  • Inspect your paddle. If you also have a foldable or emergency paddle, make sure it is in good shape. 
  • Restock your first-aid kit. Throw out expired or worn items and replace them.
  • Wax or use UV protectant to prepare your kayak for extensive sun exposure.
  • Give your roof rack, trailer, or other transportation aid a good inspection to make sure it is ready to securely transport your kayak.

Packing Kayak Checklist:

Before you pull out of the driveway or push off from the shore, make sure you have the necessary items. You don’t want to find yourself at the launch site unprepared.

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • PFD
  • Whistle / signal flare / emergency flag
  • Bilge pump / bailing sponge (for sit-in kayak)
  • GPS / Fishfinder
  • Map of route
  • Milk crate: loaded with fishing necessities (if using) for easy one-trip loading or other items for your hobby of choice (photography, exercise, etc).
  • Snacks / water
  • First Aid Kit: in the spring make sure to include hand warmers, energy bars, space blankets, and other items to warm someone quickly should they get wet. This variable time of year can lead unprepared paddlers to the danger zone quicker than expected.
  • Appropriate clothing: layers, dry suit / wet suit, footwear. Especially in the spring when weather and water are unpredictable, make sure you are suitably attired.   
  • Sun Protection
  • Dry bag for phone, keys, extra clothing
  • Float Plan (left behind with someone off the water)

Gearing Up Checklist:

If the day is busy and the launch site is full, do your best to load your kayak before launching so you are quick on the ramp. (Or consider launching in an out-of-the-way spot that doesn’t impede boat/trailer traffic.)

Disembarking Checklist:

Being efficient at launching and returning makes you a good neighbor to your fellow enthusiasts. To that end, use the launch site and quickly move your kayak to your vehicle before unpacking / unloading.

  • Take kayak from the launch site (either with a trailer or carried out to lot / parking area)
  • Empty kayak of snacks / bottles / trash
  • Remove dry bag and crate
  • Secure lines
  • Stow electronics
  • Rinse kayak and paddle, if possible

Things that were second nature last fall as you wrapped up kayak season, might have slipped away over the cold winter months. Refresh and reset for another fabulous kayaking season with these checklists. Happy paddling!



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